Let’s be honest here, there wasn’t really all that much to be excited about in the Indianapolis Colts Week 13 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. For starters, they were shutout for the first time in Andrew Luck’s career. Additionally, we’ve talked for weeks now — and the national media was just starting to come around — about how the Colts were better than their record, yet they didn’t show that against the previously 3-8 bottom dwellers of the AFC South.
However, like every week, win or lose, there were some good performances that need to be acknowledged. It may not feel like there were many that deserved to be recognized, but here are the game balls for the Colts in their Week 13 loss to the Jaguars.
For my money, Autry was the obvious major highlight of the game for the Colts. Autry has put together some really impressive performances this season, but he’s also been injured for a few games, and has had others in which he was minimally productive as well.
Sunday Autry was a terror for the Colts’ defense and had a major impact on the field. He alone notched 3 sacks, 4 quarterback hits and 7 total tackles in a game where getting pressure on the inexperienced Cody Kessler was key to taking control of the game.
Autry wasn’t just showing up in the box score though either. He was a big contributor in clogging up running lanes for the Jaguars as well. With his help, the Colts allowed only 79 yards (an average of 2.9 yards per carry) on the ground which is their second-fewest rushing yardage allowed on the season, and their fewest first downs. His presence is a big one when he’s on, and Sunday he was on.
The team has been needing a force to show up in the front-four this year, and with Tyquan Lewis looking to be a nice burst of youth, strength and athleticism over the past few weeks, the Colts desperately need Autry to continue this kind of play as they attempt to push for a playoff berth.
Ebron just continues to be a massive contributor for the Colts offense as the season progresses. Sunday Ebron hauled in 10 catches — 4 of which came in the final two drives of the game — for 81 receiving yards. His 16 targets and 10 catches are both season-high marks for Ebron, who is having a career year for the Colts.
He wasn’t able to get a touchdown Sunday, but then again, nobody else did either. He is, however, maintaining his production despite having Jack Doyle on Injured Reserve and that’s a very good sign. He’s drawing more attention, and against the back-seven of the Jaguars who had a great game, he still managed to get open an remain sure-handed throughout the game with tight coverage.
Ebron’s ability to create matchups outside, as well as up the seam have been a vital part of the Colts ability to move the chains and will continue to be down the back stretch of the season. His game wasn’t flashy, but he still came to play on a day in which the Colts offense struggled to move the ball consistently.
Anthony Walker — Darius Leonard — Jabaal Sheard — Tyquan Lewis
I’m just going to go ahead and give this quartet a game ball as well. Each of them made real contributions to the game, and have been playing really well so far this season.
Lewis was used on the edge to take a advantage of Ereck Flowers who started at left tackle for the Jaguars and it forced the offensive line to give him help throughout the day. He showed off his combination of speed, power and hand usage to force pressure on Kessler earning himself 2 quarterback hits on the day and opening up things for the rest of the defensive line.
Walker forced the only turnover for the Colts Sunday, and quite honestly, it should have been enough to win the game. The Colts got the ball in good field position, but turned the ball right back over to Kessler and the Jags who only put up two field goals on the day. Walker is second on the team in tackles (85 total) and has become part of a very good Colts linebacker duo, and is showing great chemistry with Darius Leonard.
Speaking of Leonard, he’s just a tackling machine and is near the ball on every down even if he isn’t making the tackle. He accrued 1.5 tackles for loss Sunday and had 8 total tackles while being a vital part of the Colts run defense in the process. Even when he doesn’t rack up double-digit tackles, Leonard is still a major presence on the field for the Colts.
Sheard had himself a really nice game as well Sunday. He didn’t have a major production type of game in the box score, but he did rack up 2 tackles for loss and forced Carlos Hyde and T.J. Yeldon to find alternate routes in the running game throughout the day. This is just as important as getting the tackles himself, as others benefited from his push on the Jaguars’ offensive line throughout the day.
This quartet will continue to be big players for the Colts defense with the final four games of the year on the horizon. If they can continue their play, the Colts defense will continue to assist the offense enough to pull out some wins. As we witnessed yesterday, though, both units have to come through on that in order for it to work.