The Indianapolis Colts closed out an important matchup against one of the most difficult opponents remaining on their 2020 schedule. The Green Bay Packers are a shoe-in playoff team and one of the favorites in the NFC. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a favorite for the 2020 NFL MVP.
Teams who have a chance to make noise in the playoffs win close games down the stretch. Those same teams overcome challenging late-game circumstances. They also get big contributions from young players who are filling in for injured starters.
The Colts made a statement on Sunday afternoon by knocking off the Packers. Rounding out their sweep of the NFL North. The team overcame a late first half holding penalty on Rock Ya-Sin that led to a big touchdown. It overcame a no-call on what could have been pass interference with T.Y. Hilton in the back of the end zone. It overcame numerous offensive holding calls to close out regulation, which led to a game-tying field goal and overtime.
In short, this is a big win. It allowed the Colts to keep pace with the Tennessee Titans and sets up a huge divisional game next week for control in the AFC South.
Those who made big contributions on offense include Jonathan Taylor who finished the game with 22 carries for 90 yards and four receptions on four targets for 24 yards. Rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. caught all three of his targets for a team leading 66 yards and a touchdown. Philip Rivers finished with 288 passing yards and three touchdowns against one interception, and this includes a gutsy performance late with a sore ankle that limited his mobility.
On defense, the Colts received a huge contribution from rookie safety Julian Blackmon who forced a fumble in overtime that was recovered by none other than DeForest Buckner. Kenny Moore led the team with 10 tackles, a rare accomplishment for a nickel corner. Darius Leonard finished with six total tackles and a forced fumble. In the second half, the Colts offense dominated time of possession and allowed the defense to stay fresh.
Special teams also had big contributions. Rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship finished 4/5 in field goal attempts, missing just short on his 50-yard attempt in the first half. He also kicked the game winner in overtime, after the Packers attempted to ice him. Punter and kickoff specialist Rigoberto Sanchez had a great punt to end regulation pinning Rodgers and the Packers offense inside the 10-yard line. He also had what was almost the greatest kickoff of all time, barely reaching the end zone for a touchback. Indianapolis’ special teams forced a fumble on Darrius Shepherd.
In many respects, little about this football game went to script. On the other hand, the Colts’ defense showed that is truly an elite unit in the NFL. The offense showed that it has enough power to keep pace with one of the top offenses in the league. The Colts advanced to 7-3 and kept pace in the AFC South. Now, Rivers and the Colts are a week away from a key game at the Titans at home that could go a long way in deciding the AFC South Championship for 2020.
Two weeks in a row the Colts have faced their biggest challengers of the season. They have come out on top in both contests. Contenders? We’ll discuss that again next week.