The Indianapolis Colts were riding a 3-game win streak coming into their Week 11 matchup with the Tennessee Titans. The Titans were allowing the fewest points in the league while the Colts were averaging over 30 points per game over their last five games as well.
This one was meant to be a great battle in Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts certainly owned the first half racking up 24 points and 246 total yards, while holding the Titans offense to only 3 points and 114 yards from scrimmage.
The Colts second half was just as dominant, but without all of the scoring. The Colts put together lengthy drives keeping the ball in the hands of their franchise quarterback, and put together a great game plan to complete the blowout of their divisional foes.
Here are a few takeaways from today’s big Colts win.
Colts get T.Y. Hilton involved very early on
One of the Colts biggest playmakers on offense, Hilton, had only accumulated 8 catches in his last three games played before today. However, the Colts were obviously determined to change all of that going forward. Hilton caught 2 passes on the team’s first 3 plays of the game and nabbed 4 receptions for 101 yards, including a 68-yard bomb for a touchdown in the first half alone against the Titans.
Andrew Luck attempted to hit him again deep on the very next possession and while it didn’t net a reception, it did force a pass interference call on Titans’ corner Adoree Jackson giving the Colts the ball near midfield.
Hilton finished the day with 9 catches for 155 yards (17.2 yards per reception) and 2 touchdowns. I think he’s back.
Colts defense earns 4 sacks in first half, shut down Titans’ offense
After several straight games without accruing a sack, the Colts defense decided to switch things up a bit in this matchup. The Colts DO NOT blitz with any frequency, and they don’t do it on third down almost at all.
Today, though, they did, and they did it early and often. On the Titans’ very first possession they brought Marcus Mariota down for their first sack after sending 6 rushers on third down, and on their very next possession the Colts blitzed on first down to stop the running game, and again two plays later on third down again.
This mindset — of which the Colts very rarely have strayed from this year — allowed the Colts to rack up 4 sacks, hold the Titans running game to only one double-digit yard run (both first half stats), and keep the Titans offense off balance throughout the rest of the day. The Colts only allowed 114 total yards and 3 points in the first half on a day in which the Colts offense was next to perfect most of the game.
The Colts held the Titans to 4.5 yards per play, 87 rushing yards and 176 passing yards all while allowing only 10 points on the day. They also accumulated a total of 5 sacks and 8 tackles for loss on the day.
Darius Leonard continues his fantastic rookie campaign
It seems like we’re talking about him every week. Maybe that’s because he’s dominating every week. Leonard has now cleared 100 total tackles on the season, and just today added 7 total tackles, another sack, a forced fumble as well as an interception to his season totals.
Leonard is making a very strong push for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, has been a surprise to some, but has also been vindication for others who touted his second-round selection as a fantastic pick for this new Colts’ defensive scheme.
Leonard has been a fantastic addition to the Colts who desperately needed a massive upgrade to their linebacker corps this season. He shows off his speed, is a sure tackler and offers some of that quick-twitch pass rush help that the Colts have also needed from the unit.
All in all, Leonard is definitely the Colts defensive MVP through 10 games and may be in line for more league awards if his play continues to dominate as the season progresses.
Colts offense is humming at the right time
The Colts, again, put together a very impressive game offensively. Not to mention that they did it for a second consecutive week against divisional rivals, and another very good defense.
The Colts, in the last two weeks, have put up 53 points in the first halves of those games, and Andrew Luck has 13 touchdowns with only a single interception over his last 4 games. Luck also has at least 3 touchdown passes in his last 7 games (24 total touchdowns), a feat in which only Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have done before him in a single season.
Luck finished the day 23-of-29 for 297 passing yards, and 3 touchdowns with a 10.2 yard per attempt average. He’s certainly getting into the MVP conversation in addition to the comeback player of the year honors.
The offensive line hasn’t given up a sack now in 5 straight games, the running game got back on track today (4.2 yards per attempt before their kneel-downs) after a quick speed bump against the Jaguars last week, and outside of a few blips, the receivers have been as sure-handed as they’ve been all year.