INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Davis Mills threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Akins on fourth down with 50 seconds left in Sunday’s season finale then connected with Akins on the 2-point conversion to give Houston a 32-31 victory at Indianapolis — costing the Texans the first pick in April’s draft.
Houston (3-13-1) won twice in the final three weeks to finish second to the Chicago Bears in draft positioning.
Indy (4-12-1) lost its seventh straight under interim coach Jeff Saturday, assuring themselves of a top-five draft selection.
But it didn’t come without some surprises. Sam Ehlinger threw two touchdown passes and led the Indianapolis Colts to scores on three consecutive late drives to erase a 10-point deficit and give Indy a 31-24 lead with 3:33 to play.
Mills finally answered with a 30-yard completion on fourth-and-12 to move Houston to the Indy 18-yard line with 1:26 left. And after throwing two incompletions and getting sacked on third down, Mills’ throw to the end zone went through the hands of Colts safety Rodney Thomas II and into the hands of Akins.
Indy got one more shot, but couldn’t move the ball into scoring position and Ehlinger’s final heave was knocked down short of the goal line.
For the Colts, it was yet another ugly chapter in their miserable season. Houston jumped to a 10-0 lead before Indy even ran an offensive play.
But Mills’ miscues fueled Indy’s comeback.
Rodney McLeod Jr. returned the first of Mills’ two interceptions for a 26-yard touchdown return that cut the deficit to 24-21 with 52 seconds left in the third quarter.
Three plays later, Thomas II, a high school teammate of Bills safety Damar Hamlin, picked off Mills and Ehlinger capitalized by throwing a 4-yard TD pass to Mo Alie-Cox to give Indy a 28-24 lead with 10:30 to go.
Indy thought it had sealed the win with a 54-yard field goal from Chase McLaughlin.
Again, though the defense failed to close it out.
Mills finished 22 of 38 with 298 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions as Brandin Cooks caught five passes for 106 yards.
Ehlinger, the former Texas star, was 23 of 35 with 209 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions as he fell to 0-3 as an NFL starter.
Zack Moss had 18 carries and 114 yards and a touchdown for Indy.
Texans: Tight end Brevin Jordan left in the first half with a knee injury and did not return. Safety Jalen Pitre left after the first play of the fourth quarter and was diagnosed with a concussion.
Colts: Right tackle Braden Smith injured his left ankle late in the fourth quarter and did not return. Safety-return specialist Dallis Flowers went into the blue tent after fumbling on his first kickoff return of the game but eventually returned.
Texans: Will be weighing their options with the No. 2 draft pick in April.
Colts: Must figure out if general manager Chris Ballard returns, decide on a coach and whether to draft a quarterback in April.