The end of the Thursday Night Football game unfortunately had an all too predictable end for the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts lost the game 38-24 but required a touchdown in the last minute to even make it that close. The Colts now slip to 1-4 on the season. If the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans win this week they will be all but eliminated. Let’s take a look at what went wrong for the Colts.
Injuries Injuries Injuries
The Colts came into the game completely beaten up on defense. Officially seven players were ruled out for the game as the designated inactives. However, there was a lot more to the situation that that:
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) October 3, 2018
Unfortunately, they then lost Clayton Geathers to a neck injury, Denico Autry to a hamstring and Anthony Walker to a concussion. When you then add in the little niggles and rotational stuff that happens in a game the Colts were often at the bare bones on both sides of the ball.
A quick note on the Geathers injury. That was caused when Sony Michel lowered his head near the goal line and demonstrated just why runners are supposedly no longer allowed to lower their heads. This one was missed by the officials as it looked like Michel was bracing for contact from the side but t was a dangerous play that we will likely see a fine for.
Catch The Freaking Ball
The Colts once again had a major case of the drops in Week 5. Andrew Luck often had the ball on point but the Colts just could not bring it in. Luck threw the ball 59 times with 38 completions and 21 incompletions. Off the top of my head I would say at least five of those of those were drops and it may have been closer to 10 by the end across all the position groups. A couple were absolute killers, including a long ball which Chester Rodgers could not pull in. Ironically, the most questionable guy wen it comes to catching the ball, Eric Ebron had a great night. Two of Luck’s three touchdowns and 105 of his 365 passing yards went to Ebron. Even so he was still just 9-of-15 on the night.
One of the drops actually ended up being an interceptions as the Zach Pascal went down for the ball and he popped it up. The pop-up was then corralled by the extremely welcoming Jonathan Jones. That play all-but ended the comeback attempt for the Colts. On the very next play Sony Michel went 38 yards for a touchdown to take the lead to 21-points
To me Luck looked very good in this game. To all intents and purposes I would say he is back. However, until they get some real pass catchers around him the Colts are always going to struggle to win these games. Missing T.Y. Hilton was a blow but Luck needs more than one receiver and a hit-or-miss tight end if he is to take this team back to the playoffs.
Earlier in the week I said they key to winning this game was the run game down. Turns out the Patriots played it another way. Brady came out throwing the ball from the off. The first play of the game was a short completion to Julian Edelman. In the first quarter alone Brady was 12-of-13 for 105 yards and a touchdown. All in all Brady threw the ball 44 times despite the Patriots being ahead for most of the game. He completed 34 of those for 341 yards, three touchdowns and two extremely unfortunate interceptions. The Colts did a good job grabbing those off deflections from pass catchers but their lack of ability to threaten Brady himself was telling.
The Colts actually did supremely well against the run in this game! Sony Michel had 18 rushes for 98 yards but one of those rushes was a 34 yard touchdown. The rest of the night he was stifled by a good Colts defense. However, Brady used Jame White out of the backfield (10-of-14, 77 yards, 1TD) and Edelman out of the slot (7-of-9, 57 yards) as a defacto running game. Edelmans longest reception was for 13 yards and White’s long of 18 came on a play where he got yards after the pass.
The Colts night against Brad was summed up when Brady threw the ball deep to Josh Gordon for a touchdown. Initially Brady was trying to get Hogan open but he gave Gordon a shot on a deep pass into the front of the end zone. Gordon worked back to the ball and beat two defenders to pull in the score. It was perhaps the one time Brady took a risk in the entire game and it paid off handsomely.
By game time the Patriots giving up 10/10.5 points felt a fairly save bet. This Colts team was ravaged by injuries and it showed, Brady was able to surgically pick them apart and the Colts’ offensive mistakes were too much for Luck to overcome. The Colts have the makings of a good young team but they need a few more pieces and some injury luck if they are to have a shot at the playoffs next season.
Image credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports