REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Colts lead all-time series, 31-9
STREAKS Colts have won past 4
LAST GAME 12/5/21: Colts 31 at Texans 0
LAST GAME AT SITE 12/5/21
QB MATT RYAN makes Ind. debut. Ranks 7th in NFL history in completions (5,242), 8th in pass yards (59,735) & 9th in TD passes (367). Totaled 3,968 pass yards in 2021 with Atl. & became 5th player ever with 3,500+ pass yards in 12 straight seasons. Had 330 pass yards & 4 TDs (3 pass, 1 rush) vs. INT for 102.6 rating in his last game vs. Hou. (10/6/19 w/ Atl.). • RB JONATHAN TAYLOR led NFL with 2,171 scrimmage yards (1,811 rush, 360 rec.) in 2021 & tied-1st with 20 TDs (18 rush, 2 rec.). Became youngest player ever with 2,000+ scrimmage yards & 20+ TDs in season. Rushed for 143 yards & 2 TDs in last meeting & has 531 scrimmage yards (132.8 per game) & 6 TDs (5 rush, 1 rec.) in 4 career games vs. Hou. Has 120+ scrimmage yards & rush TD in 4 of past 5 vs. division. • WR MICHAEL PITTMAN led team with career highs in catches (88), rec. yards (1,082) & rec. TDs (6) in 2021. Had 6 catches for 77 yards in last meeting. • LB SHAQUILLE LEONARD led NFL with career=high 8 FFs & had 122 tackles last season. Is 1 of 2 players (Bobby Wagner) with 120+ tackles in each of past 4 seasons. Is 1st player since 1982 with 15+ sacks (15) & 10+ INTs (11) in 1st 4 seasons. • DT DEFOREST BUCKNER had 7 sacks & 10 TFL in 2021 & is 1 of 4 DL with 7+ sacks & 9+ TFL in each of past 4 seasons. • DE YANNICK NGAKOUE makes Ind. debut. Totaled 10 sacks, 8 TFL & 2 FFs last season with LV. Is 1 of 2 in NFL (Aaron Donald) with 8+ sacks in each of past 6 seasons. Had 2 sacks in his last game vs. Hou. (10/4/20 w/ Min.). • CB STEPHON GILMORE makes Ind. debut. Is 1 of 5 in NFL with 20+ INTs (27) & 100+ PD (116) since 2012.
QB DAVIS MILLS started 11 games last season & ranked 2nd among qualified rookies in rating (88.8), TD passes (16) & comp. pct. (66.8) & 3rd in pass yards (2,664). In 6 home starts, totaled 1,676 pass yards (279.3 per game) & 12 TDs vs. INT for 113.5 rating. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. division with 2+ TD passes & 90+ rating. • RB DAMEON PIERCE makes NFL debut. Selected in 4th round (No. 107 overall) in 2022 NFL Draft. • RB REX BURKHEAD ranked 2nd on team with 613 scrimmage yards (427 rush, 186 rec.) in 2021. Totaled 281 scrimmage yards (93.7 per game) & 2 rush TDs over final 3 home games last season. • WR BRANDIN COOKS led team in catches (career-high 90), rec. yards (1,037) & rec. TDs (6) in 2021. Is 1 of 2 players (Mike Evans) with 1,000+ rec. yards & 5+ rec. TDs in 6 of past 7 seasons. Has 5+ catches & 50+ rec. yards in 4 of 5 career games vs. Ind. • LB KAMU GRUGIER-HILL led team with career-high 106 tackles & 13 TFL last season & was 1 of 5 in NFL with 100+ tackles & 10+ TFL. Had career-high 19 tackles, 3 TFL & sack in last meeting. • LB CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY had 93 tackles & ranked tied-2nd among all LBs with career high 8 PD last season. Had 7 tackles, FR & PD in last meeting. • DE JONATHAN GREENARD led team with career-high 8 sacks in 2021. • DE MARIO ADDISON makes Hou. debut. Totaled 7 sacks last season with Buf. & is 1 of 5 in NFL with 5+ sacks in each of past 8 seasons. • CB DEREK STINGLEY JR. was selected No. 3 overall in 2022 NFL Draft.
- The Colts are 31-9 (.775) all-time against the Texans, which is the second-best record by a team against any opponent all-time (minimum 30 games; Giants over Tigers – .815). This includes wins in six of the last seven matchups.
- The Colts finished tied for first in turnover differential last season (+14) and second in 2020 (+10). They could become the third team in the past 60 years to finish in the top two of this category in three straight seasons, joining the Chiefs (2015-17) and the Eagles (1987-89).
- Jonathan Taylor led the NFL in rushing in 2021 with 1811 yards, 552 more than any other player (Nick Chubb — 1259). This was the largest gap between first and second place since 2009 when Chris Johnson (2006) finished with 590 more yards than Steven Jackson (1416).
