Huge win. In the toughest game on the Colts schedule that remained this season, Frank Reich dialed up a fantastic game. The offensive line and Colts running backs did exactly what they should do against one of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL. They put together long, sustained scoring drives and kept Patrick Mahomes on the sideline.
I will reiterate what I said in the second half open thread. NFL officiating is embarrassingly bad.
We could run a film room only on the officiating in this game and throw a knockout punch to the NFL’s officiating process and game integrity. The second half made it appear obvious that the officials intended to keep the Chiefs in the game. Consider the gaffes.
The officials call a silly blocking in the back penalty on T.Y. Hilton in the first half, on a run in the end zone that was yards away from where the play occurred. It’s hard to get more ticky tack than that.
Well, they tried to prove me wrong. They called T.Y. Hilton for offensive pass interference on a play where his designed route took him inside and safety Tyrann Mathieu ran into him.
Let’s not forget the Bobby Okereke interception that was overturned without any definite evidence to do so. When Frank Reich threw a challenge flag to overturn the awful offensive PI? Nope, call sustained.
On a play that would have resulted in a safety and put the game on ice in the fourth quarter, the officials hesitantly called holding in the end zone but bailed out the Chiefs with a crap defensive pass interference call on a nice play by George Odum. The only player in the area of the ball who had any idea where the ball was? George Odum. He tried to make an interception and was called for “getting there too early.”
Remember the blocking in the back penalty? There were numerous blocks in the back that went uncalled as Chiefs offensive linemen tried to recover and shove Colts pass rushers out of a play to keep Patrick Mahomes clean. The only Chiefs touchdown of the day came on one of these plays.
Now, to be fair, the face mask call in the fourth quarter on Chiefs receiver Demarcus Robinson was pretty ridiculous.
No matter how you slice it, this is one of the worst officiating performances I’ve ever seen. It was ridiculously one-sided on plays that mattered most. The officials tried everything they could to keep the Chiefs in it.
Here’s a few thoughts about what went right in the game:
WELCOME BACK VINATIERI
After a horrible strat to the 2019 NFL season and a horrible end to 2018, Adam Vinatieri looked good on Sunday night. He was perfect on the night and his kicks were right down the middle. It’s so good to see the GOAT back to his old self. Hopefully this is a sign of a resurgence.
THE COLTS OFFENSIVE LINE IS RIDICULOUS
It is incredible what the Colts offensive line has become in only a few years with General Manager Chris Ballard at the helm. No offensive lineman that I have ever watched has made a bigger impact on a team than guard Quenton Nelson. This unit wears down opponents and just completed an old school football game. Run the damn ball? You bet we will.
KHARI WILLIS HAS A BRIGHT NFL FUTURE
There have been very few Colts defenders with shining performances to start the 2019 season. The one who has arguably looked best is rookie safety Khari Willis. Incredibly, Willis isn’t even officially a starter. He has been sitting behind Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers. He should sit behind no one. He has enough athleticism and instincts to cover the deep portion of the field and has enough tenacity and tackling ability to be a force in the box.
Willis reminds me a great deal of Antoine Bethea.
MARLON MACK IS A LEGIT BELL COW
Look, the Indianapolis Colts backfield is loaded. Nyheim Hines offers something in the two minute offense and third down package that is unique. His speed and the ability to take advantage of small holes is valuable. Jordan Wilkins? Lightning in a bottle between the tackles. He deserves more carries and is a big play waiting to happen.
All of that said, Marlon Mack is a savvy runner. He is patient behind his blockers and gets the most out of what is ahead of him consistently. He has game breaking and big play breaking speed and ability. He has also developed a comfort running the ball between the tackles.
This is the most talented Colts backfield I can remember since James, Rhodes and Mungro in the Manning era.
PASS RUSH COMES TO LIFE
Look, the Chiefs offensive line has to be garbage. I’m being a realist. We’ve watched the Colts defensive line look nothing like they did tonight for much of the season.
However, Justin Houston absolutely dominated the Chiefs on numerous plays. Second-year rusher Kemoko Turay was a nightmare for Patrick Mahomes — and it appears as though he may have suffered a season-ending leg injury. Even Al-Quadin Muhammed and Jabaal Sheard looked really good on the edges.
The interior, including Denico Autry showing dominance and Grover Stewart picking up a sack shows that there is at least some method to the Matt Eberflus/Mike Phair madness. This is a great game to build upon coming out of the bye.