INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s our latest ‘hits and misses’ piece on 1075TheFan.com highlighting the good and bad from the previous game.
The Colts are now 5-2 on the season after a 41-21 victory over the Lions, with key situational play and stifling defense again being the recipe.
What was the good and bad from the Colts (5-2) returning from their bye week with a 20-point victory in Detroit?
-Tyquan Lewis: Despite strong defensive play this season, the Colts made a change to their starting lineup on Sunday. It was Tyquan Lewis being promoted over Denico Autry. Lewis showed why he got that promotion with 2 sacks, one from the interior and one off the edge. The ability for Lewis to disrupt things from both the interior and outside, against a first-team O-line, really stood out to me. Autry still delivered (2 sacks), but the emergence of Lewis creates some quality and needed depth up front. If the Colts can rely on a versatile Lewis in the second half of the season, that would do wonders with the rise in competition.
-The Maniac’s Return: People will look at Sunday’s final score and think this was not that close of a game in the second half. But late in the third quarter, the Lions were approaching the red zone with a chance to take the lead. Then, Darius Leonard happened. On a 3rd-and-9, the blitzing Maniac not only got to Matthew Stafford but his length helped force a fumble that Justin Houston pounced on. This was the biggest play of the game for the Colts and it was another reminder of what was missing with Leonard out of the lineup. He had yet to record his patented game-changing play this season. This one definitely qualifies as such.
-Play Of Philip Rivers: For a second straight game, Philip Rivers was darn good. Rivers finished Sunday going 23-of-33 of 262 yards for 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He led an offense that went 7-of-14 on third down and 3-of-3 in the red zone. It was really good situational play again from Rivers and the offense. He’s giving the Colts a needed upgrade at quarterback. His accuracy continues to stand out, while creating enough big plays, too.
-Jordan Wilkins Staying Ready: After the special teams blocking problem Jordan Wilkins had on the first punt of the game, the third-year pro needed a bounce back. He got that with Jonathan Taylor (11 carries for 22 yards) struggling. The Colts turned to Wilkins late in Sunday’s first half and he delivered with a career-high 20 carries for 89 yards. Credit to Wilkins for being the ultimate insurance policy. There are many weeks where he’s a virtual non-factor in the run game. But Sunday was a reminder of he’s just one injury (or one poor performance) away from playing a critical role.
-Special Teams: For the first time this season, the special teams was the worst unit for the Colts. You had a punt block, missed two extra points and lost some hidden yardage in the kick return game. It’s honestly really impressive the Colts had a punt block and still won by 20 points. The Colts overcame these issues, but that’s playing with fire against the uptick in competition coming the rest of the season. Rodrigo Blankenship pushing two extra points in an indoor stadium was alarming.
-Early Run Game: It’s been way too many times that this aspect of the Colts has showed up on the ‘miss’ list. On Sunday, the Colts had an ugly 5 negative runs in the 1st quarter and once again offered no support to Philip Rivers. You had issues at the point of attack and Jonathan Taylor’s struggles led to him getting benched (1 carry for Taylor in the second half, 14 for Jordan Wilkins). What is particularly frustrating about the Colts rushing attack this season is they have been really healthy up front and haven’t faced that many stout run defenses, yet are in the basement of the NFL in averaging 3.5 yards per carry.
-Hilton Injury: We’ll see how much time T.Y. Hilton is going to miss after injuring his groin late in Sunday’s first half. It’s yet another lower body injury for the soon-to-be 31-year-old wideout, who is playing in his first contract year. Putting Hilton’s future aside for a second, this is a significant loss for the Colts. Yes, Hilton’s not producing anywhere near his normal level. But he still draws the most attention of any Colts pass catcher from opposing teams. In playing much more potent offenses moving forward, the Colts will be relying on the likes of Zach Pascal, Marcus Johnson and Michael Pittman to do the heavy lifting at receiver. That’s a lot to put on those guys.
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