HOUSTON — A year ago at this time, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was at home struggling with an injured shoulder that cost him the entire season.
On Saturday, he wrote a happy ending to the latest chapter of his comeback season, throwing for 222 yards and two touchdowns and Indianapolis raced to a big lead and cruised to a 21-7 win over the Houston Texans in an AFC wild-card game.
Luck, a Stanford product, put on a show in his hometown in a stadium where he’d attended games throughout childhood and played in them since high school, throwing for 191 yards and two touchdowns before halftime to help the Colts build a 21-0 lead.
He denied feeling “at home” at NRG Stadium, but said he had warm feelings for the city he grew up in and where his grandparents and many friends still reside.
“But it’s still an away stadium,” he said. “It was very loud, very energetic, but fun to win, certainly.”
Running back Marlon Mack had 148 yards and a touchdown for Indianapolis, which advances to face the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round next weekend.
“We know we have an elite quarterback and we can throw it for 400 and win when we have to,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “But the margin for error in playoff football when you try to do it that way is very thin. When you can win like this — running the football and stopping it — that’s just everything.”
Houston, which overcame an 0-3 start to win the AFC South, gave up too many big plays and couldn’t get anything going on offense in the first half to fall into the huge hole.
Deshaun Watson, who was sacked an NFL-leading 62 times in the regular season, was sacked three times and hit eight more times in his playoff debut. He finished with 235 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception.
“Just a lack of execution on our part,” Watson said. “We didn’t make plays. I didn’t make plays. Communication was a little off. You just got to give the Colts the credit.”
This was the Colts’ first playoff appearance since the AFC championship game loss at New England in the “Deflategate” game in the 2014 season.
The Texans didn’t score until rookie Keke Coutee grabbed a 6-yard touchdown pass to cap a 16-play, 89-yard drive that included a fourth-down conversion that cut it to 21-7 with about 11 minutes left.
Kristie Rieken is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Andrew-Luck-leads-Colts-past-Texans-in-AFC-13511644.php.