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Colts vs Dolphins: Week 12 winners and losers

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Miami Dolphins v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Colts squeaked out a win in what was an ugly and mistake-riddled performance. Ultimately, what counts is that they got the win, and they’ll move to 6-5 on the season and extend their win streak to 5 games. It would be foolish to expect that there will not be some games where the team struggles, and this was certainly one of those. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from this game.

Winners

Darius Leonard

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s just go ahead and pencil him in as a winner from here on out, because that’s something he has earned. Leonard continues his exemplary play and notched another 10 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 QB hit. He is 17 total tackles ahead of the next guy, and he missed a game.

After going down on the first play of the game and leaving with what looked like a knee injury, Leonard was back in action again when the defense next took the field. He continues to be their most reliable defensive player and it is tough to remember that he is still so young and that his ceiling is even higher still.

T.Y. Hilton

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Hilton couldn’t top his game last week, but he did his best to come close. He was 7 of 10 for 125 yards on the day, and asserted himself once again as a key cog to the Colts’ offense. With just two tight ends active today, the Colts couldn’t run their 3 tight end sets that have become a standard with Frank Reich. Hilton’s continued production allowed them to be effective despite that loss of personnel.

Even with all the different players getting targeted and Hilton missing 2 games, he is still on pace to have a career high in touchdowns, and to surpass his yards total from last season. That’s exactly what the Colts need out of him if they want to keep rolling.

Eric Ebron

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Ebron has 11 receiving touchdowns. That is good for a tie with Antonio Brown and Tyreek Hill for first in the NFL. You can bet both those guys have seen more targets than Ebron, too. It seems like all he does is make teams pay in the red zone.

Ebron went 5 of 7 for 45 yards and 2 touchdowns. If Luck had thrown a better ball, he might have even had a 3rd score today as well instead of Xavien Howard getting a second interception. It is a long shot, but there is an actual possibility that Ebron could break Rob Gronkowski’s single season receiving touchdown record by a tight end of 17 if he continues his current pace. Pretty decent free agent pickup.

Marlon Mack

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

With the game hanging in the balance and the offense struggling for much of the first three quarters, Mack sort of took over this game. He rushed for 85 yards on 15 attempts, 34 of those yards coming in the 4th quarter on a critical drive that ended in a field goal and helped give the team much needed momentum as they pushed to get back into the game.

Mack left the game with a concussion on that drive, but he continues to be an effective weapon on the ground and added another 2 catches for 11 yards in the passing game for 96 yards from scrimmage. For the lead back in a committee, that’s a nice performance. Had he not had to leave the game, he was well on his way to another 100-yard game on the ground.

Honorable Mentions: Nyheim Hines, Mike Mitchell, Margus Hunt, Quincy Wilson


Losers

Pierre Desir

It is hard to label someone a loser from just one play, but if that play is a 74-yard touchdown, you might have to make an exception. That’s exactly what Desir gave up to Leonte Carroo with just over a minute left in the first half. QB Ryan Tannehill scrambled to buy himself time to throw the ball and went deep to Carroo, who had his route undercut by Desir.

What followed was one of the poorest vertical leaps I’ve ever witnessed in an NFL game. To make matters worse, Desir gets knocked down while going for the ball, so he isn’t even able to make a tackle after whiffing on the interception. Hooker also gets an honorable mention and won’t be feeling great when his loaf on this play is called out in meetings this week. Not a great showing for the secondary here.

Jordan Wilkins

Wilkins didn’t get a lot of time in this game, but he made an impact nonetheless. While the Colts didn’t use him in the running game, his 3 passes for 32 yards were a strong showing. Unfortunately, at the end of one of those 3 catches, Wilkins fumbled the ball away.

That fumble came on the heels of a defensive stop, and stunted the momentum of the offense, which was moving the ball effectively up to that point. There are a lot of things to like about Jordan Wilkins. He has shown that he has value as a rotational back, but he won’t be able to continue to get looks if he cannot protect the ball. His fumble didn’t result in points for Miami, but he can’t make those kinds of mistakes going forward.

Special Teams

It was a rough outing for the special teams unit Sunday. The Colts found themselves often in poor field position, pinned inside their own 15-yard line 4 different times by the Dolphins’ punt team. By comparison, they were able to put Miami at their 11-yard line once, which was the only time a punt put them deeper than their 34-yard line.

Adam Vinatieri, despite kicking the game winner, shanked a field goal try in the 3rd quarter and a blocked punt set the Dolphins up at the Colts’ 42-yard line which resulted in a field goal. Both Rigoberto Sanchez and Adam Vinatieri would probably like to have a do-over on this game. They’ll undoubtedly be fine, but the unit as a whole needs to step it up down the stretch, because the margin for error is slim, and wins are at a premium.