Posted December 30, 2012 on AP on Fox
Chuck Pagano walked onto the field Sunday waving to the fans and hugging his wife. He left the field hugging everybody in sight - assistant coaches, Colts players, even Texans players and coaches - before dancing in the locker room. Why not? Andrew Luck threw for two TDs, Vick Ballard ran for another and Deji Karim scored on a 101-yard kickoff return to give the cancer-beating coach a 28-16 win over AFC South champ Houston in his return to the sideline. Those who thought Pagano might take it easy in his first game back at the helm of the wild-card Colts since starting the first of three rounds of chemotherapy Sept. 26 were wrong. Pagano spent the pregame warm-ups hugging friends such as offensive coordinator and former interim coach Bruce Arians, and Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. During the game, he was the same old guy. Pagano took his customary linebacker stance, hands on bended knees, signaled touchdowns when the Colts scored, patted players on their helmets and gestured for flags to be thrown. He even sprinted a few times. Fans gave Pagano a standing ovation after a 1-minute video was shown on the stadium's two Jumbotrons just before kickoff. But Pagano's players wanted to welcome back another way: with a victory celebration. Indy (11-5) did everything it needed to get it Sunday, perhaps damaging the Texans' playoff seeding, too. The Colts play at Baltimore in the wild-card round next weekend. The slumping Texans (12-4) have lost three of their last four and won't know their AFC seeing until after Denver and New England finish later Sunday. Indy prevented J.J. Watt from getting any closer to Michael Strahan's NFL sacks record (22 1/2). Watt finished the season with 20 1/2. Luck broke Peyton Manning's rookie record for completions and moved into third all-time among rookies with 22 TD passes. He finished 14 of 28 for 191 yards, giving him 339 completions this season. Of course, the Colts gave Pagano a game ball, then watched him lead an impromptu dance in the locker room, including a do-si-do with team owner Jimmy Irsay. It didn't take long for the Colts to assert themselves in this emotional environment - or to swing the game when the Texans took their only lead. Shayne Graham made a 37-yard field goal with 5:22 left in the third quarter, but that lead lasted all of 12 seconds. Karim fielded the ensuing kickoff 1 yard deep in the end zone, found a seam in the middle of the field and never slowed until he reached the opposite end zone to make it 21-16. Pagano patted him on the helmet after the longest kickoff return since the Colts moved to Indy in 1984. Then, facing third-and-23 from the 30, Luck threw a perfect strike through a narrow window, hitting T.Y. Hilton in stride for a 70-yard TD to make it 28-16. On a day the Texans mostly settled for field goals, that's all the Colts needed. Luck masterfully led the Colts 75 yards in 13 plays on the game's opening possession, prompting Pagano to call for a defensive pass interference call on third-and-goal. Pagano also flung his arms into the air when Luck hooked up with Coby Fleener for a 1-yard score. Graham made a 51-yard field goal late in the first quarter and 37-yarder early in the second. But after Matt Schaub's underthrown pass was picked off by Vontae Davis and returned 26 yards to the Houston 39, Luck went back to work. He found Hilton for a 17-yard completion before Ballard plunged in from the 1 to make it 14-6. Pagano was even on the minds of the Texans. Houston opened the second half with its only touchdown when Arian Foster broke through a hole for a 13-yard TD run. Instead of doing his trademark bow, though, Foster ran through the end zone and tapped the (hash)Chuckstrong sign hanging on the wall. That made it 14-13. Schaub finished 24 of 36 for 275 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Foster ran 16 times for 96 yards.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Indianapolis Colts week 17 preview: Houston Texans

  It’s an unfamiliar feel to a familiar situation for Indianapolis Colts fans. The familiar: The team enters the final week of the season getting ready for the playoffs, and regardless of a win or loss against the Hosuton Texans on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, their seed is locked in. The unfamiliar: We will actually see the Colts starters play all (or at least the majority...

Indianapolis Colts down Texans 28-16

Indianapols Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano celebrates after winning his first game following his battle with leukemia. The Indianapolis Colts’ game against the Houston Texans meant nothing for their playoff seeding. But to call the game “meaningless” for the team is flat out wrong. You could see it (and for those in attendance, feel it) as soon as Head Coach Chuck Pagano ran...

Andrew Luck Sharp vs. Texans

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck added 191 to his rookie record for passing yards in a season Sunday against the Texans, giving him 4,374 yards.Fantasy Spin:Luck also threw two touchdowns with zero turnovers as the Colts played to win in Chuck Pagano's first game back on the sideline following several months of leukemia treatment. Luck's 23 passing touchdowns, five rushing touchdowns...

