Frank Gore provides rushing threat Colts needed
Frank Gore has produced in the NFL for a long time, as he is in fact the league's leading active rusher. Until this year, he had done it all with the San Francisco 49ers, but the Colts signed him as a free agent in the offseason. Gore has had a good year with Indianapolis this year, but he has yet to top 100 yards rushing in a game. That streak is still going (the Colts haven't had a 100-yard rusher since 2012), but Gore on Sunday provided the rushing attack that the Colts needed - at least early on. On his first six carries of the game, Gore amassed 72 yards and two touchdowns rushing, taking one in from 37 yards out for a score and then another one from 11 yards out. Gore was breaking tackles, making guys miss, seeing the holes, and making the most of his opportunities. In the second half, the running lanes dried up, but Gore still finished with 15 carries for 85 yards and two scores (averaging 5.7 yards per carry) and also added two receptions for ten yards. For a Colts offense that was playing their injured second string quarterback and their third string quarterback, the Colts needed a spark that they hadn't gotten in recent weeks, and Gore provided that offensively. The Colts reached the end zone only twice on the day, but both of them were on Frank Gore runs and that ended up being enough. He didn't break the Colts' streak of games without a 100-yard rusher, but he was a threat in the run game on Sunday.
Pass rush finally delivers
The Colts' pass rush has been heavily criticized this year, and for very good reason: it has stunk. But playing against a weak offensive line on Sunday, Indy took advantage. The Colts racked up a season-high six sacks on Sunday as they got to Ryan Tannehill often. T.Y. McGill got there twice, Kendall Langford got there twice, and Robert Mathis got there twice. That trio provided a powerful and convincing pass rush attack that disrupted Miami's offense and helped the Colts win the game. It started with McGill coming around the edge unblocked in the first quarter to sack Tannehill for a safety, and then it continued for the rest of the game. Fittingly, the final meaningful snap of the football game ended on a Colts sack - one where Mathis, Langford, and McGill all got there. It was a blown play by the Dolphins (as only the center moved), but it resulted in a Robert Mathis sack on fourth down and goal to seal the Colts' victory. Again, the Colts have really struggled to get any semblance of a pass rush going this year, but on Sunday the unit really stepped up and was actually one of the defense's strengths and one of the reasons the Colts won the game. That doesn't erase the struggles from earlier this season, but it absolutely deserves credit. The Colts' worst defensive unit stepped up big time on Sunday and was a crucial part of an 18-12 road win.
Colts' quarterback situation is a mess
When I say that the Colts' quarterback situation is a mess, I don't mean a Cleveland Browns-type mess where the team can't figure out who is their quarterback of the future. Thankfully, the Colts have that answered very clearly: it's Andrew Luck. But at the moment, the Colts' quarterback situation is a mess due to injury. Of course, Luck has missed half of the season with injuries, and the last six games have been because of a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle. Luck's return for next week's regular season finale against the Tennessee Titans is possible but very much unknown at this point. Matt Hasselbeck, who made his eighth start of the season on Sunday, has been incredibly banged up and is dealing with rib, back, shoulder, and jaw injuries. The shoulder injury caused him to leave Sunday's game in the second quarter and he didn't return, being spotted on the sidelines with a sling on his right arm during the second half. Head coach Chuck Pagano said after the game that Hasselbeck will be further evaluated, but the quarterback said that he's not optimistic that he will be able to play next Sunday. That would leave Charlie Whitehurst, the team's third string quarterback who they claimed off of waivers earlier this year. Whitehurst played over half of the game on Sunday, completing 9 of 14 passes for 78 yards, but he too was injured. Pagano said that Whitehurst suffered a hamstring injury, and it appeared as if the quarterback was walking gingerly near the end of the game. Like Hasselbeck, Whitehurst will be further evaluated. The only other quarterback on the roster? Stephen Morris, who was signed by the Colts last week off of the Eagles' practice squad. It has been a disastrous year for the Colts in a number of areas, but none more noticeable than at quarterback. The Colts have dealt with a number of different injuries and are once again, as next week's starter is very much up in the air at this point. In short: the position is a mess right now.