MVP of the Game: Darius Leonard
Darius “The Maniac” Leonard is among the best inside linebackers in the game, and games like yesterday are a big reason why. Leonard finished the game with a game high 15 tackles (one for a loss) and a fumble recovery. He was all over the field and perhaps the main reason why the Colts were able to shutout the Ravens’ offense in the first half. As was the case with the rest of the defense, they looked extremely tired in the second half, as the offense could not sustain a drive to save their lives.
Dud of the Game (The Grigsy): Philip Rivers/Jonathan Taylor
I just don’t understand Rivers. The past few games, it seemed like he was getting it together and developing some sort of chemistry with his receivers, and for the first half of the game it continued to look that way. Rivers was taking what the defense was giving him, making good reads and putting the ball in the perfect spots, but after the interception, it all came crashing down. His delivery was consistently late, he suffered several miscommunications with his receivers, and was not able to read the Ravens’ blitzes correctly.
As for Jonathan Taylor, he started the game looking really good, even getting himself a touchdown, but his fumble, returned by the Ravens for a touchdown, was a huge momentum killer at a time the Colts were dominating.
Play of the Game: Forced turnover in the red-zone
On their first drive after halftime, the Ravens were driving and had a 1st and goal inside the Colts five-yard line. The Colts defense, however, came up with a massive stop after Buckner forced a fumble on Edwards and Okereke then recovered. This defense is really, really good, and if Reich could just get the offense to be at least average, then this team can certainly make the playoffs.
Worst Play of the Game: Rivers’ interception to Peters
I will not get into the argument if that was the correct call or not, as that does not change anything, the truth is that that ball should have never been thrown. That throw by Rivers is what killed the Colts in this game. Right after forcing the turnover and getting all the momentum back, he goes out and underthrows MoJo, into double coverage, on first down. Philip, I don't know if you are reading this, but why on earth do you throw that pass on first down?!? Absolutely zero situational awareness, and the defense was forced to go right back into the field after just forcing a turnover. If the Colts are going to beat any of the playoff teams coming up in the schedule, Rivers needs to get this sort of things sorted out.
Best Position Group: Defensive Line
DeForest Buckner’s impact on this defensive line is very hard to put into words. Last year, this was a solid, but unspectacular group, now it ranks among the best in the NFL, and yesterday they balled out. The defensive line was in the backfield all game, either getting to Jackson or stopping the potent Ravens run game on its tracks. The shutout in the first half is among the best defensive performances I have seen from the Colts in recent memory. After Rivers interception, the Ravens got the upper hand. The main reason for that is the Colts defense was probably really tired. For the first 20 minutes of game after the half, the defense was on the field for 18:40, that is just inexcusable.
Unsung Hero: Al-Quadin Muhammad
Muhammad has asserted himself as a key piece in the Colts defensive end rotation, as his disruptive ability and athleticism mean he is a constant threat to make a play in the backfield. Yesterday he had a big sack on Lamar Jackson and also a couple of tackles for loss. It is worth noting that Banogu was a healthy scratch yesterday, so the fact that Muhammad is getting playing time over a former second round pick must mean something.
Rookie of the Week: Michael Pittman Jr.
Finally, Michael Pittman Jr. makes an impact in a game. He was the Colts leading receiver yesterday and showed some flashes of what made the Colts draft him so high in the draft. He finished the game with 4 catches on a team high 7 targets, and 56 yards. Hopefully, this was not just a mirage and Pittman can put together a strong second half to the season.