Texans end losing streak in OT after Vinatieri sets record
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Ka’imi Fairbairn took advantage of his final chance Sunday.
The third-year kicker missed a 59-yarder to win the game at the end of regulation, then a 37-yarder near the end of overtime. But the Indianapolis Colts had called timeout just before that one, and Fairbairn finally made the decisive kick as time expired to help Houston snap the league’s longest losing streak with a 37-34 victory at Indianapolis.
“It was a rollercoaster. I was just trying to steady,” Fairbairn said. “That’s exactly what we needed.”
Nothing went according to the script.
Just moments earlier, Adam Vinatieri, the NFL’s new career field goals leader, thought he might get to it.
But after Andrew Luck bounced a short pass to Chester Rogers on fourth-and-4 from his own 43-yard line, Deshaun Watson got the ball back with 24 seconds left and no timeouts and found DeAndre Hopkins for a 24-yard completion to get Fairbairn into position.
His first try sailed wide as the crowd roared. But coach Frank Reich called timeout in an effort to ice Fairbairn, who made the second one .
The bigger question, though, was about Reich’s decision to go for it rather than punt and settle for a tie.
“We’re not playing to tie,” Reich said. “We’re going for that 10 times out of 10. That (play) has just got to work.”
When it didn’t, the Texans’ nine-game losing streak was over with their first win since Nov. 19.
The most promising news for Houston (1-3), though, was that Watson & Co. appeared to be in sync.
Watson finished 29 of 42 with 375 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while running six times for 41 yards and another score. He connected with Hopkins 10 times for 169 yards and a score, and Keke Coutee 11 times for 109 yards. And Watson made enough plays late in regulation and overtime to give Fairbairn a chance.
The Texans’ defense harassed Luck all day, sacking him four times, limited Indy’s ground game to just 41 yards on 17 carries and converted two turnovers into 14 points.
“It was very unconventional, but we’ll take it,” J.J. Watt said after recording two more sacks and becoming the second-fastest in league history to 80.
It’s the third time in four weeks Indy (1-3) has fallen short in the closing minutes, this one spoiling Vinatieri’s milestone day.
The 45-year-old kicker became the league’s career leader in field goals when he made a 42-yarder with 2 seconds left in the first half. He extended the mark to 567 with a 44-yarder that gave Indy a 34-31 lead with 6 minutes left in overtime.
Vinatieri moved past Hall of Famer Morten Andersen, who had 565 career field goals.
But Fairbairn tied the score with a 29-yard kick and won it with the 37-yarder.
Luck was 40 of 62 for a career-high 464 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions but lamented his last throw.
“I did not get the ball to Chester to make the play and I’m sick about it,” he said.
Still, Luck gave Indy a chance after trailing 28-7 midway through the third quarter.
He threw a 14-yard TD pass to Nyheim Hines, a 5-yard TD pass to Eric Ebron and a 9-yard TD pass to Hines before tying the score at 31 with a 2-point conversion pass to Rogers with 45 seconds to go in regulation.
Vinatieri’s overtime field goal gave Indy a 34-31 lead but the defense couldn’t close it out.
“Any time you win a game, no matter how you win it, it’s great,” Hopkins said. “We knew what we were up against. We had to go out and finish it.”
Vinatieri also tied Gary Anderson for the second-most field-goal attempts in league history with 672, but he wasn’t the only record-breaker.
Luck broke the Colts’ single-game franchise record for attempts, tied the franchise mark for completions, wound up second in franchise history for single-game yards and came within a whisker of tying the franchise’s largest regular-season comeback (21).
Watt recorded two sacks in his second straight game, extending his own record to seven. And Coutee broke Andre Johnson’s franchise record for most receptions (six) in an NFL debut.
Texans: Hopkins started despite dealing with thumb, ankle and hamstring injuries all week. Will Fuller V left with a hamstring injury late in the first half and linebacker Brian Peters did not return after injuring his ankle.
Colts: Hilton suffered a chest injury in the first half and cornerback Kenny Moore II left with a concussion. Hilton returned but left later after hurting his hamstring.
Texans: Host cross-state rival Dallas next Sunday night.
Colts: Head to New England on Thursday night.