But at the last minute, an assistant pulled him back and told him Indy hadn't received the three-fourths majority support from the owners needed to win.
So with Houston eliminated, it went to a fourth vote, which only required a simple majority, and Indianapolis prevailed.
Earlier in the day, several team executives predicted as much.
"You just never know," said Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. "I can tell you, I gave one giant exhale after Roger made the announcement. It's been such a long journey."
Goodell said he and the owners were won over by Indianapolis' plan to use the Super Bowl to rebuild the city's east side.
The city's bid includes creating a $9 million practice facility for the NFC Super Bowl representative on the Arsenal Technical High School campus. The facility is intended to spur redevelopment in the area.
"We really liked the Super Bowl legacy concept," Goodell said after the fourth vote.
Owners also said they liked the city's unique party theme and idea for a blocks-long Super Bowl Village.
Actor Dennis Hopper, a star of the movie Hoosiers, gave the closing statement via video on Indianapolis' behalf.
"Dennis Hopper testified to the party element of the Super Bowl we want to host," said Jack Swarbrick, a member of the Indianapolis bid committee. "We're going to put on a Super Bowl like none before."
Even so, Swarbrick and Irsay said Indianapolis' chances of landing another Super Bowl are very slim.
"We look at this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Swarbrick said. "There are just so many cities in line to host the Super Bowl. But there's one thing for sure, everybody worldwide will know if we can pull off a first-class Super Bowl, there isn't a convention or event this city can't handle."
Indianapolis leaders in Atlanta this week said they will take a couple of weeks to recuperate, then start planning the detailed operations of the event.
Local organizers expect to hit full throttle on planning as early as January.
Swarbrick estimated that 20,000 workers and volunteers will be needed to pull off the event.