INDIANAPOLIS — Houston just can't win in Indianapolis.
On a day the defense held the Colts to their lowest point total of the season, the offense broke down behind a rookie quarterback.
Andrew Luck did just enough Sunday, throwing for two second-quarter touchdown passes and leading Indianapolis on a time-consuming fourth-quarter drive to close out a 17-10 victory that clinched the AFC South.
"Our defense did a good job. But at the end of the day, they scored more points than us," defensive end J.J. Watt said after recording two more sacks. "There are no moral victories in the NFL."
Instead, the Texans (7-7) headed home with another loss on Indy's home turf, where they are now 0-13.
Houston's biggest problem this time was a short-handed offense that never got in sync. Receiver Andre Johnson and tight end Garrett Graham were both deactivated before the game, and less than two minutes into the second quarter, starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was being carted off the field with an air cast covering his left leg. He did not return and coach Bill O'Brien would not confirm reports that the leg was broken.
So the Texans had to rely on rookie Tom Savage, who completed his first NFL pass for a first down. But the offense bogged down the rest of the day.
Savage finished 10 of 19 for 127 yards with one turnover, one lost fumble and one sack. Arian Foster ran 26 times for 99 yards but had a 25-yard TD run that would have tied the score in the fourth quarter nullified by a holding penalty on DeVier Posey.
It was that kind of day for Houston, which managed just 289 total yards and only offensive score -- a 53-yard field goal.
"I thought he (Savage) did OK," O'Brien said. "There were things I'm sure he wishes he could have the play back. I wish I could have the play call back, all those things. We've got to do a better job in certain areas, but I thought the guy went in there and competed, made some decent throws, got us into the right plays a couple times."
While the Texans lamented their fate, the Colts (10-4) celebrated a milestone win.
Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and return specialist Josh Cribbs, longtime Browns, couldn't believe they were finally heading into the postseason for the first time. Jackson was so excited he started toward the showers still wearing his championship hat.
Luck, meanwhile, reminded everyone the playoffs can't be taken for granted -- even though he's never missed out in his three NFL seasons.
Nobody understands this situation better than Reggie Wayne, who has reached the playoffs in 12 of his 14 NFL seasons. Three years ago, many thought his days in Indy numbered after the Colts went 2-14. But Wayne gave Indy a hometown discount and has spent the last three years chasing a second Super Bowl ring and Peyton Manning's records.
With 209 career games and 142 career wins, Wayne now holds both records, something that was not lost on teammates or coaches, who sent Wayne back into the game for the final snap.
"We gave out one game ball and that was to Reggie," coach Chuck Pagano said. "Really glad that things worked out, especially for that player. He embodies what we talk about, represents everything that Mr. (Jim) Irsay talks about."
Wayne couldn't have done it without some help and he had plenty Sunday.
Luck was 18 of 34 for 187 yards, throwing for two second-quarter touchdowns that turned a 7-0 deficit into a 14-7 halftime lead. Daniel Herron ran 11 times for 60 yards including five straight times on the game sealing drive that consumed 5 minutes, 3 seconds. Vinatieri finished it with a 29-yard field goal with 2:11 to go.
Kendrick Lewis returned an interception 27 yards for touchdown to give the Texans a 7-0 lead.
Luck tied it with a 26-yard TD pass to Hakeem Nicks early in the second quarter.
Then when it looked as if the Colts would blow another scoring chance following Wayne's second-quarter fumble, Savage gave it right back on a botched handoff. Three plays later, Luck hooked up with Dwayne Allen on a 3-yard TD pass to take a 14-7 lead. Indy never trailed again.
Notes: Indy is 13-0 all-time at home against the Texans and has won 12 straight over AFC South foes. ... J.J. Watt joined former Dolphins star Jason Taylor as the only players since 1991 with 10 sacks and 10 passes defensed in two different seasons. ... Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton left late in the game with a hamstring injury. ... Army Specialist Shanea Cornett surprised her two daughters, her younger sister and her mother when she walked into the south end zone after completing a nine-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.
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