HOUSTON – This race for the AFC South crown is some ugly baby.

But with beauty in the eye of the beholder, the Houston Texans will surely dote on that baby.

The Texans rallied from a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to stun the Indianapolis Colts 26-23 in overtime on Sunday night to hang onto first place.

Nick Novak’s 33-yard field goal, with 6:50 elapsed in overtime, capped the comeback.

The Texans (4-2) flirted with losing the division lead to the Colts (2-4), but found a way behind a huge night from Lamar Miller, who rushed for 149 yards and a big-play defense that put the clamps on Andrew Luck when it mattered most. Then there was much-maligned quarterback Brock Osweiler, who shook off a crucial interception to deliver at the finish.

While the defense is forced to proceed without star defensive end J.J. Watt, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year lost for the season due to a second back surgery, Osweiler has struggled to spark the offense.

Houston invested $72 million into a six-year contract to land Osweiler in a free agent move from Denver, with the hopes that he would get them over the hump to become a legitimate contender.

Yet for much of Sunday night, he was shaky. His third-quarter interception nearly doomed the Texans, and extended his dubious string of throwing a pick in each game this season.

Two plays after Osweiler underthrew DeAndre Hopkins on a pass over the middle, picked by Vontae Davis, Luck scampered 12 yards into the end zone for the touchdown that extended Indianapolis’ lead to 20-9.

The Texans, however, came to life in the fourth quarter and Osweiler made amends. Lamar Miller, another of the Texans’ new additions, had a scintillating 10-yard TD reception that made it a one-score game. After the defense forced a three-and-out, Osweiler found his rhythm by connecting on three consecutive passes – capped by a 26-yard scoring strike to C.J. Fiedorowicz with 49 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

In overtime, the Texans forced a punt after Benardrick McKinney’s third-down sack of Luck. Then Osweiler provided the big throw – a 36-yard laser strike to Jaelen Strong – that set up Novak’s winning kick.

It was ugly football. But at the moment, the gritty Texans have no choice but to accept it.

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