Gore-led Colts dispatch Texans
INDIANAPOLIS — At 34, Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore showed he still has a pep in his step even in the final game of a losing season.
Gore rushed for 100 yards on 24 carries to help lead the Colts to a 22-13 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday. Each team finished with a 4-12 record. The Colts ended a six-game losing streak while the Texans lost their last six games.
Gore, who had 88 yards in the second half, finished 39 yards short of a 1,000-yard season.
“He’s unbelievable,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said, before being fired shortly after the game. “He’s simply amazing, poetry in motion. He’s a warrior. He runs like a man possessed. To do what he did today, 100 yards. He eclipsed another milestone with 14,000 yards.
“He laid it on the line. They all did. T.Y. (Hilton), A.C (Anthony Castonzo), Jack Doyle and that quarterback (Jacoby Brissett), No. 7, coming into these circumstances. That guy is a warrior. He’s a winner.”
Gore became the fifth NFL player to rush for 14,000 career yards.
Pagano said immediately after the game he had not heard from Colts owner Jim Irsay or general manager Chris Ballard. Less than two hours after the game, the Colts later released a statement that Pagano has been let go after six seasons.
“We talked about finishing all week long and I’ve never been around a group of guys, players and coaches, faced so much adversities, so many ups and downs, so many disappointing Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays,” Pagano said before learning his fate. “But what a way to go out. They can walk out of here winners with their head held high.”
Brissett, who was acquired from New England just befoer the season started, replaced starter Scott Tolzien in the opener, and started every game since. Andrew Luck missed the entire season with a shoulder injury. Brissett completed 15-of-24 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown.
“Those five minutes in the locker room (after the game) were the best Christmas gift, New Year’s gift, just to see the smiles and have the feeling of finally finishing.” Brissett said
Brissett said the sentiment that Pagano stressed was to win for the team, not for the embattled coach.
“We want to win for us and end the season off on the right note,” Brissett said.
The Colts limited the Texans to 209 total yards and got a safety.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien didn’t want to address his future after the game.
“I want to reflect on this one, think about improvements that need to be made and go from there,” O’Brien said. “I don’t control that. I’m the head coach. I have a boss and he controls everything. I’ll meet with him at some point and we’ll decide what direction he wants to go.”
It was announced after the game that Texans general manager Rick Smith is taking a leave of absence to care for his wife, Tiffani, who is battling breast cancer.
The Colts went ahead 14-13 on Marlon Mack’s 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Earlier in the drive, Colts receiver Hilton and Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph exchanged punches, drawing offsetting penalties
Gore had runs of 16, 13 and 8 yards on that drive.
In the fourth quarter, Colts tackle Hassan Ridgeway sacked T.J. Yates in the end zone for a safety to take a 16-13 lead.
Adam Vinatieri’s 54-yard field goal pushed the lead to 19-13 midway through the fourth quarter. Vinatieri added a 22-yard field goal with 31 seconds left to seal it.
Yates completed 10-of-15 passes for 112 yards to lead Houston to a 13-7 halftime lead. He finished 14 of 24 for 137 yards and was intercepted on the game’s last play.
“I thought the guys battled hard,” O’Brien said. “I appreciate the way they fought.”
The Texans took a 3-0 lead on a 52-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn. The Colts took a 7-3 lead on the first play of the second quarter on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Brissett to Doyle.
Houston went ahead 10-7 on a 2-yard touchdown run by Alfred Blue.
The Texans added a 46-yard field goal by Fairbairn with 1:44 left in the second quarter.
NOTES: Colts CB Kenny Moore suffered a concussion in the first half. ... Texans WR Will Fuller V suffered a knee injury in the first half and was ruled out for the rest of the game. ... Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins was inactive because of a calf injury. It was the first game he has missed in his five-year career, starting all 79 games. Entering Sunday’s action, Hopkins led the NFL with 13 touchdown catches ... Colts WR Donte Moncrief, who was a limited practice participant during the week, sat out for his fourth consecutive game with an ankle injury. ... Colts RB Frank Gore became the first running back to start all 16 games in a season at age 34 or older.