J.J. Watt after loss to Colts: 'We just have to play better'

HOUSTON -- Early in their 24-21 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, the Houston Texans' defense looked every bit as dominant as it had been during a nine-game winning streak.

After four series, quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts' offense had failed to get a first down. Though Indianapolis had put together a 12-play drive early in the second quarter, the series ended with Luck throwing an interception.

But the Colts made adjustments in the second quarter, finishing the half scoring 17 unanswered points to take a 17-7 lead into halftime, and the Texans' defense had a hard time getting off the field the remainder of the game.

Houston gave up six plays of more than 20 yards, including a 60-yard catch and run from Luck to receiver T.Y. Hilton that led to the Colts' first touchdown.

"We have to do a better job," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "We did not combine the coverage and rush like we have been doing in previous games. If we're not covering well, the rush isn't getting home, maybe one is happening, something else isn't happening, we're going to have a hard time. We've got to get back to that."

Luck targeted Hilton 12 times against the Texans, which ties a season high. Hilton finished with nine catches for 199 yards, the second highest total of his career.

"I think [Hilton] and Luck have great chemistry," cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. "You see some of the balls he had: He didn't have to break stride, just came out and the ball was right on him. But that's what top receivers and great quarterbacks do. Anytime you play in this league, you've got to stop those guys."

Hilton had four receptions of at least 20 yards, and his 16.6 yards per target were more than double the Colts' other pass-catchers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Hilton has had a successful career against the Texans and he referred to NRG Stadium as "his second home" after the game.

"[Hilton] obviously had a huge day," Watt said. "We knew going in that's a guy we had to stop, and we didn't. That's everybody. That's us up front putting pressure on him, making him get in difficult situations. It's the back end. It's everybody.

"Luck did a good job spreading it around, guys got open and he found them. We just have to play better. We can sit here and say whatever we want, but we have to play better."

Those big plays were especially frustrating, rookie safety Justin Reid said, because the defense knows that if it can eliminate them, teams will have a hard time putting drives together.

"We have to go back to the film room and take away those big plays because teams aren't going to drive 90 yards on our defense," Reid said. "It's just not going to happen, unless they get a big play like that."

Safety Tyrann Mathieu said he's "not worried at all" about the big plays the defense gave up, but "obviously, it's something you want to cut down." The veteran noted that because the defense is so successful against the run -- the Colts rushed for 50 yards on 23 carries on Sunday -- opposing offenses have to resort to throwing the ball "50, 60 times a game."

Though Luck didn't attempt quite that many passes -- he went 27-of-41 for 399 yards with a touchdown and an interception -- Mathieu said the defense wasn't "as sharp as we normally are."

"We have to do a great job at really disguising coverages, rolling coverages and then putting ourselves in position to where we can make plays on the ball as well," Mathieu said. "We didn't make enough plays on the back end. We've got to do a better job of really challenging receivers [and] getting us in position to make plays."