- The Texans finished last year with a -172-point differential, which was the third worst in the NFL ahead of only the Jaguars (-204) and the Jets (-194). It was also the worst single-season point differential in franchise history, edging out the -171 mark from 2005.
- Despite his team’s struggles, Davis Mills had a solid rookie year, passing for 2664 yards on the season. This total passed David Carr’s mark of 2592 yards in 2002 for most by a Texans rookie.
- The Colts traded for Matt Ryan this offseason to serve as their starting quarterback for the season. When he starts Week 1, he will be the sixth quarterback to start an opening game for the Colts in as many seasons, a feat only matched by the Denver Broncos (Russell Wilson) and the Washington Commanders (Carson Wentz).
HOUSTON (AP) Matt Ryan is ready for his next challenge as he prepares for his debut with the Indianapolis Colts Sunday against the Houston Texans after spending his entire 14-year career in Atlanta.
And he admitted this week that even after 222 career starts, he still gets fired up for every game.
“Even from when you’re a kid, that first one of the year – there’s just so much buildup to it that’s different than other weeks,” Ryan said. “You’re definitely excited, and obviously for me being in a new spot and a new routine this week, all those things, it feels good that it’s here. I’m ready to go.”
As Ryan tries to help the Colts end a streak of eight straight losses in openers, coach Frank Reich was asked if thinks the quarterback has something to prove after the Falcons moved on from him.
“I have no doubt he feels like that,” Reich said. “I have no doubt we all feel like that, every one of our players. I hope Matt (Ryan) feels like that.”
He’ll face a familiar foe in new Texans coach Lovie Smith, who was hired this offseason to replace David Culley, who lasted one season. Ryan’s history facing Smith goes all the way back to 2008 when he coached the Bears.
“Having played against him 15 years ago and playing against him this week, they are going to be disciplined, they are going to be aggressive with trying to get the ball out,” Ryan said. “They’ve always done a great job at creating turnovers.”
Smith knows his team will have its hands full in defending Ryan with a revamped secondary that will feature two rookie starters. Third overall pick Derek Stingley will start at cornerback and second-round selection Jalen Pitre is starting at one of the safety positions.
“Played against him quite a few times and he’s been one of the best quarterbacks in our league,” Smith said. “He can make all the throws. … He knows the game, smart. It’s not like we’re going to trick him an awful lot.”
The Texans are hoping to perform much better against the Colts than they did last year, when they lost two games by a combined score of 62-3.
“Your opener is against a team that really embarrassed you last year,” receiver Brandin Cooks said. “You don’t forget, but you don’t let that cloud and gray affect what you have to get done. You still have to focus on the details and don’t get too carried away on necessarily revenge.”
Defending NFL rushing champion Jonathan Taylor can’t wait for Sunday to arrive. Indy held its workhorse back out of all three preseason games and he hasn’t taken a hit in months.
Taylor, of course, has carried a heavy workload over the past five years – so much so that some draft analysts questioned whether the former Wisconsin star had too much wear and tear on his legs. But he only seems to be getting stronger.
Not only did he post a league-leading 1,811 yards rushing last season, he also led the NFL with 18 touchdown runs and his 20 total TDs were tied with Austin Ekeler for the league high.
“I haven’t played football since January, so I’m really excited to get out there and play,” Taylor said Thursday.
Rookie fourth-round pick Dameon Pierce used an outstanding camp to climb the depth chart and will start Sunday at running back for Houston.
The hard-running Pierce was so impressive in the preseason that the Texans cut veteran Marlon Mack, who entered camp as the presumed starter. Pierce joined the Texans after a four-year career at Florida where he ran for 1,806 yards and 23 touchdowns.
He’ll try to turn around a running game that has been among the NFL’s worst the past two seasons.
“He’s earned the right to line up there with the (starters) the first snap and I’m anxious to see him play,” Smith said.
Indy’s defense was second in takeaways last season and ninth in points allowed. The Colts’ offseason additions could help them play even better this season.
New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley inherited three Pro Bowlers – defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, linebacker Shaquille Leonard and cornerback Kenny Moore II. Then Indy added two more players with Pro Bowl resumes, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the league’s 2019 defensive player of the year.
The combination of Ngakoue and Gilmore should help Indy fill two glaring holes from last season – a consistent pass rush and a pass defense that struggled to close out games.
Third-year receiver Michael Pittman Jr. will be Ryan’s top target. Beyond Pittman, though, there are plenty of questions.
Rookie Alec Pierce, a second-round draft pick, improved throughout training camp and has the potential to be a playmaker. Reich is hoping Parris Campbell can stay healthy enough to emerge as the No. 3 receiver.
And the Colts are counting on the combination of Taylor and running back Nyheim Hines to provide more explosiveness in the passing game.
Ryan likes what he’s seen.
“I certainly feel like I’ve gotten a much better feel for the group of players that we have,” he said. “I also think they’ve gotten a better feel for how I operate too and how the ball’s coming out and where I expect them to be.”