(Reuters) - A late fumble by Houston quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick allowed the Indianapolis Colts to escape with a 33-28 road victory over the Texans on Thursday.
The Colts bolted to a 24-0 lead on the back of three first-quarter touchdowns and an Adam Vinatieri field goal and looked set to romp to an easy win.
The 24 points were the most scored by the Colts in a first quarter since 1958, and also the most allowed by Houston in a first quarter in franchise history.
But Houston found their feet and fought back with two touchdowns in the second quarter before closing the gap to 33-28 in the fourth.
In the final minutes, Houston looked poised for a late drive but Fitzpatrick was sacked by Bjoern Werner and the Colts recovered the ball and ran down the clock to close out the win.
It was the Colts’ fourth win in a row and took them to 4-2 for the season, earning them sole possession of first place in the AFC South. Houston fell to 3-3.
Indianapolis quarterback Luck, back in the city where he went to high school, had another strong game. He completed 25 of 44 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns, though he had one fumble that led to a Houston touchdown.
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton had nine receptions for 223 yards, just one yard shy of the most in franchise history, and one touchdown for the Colts.
“We knew it was going to be a grind. They all are,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano told reporters.
“Defense finds a way to come up with two late turnovers. I’m really proud of the guys.”
Luck, meanwhile, said his team had a shown “lot of backbone” to stave off the Houston comeback.
“It’s only week six. It’s not a super bowl. It’s not anything too special but everyone is big in this league and to beat a darn good team like that is huge for us,” he said.
Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford