NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The AFC South division race got a little bit more interesting over the weekend as the Houston Texans pulled within a game of the Indianapolis Colts for first place.
Here's a detailed rundown of how each of the Titans division rivals fared in week 11.
Indianapolis Colts (6-4)
The Colts ran into a buzz saw named Jonas Gray on Sunday night football on their way to a convincing 42-20 loss to the New England Patriots.
Gray finished the game with 201 rushing yards on a whopping 37 carries, while reaching the end zone on four separate occasions. Gray has been a journeyman running back in his three years as a professional and didn't finally make his debut until four weeks ago. The touchdowns were his first, second, third and fourth of his career.
Tom Brady's line of 19-of-30 passing for 257 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions was icing on the cake for New England. Both touchdowns went to the Patriots tight ends with Tim Wright catching the first and Rob Gronkowski hauling in the second. Gronk's touchdown came on a 26-yard catch and run that was they play of the weekend. If you haven't seen it, you need to do so.
While the Colts defense struggled to stop Gray and the Patriots, Andrew Luck and the Indy offense had issues putting together consistent drives. Luck finished with 303 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception, but the numbers don't accurately assess Luck's struggles Sunday night.
Hakeem Nicks caught his third touchdown of the season and finished with two catches for 15 yards. Left tackle (yes, left tackle) Anthony Castonzo caught Luck's second touchdown pass. As you'd expect, the touchdown was the first of Castonzo's career.
Safety Mike Adams was the lone standout for the Colts defense on the night, as he led the team in tackles with 11 and recorded both interceptions of Tom Brady
Week 11 Star: Coby Fleener – TE
Adams' game was big, Fleener's was bigger. The third-year tight end caught all seven of his targets for a career-high 144 yards. Top tight end Dwayne Allen sprained his ankle early in the contest, paving the way for Fleener's performance.
Week 12 Matchup: vs. Jaguars – 12:00 p.m. CT
Indianapolis will look to improve to 4-0 in the AFC South division as they host the Jaguars on Sunday.
Houston Texans (5-5)
As I mentioned above, the Texans took advantage of Indy's loss Sunday, pulling within a game of the division lead after a 23-7 road win against the Cleveland Browns.
The story going into the matchup was Ryan Mallett getting his first career start in place of Ryan Fitzpatrick. As most games go, however, the game turned into the J.J. Watt Show.
Ryan Mallett's first career touchdown pass came eight minutes into the game on a two-yard fade route to Watt. Watt's acrobatic catch in the corner of the end zone was replayed throughout the day. The touchdown was his second receiving score this season and fourth total touchdown (one pick-six and one fumble return). Watt is the first defensive lineman since 1948 to have four touchdowns in a season.
Watt finished the game with the one touchdown reception, five tackles, one sack, three tackles for loss, one fumble forced and one fumble recovery. He did have two blemishes with roughing the punter penalties on two separate occasions.
Mallett finished with 211 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Andre Johnson led the Texans with seven receptions that went for 68 yards. DeAndre Hopkins had four catches for 80 yards. Tight end Garrett Graham caught Mallett's other touchdown pass, a 20-yard connection in the final seconds of the first half.
Arian Foster missed his second game of the season, this time with a groin injury. Once again, rookie running back Alfred Blue filled in admirably with 156 yards on 36 carries.
Brian Hoyer threw for a deceiving 330 yards with just one touchdown and one interception as the Browns offense struggled to string together drives all game. Andrew Hawkins led the Browns in receiving with 97 yards on six catches with one touchdown. The score was Hawkins' second in three weeks.
Isaiah Crowell got the start at running back for Cleveland and ran for 61 yards on 14 carries.
Week 11 Star: J.J. Watt – DE
1 receiving touchdown, 1 fumble forced, 1 fumble recovery, 1 sack, 5 tackles, 3 tackles for loss - Just another day in the office for the NFL's best defensive player.
Week 12 Matchup: vs. Cincinnati Bengals – 12:00 p.m. CT
Every game gains added pressure coming down the stretch of the NFL season. The Colts aren't likely to lose to Jacksonville, which means Houston will need to win at home against the Bengals in week 12.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9)
Week 12 Matchup: at Indianapolis Colts – 12:00 p.m. CT
Blake Bortles come fresh off a bye week and will head to Lucas Oil Stadium in week 12. Bortles will look to end an ugly streak of eight straight games with an interception.