INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s our latest ‘hits and misses’ piece on 1075TheFan.com highlighting the good and bad from the previous game.
In a Las Vegas shootout on Sunday afternoon, the Raiders couldn’t keep up with the Colts.
What was the good and bad from the Colts (9-4) getting a huge victory for playoff implications, by a score of 44-27?
-Pass Protection: This might be more of a season-long nod to the offensive line. But dealing with Anthony Castonzo in and out, and then (thankfully) back into the game, the offensive line once again excelled in pass protection. That allowed Philip Rivers to hit on 5 chunk pass plays of more than 20 yards, and have another efficient afternoon leading an offense that scored all afternoon long. We know the pressure on this unit to deliver, given the lack of mobility at quarterback. That group controlled the line of scrimmage on Sunday, which was not the case in last year’s meeting.
-Playmaking Defense: It was by no means a perfect defensive outing for the Colts on Sunday. And we’ll get into that below. However, this unit continues to thrive in timely playmaking to help offset a defensive effort that is struggling to halt drives. You had Kenny Moore’s end zone interception that really changed the entire flow of the game. And then in the final quarter, Moore’s forced fumble and Khari Willis’ pick six sealed the victory. These game-changing plays are becoming almost routine for the Colts defense in 2020.
-Jonathan Taylor’s Growth: As some rookies hit the proverbial rookie wall in the month of December, Jonathan Taylor is plowing through it. Taylor had a career-afternoon on Sunday, with 20 carries for 150 yards (7.5 yards per carry) and 2 touchdowns. From the opening drive against the Raiders, Taylor showed patience in making some guys miss and delivering the home run that had been lacking this season. It took some time, but the Colts have the lead back they were searching for ever since Marlon Mack tore his Achilles in the season opener.
-Ghost Relishing The Moment: It is fitting that in the final month of the season, in what could be his last month ever as an Indianapolis Colt, T.Y. Hilton looks like this normal self. Just like Hilton did last week, it was the variety of his catches that truly impressed against the Raiders. You had a contested catch on 3rd-and-Goal early in the game for a touchdown. You had Hilton getting behind the Raiders secondary for a 41-yard touchdown. And then you him producing yards after catch on a big third down. This is a guy who is making money for himself to close out the first contract year of his career.
-Pass Rush: Easily the biggest question mark for the Colts at this point of the season is the pass rush. The Raiders attempted 46 passes on Sunday and the Colts hit the QB just 2 times, with 0 sacks. And don’t be fooled by saying this was because Derek Carr was just getting the ball out of quick. You had 24 quarterbacks around the league yesterday throw it quicker than Carr. Yet, the Colts couldn’t generate pressure with their 4-man group, or with blitzing. Really, this has been a worry for most of the season and it’s starting to show up again.
-Injuries? This might not be that big of a deal, but we do need to mention it due to the names who didn’t return on Sunday. Both Xavier Rhodes (knee) and Darius Leonard (back) left in the second half of Sunday’s win and did not return. Now, Frank Reich said after the game that neither player was ruled out medically, so that appears to be a good sign. We’ll see how these injuries progress through the week. If either guy is iffy, the Colts would be wise to hold them out against the Texans. Anthony Castonzo said he felt his knee ‘grab’ early in the game and lost some strength in it, so that’s why he left to the locker room. Castonzo returned though late in the first quarter and played his usual sound football.