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Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts

Source: Dylan Buell / Getty

INDIANAPOLIS – This time the Colts handled their home business against an interim-led Raiders team.

And Sunday’s victory means the Colts will have a game of the year next Sunday with the Texans.

What did we learn from the Colts beating the Raiders 23-20 on Sunday?


1. All Comes Down To Next Sunday

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Source:Getty

All Comes Down To Next Sunday: Sunday’s victory has the Colts season finale next weekend as “win and get in” matchup vs. the Texans. And the AFC South crown is still alive, as long as the Jaguars lose to the Titans next weekend. This victory over the Raiders was needed with the Texans, Jaguars and Bills all winning their respective 1:00 games. This win halts a Colts thinning margin for error and sets up a gargantuan season finale next weekend inside of Lucas Oil Stadium. Win that one, you are dancing come playoff time. Lose that one, and it’s another year watching the postseason from the couch. The Texans, with C.J. Stroud back under center, looked good in their home win over the Titans on Sunday, but they did suffer a couple notable injuries. How will the Colts handle facing their first starting quarterback in over a month when Stroud and the Texans come to town with a playoff berth on the line, and potentially a shot to host a playoff game? No matter what happens, it’s still darn impressive this situation is even here for the 2023 Colts.

2. Youth Movement In Secondary Passes Test

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Source:Getty

Youth Movement In Secondary Passes Test: Chris Ballard made it clear this offseason he was more than content with committing to a youth movement in the secondary for the 2023 campaign. That youth movement rose to another level on Sunday, with Julian Blackmon (IR, shoulder) and Kenny Moore (back, missed practice on Friday) both missing their first games of the season. Without two incredibly important communicators and solid players, the Colts had a starting secondary of two rookie cornerbacks (Jaylon Jones and JuJu Brents) a second-year safety (Nick Cross) and a former safety/turned linebacker in 2023/moved back to safety in the last 48 hours (Ronnie Harrison Jr.). The nickel cornerback was Chris Lammons, who entered Sunday having played a total of 32 defensive snaps over the last 4 seasons. It wasn’t perfect from the young defensive backs on Sunday, but you had plenty of very competitive moments in contesting balls down the field. This group was key in holding the Raiders to 3 points despite Vegas getting into Indy territory on 4 drives through the first half of the game. They bounced back from poor play and didn’t get beat deep. Considering the youth back there on Sunday, that was a job well done, and a big factor in the Colts playing from ahead for nearly the entire game.

3. Minshew The Creator

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Source:Getty

Minshew The Creator: The Colts got some big-time playmaking out of Gardner Minshew on Sunday. That’s a phrase we haven’t used too much this season, but Minshew created several big plays, some by extending, and some by hanging in the pocket and delivering accurate balls down the field. On all 3 of Indy’s first scoring drives, it was Minshew keeping things going. The first was movement up and to the right of the pocket to find Josh Downs for 50 yards, which led to an opening-drive TD. Later in the first half, it was Minshew bouncing back from missing Alec Pierce earlier, to throw a gorgeous deep ball to No. 14 on a 3rd-and-1, for a TD. And then in the third quarter, with Shane Steichen going for a 4th-and-1, it was Minshew giving Michael Pittman Jr. a chance, despite Maxx Crosby right in the quarterback’s face, for a key conversion, which led to a field goal. The Colts needed to overcome poor field position, and another awful special teams error (E.J. Speed running into the punter) and it was Minshew who did a lot of that.

4. There’s Alec Pierce Doing His Thing

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Source:Getty

There’s Alec Pierce Doing His Thing: A 14-3 halftime cushion for the Colts was a bit deceiving in that the Raiders really controlled field position, but the Colts made the biggest splash play of the first half. On a 3rd-and-1 just prior to midfield, Shane Steichen put in his jumbo package. A play-action fake by Gardner Minshew, coupled with a deep post by Alec Pierce had the Colts taking a shot to their deep-ball threat. And, after Minshew had missed Pierce earlier in the game, No. 10 stood in the pocket with pressure getting to him and delivered a great ball to No. 14 for a huge touchdown. While the Raiders were having their issues finishing off drives in short yardage, the Colts struck gold on this deep shot. The play was a much-needed injection of life after the Colts had gone 3 straight drives with just 1 first down. And it was another reminder of why it’s necessary to take multiple shots to Pierce throughout a game.

5. Run Game, Matt Gay Kinda Ices It

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Source:Getty

Run Game, Matt Gay Kinda Ices It: In finishing this one off, the Colts had to get back to leaning on the run game. And while Jonathan Taylor didn’t reach the 100-yard mark (just one 100-yard outing in his last 19 games), JT still helped the Colts ice this one, with Trey Sermon spelling nicely, too. Taylor finished the afternoon with 96 yards on 21 carries, with a brief appearance in the medical tent in the 4th quarter. Sermon entered after that and ripped off a 27-yader, which led to a field goal pushing the Colts lead to 10 points. With JT hobbled late, the Colts got a break on a couple of huge Raiders penalties, one that gave Matt Gay another chance after missing from 50 yards. Gay, who has had some issues late in the season, then converted from 45 yards to put the nail in the coffin. In Sunday’s first half, the Colts strayed away from Taylor and the run game for some long stretches. But they went back there in the second half to lean on a Raiders defense playing on a short week and having to travel multiple time zones.


NFL: DEC 16 Steelers at Colts Source:Getty


-Injury Report: The following Colts were inactive on Sunday: CB-Kenny Moore (hip) RB-Zack Moss (arm), LB-Cam McGrone (illness), S-Henry Black, DT-Adetomiwa Adebawore, OL-Jack Anderson. The following players got injured and did not return:

Key Stat: The Colts led for 57:11 out of the 60 possible minutes on Sunday.

What’s Next: The Colts (9-7) will close out the 2023 regular season with a massive one against the Houston Texans (9-7). Time for that game next week will be announced later on Sunday.

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