Luck broke Peyton Manning's franchise record for completions by a rookie but fell 15 short of Sam Bradford's NFL mark. Luck also moved into third all-time among rookies with 22 TD passes.
And Indy completed the second greatest turnaround in league history — winning nine more games than it did in 2011.
"Man, this has been a great year, a storybook ending," Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne said. "Let's keep it going. Hopefully we can continue to write this movie."
It didn't take long for the Colts to assert themselves in this emotional environment — or to turn the game when the Texans took their only lead. Shayne Graham made a 37-yard field goal with 5:22 left in the third quarter, a lead that lasted all of 12 seconds.
Karim fielded the ensuing kickoff a yard deep in the end zone, found a seam in the middle of the field and never slowed until he reached the opposite end zone to make it 21-16. Pagano patted him on the helmet after the longest kickoff return since the Colts moved to Indy in 1984.
Then, facing third-and-23 from the 30, Luck threw a perfect strike through a narrow opening, hitting Hilton in stride for a 70-yard TD to make it 28-16.
On a day the Texans mostly settled for field goals, that's all the Colts needed.
Luck masterfully led the Colts to a 14-6 halftime lead.
Houston made it 14-13 when Arian Foster broke through a hole for a 13-yard TD run and saluted Pagano by tapping the (hash)Chuckstrong sign hanging on the wall behind the end zone instead of doing his trademark bow. Foster ran 16 times for 96 yards.
Graham's 37-yard field goal gave Houston the lead with 5:22 to go in the third quarter, but Karim's long TD return set off a celebration that didn't end until after Pagano had done his dance.
"It's like a dream come true again," Pagano said. "It's the greatest feeling in the world to be down there."
Schaub finished 24 of 36 for 275 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Foster ran 16 times for 96 yards.
NOTES: Andre Johnson caught 12 passes for 141 yards and became the second player in league history with three seasons of 100 or more catches and 1,500 or more yards. The other: Former Colt Marvin Harrison. ... Manning had 326 completions, Luck finished the season with 339. ... Watt had a shared sack taken away in the first half when the officials erased a sack-fumble of Luck because of the Tuck Rule. ... The Colts lost starting guard Joe Reitz in the first half with a head injury. ... Houston linebacker Daryl Sharpton left the game with a hip injury. Linebacker Tim Dobbins left in the second half with what Kubiak thought was a shoulder injury.
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