AFC South foes Houston and Indianapolis faced off on Thursday night with the division lead on the line. The winner of this game would not only claim the lead but become the clear favorite to win the competitive division.
A scoreless first quarter was a mirage as things quickly heated up before halftime. After Houston drew first blood with a field goal, the Colts leaned on RB Jonathan Williams, who started in place of injured RB Marlon Mack. Williams, along with RB Nyheim Hines did all the damage before QB Jacoby Brissett finished off the drive with a five-yard touchdown run. The Texans answered on the next drive as RB Duke Johnson and WR Will Fuller, who the team gladly welcomed back, helped move the ball down the field before WR DeAndre Hopkins somehow got past the defense for a wide-open 35-yard touchdown. A late Colts field goal tied the game at 10 points each at the break.
The Colts started the second half with a drive featuring only seven passing yards compared to 59 yards on the ground and Williams scored his first touchdown since 2016 to give Indy the lead. A Houston field goal cut the lead to four points entering the final period.
Houston got a long run from RB Carlos Hyde to put them in position to take the lead and that’s what they did as Hopkins extended to grab a pass from QB Deshaun Watson, good for a 30-yard touchdown. That gave Houston a 20-17 lead and despite an extended Colts’ drive late in the game, this would prove to be the final score.
Watson finished with 298 passing yards and the two scores, both to Hopkins, who totaled 94 yards and six catches. Fuller jumped right back into action after not playing since Week Seven, leading the team with 140 yards on seven catches. After a hot stretch a few weeks ago, TE Darren Fells has slowed down. He had one reception for 24 yards. Hyde rushed 16 times for 67 yards, with 33 of that coming on one carry.
Brissett had his favorite WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) back on the field after missing the past three games, but it didn’t seem to help. Hilton was in and out of the lineup all game as his snaps were being carefully managed. He finished with just three receptions for 18 yards. Brissett passed for only 129 scoreless yards. TE Eric Ebron (ankle) was iffy to play as well but led the team with a 4/44 line. Williams was the story of the game for the Colts as he stayed hot after his surprise performance last week. The Mack fill-in rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries and added three receptions and 17 yards. Hines also helped fill Mack’s shoes and was surprisingly effective as a runner, carrying the ball nine times for 51 yards.
It had already been reported that Browns DE Myles Garrett would use an argument of precedence when his appeal was heard on Thursday, but there were some surprise details included in his case. Garrett alleged that Steelers QB Mason Rudolph used a racial slur toward him just before the melee. This is obviously a very serious accusation and one that Rudolph denies took place. The league released a statement explaining it found “no evidence” to support Garrett’s allegation.
The league wasted no time in announcing the results of Garrett’s appeal as they upheld their decision with his indefinite ban standing. Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey’s three-game suspension was reduced to two games. Following the decision, Garrett released a statement saying he never intended for his accusation to become public.
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Giants TE Evan Engram (foot) missed practice Thursday. … Washington RB Chris Thompson (toe) practiced again and looks to be ready to return to the field this week. … Eagles WR Nelson Agholor (knee) remained sidelined at practice. … Eagles RB Jordan Howard (shoulder) practice but is still iffy to play against the Seahawks this week. … Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (ankle) practiced on Thursday and is on track to play in Week 12. … Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (foot) missed practice, as expected. He’ll likely miss another game, leaving RB Brian Hill as the lead back against the Bucs. … Bengals RB Auden Tate (concussion) missed another practice and is expected to miss this week after he took a nasty shot to the head and had to be carted off the field. … Titans WR Corey Davis (hip) and TE Delanie Walker (ankle) were able to practice on Thursday. … WR Sterling Shepard (concussion) was a full participant in practice and is likely to return after five missed games. … 49ers TE George Kittle (knee) and WR Deebo Samuel (shoulder) got in a limited practice. We’ll need to watch Friday practice reports to learn more about their status for the weekend. … Dolphins veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (shoulder) was limited in practice, but is in no danger of missing the game against Buffalo this week. … 49ers RB Matt Breida (ankle) missed another practice and all signs point to another missed game. … 49ers veteran WR Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) was limited at practice. … Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee/concussion) missed another practice and is not expected to play this week. … Steelers WR Diontae Johnson (concussion) was a full participant in Thursday’s practice. … Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett (concussion) got in a limited practice. … Steelers RB James Conner (shoulder) did not practice and is likely preparing to sit another week. … Steelers rookie RB Benny Snell (knee) was a full participant and is set to make his return to the field. … Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett (shin) was limited in practice. He’s expected to suit up against the Eagles this weekend.
Giants HC Pat Shurmur said it’s “unlikely” that TE Rhett Ellison (concussion) would play this week. With TE Evan Engram (foot) also likely out of the lineup, the Giants will be left with rookie TE Kaden Smith to see the majority of playing time. … Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu (foot) could miss multiple weeks, according to local beat writers. This would give more opportunity to rookie WR N’Keal Harry. … Bears HC Matt Nagy called QB Mitchell Trubisky (hip) “day to day.” Practice reports seem to indicate that Trubisky will suit up this week, but we shouldn’t assume anything after the off way it was handled in Week 11. … The Texans activated TE Jordan Thomas (ribs) from the injured reserve list.
There were some reports surfacing that the Patriots might be interested in a reunion with free agent WR Antonio Brown, but the team quickly denied that as a possibility. … Rams WR Robert Woods surprisingly missed last week’s game with a personal issue and did not rejoin the team until yesterday. It is safe to assume Woods will be back on the field when the Rams face Baltimore in Week 12.