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Knee-jerk reactions: Colts defeat 49ers in monsoon 30-18

Indianapolis Colts v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

What a mess! This monsoon game rivals the Buffalo blizzard in 2017. Neither offense was particularly productive for much of the evening.


MUFF RULES ARE DUMB

Mishandled punts not resulting in some kind of penalty for the receiving team is nonsense. Moreover, if a player intentionally makes a play at a ball that is behind him and kicks it into the end zone, where he is summarily tackled, it should be ruled a safety.

How this rule exists and why it wouldn’t be changed is beyond me.


REICH IS A LITTLE JEKYLL AND A LITTLE HYDE

Frank Reich dialed up a couple of incredible scoring plays. The first was a misdirection play that left Mo Alie-Cox free to walk into the end zone for Indy’s first touchdown. The second was a beautiful read-option that was kept by Carson Wentz, fooling everyone as he kept the ball and got outside to get into the endzone.

Reich is also responsible for allowing Wentz to stretch the ball vertically, despite the fact that the wet conditions weren’t ideal. A lack of defensive footing created big penalties that were partially responsible for getting Indy into scoring position.

There were also occasions where Reich chose to be conservative, and his play not to lose mentality put the Colts in a difficult position. For instance, an offensive holding position put the Colts into a first and long situation and every offensive play call following that penalty was incredibly conservative. Indianapolis netted another two yards lost in the preceding play and punted the ball to the Niners.

The Niners scored on three plays — cutting the Colts lead to only two.

There was also the interesting decision to call a timeout near the end of the first half, after the defense stuffed the 49ers on first down, only to not call a timeout after the defense stuffed San Francisco on second down.

Of course, good Reich showed up again at the end of the game, allowing Wentz to throw the ball twice even though some might have insisted on running the ball to run the clock. He was rewarded by a huge throw and catch to Michael Pittman Jr., who sealed a Colts win by winning a jump ball and stretching into the end zone.


PITTMAN AND TAYLOR ARE A BIG WIN FOR BALLARD

Much has been made about Chris Ballard’s inability to draft offensive skill players — especially wide receivers. At this point, though, it’s clear that Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. are big future pieces of the Indianapolis offense. Both were second-round draft picks in 2020, and few would have predicted that the Colts would trade up in the second round to draft a running back with Marlon Mack already on the team.

There is still more work to do, in part because Parris Campbell has been unable to stay healthy. Still, you’ll take draft classes that include players like Leonard and Nelson and others that include Taylor and Pittman.


DARIUS LEONARD IS TRULY SPECIAL

Colts fans have been spoiled by defensive difference-makers for much of the past two decades. Dwight Freeney mastered the spin move. Robert Mathis mastered the strip-sack. Bob Sanders mastered erasing.

Today, even while not fully healthy, Colts fans are seeing a master of the “peanut punch.” At this rate, Darius Leonard could very end his career as the all-time leader in forced fumbles for an off-ball linebacker. For reference, defensive back Charles “Peanut” Tillman finished his career with 44 forced fumbles in 13 full seasons. He is fifth all-time in forced fumbles. At this time, both Leonard and Pittman average a forced fumble in every four games.

Special indeed.