While the Colts were expected to “Run the Damn Ball” early and often in this one, it was actually their passing attack that elevated Indianapolis to victory—facing a stingy Houston Texans’ defensive front seven.
The Texans defense, already banged up in its secondary, was unable to really stall the Colts passing game until late in this one, and the Indianapolis defense made a serious of key stops and turnovers throughout the game that helped preserve a pivotal divisional win.
With that being said, here are some of the Colts game ball recipients from Sunday’s game:
The Colts offense was very good and efficient in this one against a tough Texans defense.
While Reich will modestly defer credit to Jacoby Brissett and his offense for the day’s success, it was creative play-calling and exploiting matchups that kept Houston’s defense on its toes and consistently off-balance.
While there were a lot of plays to bring attention to, among my favorites were:
—The 3rd and 1 touchdown pass from Jacoby Brissett to Eric Ebron for his ridiculous one-handed snag with 10:39 left in the 3rd quarter, in which Quenton Nelson lined up as a fullback and actually ran a receiving route—drawing attention from the defense and allowing Ebron to stealthily slide in behind him for the score.
—The 1st and goal, 3-yard shovel pass from Brissett to wide receiver Zach Pascal in which the wideout went in motion, only to run inside, catch the pass, and slam it into pay dirt with 1:14 left in the 3rd quarter for the easy touchdown. Just like Reich drew it up.
Yes, the Colts probably should’ve committed to running the football in the 4th quarter more in this one purely for burning clock’s sake, but credit Reich for adjusting his offensive game plan overall.
The Colts were going to have limited success running the football against this stingy Houston front seven, so he essentially audibled and focused on attacking Houston’s beat up secondary through the air instead.
It worked out well for the win.
One could make the case that the young quarterback despite his leadership and poise in the pocket was starting to trend more towards “game manager” in recent weeks.
However, he answered the call early and often in this one and once again showed that he can be much more than that, as a winning, starting quarterback in this league.
He made all of the throws and the big plays when needed against a tough Texans defense.
On the afternoon, Brissett completed 26 of 39 throws (66.7%) for 326 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a sparkling passer rating of 126.7.
Yes, some of Brissett’s success can be attributed to Reich’s creative and innovative play-calling, but the young quarterback was very good—if not great on Sunday.
Aside from the mishandled snap and ensuing fumble near the Colts 16-yard line, midway through the 2nd quarter that led to a Texans field goal, he was very well near perfect.
Simply put, Brissett’s been a key component to the Colts overall success so far this season.
Before the season started, Pascal wasn’t a consensus lock to even make the Colts final 53-man roster with excess depth at their wide receiver position.
However, he’s become one of the Colts most trustworthy receivers in 2019.
While it’s normally his teammate T.Y. Hilton, who torments the Houston Texans (and he did once again on Sunday), it was actually Pascal who most carved their defense up.
Pascal finished with 6 receptions for 106 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns—on just seven targets.
Highly regarded for his blocking on the perimeter and his special teams return skills, the 24 year old Pascal is quietly developing into a quality target for this offense.
He got the party started for the Colts with an 11-yard touchdown reception from Brissett on their opening drive, and fortunately, it never really stopped for either him or his team throughout this one’s duration.
The Colts Pro Bowl tight end has been much maligned this season after a series of drops in earlier games. That, coupled with Jack Doyle’s return, have sometimes relegated him to a non-factor within the offense at times.
However, Ebron showcased his freak athleticism again on Sunday, making catches and plays (*and hurdles*) that few at his position realistically can. Reminding Colts fans of what he’s fully capable of when things are ‘going good’ for the athletic, big bodied tight end.
Ebron finished with 4 receptions for 70 receiving yards—with his biggest catch coming on his previously mentioned, acrobatic one handed touchdown snag—that should be a legitimate contender for any potential “Catch of the Year” awards.
The Colts All-Pro linebacker was the attention of the media earlier in the week, as a concussion compelled him to place his playing career in proper perspective—which was interpreted by some as actually contemplating retirement.
Whatever the case, after missing the Colts last three games because of lingering concussion symptoms, Leonard showed why he’s one of the game’s best linebackers—when ready to rumble on the field.
He racked up 10 tackles (7 solo), a pass defensed, and a diving, game-clinching interception in typical, ‘Maniac-like’ fashion.
Game. Set. Match.
The veteran pass rusher was ‘Houston’s problem’, finishing with 2 sacks, 4 QB hits, 3 tackles (2 TFL)—making Deshaun Watson’s life often difficult passing in the pocket.
While his old team Kansas City seemed to think he had lost a step or was too injury prone—cutting him this past offseason, Houston has consistently been the Colts best pass rusher and has shown he still has plenty left in the tank.
Let us hope that all NFL players can age as gracefully as the sackmaster Justin Houston.
It’s never easy going up against arguably the league’s best wide receiver, but Pierre Desir battled Deandre Hopkins all day and effectively challenged him—despite entering this game banged up.
Yes, the Texans 3x All-Pro still ‘got his’, catching 9 receptions for 106 receiving yards and a touchdown, but Desir made him work—essentially shadowing him on the afternoon.
For what it’s worth, it never felt like Hopkins truly took over or dominated this one.
Desir plays physical against Hopkins and has the size and long arms to both jam him and contest intended passes. Perhaps most importantly, he doesn’t back down an inch.
He finished with 7 tackles (6 solo), 2 passes defensed, and an interception, in what was a workman-like effort against one of the game’s truly elite wideouts.