- Associated Press - Sunday, December 16, 2012

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans now own the AFC South, and they have a message for the rest of the NFL:

Last week’s debacle against New England was not the real Texans.

The real Texans, they claim, clinched the division for the second straight year with a 29-17 victory over Indianapolis.

“A lot of people were wondering how we were going to respond,” Andre Johnson said. “I think a lot of people doubted us after what happened last week. We (felt) like we had to show people what we were really about.”


They believe they did so against the Colts, a team that dominated the division for years before Houston’s recent rise.

But Sunday’s celebrations were more subdued than last year’s. This time the Texans expected to win the division, and have much bigger goals ahead.

“It’s awesome,” J.J. Watt said. “But there’s a lot more fun ahead, so I hope everybody is not celebrating too early.”

Johnson gained 151 yards receiving and a touchdown, Bryan Braman had a special teams score on a blocked punt, and Shayne Graham kicked five field goals.

The Texans (12-2) grabbed their first AFC South title last season after the Colts nosedived without injured quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning is gone to Denver and rookie Andrew Luck couldn’t do much against the inspired Houston defense.

The Colts (9-5) had won three straight games and needed a win to clinch a playoff berth a year after going 2-14 in 2011. Before that, they took the division seven times since Houston entered the league in 2002.

“It was a tough loss for us in that we came here with one idea and that was to win the division, and we’re not going to win the division — they did it,” Indianapolis interim coach Bruce Arians said.

Thanks in great part to three sacks from Watt, Houston bounced back six days after the 42-14 loss to New England on national television. The Texans will have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if they win out.

Luck threw for 186 yards with two touchdowns in the return to his hometown. He had led the Colts to a rookie-record six wins on drives in the fourth quarter or overtime this season, and he got the Colts within six points late in the third quarter.

“We came here to win, not put up a respectable showing,” Luck said. “We’ll move on to next week and hopefully get better.”

Houston’s defense shut Luck down after he made it close, and the Texans used Arian Foster to eat up the clock. Foster ran for a season-high 165 yards to leave him with 1,313 yards rushing, giving him his third straight year with at least 1,200.

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