Facing another fourth quarter deficit and staring a possible 1-4 start in the face, Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton did it again. They connected for the game-winning score in week three against the San Diego Chargers, and they connected on the game-winning 35-yard score against the Chicago Bears today with 3:43 left to win it 29-23.
It wasn’t the prettiest of games (then again, it’s likely no Colts game this year will be), but Luck and Hilton really rose to the occasion. Luck played phenomenal football as he notched his third 300 yard passing game of the season (through five games), while Hilton was a dominant force once again by catching ten passes for 171 yards and a score. Luck on the day completed 28 of 39 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover.
Adam Vinatieri’s importance in the win shouldn’t be ignored either, though. He made all five of his field goal attempts today (from 54, 53, 26, 41, and 46 yards out) and has now made 38 field goals in a row, the third-longest streak in NFL history. If not for Vinatieri, the Colts wouldn’t have won this game today.
The offense started out well in the first half, utilizing up-tempo offense and moving the ball downfield quite a bit. The team stalled as they got closer to the end zone, however, which resulted in a lot of field goal opportunities for Adam Vinatieri. But overall, there were positive signs for the offense in the first half as they went up-tempo. But then, in the second half, things went quiet as the offense stalled and slowed down. That gave the Bears a chance to come back, once again putting the Colts in a position where they were trailing in the fourth quarter.
The defense today was bad once again. Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer had his third straight 300 yard passing day and running back Jordan Howard had his second straight 100 yard rushing day, racking 163 total yards and a touchdown. The Bears moved the ball quite well against Indy’s defense, but they shot themselves in the foot with some penalties and had to settle for some field goals at times too, while the Colts defense then finally made a huge play near the end as Rashaan Melvin (filling in for the injured Patrick Robinson, who had a terrible game) forced a fumble that D’Qwell Jackson recovered. But on the day, outside of that fumble the only team to consistently stop the Bears offense was the Bears. They racked up over 500 yards of total offense on the Colts, at home, and the TV announcers were directly pointing out how Pagano’s defenses have failed in Indianapolis. It’s the closest I can remember announcers getting to criticizing Pagano’s job during a game, and what they said is true, too: Pagano’s defenses have largely stunk during his time in Indy. But I guess that’s just because of Andrew Luck’s contract, right?
Regardless, the Colts improve to 2-3 on the season and will travel to face the Houston Texans next week on Sunday Night Football. The Texans were embarrassed today by the Minnesota Vikings, so it will be a huge matchup next week in the AFC South picture. Believe it or not, the Colts are very much in the mix in the division.