Following a shocking home loss against the Miami Dolphins, the Indianapolis Colts desperately needed to take care of business Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium facing a familiar divisional foe.
Not to be taken lightly, the 4-5 Jacksonville Jaguars were getting starting quarterback Nick Foles and wide receiver Dede Westbrook back from injury—and still have a very tough defense.
Nevertheless, the Colts gave the Jaguars a taste of their own medicine on Sunday, as their running backs dominated on the ground—not Leonard Fournette.
It was also the Colts defense who shut the opposing offense down and simply made plays.
The Colts didn’t just win, they blew the Jaguars out to the tune of 33-13 on Sunday.
Thus, it’s under much happier circumstances that I present this week’s game balls:
Colts Running Game
The Colts primary running backs on the day:
-Jonathan Williams: 13 carries for 116 total rushing yards (8.9 avg. ypc) and a touchdown.
-Marlon Mack: 14 carries for 109 rushing yards (7.8 avg. ypc) and a touchdown.
Impressively, it was the third time in franchise history that the Colts have had two 100 yard rushers in the same game.
Not to mention, scatback Nyheim Hines chipped in 3 carries for 11 rushing yards and a touchdown of his own.
Overall, the Colts finished with 264 total rushing yards on 36 attempts for an average of 7.3 yards per carry.
Sunday’s incredible rushing performance is a credit not just to the Colts talented stable of young running backs, but also their prized offensive line, who consistently paved wide open holes and running lanes against a notoriously stingy Jaguars front seven.
The Colts didn’t just “Run the Damn Ball”, they ran all over the Jaguars defense.
It was the bread-and-butter of their offensive attack Sunday, and one of the big reasons they won in such convincing fashion.
No, this wasn’t a great statistical Jacoby Brissett performance.
However, having missed the majority of the Colts last two games because of a knee injury, Brissett was solid, if not spectacular on Sunday.
He completed 15 of 24 throws (62.3%) for 148 passing yards, a touchdown, an interception, and a passer rating of 76.4.
He wasn’t great, but given the rust, potentially not being 100%, and a matchup against a tough Jaguars defense, it looked like Brissett fared reasonably well given the circumstances—as he was efficient and gave the Colts a great opportunity to win.
On two of the Colts touchdowns, it was easy to see the difference between Brissett and the team’s backup over the last two weeks, Brian Hoyer.
With 8:55 left in the 3rd quarter, Brissett took the snap on 4th and goal, looked to run, stopped, somehow eluded pressure, and escaped to his right before throwing a dart on the move to wide receiver Marcus Johnson, who dove close to the near-side pylon for the touchdown—putting the Colts up 17-7:
Jacoby to Marcus Johnson for six ‼️ #JAXvsIND pic.twitter.com/OuhjmdDEs4— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) November 17, 2019
However, Brissett wasn’t done on “wow” plays for the afternoon, as later in the 3rd quarter on 1st and goal, he faked the handoff on play-action, only to roll out and take the football to pay dirt himself—increasing the Colts lead to 24-7:
Do the honors, @JBrissett12. #JAXvsIND pic.twitter.com/TzD7IkEOJz— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) November 17, 2019
Those were just two plays, but boy, were they big ones in the context of Sunday’s win.
They are ones that Hoyer simply can’t make, as Brissett has a unique ability to extend plays with his feet and body control—by making big plays on the move.
He’s “deceptively quick”, and that unique ability is really one of the key distinctions between Brissett and Hoyer—and ultimately, why the Colts were able to get back on the winning track Sunday.
Considering he was on the Colts practice squad two weeks ago, Johnson’s performance Sunday was highly surprising.
In a ground oriented offensive approach, he was the Colts leading receiver with 4 receptions for 38 receiving yards (9.5 ypr avg)—including his aforementioned diving touchdown reception.
It wasn’t just Johnson’s big catches which helped spark the Colts offensive surge Sunday, but also his perimeter blocking which allowed his running backs to amass an exorbitant amount of yards down the field.
Yes, some Colts fans are still mourning the loss of Deon Cain, who was poached off their practice squad by the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier in the weekend.
Despite Cain’s possible long-term potential though, Johnson has already been more productive for the Colts in two games during 2019 than Cain had been all season in seven games.
In a depleted wide receiver corps, Johnson was given an ample opportunity for playing time Sunday and made the most of it.
Kudos to him.
One could easily make the case that slot cornerback Kenny Moore was deserving of a game ball by his own individual merit, finishing with 8 tackles (all solo), a sack, a pass defensed, and a QB hit but I prefer to celebrate his unit’s performance as a whole on Sunday.
The Colts defense was fast, swarming, and relentless on Sunday.
There were constantly a number of horseshoes always surrounding the football, and Leonard Fournette was held to a mere 8 carries for 23 total rushing yards (2.9 ypc avg).
Simply put, the Jaguars offense couldn’t establish an identity or much rhythm, as the Colts defense consistently held the advantage in both run defense and pass coverage.
The Colts defense forced two turnovers, and it was easy to see how athletic and fast this year’s unit is—and how they can successfully track the football in space.
Defenders like Moore, Rock Ya-Sin (first career interception), Justin Houston (a sack, two QB hits), and Malik Hooker (3 tackles, 2 passes defensed, and a hammer hit on Westbrook) had big performances for the Colts defense among others—but they received key contributions from almost everyone.
This Colts defense has played really well in recent weeks, and it didn’t stop on Sunday.