The Indianapolis Colts set the wrong tone from the start of the game. The Rams were able to pass the ball at will with all kinds of space in the secondary. Additionally, Scott Tolzien’s first throw was intercepted and taken back for a touchdown, his second throw was batted down at the line, and his first completion to T.Y. Hilton resulted in a lost fumble.
If you didn’t want to see a train wreck, you should have averted your eyes at this point.
Rookie running back Marlon Mack made an early appearance in the red zone and quickly acted as a release valve for Tolzien. He caught a pass on his first play and took that ball in for a touchdown. The officials blew the call on the field, forcing the Colts to challenge. Rather than do that, the Colts rushed to the line and quickly snapped the ball trying to.... catch the Rams sleeping?
For those who like to follow the game from home, there is a common practice among NFL teams since instant replay was instituted. The reason teams will rush to the line and quickly snap the ball is because the opportunity to challenge a play ends once the ball is snapped and the next play begins. So, if you feel that your player might not have caught a pass, may have stepped out of bounds, or may not have crossed the first down marker, you quickly get to the line and snap the ball to stop the opposing team from taking a good look at the replay and getting the play reversed.
This strategy is not used when your player may very well have scored a touchdown and you and your staff want to get a closer look at the replay to confirm. In that case, you slow down, take a look, and then decide whether to throw one of your two challenge flags for the game. Apparently, this strategy is understood and practiced by every team and coach in the NFL other than the Colts and head coach Chuck Pagano.
This poor decision cost the Colts 4 points early in the game. The remainder of this tilt makes it pretty apparent that it wouldn’t have necessarily changed the outcome of the game but it very well have cost the Colts important momentum that they would never find again. This big mistake set off a chain reaction that wouldn’t quit until the final gun mercifully sounded.
Other unforced errors? Well, Tolzien finished the game 9/18 for 126 yards and threw two interceptions that were returned for Rams touchdowns. He threw what would have been a third pick six but Donte Moncrief tried to tear off the Rams defender’s head to keep him from making the play.
While Marlon Mack showed that he deserves more opportunities to make an impact in the Colts offense, he lost a fumble when the ball was stripped from his arms to be recovered by Jacoby Brissett in the end zone for a safety. Let’s just say that it was a good day to own the Rams defense in fantasy football.
On the day, the Colts threw two interceptions, nearly a third, gave up two defensive touchdowns for a score, and the offensive line allowed four sacks.
In terms of bright spots? At best, the defensive line looked pretty solid clogging running lanes in the middle of the field. The Rams were only able to put up 63 total rushing yards on 33 attempts — 1.9 yards/attempt. Todd Gurley was held to 40 yards on 19 attempts — 2.1 yards/attempt.
At times the offensive line also looked good opening holes for the ground game. Frank Gore ran for 42 yards on 10 attempts — 4.2 yards per attempt. So, I guess Pagano and the Colts are finally close to achieving the goal? We can stop the run and sort of run the ball?
Rookie Marlon Mack still looks like a promising pick up — although at one point in the game he took six carries for a total of 1 yard. While that was discouraging, he is a big play threat and can take one step for many yards. He should have had two touchdowns in the game and that is a great sign for the young player’s future. He had a long run of 24 yards and a long reception for 21 yards (that should have been a touchdown). He did score the Colts lone touchdown late in the game after the long Brissett bomb to Donte Moncrief.
Speaking of, shorlty after entering the game, Jacoby Brissett showed off his big arm. He threw a bomb to Donte Moncrief for 50 yards. The pass wasn’t perfect. it was a little behind his target but Moncrief did a nice job adjusting on the throw and made the catch. A couple of plays later the Colts were in the end zone.
In the aftermath, there are some things that are pretty clear. The Pagano-led Colts still look woefully under-prepared to play football games. Until Indianapolis has its biggest offensive weapon back on the field, its best defensive back, and its star center back running things with the offensive line, things are going to be ugly.
Additionally, the time for inexcusable in-game decisions has to be nearing its end. This was Chuck Pagano’s first chance to impress new General Manager Chris Ballard and potentially make a bid to stay in Indianapolis. He soundly failed in that effort across the board. The Colts fan base is used to winning and it won’t be satisfied until they do.
FINAL SCORE: Rams 46 - Colts 9