NFL officiating is at it again, and the Colts were the victim this time.
In another “Thursday Night Football” controversy, quarterback Deshaun Watson fumbled the ball at the Colts’ 35-yard line as the Texans were trying to run out the clock in the final minutes. In real time, it was unclear what the ruling on the field was even as the Colts feverishly insisted they had recovered a fumble.
“I was trying to get them to review it,” Colts head coach Frank Reich told reporters. “But the officials on the sideline told me it was being reviewed. And then the Texans called timeout … so that gave them in New York even more time to review it. So obviously they saw it and didn’t think it was a fumble.”
The NFL officiating account later said the play was called a fumble on the field and reviewed in New York, but there was no clear evidence that the Colts had recovered.
Houston proceeded to close out a crucial 20-17 win.
“That was a fumble. I had it,” Colts linebacker Darius Leonard Leonard told the Indy Star. “I punched it out, got it out. I had it, and after that, they said it wasn’t a fumble…Deshaun said I hit it out. Right after the play, he said it.”
The game was highly-consequential for the AFC South. With the win, the Texans are 7-4 and one game ahead of the 6-5 Colts. Houston is in position for the third seed in the AFC, while Indianapolis is on the outside looking in. The 7-3 Bills and 6-4 Raiders currently hold the AFC wild-card spots.