The Indianapolis Colts found themselves in what was essentially a playoff game in week 14 as they traveled to Las Vegas to play the Raiders. While the Raiders are a talented team, their defense has been trending down in recent weeks and the Colts needed to exploit that weakness to win this game. Well, they were certainly able to do that as they coasted to an easy 44-27 victory.
So today we are going to look at this offensive performance by the Colts and highlight some of the best physical plays that led to this dominant win. It was an incredible offensive performance but the work by every offensive player in blocking is what set the tone for this dominant win.
Pushing the Raiders Around
Quenton Nelson hasn’t quite been himself this season and is likely still dealing with a back injury that he suffered in the offseason. The Nelson that we saw on Sunday though was his return to dominance as he was physically imposing all game long. Here he wins the initial stalemate against the defensive tackle in pass protection before working his hands back inside and driving him to the ground for the pancake. Look at the overall pass protection on this play as Philip Rivers had all day to throw this pass.
Quenton Nelson doing Quenton Nelson things on Sunday pic.twitter.com/8uBu3TvKn9— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) December 14, 2020
Right tackle Braden Smith has been an unsung hero this year for the Colts’ offense. In 471 pass-blocking snaps, he has allowed 0 sacks and just one quarterback hit (that happened back in week one). He has quietly put together an elite level season and has been a true force on the right side for this team. He was matched up with young pass rusher Maxx Crosby in this game who couldn’t get anything going at all against the star right tackle.
Maxx Crosby couldn't get anything going against Braden Smith on Sunday.— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) December 14, 2020
Smith has 3 games left (against JJ Watt, TJ Watt, and Josh Allen) to maintain his 0 allowed sacks this year. Tough match-ups but he could actually finish this year allowing 0 sacks. pic.twitter.com/7uOET16XwI
The block of the game didn’t come from an offensive lineman, however. Wide receiver Zach Pascal decided to get involved in the action on this devastating chip on defensive end Vic Beasley Jr. Beasley didn’t see this coming whatsoever and Pascal is able to make him pay. We talk a lot about Pascal’s willingness and ability as a blocker but it is physical plays like this that will always lead to playing time for him. He helps with the bully mentality that the Colts want to have on offense by leveling defenders like this.
Zach Pascal killed a man on Sunday lmao pic.twitter.com/ewdXUvu8mk— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) December 14, 2020
Center Ryan Kelly also decided to get in on the fun on this run play. He shows the whole world that low man wins is not a myth as he gets up and under the pads of the 1-tech defensive tackle. From this low position, he is able to drive the defensive tackle out of the hole and on the ground for the pancake. Kelly has had some shaky moments since his neck injury in Detroit but he had some great plays in this one to spark a dominant rushing performance.
Ryan Kelly driving the 1-Tech out of the hole and into the ground for the pic.twitter.com/GA2d7k84SE— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) December 14, 2020
While pancakes are all good and fun, the Colts were also just moving people in the run game. The Colts had such great passing success early in this one that they were able to see some lighter boxes in the second half. With those lighter boxes, it frees the interior linemen to combo block the interior and open up bigger run lanes in space. Kelly and right guard Mark Glowinski execute a perfect combo block on the sweep play and the result is a huge lane for Jonathan Taylor. Taylor is then able to plant his foot and that 4.3 speed he possesses does the rest for the game-changing score.
Productive passing game leads to lighter boxes. Lighter boxes means easier time doubling up interior defensive linemen. IDL moved easier means a bigger lane for your 4.3 rookie RB to run through. Easy touchdown off the great combo by Kelly and Glow pic.twitter.com/xjUXpgGqt3— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) December 14, 2020
Overall this was a return to bully ball for the Colts as their offensive line, receivers, and tight ends just punched the Raiders’ defense in the mouth early and often. The Raiders had no answer in this one and it led to huge games for not only Jonathan Taylor but also Philip Rivers, Nyheim Hines, T.Y. Hilton, and the entire Colts’ offense. Look at the tight ends on this big run by Hines. Just blowing players off the line of scrimmage. Physically dominant game and if the Colts can carry this forward, they can beat anyone in the league in the playoffs.
Nyheim Hines' speed on this play is great as he beats the unblocked safety to the edge but look at Doyle doing the work on the other box safety. Great game for the veteran TE (MAC just driving Vic Beasley is nice too) pic.twitter.com/ClPBGBLff1— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) December 14, 2020
What an incredible performance for the Colts in what was essentially a playoff game. They physically abused the Raiders’ defense and it even led to the Raiders firing their Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther right after the game. Demoralizing type performance for the entire Colts’ offense.
Halfway through the year, the Colts seemed like the type of team to get bounced early in the playoffs. With an inconsistent offense and seemingly overachieving defense, there was a right to be skeptical. Now the Colts sit with the 9th rated offense and 5th rated defense after going through a very tough gauntlet of games. They are shaping up to be a dangerous team to see in the playoffs if they can handle their business in these last three weeks and get in. There is a lot of reason to be excited about this team and the Colts seem to be peaking at the perfect time.