The Indianapolis Colts were not able to squeak out a win on the road in Philadelphia as the Eagles were a bit too much in Week 3. Whether you have a half-full or half-empty takeaway from the Colts road loss, there were some bright spots in this one as well.
The Colts only lost by a 4-point margin, and you can make the argument for the Colts to be sitting at 3-0 right now, Sunday they lost in nearly all of the areas that were offering them success in the first two weeks. They weren’t good in the red zone, they weren’t good on third down, they committed far too many penalties and the offense gave a new meaning to “death by a thousand paper cuts.”
Defensively, the Colts still managed to make some plays, which is about all that kept them in the game, and the unit seems to step up when it matters the most. Penalties were a killer, but largely I think most Colts fans should be excited about the direction of this young defense.
Here are the Week 3 game balls for the Colts who deserved them.
Despite having Andrew Luck under center, this week’s game ball goes to Ryan Grant who I’ve been extremely critical of up to this point in his stay in Indianapolis. Grant wasn’t impressive through training camp, and still looked to have failed to gained any chemistry with Luck in the preseason as well.
However, ever since the games started counting, Grant has been extremely reliable and probably the most consistent receiver for the Colts. He isn’t a big-play threat, and I can’t really envision him becoming one, but Sunday, he made an impact.
Grant was on the receiving end of only 3 passes, totaling 35 yards, but his touchdown grab over Ronald Darby was quite impressive. Additionally, Grant caught a pass a two plays before his touchdown where he pushed forward and out-muscled Sidney Jones to earn a first down on a third-and-eight situation.
There was little else to get excited about on the offensive side of the ball as they punted 5 times, had 6 drives totaling 5 plays or fewer all while having 5 red zone opportunities. A day to forget for most of the offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, we could realistically hand this game ball to a couple different guys. So, that’s exactly what we did.
Despite a bit of a slow start, Darius Leonard got back to matching his energy level and production from the first two games with a couple sacks and 13 total tackles. Leonard also had 5 tackles for loss and had a pass defensed as well. This dude just continues to fill up the stat sheet every week.
There was no reason for me to leave Leonard out of this simply because his expectations are now for him to do exactly what he’s done the past two weeks. Leonard is a leader on this defense, and is creating really good chemistry alongside fellow linebacker Anthony Walker — and he’s a rookie.
I began to wonder through the course of the game if Matt Eberflus will begin to design more pass rushing reps for Leonard in the future due to his ability to get to the quarterback. It’d be a hard move in the moment, though, due to how important he is at the second level of this young defense. I simply love watching him play.
The other defensive game ball goes to the angry Estonian, Margus Hunt. How about this guy having 2 total sacks to his name through his first 5 years in the league?! I don’t know if that’s a question or not, but he’s got 3 (should be 4 or 5 even) this year alone.
Hunt had another sack Sunday and should have had a second one, but it was somehow officially marked as a play of no gain. Hunt forced a fumble and recovered it, on the sack he did get credit for, and was a force up front all day. Hunt had 3 tackles for loss and has proven to be even better in a 4-man front despite him impressing last year too.
Both of these guys have been fantastic this year, and are a bit part of the success the defense has been able to have. Let’s hope they can continue their quality play throughout the season, because I think the team is going to need it more than we previously expected to.
As much as I hope to not have to hand a game ball to the special teams, Adam Vinatieri earned it today. Vinny was 3-for-3 in Philly and hit kicks from 35, 31 and 28 yards out, and without him knocking them all through the uprights the Colts would have been even worse off.
The weather wasn’t ideal for a kicker, and Eagles’ kicker Jake Elliott even missed one of his 3 attempts as a result. Vinatieri tied Morten Andersen for the most field goals (565) in NFL history on Sunday and will hold that record all to himself with his next one — presumably in Lucas Oil Stadium next week against the Houston Texans.
Vinny is just 34 points from passing Andersen for most points scored in NFL history, and at this rate he should attain that crown somewhere near the mid-way point in the season.