It ended in loss, but aggressive Colts vow they’re not ‘playing for a tie’

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 30: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans runs for a touchdown during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – At some point Sunday evening, when he was alone with his thoughts, Frank Reich undoubtedly hit the mental rewind button on that controversial moment in overtime at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Rehash it. Rewind. Rehash it. Rewind.

Reich’s consternation, though, wasn’t for the reason you might think.

Rather than second-guessing himself for keeping Andrew Luck and his offense on the field for the pivotal moment in the never-ending Colts-Texans matchup – fourth-and-4 at his own 42 in a 31-31 overtime stalemate, 27 seconds remaining – Reich probably was kicking himself for burning a timeout while trying to draw Houston’s aggressive defensive front offside.

“The ideal scenario is don’t call a timeout because you’ve probably not getting them offside. Save it,’’ he said.

To summarize: Reich’s consternation was over the timeout, not the decision to go for it with everything on the line.

That tells you everything you need to know about Frank Reich and the type of team he has now, and will have in the future.

The decision blew up in the Colts’ face when Luck’s quick slant to the right to wideout Chester Rogers arrived low and hot, and incomplete.

“I did not give Chester enough of a chance to make a play and I’m sick to my stomach about it,’’ Luck said.

Three plays later and with the aid of the short field, Houston snapped its nine-game losing streak as Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 37-yard field goal as time expired gave it a 37-34 victory.

The decision is one Reich stood by, and one almost universally supported in the locker room.

“We’re not playing to tie,’’ Reich said. “We’re going for that 10 times out of 10. That’s just the way it’s got to roll.’’

He has been adamant since settling into the head coach’s chair the Colts will be aggressive, confident in themselves. There will be no backing down. That was the case Sunday even though they entered the game without tackles Anthony Castonzo and Joe Haeg, tight end Jack Doyle and running back Marlon Mack, and lost Pro Bowl wideout T.Y. Hilton with a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter.

“Yeah, that’s who we’re going to be as a team,’’ Reich said. “We’re going to be aggressive.  It’s the only way to win in this league.’’

That’s been your message from the outset?

“Absolutely. Absolutely,’’ Reich said.

Listen to Luck.

“Yeah, I loved it. Loved it,’’ he said. “We had a discussion before the play and I agreed. I put my stamp (on it).’’

He rapped his knuckles on the podium.

“As far as the call, I hope Frank’s not second-guessing it,’’ Luck added. “I know he’s not second-guessing it and I know I’m not second-guessing it.’’

Was Luck surprised by the gutsy decision?

“Love it. Love it,’’ he said. “We’re not going to play for a tie. I think everybody in that locker room frickin’ loves that. Loves that. I love that.’’

Again, Luck rapped his knuckles on the podium for added emphasis.

This from center Ryan Kelly: “We’re not going to be shy. We’re going to go for it.

“If you play for a tie you might as well have lost. I respect that move.’’

This from safety Clayton Geathers: “Heck, yeah, I’m all with coach on that. I’m behind the offense. I support the decision. I was fired up.’’

And finally, rookie running back Nyheim Hines.

“I respect that. Nobody wants a tie,’’ he said. “Once you play 70 minutes and you have a tie, I’d hate it. I’d be like, ‘Bro, really?’’’

Yet then the incompletion and the Texans capitalize and the Colts sink to 1-3 instead of exiting Lucas Oil Stadium 1-2-1.

That’s when Reich’s decision brought back memories of Bill Belichick’s infamous fourth-and-2.

Again, no apologies.

“That’s what we’re going to do,’’ Reich said. “That’s what I’m going to do.’’

And again, total support from Luck.

“We play to win,’’ he said. “You don’t play to tie.’’

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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