Winners and losers from Texans' huge victory over Colts on 'TNF'
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts did battle with the Texans in Houston on “Thursday Night Football.” It was a huge game to start the Week 12 slate, with first place in the AFC South on the line.

Tied at 10 at the half, Houston’s offense came through with big play after big play in the second half. QB Deshaun Watson was on the money. His top receivers, DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, did their thing.

On the other side, the QB Jacoby Brissett and wideout T.Y. Hilton struggled for Indianapolis.

These are among the biggest winners and losers from Houston’s key 20-17 victory over the Colts.

Winner: Jonathan Williams, Colts

Getting the start with Marlon Mack out with a broken hand, this former Buffalo Bills draft pick made it look easy against the Texans. He provided Jacoby Brissett with the balance the quarterback desperately needed on offense. That included a brilliant 13-yard touchdown run to put Indy up 17-10 in the third quarter.

These types of game-breaking plays open things up for Brissett and loomed large Thursday night. The Arkansas product finished with 121 yards and 29 touches. Outside of that one touchdown run, Williams wasn’t splashy. But he did provide a nice little boost.

Loser: T.Y. Hilton, Colts

Making his first appearance since sustaining a calf injury in Week 6, this four-time Pro Bowler was rusty. That included Hilton dropping a perfect pass from Brissett on a crucial third down with his team leading by four late in the third quarter.

As sure-handed as they come, it was downright shocking to see Hilton put this one on the ground. He dropped another one in the fourth quarter, another would-be first down on third down with Indianapolis down three.

Hilton caught 3-of-6 targets for 18 yards. The Colts are going to need more from him moving forward as he gets healthier. 

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans

Coming up big time again and again. That’s what the Texans are going to need from their top skill position player moving forward. It’s also what we saw at nearly every turn Thursday night.

Hopkins hauled in 6-of-8 targets for 94 yards. That included touchdown catches of 35 yards and 30 yards, the latter of which was just amazing. When Deshaun Watson and Hopkins are connecting, this offense is nearly unstoppable.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Loser: Malik Hooker, Colts

Hooker has been brilliant in his two-plus seasons in the NFL, playing at a Pro Bowl level during that span. But playing free safety in this league can be tough. One bad play can make the difference in a game.

We saw that Thursday night. The former first-round pick was burnt big time by Hopkins on a 35-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give Houston a 10-7 lead.

We’re not too sure what angle Hooker was taking here. It’s certainly not standard operating procedure for one of the game’s best cover safeties. And it cost Indy big time.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Deshaun Watson, Texans 

After struggling early, Watson stepped up when it counted the most. He connected on four passes of 30-plus yards Thursday night.

The third-year quarterback completed 13-of-19 passes to Houston’s top two receivers for 234 yards with two touchdowns. All said, Watson went for 298 yards and missed on just 11 of his 30 attempts. That’s some elite stuff after major struggles in a blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens last week.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Loser: Jacoby Brissett, Colts 

Holding on to the ball too long. Not anticipating where receivers are. Struggles in the pocket. Issues Brissett had earlier in his career came back to haunt the quarterback once again Thursday night.

In what might have been his worst performance of the season, Brissett went for just 129 yards on 25 attempts. Sure drops from his receivers didn’t help. But an inability to throw the ball down field cost Indy.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Will Fuller, Texans 

Enigmatic. That would be the best way to describe the career of this former first-round pick. When he’s not injured, Fuller has flashed brilliance at times. He’s also struggled with drops.

Both of those things rang true Thursday night. Sure, Fuller dropped two passes, but he also hauled in two huge passes from Watson to move the chains.

Fuller finished with seven receptions for 140 yards. This is the big-play ability he brings to the table. It can also make Houston’s offense unstoppable. Now, can he stay consistent?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Loser: Colts pass rush 

Following last week’s game, a lot was made of the pass-protection issues we’ve seen from Houston’s offensive line. After all, Watson was sacked six times by the Ravens and has been taken down 93 times in his past 26 starts.

Justin Houston and Co. failed to take advantage of this weakness. Indianapolis sacked Watson just one time and failed to consistently pressure him throughout the game.

Correlation and causation. Without pressure in his face, Watson was able to connect with his top receivers on big pass after big pass. That was the Colts’ downfall Thursday night.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.

More must-reads:

Customize Your Newsletter


Get the latest news and rumors, customized to your favorite sports and teams. Emailed daily. Always free!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.