While the Indianapolis Colts picked up their first win of the season at home against the Cleveland Browns, the two halves felt entirely different. In the first half, the Colts pushed the football down the field and abused rookie safety Jabrill Peppers. In the second half, the Colts relied upon defensive turnovers to win the game and dialed things way down on offense.
There was also a key penalty on third down that we will take a closer look at if only because the rules in the NFL might be reaching a point where playing defense in certain situations is almost impossible.
On the first big connection between Jacoby Brissett and T.Y. Hilton of the game, the dreaded out route works and the ball is put on the money with enough velocity to never been at risk. It’s somewhat fascinating that the Browns decided to blitz the corner covering Hilton and allow him to go one-on-one against Peppers who was playing deep.
Hilton runs this crossing route perfectly, using Browns defenders as picks against themselves in the middle of the field. Once he rubs the corner off on the linebacker in the middle of the field, he has all the space he needs to make an easy catch. This was a pretty throw by Brissett to put it right over the top of cover and allow Hilton to stay in stride.
On the first of Brissett’s two rushing touchdowns he sees the Browns defense sell out to cover all five receivers running routes. Numbers will tell you that if the defense bites on every receiving route, there is no one home to cover the quarterback. He sees open field to his right and make the easy play.
This is the first Browns touchdown, officially going down as a long run by Duke Johnson Jr. on a pitch. What is irritating about the play is that Jabaal Sheard does a great job of keeping the edge and forcing Johnson back inside. Two things happen that allow the touchdown.
The first is an obvious hold on Sheard who makes contact on Johnson and is trying to wrap him up but the blocker hooks his shoulders and pulls them away from the play, eventually “tackling” Sheard to the ground. The second is that Jon Bostic overruns the play to the outside. He needs to be ready to come up the field and make the tackle when he sees Sheard hold outside contain.
It’s a frustrating way to give up a touchdown and a “17 yard run” but nonetheless, that got the Browns on the board.
On Frank Gore’s longest run of the year, a key block is laid by Jack Doyle right up the gut. He roots out the defender in the hole and gives Gore a nice lane to the backside. Gore takes it for 21 yards.
On Brissett’s third big completion to Hilton, he is aided by Doyle and Matt Jones who lay key blocks. They buy him enough time to allow Hilton to make his break on the route and against puts the ball in front of Jabrill Peppers. The corner playing off on this play makes it very easy.
This is one of the prettiest touchdown runs I’ve ever seen by a quarterback and certainly highlights Brissett’s athleticism. In general, the blocking was good here — as he had time in the pocket — but the touchdown run is pretty much all Brissett.
Just after a scary near-safety, Brissett goes shotgun in the end zone and calmly tosses this pass down the field to Donte Moncrief. He places it up and a little short to give Moncrief the best chance to make a play on the ball and Moncrief sells the go route to keep the corner facing down the field.
The key on Brissett’s long touchdown pass to T.Y Hilton — the first of his NFL career — is a block from Quan Bray along the sideline. Without this block. Hilton likely is forced out of bounds or is caught by the defenders pursuing from behind.
This touchdown run is about as Frank Gore as a touchdown run can get. He keeps his legs moving and feels his way through the hole for the score. This is another instance of a key block laid by Jack Doyle on to allow Gore the room to take the ball outside.
While this is a somewhat difficult play to defense as it is clear the Colts were loading up against the run, someone needs to be aware of a running back or tight end sneaking out into the end zone. In this case it appears that someone was supposed to be Jon Bostic. He reacts too late and the result is an easy touchdown throw.
Rashaan Melvin got the first interception of his NFL career with one of the prettier picks I’ve seen in awhile. There is not doubt the Deshone Kizer is credited more for the bad throw here than anything but Melvin’s finger tip grab was a pretty sight to see and played a big role in stopping a scoring drive.
In what seemed like the Colts continued attempt to give away the football game, the oft-reliable Jack Doyle fumbles the ball. The previous turnover and defense stop was essentially negated when the Browns got the ball with excellent field position on a silly fumble.
Not to be outdone, Kizer thew another pass behind his receiver and Rashaan Melvin benefited from giving up a step on the play. This was his second interception of the game and another huge reason why the Colts were able to hang onto their first half lead.
This penalty on Darius Butler for unnecessary roughness is one of the more frustrating things about modern NFL football. While I completely understand the desire to protect the quarterback, this is situational football and the league or officials or both need to do something to correct this.
This is a 3rd down and 13 play in the fourth quarter where the Browns are trying to make a comeback. Indianapolis is able to get pressure in the pocket and Kizer escapes with room up the field. He attempts to run for the first down and as he approaches the first down marker he slides. At the moment that all of this is happening, Darius Butler commits to do what any defensive player worth his salt would do and that is to try to make a tackle keeping the football short of the goal line.
In my view, he had already committed to making the hit and trying to keep Kizer short by the time Kizer decided to slide. These are microseconds here and sometimes the game is ruined by punishing a defender for something any defensive player with a pulse should do every time.
For all of the good Rashaan Melvin did in this football game, and he did a lot of good, he also had some instances of bad coverage and key penalties. He never should have gotten beat so bad on this route. Either way, Browns touchdown in the fourth.
After another paltry excuse for an offensive drive to kill the game, the Browns score again about 5 minutes later. Kizer runs behind Joe Thomas and the left side of his line to get in for the score.
To close out the game, Malik Hooker made a garbage time interception on what was essentially a hail mary. In many respects, Jabrill Peppers did the Colts a favor again when he decided to fair catch the punt from Riboberto Sanchez at the 9-yard line. With better field position, Cleveland would have had better options.