This week’s game against the Houston Texans was a critical one, and the Colts didn’t shrink from it. After coming out flat on offense and looking like they could squander their chance at a playoff spot, the Colts got things going in the 2nd quarter and knocked off the Texans in their own stadium to end the win streak that the Colts began.
This was a big win for this Colts team and one they have stumbled to get in recent years. It certainly isn’t the end, and there are still important games ahead, but this was loomed as the toughest on their schedule, and a victory keeps a playoff appearance very clearly in the Colts’ sight.
Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers from this big-time matchup.
Who else could we start off with but T.Y. Hilton? The guy was a game time decision after missing practice all week and being limited on Friday with a shoulder injury. After a beautiful 60-yard pass from Luck, he came up limping after some sort of lower leg or foot issue and found himself on the sideline trying to walk it off.
Then he proceeded to get back in the game and rack up 199 receiving yards on 9 receptions, absolutely torching a Texans secondary that could not seem to do anything to stop him getting open. This is the kind of vintage performance we’ve come to expect from Hilton in Houston, and seeing him gut out a great game through multiple injuries tells us all we need to know about how tough a competitor he is. If this is the version of Hilton we get for the rest of the season, go ahead and pencil this team in as a wildcard team.
Luck sometimes suffers in terms of being classified as a winner because of how good he consistently is. It is easy to discount it as “just another Luck performance” and not give him full credit for his play. Not this week.
Luck put on a clinic in pocket movement, which he has been doing all year. He scrambled when it made sense, extended the play, and showed a ridiculous ability to put great touch on his passes even when he was under significant pressure with the pocket collapsing. Against a very good Texans defensive line, Luck stayed cool and carved up their secondary, going 27/41 for 399 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
Those numbers aren’t necessarily remarkable on their own, but this is truly a “watch the film” performance by Luck. He was playing at an incredibly high level and the switch to the up-tempo offense allowed him to really abuse the Texans. He deserves to be in the conversation for MVP.
Since getting healthy, Denico Autry has been on a tear, seemingly to make up for lost time. Over the past two weeks, he has 11 tackles, 5 sacks, 6 QB hits, and 5 tackles for loss. He is making himself stand out and is a prime example of how matching a good player to the right scheme can make a big difference.
No one hearing his name called would have guessed what kind of impact he could have for this defense, but despite missing time this season, he has 8 sacks on the season. Credit to Chris Ballard and Matt Eberflus for seeing a guy who would fit their vision for the defense and helping to maximize his impact.
Geathers was in on what seemed like every single play on the defensive side of the ball. His stat line doesn’t pop the way Leonard or Autry’s do, but he was all over the field impacting the game in a number of ways. If not for the absolutely terrible penalty called on Malik Hooker, Geathers would have had a ridiculous heads-up interception on the goal line which would have taken the ball away as the Texans were threatening to score.
A strong finish to the season is big for Geathers. I’m not sure he will be wearing a Colts uniform next year because he has struggled to stay healthy, but if he can have a good push to finish out this season, it’ll give him a shot to be back with the team next season.
I’m not going to dig too deep into this one. Leonard was his usual self, somehow making a 12-tackle 1-sack, 1-tackle for loss, 1-QB hit game where he defended a pass while covering DeAndre Hopkins look easy. This guy is like a cheat code at linebacker and we are really lucky that Chris Ballard and his scouts are better than all those guys who thought Leonard was overrated. He looked great and should be the DROY, no matter what those chumps in Dallas think.
On a day where the Colts needed their secondary to step up, Kenny Moore was up to the challenge. He played solid coverage all day and played a big role in limiting DeAndre Hopkins’ impact on the game. He also managed to get a sack and a tackle for loss, as he continues to prove himself a valuable asset blitzing off the edge.
Seriously, Adams is a loser here. Not because he didn’t anything wrong at all though. He’s a loser because apparently the NFL officials hate him. Two weeks in a row Adams has made solid plays and gotten hit with bogus penalties. Last week he was robbed of a sack because of a roughing the passer hit which was complete nonsense. Today he got hit with a hit on a defenseless receiver penalty, despite hitting the receiver from the front side and not leading with his helmet. It is ridiculous that this guy can’t catch a break.
The Colts special teams hasn’t been very good this season, and that has been a source of frustration for me personally. One of the main reasons for that is George Odum, and he repeated his tendency to draw penalties again this week with an incredibly obvious and stupid block in the back penalty. I’m not sure what he brings to the table, but you can’t have that kind of undisciplined play messing up field position. Hopefully the Colts plan to upgrade their crop of special teamers in the offseason.
Speaking of special teams disappointment, Chester Rogers continues to be a major letdown as a returner. Disaster was narrowly averted when he muffed a punt, which he was fortunately able to recover. Perhaps as frustrating is his tendency to call for a fair catch without defenders within 10-15 yards away, or worse still, his perpetual tendency to fair catch inside the 10-yard line. I will never understand why he is doing this, and to some degree as it has continued all season, some blame has to go on special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone, because you’ve got to get it through his head that doing this is a stupid play that pins your offense back deep. Like Odum, I don’t expect that Rogers is a part of this team in 2019, but I’d like to see things cleaned up this season all the same.