The Indianapolis Colts defense stifled Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, as their front four was able to generate consistent pass pressure and force the former NFL MVP to continuously move in the pocket and escape duress—while limiting the Chiefs to just 2.5 yards per carry rushing, in route to an upset 20-17 Horseshoe victory:
More impressive numbers: The #Colts defense held Patrick Mahomes to a sub 60% completion percentage (57) and a sub 80 QBR (78.5).— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) September 26, 2022
Mahomes only has four games under those two benchmarks since the start of the 2019 season.
Patrick Mahomes was pressured on 38% of his dropbacks by the Colts today, according to ESPN Stats & Info.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) September 25, 2022
Mahomes was pressured on 21% of dropbacks through the first two weeks of the season.
One of the biggest adjustments for the Colts defense headed into Week 3 was benching starting rookie safety Nick Cross in favor of the vastly more experienced Rodney McLeod (with 124 career starts and counting) and then having fellow rookie Rodney Thomas II come in relief of the injured Julian Blackmon—somewhat surprisingly over Cross:
Some great DB moves by the #Colts yesterday:— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) September 26, 2022
-Rodney McLeod (played all 63 snaps) started over Nick Cross (1 snap)
-Rookie Rodney Thomas II (51 snaps) his first NFL action on D (over Cross) when Julian Blackmon got hurt
-Isaiah Rodgers played 24 snaps. None the first 2 weeks
The moves quickly paid off dividends as the Colts stunned the Chiefs, thanks to a fantastic effort from their entire defense collectively—including from their revamped secondary:
Take a bow, Rodney Thomas II.— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) September 26, 2022
The @Colts rookie 7th round safety from Yale played 35 coverage snaps against the most lethal off-schedule QB in the NFL.
35 snaps, 2 targets, one PBU – on which he covered a ton of yardage to break up a deep ball to Justin Watson.
RODNEY MCLEOD PICKS IT OFF TO SEAL THE GAME FOR THE COLTS! pic.twitter.com/E47nL5l7tB— NFL (@NFL) September 25, 2022
Now, let me be clear, I still think rookie 3rd round pick Nick Cross has a bright future in the NFL, as he’s only 21 years old and had some impressive flashes throughout training camp, preseason, and even the regular season in coverage at safety.
That being said, he may not be ready for a starter’s role quite yet, being still a bit raw.
It’s quite possible that Thomas, as a 7th round rookie out of Yale, who is a little older at 24 years old, may be a little ahead in his overall development for the pro level (and either way, Thomas initially looks like a tremendous find from being uncovered late in Day 3).
It’s a credit to the Colts though regarding their willingness to not get complacent and try to look at ways to improve and get better defensively, having been previously winless—especially with one of the league’s most prolific offenses and elite quarterbacks coming into town.
Both Thomas and McLeod were unsung heroes for the Colts secondary on Sunday for a big win that should hopefully carry some serious momentum for Indianapolis going forward.