While the game started as predicted, with the Colts offense struggling to manage the crowd noise, things started to change quickly. Guard Jeremy Vujnovich was involved in another foot/ankle issue shortly after the snap, this time resulting in rookie center Deyshawn Bond stepping on his foot and exiting the game. Nothing makes the crowd noise harder than bringing in the third string center who likely got very few reps with the first team in practice leading up to this game.
The rest of the first quarter plays for the Colts were made by young faces. Undrafted punter Rigoberto Sanchez put a beauty just short of the end zone and Kenny Moore leaped to keep the ball in play — it was downed at the one. The Colts defense nearly had a safety on the Seahawks first run with Eddie Lacy. Then rookie nickel corner Nate Hairston came on a corner blitz and sacked Russell Wilson for a safety.
The second quarter started the way the Colts would like, winning a second challenge (including one for the safety) which gave the Colts offense the ball back with an opportunity to get something going. Instead, Brissett made his second big mistake of the season by trying to force a pass to Kamar Aiken on an out route. You could see that he identified pressure and then tried to squeeze it in to Aiken. The physical play by the Seattle cornerback Justin Coleman kept Aiken from making a clean break to the outside and made an easy play on the ball.
Of course, wouldn’t you know that the unflappable second-year quarterback came in on the next drive, made a couple of big completions and ran for 25-yards. Once the Colts got inside the five yard line it took a few hard fought plays but eventually Robert Turbin got the call for a tough goal line touchdown run. The following 2-point conversion failed.
The Colts defense stepped up again on the next drive. After getting pressure on Russell Wilson on two plays in a row, Wilson threw to the sideline and safety Matthias Farley made a great play to bat the ball down to himself and get his feet in for the turnover. It was almost... Malik Hooker college highlight-esque.
On the Colts final drive of the half, Brissett showed once again that he is able to stay calm in the face of pressure and complete passes and make plays to keep drives going. He throws a nice football and absolutely loves throwing back shoulder to Donte Moncrief. While it is clear that there will be no quarterback controversy in Indianapolis when Luck returns healthy, this young man is playing his way into a permanent starting job somewhere in the NFL.
After the half, in the longest opening third quarter drive I can remember, the officials threw a ton of penalty flags on both teams. Some of the penalties were legitimate, Johnathan Hankins made a horrible mental error to give the Seahawks 15 free yards, and some of the calls were awful. On the whole, this crew kept with the first half theme — they were lousy.
While another Doyle drop ended a Colts drive prematurely when Indianapolis got their opportunity to respond, the defense stepped up. Malik Hooker picked up his third INT on the season and now has a streak of three straight games with a turnover. This gave the Colts the ball on a short field and while a couple of good shots to the end zone failed to reward them with a touchdown, Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal to tie the game at 18 apiece.
It is at this point that the Colts fell apart. We spent a good chunk of time breaking down the issues with the Colts run defense against the Cleveland Browns last week. One of the common issues is that defensive coordinator Ted Monachino has started utilizing slants and stunts from the defensive ends and outside linebackers.
Keep in mind that one of the most refreshing areas of the Colts defensive overhaul to this point has been a run defense that has improved dramatically. One of the reasons for the improvement has been holding the edge to contain runs inside — mainly with John Simon and Jabaal Sheard. When the ends and outside linebackers start stunting inside, the edges are exposed and safeties and corners are asked to take on blocks from tight ends and offensive linemen coming around the end.
It is this change that allowed the defense to breakdown and allowed the Seahawks to score on a long run, putting pressure back on the Colts offense. Additionally, attrition along the Colts offensive line early this year has resulted in some breakdowns —particularly after half time adjustments. It is on a play that saw Haeg give up the edge and Brissett fail to step up into the pocket that the Seahawks were able to force a fumble and return it for a touchdown.
You simply cannot afford to give up two defensive touchdowns against Seattle on the road and expect to win a football game.
To make matters worse, the defense continued its struggles as the time of possession battle that the Colts were winning soundly in the first half started to disappear. Early in the fourth quarter the Seahawks had their way to put another touchdown on the board and take a three touchdown lead.
As you might imagine, once the game gets out of hand, it becomes really difficult to get anything going against a stout defensive line and a team that has paid handsomely for defensive play-makers. Colts fans are all too familiar with this concept as when the Peyton Manning-led Colts got a lead, pass rushers like Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and Raheem Brock would all pin their ears back and have fun laying hits on opposing quarterbacks.
For good measure, the Seahawks ran up the score with another touchdown drive, including a 4th down throw with Jon Bostic covering a dynamic running back out of the backfield.
The Colts fall to 1-3, alone in last place in the AFC South. On the plus side though, they are only one game behind every team in the division.
Final score: Colts 18 Seahawks 46
Next up is the San Francisco 49ers at home, a game Indianapolis must win if they plan to keep pace.