The Indianapolis Colts made the trip into Gillette Stadium Thursday night knowing that they weren’t anywhere near 100 percent. The defense’s best player — and league’s leading tackler— Darius Leonard being a no-go put an instant dent in the abilities of the team. Anthony Castonzo is still a week or so away, and his offensive colleagues T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle were also inactive for Week 5.
Now, when you figure in all of the in-game injuries that this one churned out, the fact that the team was able to give themselves a puncher’s chance at any point in this game was quite impressive. After the 38-24 loss, resulting in a fall to 1-4 on the season, the Colts desperately need the extra few day’s rest before they again travel to the east coast to play the New York Jets in Week 6.
In the meantime, here are the game balls for those who stepped up for the Colts Thursday night.
Man, if there is a guy who has rolled his eyes at the national media through his performances the last two weeks, it’s Andrew Luck. Luck, again, topped 50 pass attempts for a third time this season and was phenomenal with his accuracy.
Going downfield was a focus, but with so many drops the numbers won’t lend that to the narrative. Luck threw 3 touchdowns along with 2 interceptions on the night — one resulting from a drop — and considering the lack of playmakers around him, I don’t know how you could be anything other than mesmerized by his play.
Well over 350 yards in back-to-back games, and the pinpoint accuracy he showed in 2016 were just a couple major factors in his getting my game ball. His massive improvement in resetting his feet, moving through to second and third progressions and his improved navigation of the pocket are just icing on the cake for me.
Luck is throwing a lot more than anyone would like him to have to right now, but let’s face it, a lot of things have to go right for the Colts to be in position to win a game when Luck isn’t throwing at least 40 times. The team simply isn’t there yet.
Though i’m sure many tuned out last night because of the score, i’m just as certain that many stayed put just to continue watching Luck persevere and dice up the Patriots’ defense.
Eric Ebron is getting an honorable mention for his 9-catch, 105-yard performance that netted 2 of Luck’s touchdown throws. Ebron continues to be a nice weapon for Luck and this offense, and he was on the receiving end of some big throws that helped move the chains throughout the night as well.
With Leonard, Kenny Moore and Nate Hairston out Thursday night, the secondary was in a bad way against the Patriots. Anthony Walker and Clayton Geathers going down during the game made that situation even worse.
This is ‘home’ for Matthias Farley, though. The Colts No. 3 safety is very involved in the rotation in the secondary and has been one of the better Colts defenders over the past two seasons. Farley was actually able to put it on the stat sheet Thursday night.
He picked off a tipped ball and nearly had the lane to return it for a touchdown, and later laid the hit on Rob Gronkowski that forced a Najee Goode interception as the Patriots looked to be driving towards another score. He finished with 6 total tackles and would have been a key part in a full comeback had the Colts not given the ball back themselves afterwards.
With Geathers suffering a pretty significant hit to the neck — which had been a major cause for concern in relation to his future — and suffering a concussion as well, we may be seeing a lot more of Farley in the starting lineup.
Lenzy Pipkins earns the honorable mention tag for the defense today. He’s been up and down the Colts roster all season so far and stepped up with a physical presence (9 tackles) in the secondary with Nate Hairston and Kenny Moore sidelined from injuries in Week 4.
Colts offensive line
Nearly 60 dropbacks Thursday night, and the only sack the Patriots got was on the first series of the game. The Colts have had to use rookie Braden Smith, Joe Haeg, Le’Raven Clark, Denzelle Good and J’Marcus Webb (no longer on the roster) at tackle with Castonzo being out and the Austin Howard experiment failing before the season even started.
Luckily, the Colts interior has been largely free of any lingering injuries and have been doing a really nice job in anchoring this offensive line so far. Listen: the Colts have 1 game — I said 1 — in which they’ve allowed more than 2 sacks this year. Of course he’s been hit a fair amount, but performances like Thursday night are not of the norm for a Colts offensive line.
Luck is currently being sacked at a rate of once every 24.5 attempts and is allowing for him to do what he does best. When you take that versus the once every 17 attempts that he’s had to endure throughout his career previous to the 2018 season, it’s impossible not to take notice.
The group has stepped up big time if you ask me. With the revolving door at tackle, consideration to the defensive fronts they’ve had to battle, and the assist that the coaching staff is lending them with chip blocks and pulling different linemen, the product this year is much more palatable.