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INDIANAPOLIS – It wasn’t the prettiest looking 60 minutes of football the Colts have had this season, but Frank Reich’s team got the job done on Sunday afternoon.
Behind 21 unanswered points in the final quarter, the Colts (3-5) beat the Raiders (1-6) in Week Eight, 42-28.
What did we learn from the Colts winning back-to-back games?
FIVE THINGS LEARNED
- Finishing In Oakland: Throughout the second and third quarters on Sunday, this game was trending towards being a loss that would have all but ended the Colts’ chances at attempting any sort of playoff run in 2018. But they resurrected those chances with a 21-0 run in the final quarter. After being one of the worst 4th quarter teams in the NFL last season, the Colts put on a clinic in finishing (and starting) on Sunday afternoon. The defense, which struggled majorly for long stretches on Sunday (Derek Carr connected on 17 straight passes at one point), finally forced a punt. That led to the Colts re-gaining the lead at 35-28. Then, Darius Leonard recorded a huge strip of Oakland running back Doug Martin to seal the victory. The offense did its part, too, in finishing off second-half drives and winning this shootout.
- Run Game Delivers Again: For a second straight game, the Colts eclipsed the 200-yard mark on the ground. Sunday’s effort was 40 runs for 222 yards. It marked the first time since 1985 that the Colts had back-to-back rushing performances of more than 200 yards. Yep, it’s been quite a while since the Colts had an offensive line and run game they could rely on. Marlon Mack scampered for 132 yards on 25 carries, becoming the first Colts’ player to reach the 100-yard plateau in consecutive games since Joseph Addai in 2007. And don’t forget about Nyheim Hines (11 carries for 78 yards) or Jordan Wilkins (2 carries for 14 yards) either in helping the run game on Sunday. Frank Reich stuck with the run and that part of the game delivered in a big way.
- Luck Finds The Tight Ends: Again, just because the run game was so effective doesn’t mean we should overlook the play of Andrew Luck on Sunday. Luck was 22-of-31 for 239 yards and 3 touchdowns on Sunday. It was another efficient and productive afternoon for Luck and the offense, with the Colts finishing off drives thanks to their tight ends and No. 12. For the first time in NFL history, a team had 3 tight ends each record a touchdown catch in a game. Mo Alie-Cox made one of the best catches you will see this season in a first quarter score. Eric Ebron hauled in a deep TD in the third quarter via an impressive box out move for his 7th touchdown on the season. And then Jack Doyle returned to the lineup and ran over an Oakland defender for the game-winning score, on a drive in which Doyle caught all 4 of Luck’s pass attempts
- Getting Two In A Row: The last time the Colts won games in consecutive weeks? The end of the 2015 season, when their quarterbacks were Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst, Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley. The Colts have now won two in a row, after doing what they absolutely had to do against two of the worst teams in the NFL. With the AFC South offering plenty of hope, the Colts still needed to do their part in stringing some wins together. They started that by beating the Bills and Raiders going into the bye week. It’s going to take much more, and some help, for the Colts to extend this season past December. But they have hope now after finally winning back-to-back games. Houston leads the division at 5-3. The three other AFC South teams all have three wins.
- Vinatieri Is No. 1: No player in NFL history has scored more points than Adam Vinatieri. The GOAT took over the No. 1 spot on Sunday, when he split the uprights on a 25-yard field goal right before halftime. The baby draw from Vinatieri (2,550 points) pushed him past Morten Andersen (2,544 points) for the most points in league history. Vinatieri, who played on Sunday despite having a groin injury earlier in the week, is a first ballot Hall of Famer and he added a pretty distinct record to his resume in Week Eight.
-Reich Quotable: On the 42-28 win over the Raiders: “A lot of positive things to wrap the whole game. I just love the way the guys hung together, fought every series. Obviously, the offense ran the ball well again. Over 200 yards rushing, no sacks. That’s incredible. That’s an incredible performance by the offensive line. Defense got us the big turnover at the end. They had the stops that we needed, but great team effort. And then, of course, the icing on the cake was that we got to witness something really special today. We saw the greatest kicker of all time break that record. That’s pretty special. We just celebrated that in the locker room and that’s pretty cool. We just could not be more proud that Adam Vinatieri is on our team and what he means to us.”
-Player Quotable: Kicker Adam Vinatieri on setting the record for most points in NFL history: “I never thought I’d play this long and have the opportunity to be standing here talking about this right now. There’s been a lot of great kickers that I’ve looked up to for a long, long time, and just to be able to play with this many great players and just have the opportunity to step on the field for 23 years, you know. I never thought I’d play that long, never thought I’d be standing here talking to you guys about all-time records. But I love my teammates, all of them, for the last 23 years unselfishly, for going out there and letting me do my job and help me do my job and (make) a lot of great memories along the way. Being in that locker room after – and that’s the best part about today; it’s less the record but more that we got the record on a win, you know what I mean. The atmosphere in the locker room and the guys there and the support, you know, it’s hard to explain on how I just love and respect the players and the game and all the guys. It’s just one of those situations where I guess you can look back on in a little bit after all these years and go, ‘man there’s been a lot of relationships and friendships’. And for the guys just to come up and you know say congratulations and give me a hug or give me a tap or whatever you know, it’s just a special moment.”
-Injury Report: The following players were inactive on Sunday: TE-Erik Swoope, OT-Denzelle Good, WR-Ryan Grant, S-Malik Hooker, DL-Hassan Ridgeway, RB-Robert Turbin and WR-Steve Ishhmael. Four of the seven inactives (Swoope, Grant, Hooker, Turbin) were out because of injury. Safety Mike Mitchell injured his calf in the third quarter and did not return.
-Key Stat: Andrew Luck has not been sacked in 156 straight pass attempts. Luck was hit just one time in 31 pass attempts on Sunday.
-What’s Next: The Colts (3-5) will now have their bye week. In returning from their bye, the Colts will play three straight games at Lucas Oil Stadium in November (Jaguars, Titans, Dolphins).