The Indianapolis Colts managed to secure a key win to get a firm grip over one of the AFC’s wild card spots against the Raiders in Las Vegas. After a pretty competitive first half, where it looked like the Colts defense was unable to stop Derek Carr, Eberflus and the defense seemed to take a bend, but don’t break approach, that helped the Colts force the Raiders to settle for some short field goals. Of course that approach only works if the offense scores touchdowns, and for once, they did.
During the first half I got several flashbacks of last season’s game against the Raiders, mainly because the pass-rush was not getting home at all while Carr got all day to shred the Colts defense. After the half, it was quite a different story for the defense, as the Colts managed to keep the Raiders out of the endzone when it mattered, and Kenny Moore forced a fumble on Hunter Renfrow at just the right time to help seal the game.
I really liked how the offense played this game. Rivers was on point, very accurate and did not make any boneheaded throws. The running backs, led by a great game by rookie Jonathan Taylor, had a really solid game, thanks in part to a wonderful run blocking job by both the offensive line and tight ends. T.Y Hilton just keeps on improving, as he had perhaps his best game of the season today, with 5 catches for 86 yards and two scores.
This game was really important because the Raiders were among the top contenders for the WC spot. Now, the Colts have a 9-4 record, with matchups against the Texans, Jaguars, and Steelers remaining. The Colts could easily go 2-1 and finish the season with an 11-5 record. Meanwhile, the Raiders have a much tougher schedule remaining, as they will face off against the Chargers, Dolphins, and Broncos.
Entering the game, it was clear that the losing team would face an uphill climb to make the playoffs, while the winner would enjoy a much safer view from the inside, so it was nice to watch the Colts come out and perform the way they did today.
Now some hot-headed opinions on some individual players: Rivers is a massive improvement over Brissett, Taylor is starting to look legit, Hilton still has something left in the tank and should finish his career as a Colt, after a rough start, Doyle has improved a lot over the last couple of games, Rock Ya-Sin showed some flashes, but still looks raw, Rodrigo is as reliable as they come on short kicks, I still have no faith in him hitting a 50+ yarder, the Colts defense can’t afford Darius Leonard to miss any games, Anthony Walker is too much of a liability in coverage.
Overall, this was a really solid win for the Colts, and one we should definitely enjoy. The team went out and dominated a tough opponent in the playoff race away from Lucas Oil Stadium. Yeah, the Raiders were struggling as of late, but this was still a must win game, and the Colts went out and did just that.