INDIANAPOLIS — The AFC South champion Colts got just what they needed as a playoff tuneup.
Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes, and Robert Mathis broke Indianapolis’ single-season and career sacks records by forcing a second-half safety to lead the Colts past reeling Houston 25-3 on Sunday.
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Luck finished 19 of 32 for 180 yards with one interception and needed only two quarters to put up 20 points, four short of Indy’s combined first-half point total from the previous six games.
But the Colts (9-5) did it against a team that has lost 12 straight overall and is 0-12 all time in Indy.
For Houston (2-12), it looked all too familiar.
Indy took a 20-3 halftime lead, aided by two interceptions by Case Keenum and too many penalties. Keenum also was stripped of the ball by Mathis in the end zone, which led to the safety.
Keenum was 18 of 34 for 168 yards.
It was a complete reversal from what Colts fans had witnessed over most of the last two months, when they were outscored 114-24 in the first half.
All that changed Sunday, even though Luck was working with an offensive line that started the day without two starters, lost one of the replacements with a concussion on the first series and lost starting running back Donald Brown with a stinger later in the first half.
Indy used a heavy dose of bubble screens to receivers to finally end its long run of sluggish starts.
Luck opened the game with an 80-yard TD drive that ended with Griff Whalen‘s 14-yard scoring catch. It was the Colts’ first opening drive touchdown since Week 3 against San Francisco.
And Luck was only warming up.
Luck made it 17-3 when he faked another receiver screen, then flipped the ball on a shovel pass to Trent Richardson for a 9-yard score with 7:03 left in the half. And after Butler’s second interception, Vinatieri made a 43-yard field goal to give Indy a 20-3 halftime lead.
The Colts added another field goal and the safety in the third quarter for their most lopsided victory since winning 37-3 at Jacksonville on Sept. 29.
Mathis, the NFL sacks leader, now has 16 1/2 this season and 108 in his career, breaking the franchise records held by longtime teammate and close friend Dwight Freeney. Freeney set Indy’s single-season mark in 2004 with 16 and finished his Colts career with 107 1/2.
Texans receiver Andre Johnson, who came into the game with 95 catches, had four receptions for 18 yards.
Indy has gone 29 consecutive games without back-to-back losses.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press