INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s our latest ‘hits and misses’ piece on 1075TheFan.com highlighting the good and bad from the previous game.
In recording their biggest comeback victory since the 2003 regular season, the Colts flipped the script in some key areas.
What was the good and bad from the Colts (4-2) entering the bye week with a victory?
-Situational Football: Too many times this season, we’ve had to throw this category in the ‘miss’ category. Not on Sunday though, with the Colts going 7-of-11 on third down and 4-of-4 in the red zone. This is how (and why) the Colts got back into this game, and then ended Sunday victorious. After struggling so much situationally to start 2020, the Colts were outstanding in the critical parts against the Bengals. Credit Philip Rivers for some pinpoint accuracy, and the Colts for hitting on three TD receptions in between the 10 and 20-yard line. Moving the ball and scoring wasn’t killing the Colts this season. It was finishing off drives that was really hurting them. Those drives ended far more often with TDs on Sunday, hence the 31 points and ability to secure the comeback victory.
-Unsung Skill Guys: Three names stuck out to me on Sunday. You had Marcus Johnson showing why Frank Reich has always liked him. Johnson provided this offense with more big plays, finishing the game with 108 receiving yards (the first 100-yard game of the season for a Colts wideout) and 5 catches. Trey Burton delivered in the red zone, scoring two touchdowns to go along with his 58 receiving yards on 4 catches. And how about undrafted jitterbug DeMichael Harris making his NFL debut, catching 3 balls for 29 yards. Frank Reich was intrigued by what Harris was showing on the practice squad, which followed a nice camp for the hybrid RB/WR from his collegiate days. Harris showed a little speed spark on Sunday that the Colts would love to see grow in the slot.
-Finishing Defense: How many times have you seen a Colts defense be in the situation we saw on Sunday (Colts lead by 4 with less than 4 minutes to go) and not get the final stop? The Colts had their defensive struggles on Sunday, but when they needed it the most they closed things out. Rush and cover issues early on Sunday were finally turned around in the game-sealing play. It was blitzing pressure, and a nice rush by Ben Banogu (speaking of your young DL, shoutout to Tyquan Lewis for his 5 tackles in 21 defensive snaps) that forced a throw from rookie Joe Burrow, with the ball-hawking Julian Blackmon adding to his rookie resume. One more play not to forget from Sunday’s 4th quarter: the 3rd-and-1 run stuff by the Colts, which forced a Randy Bullock field goal try that bounced off the right upright, keeping the home team ahead 28-27 with 8:06 remaining.
-Team Discipline: This is an all-encompassing category of the Colts resulting in Frank Reich’s team playing too much like their competition, committing several self-inflicted mistakes from an early fumble to a handful of first-half penalties. The Colts were not locked in from the start, looking like a team that had one foot in their bye week, and not one hungry to avenge a previous week loss. It shouldn’t have taken a 3-touchdown wake-up call to get the Colts out of bed on Sunday.
-Rushing Offense: Do not let a final box score of Jonathan Taylor rushing for 60 yards on 12 carries (5 yards per carry) think this was a big step forward in the run game. Honestly, the Colts only had 1 drive that saw acceptable run-game success. That was when Taylor ripped off back-to-back runs of 21 and 17 yards. But Taylor and Jordan Wilkins combined for just 21 yards on 11 carries in the other 10 drives. The Colts had so many advantages over the Bengals in the run game entering Sunday but couldn’t establish that.
-T.Y. Hilton: The drought continues for T.Y. Hilton as he had one of the least productive games of his entire career on Sunday. Now, Hilton didn’t benefit from a friendly whistle on Sunday, but it’s still a bit jarring to see him targeted 5 times and end the game with just 1 catch for 11 yards. Hilton also dropped a screen pass. The Colts no longer have a true No. 1 wideout. Until Hilton gets back to being a more routine producer, the Colts are left scrambling a bit for wide receiver impact
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