The Colts walked into the Raiders’ house on Sunday and delivered a convincing win over the floundering Raiders. The offense for the Colts was dominant, passing for 239 yards and rushing for 222 more, as well as controlling the time of possession 36:30 to 23:30.
They converted on 69% of 3rd downs and looked incredibly sharp, particularly in the fourth quarter. The 42-28 win was the kind they needed to send them into their bye week with some momentum. Let’s take a look at this game and decide who the winners and losers from this game were.
Every week Darius Leonard seems to make a big play that impacts the outcome of the game. On a day where the defense played like hot garbage, Darius Leonard showed up and got work done. He notched 9 tackles, a QB hit, and a critical forced fumble that allowed the Colts to put the game out of reach.
Leonard’s 3 forced fumbles on the year trail just J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Khalil Mack, and Dee Ford. He leads the league in tackles by 12. In general, Darius Leonard is a defensive force and it would be stunning if he doesn’t get a real look for defensive player of the year, let alone defensive rookie of the year.
Ladies and gentlemen, Marlon Mack has arrived. In the past 3 games, Mack has gone over 120 yards twice and only just missed the 100-yard mark against the Jets. With his performance today he surpassed his 2017 rushing total and tied his touchdowns from last season. Additionally, Mack’s 49-yard run was a career long. With Mack running behind a rejuvenated Colts’ offensive line, he is a dangerous weapon that defenses will have to account for.
Speaking of dangerous weapons, how about Nyheim Hines’ performance? Despite getting just 11 carries, Hines ripped up the Raiders’ defense for 78 yards and 7.1 yards per carry. He looked like a dynamic runner and didn’t just play the elusive back, he broke tackles and charged ahead for extra yards after contact. Hines has come a long way from the player many thought was going to be a bust while he was badly muffing punts. He is perfectly suited to Frank Reich’s system, which uses him expertly as a change of pace back who can do major damage.
His production quieted down in the second half a bit, but Dontrelle Inman had a great game for the Colts’ offense. He was 6 of 7 for 52 yards, and he made some catches that would have been nearly guaranteed drops to any other receiver on the roster not named Hilton. The Colts have desperately needed a receiver to step up and be a reliable number 2 receiver, and Inman certainly did that in this game.
Quick—Try to remember the last time the Colts went 3 games without allowing a sack. It has been awhile, but that’s exactly what Andrew Luck has enjoyed over the last 3 weeks. The offensive line hasn’t just been good in pass protection though. Their run blocking has been what has allowed this offense to put together back to back games rushing 200+ yards. That deserves recognition. These guys are becoming the backbone of this team, and Chris Ballard deserves all the credit in the world for getting done what Ryan Grigson, a former offensive lineman, simply could not do.
This Colts tight end group is one of the most dynamic on the team. For the first time in NFL history, 3 different tight ends scored touchdowns in the same game. Mo-Alie Cox had one of the more ridiculous one-handed grabs I’ve seen in awhile.
Eric Ebron is tied with Tyreek Hill for 2nd most receiving touchdowns in the league behind Antonio Brown. Raise your hand if you’re good with Eric Ebron being talked about in the same conversation as these two…
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous watching Vinny kick last week. His kicking was rough and he was obviously hurt. Thankfully he was able to go this week and looked like himself yet again. He deserved to get the record for most points all-time, and this week he did it, passing Morten Andersen and further cementing his legacy as the greatest place kicker in NFL history. Colts fans have been pretty lucky over the years to get to witness some all-time greats.
Honorable Mentions: Andrew Luck, Jack Doyle
Basically, if you aren’t Darius Leonard, this means you. The Colts’ defense had no sacks. The only QB hit was courtesy of Darius Leonard. There were missed tackles, bad angles, and terrible penalties. The cornerbacks played soft coverage, but still had men running free deep on multiple occasions. Anthony Walker and Nate Hairston had particularly awful games.
If you had any doubt about the impact of Malik Hooker, this game should have clued you in a bit. While many have taken issue with his “lack of playmaking” in terms of actual plays on the ball, the fact that he was not on the field opened up the downfield throwing in this game in a way the Colts haven’t really seen all season. With the additional loss of Mike Mitchell during the game, this defense looked just plain awful across the board.
Derek Carr is not a bad quarterback, but he is surrounded by very little. Somehow, this Colts’ defense let him run the Raiders’ offense up and down the field on them as if he were the second coming of Peyton Manning.
Admittedly, some of these issues were due to injury. This defense isn’t quite so porous with the starters on the field, but it was a rough performance and illustrates how much more Chris Ballard needs to do to make them more than decent.