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Trent Richardson's Best Game as a Colt Overshadowed by Fumbles

Running back Trent Richardson looked easily the best that he ever has in a Colts uniform, yet his game was still overshadowed by mistakes.

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Joe Robbins

There was no doubt about it on Monday night: Trent Richardson looked better than he ever has in a Colts uniform.  The player who the Colts gave up a first rounder to acquire mid-season last year had a terrible first year with the Colts, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry.  Everyone knew that he needed to be better this season, and all training camp and preseason we looked to see if we could tell any improvement from him.  Not really.  Week one, we looked to try to see any improvement, but he received just 6 carries as the Colts were forced to take to the air against the Broncos.

On Monday night, however, Richardson looked better than ever as a Colt.  That's not saying much at all, but there were some nice cuts, some nice gains, and for really the first time small glimpses of the back the Colts thought they were getting when they traded their first round pick to get him.  His previous single-game rushing high with the Colts was 64 yards; on Monday night he rushed for 79.  He averaged just 3.8 yards per carry or more in a game just twice with the Colts, but he did it for a third time Monday night.  His 21-carries were also his most in a single-game with the Colts, and in addition to all of this he caught a pass for 16 yards.

Look, LeSean McCoy rushed for 79 yards on 20 carries for the Eagles and many Colts fans felt encouraged by that aspect of the defensive performance.  Trent Richardson rushed for 79 yards on 21 carries and we're calling it his best game in a Colts uniform.  It does show you a bit how bad he has been in the past, but regardless, he looked good on Monday night.  He ran hard and made plays.

Unfortunately, the encouraging signs were overshadowed by two fumbles, including one that Richardson lost.  The Colts were leading 20-6 before the Eagles drove down the field to make it a one score game, 20-13.  Still, the Colts were in a good position with 4 minutes left in the third quarter, getting the ball and hoping to get a score themselves.  On the first play of the drive, however, Richardson put the ball on the ground.  It wasn't the first time in the game he had done so, but the first time he was bailed out by Reggie Wayne diving on the ball and recovering it.  The second time, no one was going to bail him out.  The Eagles recovered, and the momentum swung fully to the side of the visitors.  A few plays later, the Eagles scored a touchdown to tie it up.The good night Richardson had running the ball was immediately overshadowed by the fumble(s).

"It just goes back to attention to detail and practice and preparation, and doing things that you need to do during the week," head coach Chuck Pagano said of the turnover.  "Trent runs extremely hard and he's always fighting for extra yards. When you put the ball on the ground, guys are going to point that out in other meeting rooms in other cities and say, ‘Hey look, this guy, you know, yada yada yada.' Trent understands that and all our backs, all those guys that touch the football know how important ball security is and we harp on it every single day, and we'll continue to harp on it. We've got to do a better job of taking care of the football."

Look, Pagano is right: there was a lot to be encouraged by from Trent Richardson on Monday night.  He ran the ball well and it was easily the best he's looked since coming to the Colts.  It wasn't just the offensive line blocking well (they did), it was Richardson running well, too (he did).  But once again, his fumble issues plagued him.  He had a turnover against the Chiefs in the playoffs last year and he didn't see much playing time after that.  Again on Monday night, Richardson put the ball on the ground twice - and one of them proved out to be very costly.

Let's not overlook the good things we saw out of Richardson Monday night - good by comparison to him in the past, at least.  But unless he can protect the football, he's going to see his playing time decrease.  He simply must protect the football.  He's in no way the team's best running back (please stay healthy, Ahmad Bradshaw!), but that doesn't mean he won't help them out a lot if he can keep playing like he did on Monday night.  Keep playing like that without the turnovers, that is.  If he can't protect the football, he might not get the chances to continue to improve on an encouraging performance.

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