The Indianapolis Colts defeated the Tennessee Titans 34-26 on Sunday. What did we learn from the game? Here are three takeaways (and we're using the term "learn" loosely):
The offense is good
All three of the things we’ll look at in this article have been obvious all year, so they’re not neccessarily things we “learned” on Sunday - but they are things that stood out on Sunday, to be sure. On Sunday we saw the offense put together one of their most complete performances of the season, despite missing plenty of weapons and despite several drops. Andrew Luck was once again brilliant, completing 27 of 39 passes (69.2%) 353 yards (9.1 yards per attempt), three touchdowns and no turnovers. The offensive line gave Luck more time to throw than he’s had for much of this year, which helped lead to a good passing output. The Colts dealt with four or five drops on Sunday, but T.Y. Hilton (seven catches for 133 yards and a touchdown) and Jack Doyle (nine catches for 78 yards and a score) had good games as they stepped up with other guys out. The run game wasn’t particularly effective, but Frank Gore still managed 61 yards on 17 carries (3.6 yards per rush). The offense racked up 422 yards, which was the second-most they’ve had in a game so far this year, and they also gained 26 first downs (their most in a game). Excluding end of half and end of game kneeldowns, the team scored on five of their nine possessions, and they also had two touchdown drives of 82+ yards. And for the fourth time this year, the offense put the team ahead within the final few minutes of the game, this time on a touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to Jack Doyle. Overall, this was a very successful and promising offensive output from the Colts on Sunday.
The defense is not
To be fair, the numbers for the defense don’t look as bad as they have at times this year: 26 points, 331 yards, 4.9 yards per play. But it wasn’t a good performance by the defense regardless, and they most certainly didn’t “win the game” for the Colts despite the fumble recovery near the end (that sealed it, but it didn’t win it). The Colts still gave up 26 first downs, they allowed the Titans to convert 9 of 15 third down attempts, and they racked up three 75+ yard touchdown drives on the day. For the third straight week, the Colts allowed an opposing running back to go for 107 yards and a touchdown (DeMarco Murray), averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Marcus Mariota was a little errant and that helped the defense, but the passing game still made some plays. To be fair, there were some guys on defense who played well - like the cornerbacks (Vontae Davis, Patrick Robinson, and Darius Butler) and T.Y. McGill - but the defense was sloppy and undisciplined. They gave up far too many plays and allowed the Titans to stay on the field even when facing third down. And the Colts’ defense also helped the Titans out quite a bit, as on four of the team’s five scoring drives the Colts committed at least ten yards in penalties. This was far from the worst game the defense has had and actually one of it’s better games this year, but that’s a huge problem: when Sunday’s game was one of their better games, that shows just how bad this defense really is.
The discipline is also bad
As I already mentioned, penalties and discipline was a big issue for the Colts on Sunday. The Colts committed 12 penalties for 138 yards, and six of those penalties gave the Titans a first down while two others were considered to be ones that stalled an Indianapolis drive. Among the penalties were seven on the defense, including two unnecessary roughness calls (Akeem Ayers and Josh McNary) and four defensive pass interference penalties (T.J. Green, D’Qwell Jackson, Clayton Geathers, and Vontae Davis), the longest of which was a 27-yard penalty on T.J. Green. The offense wasn’t penalty-free either, as there were two false starts (Joe Reitz and Anthony Castonzo), a hold (Joe Reitz), an illegal shift that wiped out a big play (Frank Gore), and a delay of game (Devin Street). The game showed a lack of discipline from the Colts, and the problem is that it’s a trend we’ve seen this year.