There was a time that was a routine sentence.
But when it came to hype and importance, Monday night's game at Lucas Oil Stadium was hardly routine.
That being true says a whole lot about the Texans, who before a 30-17 loss to the Colts, had established themselves for the first time in franchise history as a legitimate postseason contender, and one of the NFL's improving young teams.
Monday's game didn't change that. The Texans' future remains bright.
But Monday's victory said a whole lot about the Colts, too:
Mainly, that despite speculation to the contrary, they're not done yet.
"This," Manning said, "was a game we wanted to win."
Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden called the game a "must-win" situation for the defending AFC Champions.
"We respond and responded well," said Hayden, whose 25-yard interception return for a touchdown was part of an impressive effort for a defensive unit that allowed 257 yards rushing in the first meeting between the teams.
"It was definitely necessary," Colts linebacker Clint Session said. "A loss here could have been a real downer for the rest of the season."
It's not surprising the comments of most Colts following Monday's game were decidedly without bravado. The Colts have won six of seven AFC South titles and have made eight consecutive playoff appearances. Their belief is that a key to doing so has been not getting too high or too low following victories or losses -- or preceding them.
But make no mistake:
Monday's victory was big, at least in part because of what the Colts had to overcome to attain it.
Much had been written about the Colts' supposedly dire circumstances in recent weeks, and considering the team's injury report, perhaps correctly so. Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark (wrist) is out for the season. So is versatile, reliable safety Melvin Bullitt (shoulder).
Wide receiver Austin Collie (thumb), who entered the season as a developing young player and indeed developed into a crucial weapon, was out Monday, and is expected to miss at least a few more games. Running back Joseph Addai (shoulder), whose importance to the offense often is overlooked, also missed Monday night's game. The timetable for his return is uncertain.
And throughout the week, the status of not only Addai's backup, Donald Brown (hamstring), but second-year cornerbacks Jerraud Powers (foot) and Jacob Lacey (foot) remained uncertain. Neither cornerback played, and Brown only saw action as a backup.
That's a lot of injuries, even for a team that prides itself on its "Next Man Up" theory of backups playing productive roles in place of injured starters.
And yet, despite those parentheses, the Colts won Monday.
They won because running back Mike Hart and tight end Jacob Tamme, playing for Addai and Clark respectively, turned in clutch performances. Hart rushed for 84 yards on 12 carries, and Tamme matched his career reception total with six for 64 yards and an early touchdown.
They won because defensive end Dwight Freeney helped them establish a fierce pass rush that seemed to take Texans quarterback Matt Schaub out of his game in the first half, allowing the Colts to grab a 17-3 lead the Texans never could overcome. His sack/fumble of Schaub also clinched the game late and ended Houston's slim hopes of a comeback -- proving once again that Freeney is one of the best finishers in the NFL.
They won because Manning is Manning, and the four-time NFL MVP played like it -- moving a depleted offense just enough and taking advantage of a few opportunities to maintain momentum much of the game.
But most importantly for the Colts they won, period, and because they did, they lead the AFC South by a half game over the Tennessee Titans, who lost 33-25 in San Diego on Sunday. They lead the Jacksonville Jaguars by two games, and they lead the Texans -- a team that beat the Colts 34-24 in the regular-season opener -- by a full game.
Monday's game was significant for the Colts for another reason, too. The Colts did something they haven't done in a while and very rarely had to during the past decade: they won a mid-season division game while in the middle of a tight AFC South race.
The Colts, through much of their run of success, have led the division from start to finish. They started 5-0 in 2003, 13-0 in 2005, 9-0 in 2006, 7-0 in 2007 and 14-0 last season. In none of those seasons did they trail in the division, and the storyline late in those seasons often was how early the Colts would clinch and whether they would rest starters upon doing so.
This year, beginning with the season-opening loss to Houston, has had a different feel. Colts president Bill Polian said last week he expected the division to be decided in Week 16 or 17, and as coach Jim Caldwell noted last week, "Right now, we have a fight on our hands."
The last time the Colts won a game in November or December against a division opponent to take the AFC South lead from that opponent was ... well, never.
Not that they couldn't have or wouldn't have -- they just never had to.
On Monday, they did, and while the victory didn't come close to clinching a division race likely to last into the holidays, it said a lot about a team not ready to be done just yet.
Video highlights of the Colts' victory over the Texans on Monday Night Football: