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What We Learned: Colts vs Chiefs

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts Robert Scheer/IndyStar Staff-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts are now 1-1-1 after upsetting the Kansas City Chiefs 20-17 Sunday and earning their first victory of the 2022 season.

Here are my biggest takeaways from Indy’s massive win over the Chiefs:

  • Colts’ defense has best performance of the season

Let’s give a ton of credit to Colts’ defense, who put together their finest performance of the season against one of the NFL’s top offenses Sunday. Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes was uncomfortable all afternoon, as Indianapolis’ front four pressured him on 38% of his dropbacks, according to ESPN.

In addition to applying constant pressure, the Colts’ defense held the Chiefs’ offense to 3-of-10 on third down conversions and really limited explosive plays from Mahomes, who’s one of the league’s best at creating plays off-script. Mahomes had only one touchdown, an interception, and an overall QBR of 78.9.

Part of Indianapolis’ success in slowing down Mahomes was stifling Kansas City’s rushing attack. KC’s running backs totaled 58 rushing yards and averaged only 2.5 yards per carry.

Sunday’s defensive performance will be one the Colts look to build off of in the weeks to come against the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos.

  • Offensive rookies show up in a major way

While the Colts had some struggles early on offensively, they did have two rookies stand out in a major way in wide receiver Alec Pierce and tight end Jelani Woods. Back after suffering a concussion in Week 1, Pierce started to find his footing within Indy’s offense, hauling in 61 yards on three receptions, including a big-time catch to set up the eventual game-winning touchdown to Woods.

Woods also had quite the afternoon and came up clutch in the red zone with his two massive touchdowns, the first two of his career, and one of which was the game-winner to give the Colts their first win on the season.

Overall, Indianapolis’ rookies impressed in a big way Sunday, and I’d like to think they’ve earned more involvement in the team’s offense going forward, especially considering the kind of potential advantages they can bring to the table with their size and speed.

  • Offensive line miscues remain an issue

The Colts’ offensive line continued to struggle heavily on Sunday, surrendering five sacks and allowing far too many rushers to come free on key downs. Indy’s offensive line has given up the fourth-most sacks throughout the first three weeks with 12. The concerns are certainly worth noting, as they have been detrimental to the team’s overall success offensively so far this season.

More specifically, both right guard Danny Pinter and right tackle Braden Smith had their fair share of struggles. Pinter got beat on more than one occasion, and Smith had a hard time when going against KC’s speed rushers.

Simply put, for being one of the league’s top paid units, playing as they have through three weeks is inexcusable. The Colts have far too much invested in their offensive line to be performing as poorly as they have, and if the team has their sights set on a playoff berth this season, this is an issue they’re going to have to fix very quickly.