The Colts took care of business last night, beating the Titans and catapulting themselves improbably into the playoffs, where they look like a team that could do just about anything. In a contest where they struggled with mistakes and mental errors, the Colts were able to pull out a win over a team they should have beaten.
Now they’ll head to Houston next Saturday at 4:35pm to take on the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round with a chance to move deeper into the playoffs. Before they do that, let’s take a look at the winners and losers of this game.
When the Colts jumped out to a 14-0 lead, the pressure began to shift toward the passing game of the Titans to make some plays. Kenny Moore did a great job all day in coverage, putting together 4 tackles, an interception, and 2 passes defended. One of those passes defended was a drive killer in the first half that stopped the Titans offense following the Marlon Mack fumble and set the Colts up to eventually come away with a field goal before the half.
He had a very near pick six when he went for a pass to the sideline and missed it by inches after a blocker got a hand on him. However, he was able to make the play of the game to essentially close it out for the Colts with a pick of Gabbert that allowed the Colts to put the game out of reach. In total, a strong performance from Moore.
Yet again, the presumptive defensive rookie of the year put up big numbers and had a major impact on the game. His 8 tackles, 2 passes defended, and game ending interception were the perfect way to end what has been an insane season for the rookie linebacker who was dubbed early on by Bleacher Report as one of the worst picks in the draft.
Heading into the playoffs with Leonard leading this defense gives hope that this team can do just about anything, and his intensity has helped set the tone on that side of the ball. He was all over the field, and it can’t be underestimated how impactful it is to have a guy that opposing offenses have to game plan against. That isn’t something the Colts have had in a while.
This was another day where Marlon Mack looked like the back the Colts need him to be going forward to be successful. He rushed 25 times for 119 yards and a touchdown, and moved the ball well behind a strong performance from the offensive line and in spite of a solid defense from the Titans. As the conditions got sloppy, the Colts needed to be able to grind out the clock on the ground, and Mack answered the bell, with a couple runs in which he was a razor’s width from taking it all the way.
The one black mark on this game was Mack’s awful fumble deep in Titans’ territory. It took the ball away when the Colts were in scoring range and gave the Titans an opportunity to keep working their way back into the game.
Inman has been a very good signing by Chris Ballard and has clearly been getting more and more comfortable both with Luck and in the offense as a whole. He was 5 of 6 for 77 yards and a touchdown on a day where the Colts did well at spreading the ball around. This was a critical performance by Inman given the fact that T.Y. Hilton was pretty obviously hurting during this game.
Eberflus has got his defense playing well enough to bail out the Colts offense when they struggle with mental errors, and there were certainly some of those today. Andrew Luck’s awful interception really jarred the offense out of their rhythm, but the defense minimized the damage and continued to play tough throughout this game despite worsening conditions and the loss of Tyquan Lewis. He has had a really impressive run to get this team up for games and has them playing at a playoff level. Please don’t steal him from us anyone.
Hilton’s long run after a screen pass was a thing to behold, especially when you know how bad he has been hurting. This guy is tough as nails and this team and the receivers are feeding off of Hilton’s energy. His contribution wasn’t as big as others, but his heart has carried this offense when it was needed.
I don’t love giving props to the punter because it means he did something besides sit on the sideline and cheer, but Sanchez did a great job pinning the Titans back deep over and over again and deserves credit for a job well done. If we didn’t see him punt the remainder of the playoffs that would be fine with me. Sorry Rigo!
On the whole, Glowinski has been a great addition to the offensive line, and his pulling ability is impressive. This game was not his game, however. He had a holding penalty that negated a touchdown prior to Mack’s fumble, and that was just 1 of the penalties that he got credit for. Against an inferior Titans team that was missing key players on both sides of the ball the Colts were able to struggle through those kinds of issues. Once they get on the road in the playoffs, they cannot afford those kinds of mistakes because they completely disrupt the offense and put a lot of pressure on the young defense. This hasn’t been an issue a lot of this season, so it seems likely that Glow will get back to clean football going forward.
This is being a bit harsh because he played well for stretches, but Luck made some pretty bad throws in this game, specifically following immediately after his truly terrible interception. On the whole, Luck has improved in his tendency to throw up mystifying balls in lieu of taking a sack and living to play the next down. His tendency to hate giving up on plays is one of his best qualities, but it resulted in that pick six and also him trying to force the ball into windows that the defense was anticipating at various times.
Fortunately, this game plan wasn’t reliant only upon Luck, and Frank Reich has his team prepared to play well around Luck so that when he has a down game, they can still get a win. All things considered, if this is a game where Luck can be considered a “loser,” things have gone pretty well.
Every team has that one guy. George Odum is that guy for the Colts. He makes the kind of boneheaded penalties that make you cringe. His late hit out of bounds was exactly that kind of play, and it hurt even worse as it resulted in a big improvement in field position for the Titans and eventually points.
He has done this too many times to dismiss as coincidental, and it seems that it is a trend for him. He also got caught taking bad angles in run defense on several occasions and Derrick Henry made him pay for it. The opportunity to redeem himself with an end zone pick slipped through his fingers, and ultimately it will be a major relief if Clayton Geathers is healthy for the game on Saturday against the Texans.
Who were your winners and losers?