On a night when the Indianapolis Colts’ offense couldn’t do anything right for nearly four quarters, the defense stepped up big-time and helped the team secure their second win of the season, defeating the Denver Broncos 12-9.
Here are my biggest takeaways from Indianapolis’ victory on Thursday Night Football.
DEFENSE COMES UP CLUTCH IN KEY MOMENTS
The offense couldn’t do anything. Quarterback Matt Ryan was constantly under duress all night long, as he was sacked six times and had two ugly interceptions. But the defense more than did its part for the Colts.
Indianapolis’ unit held the Broncos to just nine total points. Rookie safety Rodney Thomas came up with his first career interception, and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue combined for 3.5 of the defense’s 4 total sacks of quarterback Russell Wilson.
Denver went 2-for-15 on third downs and 1-of-2 on fourth downs. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore had his best performance of the season, coming away with the interception that would eventually lead to the game-tying field goal from kicker Chase McLaughlin and the game-winning pass deflection on fourth down in overtime.
Let’s be sure to give credit where it’s due. Despite all of the trouble the offense had all evening long, it was the Colts’ defense that made the crucial plays when it mattered most and ultimately helped secure the victory.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY CRITICAL ROLE IN VICTORY
Neither Indianapolis nor Denver found the end zone on Thursday, and the special teams’ department showed up big-time for the Colts. Kicker Chase McLaughlin hit on all four of his field goal attempts and scored the only points of the game for Indianapolis.
McLaughlin nailed kicks of 52, 51, 31 and 48 yards in the Colts’ improbable road victory. While it’s far from ideal to have your kicker be your only scorer on the night, McLaughlin made the kicks when Indianapolis needed him to, and he deserves credit for his performance.
COLTS’ ROOKIES SHINE IN BIG MOMENTS
Several of Indianapolis’ rookies once again stood out. Safety Rodney Thomas, a seventh-round pick out of Yale, had a big interception that stalled an impressive Broncos’ drive and a key breakup on critical a third-down situation to go along with five total tackles.
Wide receiver Alec Pierce, who set a career-high for receiving yards with 80 last Sunday against Tennessee, set a new mark with 81 yards on eight total receptions. Pierce was tremendous all night long and came up with multiple impressive catches, including a couple on the Colts’ drive that resulted in the game-tying field goal.
Pierce is quickly establishing himself as Indianapolis’ clear No. 2 wideout alongside Michael Pittman Jr., while Thomas, who’s been filled in for safety Julian Blackmon over the last two games, has also had several impressive moments.