HOUSTON — The Texans now own the AFC South, and they have a message for the rest of the NFL:
Last week’s debacle against the Patriots was not the real Houston team.
The real Texans, they claim, clinched their division for the second straight year with a 29-17 victory over Indianapolis Sunday.
‘‘A lot of people were wondering how we were going to respond,’’ star receiver 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,’’ said J.J. Watt, who had three sacks. ‘‘But there’s a lot more fun ahead, so I hope everybody is not celebrating too early.’’
Johnson had 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. 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 the Patriots on national television. The Texans will have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if they win out.
Luck threw for 186 yards and two scores in the return to his hometown. He had led the Colts to six wins on drives in the fourth quarter or overtime this season — a rookie record — and he got the Colts within 6 points late in the third quarter.
Houston’s defense shut Luck down after that, and the Texans used Arian Foster to eat up the clock. Foster ran for a season-high 165 yards.
‘‘It’s not really that we bounced back,’’ Foster said. ‘‘It’s that we played the football that we know we’re capable of playing. We feel we’re a team that if we play how we know we can . . . it’s going to be hard for us to get beat.’’