The Colts are looking solid headed into the playoffs against a weaker Ravens teams. Wildcard Round Preview

The Colts are playing great football right now while the Ravens continue to struggle.  Can Andrew Luck lead the Colts past Joe Flacco? With the Dallas and Redskins game over, the playoff picture is now clear.  Here's a look at the Wild Card Match-ups. The AFC teams were locked-up before Sunday but there was a lot of movement left with the seeding.   AFC Playoff Picture...

Video: Colts sink skidding Texans in coach Chuck Pagano’s return

INDIANAPOLIS–The Colts threw down on the suddenly fading Houston Texans in a startling 28-15 victory. Andrew Luck threw two TD passes Sunday in celebration of Coach Chuck Pagano’s return to lead the Colts in with confidence.  Please Click Here To Watch This Video.

Video: Monkey rides a dog at during halftime of Colts game

Sunday was quite a day at Lucas Oil Stadium.It marked the return of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano back to the sideline, a 28-16 victory over AFC South rival Houston, and a halftime show featuring a monkey wearing an Andrew Luck jersey while riding a dog.Yeah, add this one to the "things you don't see everyday" category. It definitely deserves such a tag.Indy is slated...

Colts rookie says $10 bill changed his life

Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen would not be playing football today if it weren't for the football coach at the high school he attended stopping him in the hallway asking for his name.  Allen told Phil Richards of USA TODAY that he was approached by Terry Sanford High School's first-year football coach, Wayne Inman, early his freshman year. Inman asked Allen...

Three rookie QB’s take over the playoffs, here is the complete picture

It is going to be great, because Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson will all be in the NFL playoffs. Luck will play against the Ravens while, RG3 and Russell Wilson will face off against one another.  What rookie will got the farthest?  We shall find out, but we know at least one will move on to the second round. Here is the complete playoff picture below AFC...

Colts win in Chuck Pagano's return

The Indianapolis Colts made Chuck Pagano a winner in his return to the sideline. Andrew Luck threw for two touchdowns and Deji Karim swung the game with a 101-yard kickoff return in the third quarter, giving the Colts a 28-16 victory over Houston. It was Pagano's first game back as coach since starting treatment for leukemia Sept. 26. Indianapolis (11-5) heads into the playoffs...

Texans lose game, top seed vs. Colts

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indianapolis Colts made Chuck Pagano a winner in his return to the sideline. Andrew Luck threw for two touchdowns and Deji Karim swung the game with a 101-yard kickoff return in the third quarter, giving the Colts a 28-16 victory over Houston. It was Pagano's first game back as coach since starting treatment for leukemia Sept. 26. Indianapolis (11-5...

2013 NFL Wild Card Schedule

This years 2013 NFL Wild Card Schedule brings four exciting and competitive matchups to the table. In the AFC, the Houston Texans will try to right the ship against the scorching-hot Cincinnati Bengals, while the Baltimore Ravens will attempt to stymie Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. The NFC will feature a clash of NFC…

The Houston Texans Choked

The Houston Texans choked.   Simple as that. If the Texans do not win the AFC and fall to either New England or Denver on the road, they only have themselves to blame.   Two games they had! Two games (in Edward Rooney from Ferris Bueller voice). One against the one dimensional Vikings and the … Continue reading »

Pagano anxious about returning to Baltimore

Chuck Pagano is heading back to familiar territory. One day after a win over Houston in an emotional return to the sideline, the Colts coach began preparing for another big game - his return to Baltimore. For Pagano, this is more than just his first playoff game as a head coach. It's a chance to go back to the city where he spent four seasons working extensively with the Ravens...

The Great Rookie Of The Year Debate

Although you'll likely see some form of this debate on a variety of ESPN shows and articles, we thought it would be best to check with bloggers representing the three lead candidates so that they could make their case as to why their signal caller is worthy of the distinction of rookie of the year. Who do you think is most deserving? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments...

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts: Three Bold Predictions

On December 16th the Houston Texans gave the Colts a 29-17 beatdown in front of a large crowd at Reliant Stadium. Their win propelled them into the division title and a shot at the number one seed in the AFC playoff picture. When the two teams meet again for the season finale in Indianapolis on Sunday there will be a different atmosphere to the game. Both teams would like a win but...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.