The Indianapolis Colts fell short of a victory for a second straight week, losing to the Washington Commanders 17-16 Sunday. Indianapolis is now 3-4-1 on the season with a game on the road against the New England Patriots in Week 9.
DIFFERENT QUARTERBACK, SAME SELF-INFLICTING MISTAKES OFFENSIVELY
Turnovers, turnovers, and yes, more turnovers. That appears to be one of the main storylines from the Colts’ offense this season. It’s two steps forward and what feels like ten back with the number of mistakes the offense has had this season.
Two drives from Indianapolis’ offense which showed a lot of promise were brought to a halt after fumbles from quarterback Sam Ehlinger and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. inside Washington territory, costing Indianapolis any chance at points.
Despite impressive efforts from Ehlinger (201 passing yards, 73% completion), wideout Alec Pierce (three catches for 65 yards), running back Jonathan Taylor (16 carries, 76 yards), and others, the offense — like most of the season — couldn’t get out of its way and it came up costly yet again.
STRONG DEFENSIVE START ENDS IN LATE-GAME COLLAPSE
Indianapolis’ defense started out strong Sunday, surrendering just seven total points through the first three quarters to the Commanders’ offense. Both running backs Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson combined for a total of 39 rushing yards on 15 rushing attempts and only one touchdown.
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke was sacked twice and Indy’s defense as a whole only gave up 5.9 yards per play and held Washington’s offense to just 2-of-12 on third-down conversions. One of the deciding factors, however, was the conversion rate on the fourth down, as the Commanders were 2-of-3 on the afternoon, including a crucial conversion on the final go-ahead touchdown drive.
Ultimately, the Colts’ defense played fairly well for most of the game but surrendered two drives late in the game, including an 89-yard touchdown with less than two minutes to go, that gave Washington life. What started out as a strong defensive showing for Indianapolis through most of the game ended in heartbreak after a poor finish on the Commanders’ final two drives.
SOLID PERFORMANCE FOR SAM EHLINGER IN DEBUT AS COLTS’ STARTING QB
The eyes of thousands of fans and T.V. viewers were on quarterback Sam Ehlinger Sunday, as the sixth-round pick out of Texans made his debut for the Colts. In his first regular-season start, Ehlinger impressed in a variety of ways, completing 73% of his passes and throwing for 201 yards.
He wasn’t perfect by any means, but head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Marcus Brady put together an impressive game plan for Ehlinger that allowed him to play to his strengths. Ehlinger showed his ability to make plays outside the pocket with his mobility and looked poised when throwing from a clean pocket.
As you’d expect with a quarterback making their first NFL start, there are going to be some growing pains. While Ehlinger missed some throws throughout the game and had a costly fumble inside Commanders’ territory, but there was also plenty for the young quarterback to build off of for the remainder of the 2022 season.