Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles felt like one the Indianapolis Colts needed to keep their playoff hopes alive. Instead, the Colts fell short of an upset victory in a 17-16 loss to Philly.
OFFENSE STRUGGLES AGAINST TOP-NOTCH EAGLES’ DEFENSE
Many said before Sunday’s game that Philadelphia’s defense would be a tough test for the Colts’ offense. Outside of their first opening-drive touchdown on the season, Indy’s offense only managed 284 total yards of offense and 16 points on a day in which they had five drives inside Eagles territory. The Colts’ offense has struggled in the red zone all season, and coming away with field goals instead of touchdowns was the difference in this one.
Quarterback Matt Ryan had just 213 passing yards on 23 completions but had no touchdowns. Running back Jonathan Taylor had just 84 total rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, but had a costly fumble in the fourth quarter that put an end to a promising drive which may’ve led to points. The Colts’ offense has committed far too many ill-advised turnovers which have cost them games this season, and Taylor’s fumble came at a poor time.
Ryan was also sacked four times as the offensive line struggled in pass protection for much of the afternoon, especially late in the fourth quarter. Despite productive days from wideouts Michael Pittman Jr. (six receptions, 75 yards) and Parris Campbell (five receptions, 67 yards), Indy’s offense ultimately couldn’t make the plays when it mattered most.
DEFENSE COMES UP SHORT LATE IN FOURTH QUARTER, CAN’T CLOSE ON STRONG PERFORMANCE
Indianapolis’ defense has come away with key stops several times this season, but they were unable to finish strong against the Eagles. Quarterback Jalen Hurts didn’t have the biggest day through the air (190 passing yards, one touchdown), but Indy’s defense struggled to contain the dual-threat playmaker, as Hurts had 16 rushes for 86 yards and the go-ahead, game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Indy’s run defense held running back Miles Sanders to just 47 rushing yards on 3.6 yards per carry. While Sanders didn’t have much production Hurts’ effort on the ground made all the difference and helped Philadelphia amass 141 total rushing yards on an average of 4.3 yards per attempt.
A few times this season, the Colts’ defense has struggled to close late in games, and Sunday was another one of those games. Despite a strong defensive performance overall from Indy, especially on an afternoon where wideouts A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith didn’t take over the game and the Eagles scored a season-low 17 points, the unit couldn’t come up with key stops late in the game when it mattered most.
SPECIAL TEAMS MISS COSTLY IN ONE-POINT LOSS
Kicker Chase McLaughlin scored nine of Indianapolis’ 16 points Sunday. McLaughlin was 3-for-4 on field goal attempts but missed a crucial 50-yard attempt late in the third quarter that ultimately made the difference in a close one-point loss.
McLaughlin has been solid addition for Indy this season, making 16-of-19 (84%) of his field goal attempts on the season. But on an afternoon in which Indianapolis’ offense struggled in the red zone, missing key kicks is something the Colts simply cannot afford.
No, McLaughlin wasn’t the reason Indy came up short, and the special teams’ unit had a very strong day overall. That being said, his missed kick is a play the Colts would certainly like to have back and is one the team may look back on if they come up short of making the playoffs this season.