Each week throughout the Indianapolis Colts 2018 season we’ll hand out game balls to those players who made their presence known. Whether it be a receiver carving up a secondary, a running back owning the ground attack or a defender making life impossible for a quarterback we’re going to recognize someone in all facets of the game each week.
The Colts lost their opener 34-23 to the Cincinnati Bengals, but there was plenty to look forward to as this young group kicked off their season.
I mean it’s gotta be Luck, doesn’t it? Luck hadn’t played a meaningful game since January of 2017 and came out looking very much like the guy we expected him to be. Luck finished with 319 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception on 39-of-53 (73.6%) passing for his first game back.
Luck largely showed very good decision making, stayed strong in the pocket through his second and third reads and led the Colts in converting 11-of-17 opportunities on third down. Luck evaded pressure well all game, got the ball out quick, and to his playmakers and threw some absolute dimes downfield.
We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season from Luck, and he was without a doubt the shining star for the Colts on offense Sunday.
On this side of the ball there was a few quality options to choose from. Darius Leonard led the team in total tackles and was a ball of lightning all day, Kenny Moore had an interception and Matthias Farley forced a fumble Sunday. But, it was Hunt who made an impact throughout the game and was able to get to the quarterback not once, but twice.
The Colts’ pass rush has been anemic over the past several years, and though we hoped to see an increase in pressure being generated with this group, I don’t know if anyone suggested it would come from Hunt. He did have a third tackle for loss in this one as well, and did his job against the Bengals’ run game as well as anyone.
We saw that the Colts front four were able to get into the backfield a bit, but the team as a whole only had 3 QB hits for the entire game. For Hunt to succeed in getting big sacks which put the Bengals into a third-and-24 situation, and a third-and-15 respectively.
Hunt’s first sack helped force a three-and-out on the Bengals first drive of the second half, and his second would have stymied Andy Dalton’s final touchdown drive had it not been for a pass interference call on the very next play. Both were big plays and gave the Colts a chance to get the ball back. That counts more than downfield tackles to me.
Look, I know he missed a 55-yard attempt, but he also nailed a 51-yarder and gave the Colts 9 points that they truly needed in a tight game. Realistically, Vinny was the only choice here. Zach Pascal did a fine job returning kicks, but he didn’t do anything great. Chester Rogers, again, nearly caused disaster by failing to have the spacial awareness to make a fair catch.
Rigoberto Sanchez was fine Sunday, but he only had two punts and they didn’t play much of a part in the Colts outcome. Aside from that, nobody had an inordinate amount of special teams tackles or anything to speak of.
We underappreciate Vinny far too often as the ‘old man’ on the roster, myself included. But, we’ve seen him rightly earn the game’s MVP honors for the Colts in the recent past. It’s pitiful, but true.