On a day defined by the return of Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, it was another type of return that proved decisive.
After the Houston Texans went ahead of the Colts, 16-14, deep into the third quarter, running back Deji Karim fielded the ensuing kickoff a few steps into his own end zone. The 26-year-old out of Southern Illinois caught the ball cleanly and began heading directly up the field, eluding the first would-be tackler around the 12-yard line. Despite taking a direct route through the heart of the Texans' kick coverage team, the speedster managed to burst through the crowd seemingly untouched.
One hundred and one yards later, the Colts were back in front, 20-16. They wouldn't surrender the lead en route to a 28-16 win. The 101-yard kickoff return touchdown was the longest in Indianapolis Colts history, per Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com.
The Colts' win likely dashes the suddenly reeling Texans' hopes of home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs and perhaps even costs them a first-round bye. Having lost three of their last four games, the Texans left the field needing a loss by either the Patriots or the Broncos to secure a bye and losses by both to secure home-field advantage.