By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
FOXBORO (CBS) — No NFL teams enjoy playing on Thursday Night Football. The task is going to be especially difficult this week for the Indianapolis Colts.
That’s because on Sunday afternoon, Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich made a decision that some might describe as “bold.”
Others might describe it as “brain-dead.”
A matter of opinion, really.
The decision came with 27 seconds remaining in overtime. The Colts and Texans were tied at 34-34, with both teams having successfully kicked field goals in overtime. The Colts faced a fourth-and-4 at their own 43-yard line. After trying unsuccessfully to get the Texans to jump offside on a hard count, Indy called timeout, presumably to punt the ball away, and presumably to end the game in a tie.
But surprisingly, Reich sent the offense back onto the field. Luck took a snap and threw incomplete to Chester Rogers.
Instead of being buried deep in their own territory, the Texans only need to gain a dozen or so yards to set up an easy field goal attempt to win the game. They wasted no time, with Deshaun Watson hitting DeAndre Hopkins for an easy 24-yard pickup. Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked the game-winner, dropping the Colts to 1-3 on the season.
The decision was bizarre because even if Luck had completed that pass, the Colts still would have had to gain 20 or so yards to get into field-goal range. The risk/reward factor was all out of whack.
As a result, the gut punch of losing at home to the previously winless Texans has got to be painful. But the Colts won’t have much time to recover, as they’re scheduled to play at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night.
Reich, though, felt no regrets.
“I’ll just address it now: I’m not playing to tie. I’ll do that 10 times out of 10,” he said. “That’s just the way it’s got to roll.”
That’s just the way it’s got to roll!
I suppose being proud after a loss like that is one way of handling it.
The Colts will have the added trouble of playing without star receiver T.Y. Hilton against the Patriots. Hilton twice left Sunday’s game, and his hamstring will keep him from playing Thursday. Hilton entered Week 4 as the Colts’ leader in receptions, targets, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, so the game plan will have to be altered dramatically for Thursday.
Of course, the Patriots may be without a pretty large component, too, as Rob Gronkowski left Sunday’s game due to an ankle injury. His status — though unknown currently — has to be considered questionable for Thursday.
But the Patriots are coming off a 38-7 win. At least the Patriots won’t be coming off a game that they had no real business losing. It may not quite rise to Fake Punt In 2015 levels, but this one is still going to leave a mark.
The Colts, by the way, have lost their last seven games against the Patriots. The average score in those games has been 41-22. In the last three games at Gillette, the Patriots have outscored the Colts 147-53. Thursday ought to be interesting.