The Indianapolis Colts are now 3-2-1 on the 2022 season and earned their first divisional victory Sunday, defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-27. The Colts are now 5-0 at home in the Frank Reich era against Jacksonville.
Here are my biggest takeaways after Indianapolis’ big-time division victory over the Jaguars.
OFFENSE PUTS TOGETHER FINEST PERFORMANCE OF SEASON
Despite being down two of their best players on offense in running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines, the Colts’ offense was able to put together their finest performance of the 2022 season Sunday.
Quarterback Matt Ryan had plenty of time to throw all afternoon, as the Colts’ offensive line didn’t surrender a single sack for the first time this season. Ryan was pressured on just 24.1% of his dropbacks, according to TruMedia.
Per TruMedia, Matt Ryan's time to throw today was 2.4 seconds -- the quickest he's gotten rid of the ball all year.— Jim Ayello (@jimayello) October 16, 2022
That helps explain why he was only pressured on 24.1% of dropbacks today -- far, far better than the Denver game (51.1%) and the first game vs. the Jags (40%).
The veteran quarterback completed a career-high 42 of his 58 passes (72.4%) for 389 passing yards and three touchdowns and tossed the game-winning score to rookie wideout Alec Pierce, which completed Ryan’s third game-winning drive of the season.
Indianapolis’ offense mixed in a ton of up-tempo and no-huddle for most of the game, which helped in the overall production on Sunday. Wideouts Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce and Parris Campbell were instrumental in the offensive production against the Jaguars. Pittman Jr. hauled in a career-high 13 receptions for 134 yards; Pierce caught his first-career touchdown while hauling in three receptions for 49 yards and Campbell had seven receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown and helped convert multiple first downs as well.
Running back Deon Jackson stepped up in the absence of Taylor and Hines, putting together another strong performance and totaling 121 yards from scrimmage (42 rushing, 79 receiving) to go along with a rushing touchdown.
When the Colts traded for Ryan, Sunday’s performance provided a glimpse into what the offense could look like when everything’s clicking. Ryan and Co. deserve a ton of credit for their 434-yard, 34-point performance, and it’s one they’ll look to build off of going forward.
PASS RUSH GETS TO LAWRENCE AS DEFENSE KEEPS JAGUARS’ PASSING ATTACK IN CHECK
Let’s also be sure to give credit to Indy’s pass defense, which limited the Jaguars’ passing attack. While Lawrence did complete 20 of his 22 pass attempts, he only managed to throw for 163 passing yards and a touchdown.
Not a single Jaguars receiver surpassed the 100-yard mark and Indianapolis’ defense came away with stops when it mattered. Coming into Sunday’s game, Lawrence had only been sacked a total of six times, and the Colts’ pass rush stepped up yet again, especially in crucial downs early on. Indy’s pass rush sacked second-year signal-caller four times Sunday.
There’s room to improve, and we’ve seen the Colts’ defense play exceedingly better than it has done for the most part Sunday. But in the NFL where wins are hard to come by, sometimes it comes down to making plays when it’s needed most, and Indianapolis’ defense did just enough to help capture a victory Sunday.
UNCHARACTERISTIC PERFORMANCE FROM RUN DEFENSE
Going into Sunday’s game, Indianapolis’ run defense ranked fourth in the league in rushing yards allowed per game. In an extremely uncharacteristic performance, Indianapolis’ top-notch run defense was gashed by Jacksonville’s running backs Sunday. There’s no question that the absence of Kwity Paye, arguably the team’s best run defender, was felt Sunday.
Running backs Travis Etienne, James Robinson and JaMycal Hasty combined for 243 yards on the ground on 33 attempts while averaging a whopping 7.4 yards per attempt, which is by far the most the Colts’ run defense has allowed all season.
Indy’s run defense cleaned things up in the second half, but the overall performance was one the Colts need to forget. Something to keep in mind: The 3-2 Tennessee Titans are up next, where Derrick Henry, who had 114 rushing yards on an average of 5.2 yards per attempt when facing the Colts back in Week 4, awaits.