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Knee-jerk reactions: Colts improve to 3-2 after gashing their way to 23-16 victory over Titans

The Indianapolis Colts defeat the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in Week 5.

Tennessee Titans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts took care of business at home against the Tennessee Titans, snapping a seven-game home losing streak with a 23-16 victory on Sunday. Indianapolis is now 3-2 on the season and 2-1 in their division with a road trip to Jacksonville (3-2) coming up in Week 6.


In the season debut for Colts’ running back Jonathan Taylor, it was running back Zack Moss who stole the show in Sunday’s victory. The Titans came into Sunday’s matchup with the NFL’s top-ranked rushing defense, and Moss helped carry Indianapolis all game long, setting career-highs in rush attempts (23), total yards from scrimmage (195) and total rushing yards (165). Moss had two rushing touchdowns to go along with two receptions for 30 yards as well.

Moss has been nothing short of tremendous for the Colts this season. In total, Moss has 445 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the season. Moss averaged 7.2 yards per carry Sunday, which is a testament to his running style and the play of Indianapolis’ offensive line. Taylor, meanwhile, had 18 rushing yards in a limited number of snaps. It’s worth noting that Indianapolis is going to ease Taylor back into things, given that the All-Pro back missed an extensive amount of time. Overall, the Colts managed to rush for a total of 193 rushing yards and two touchdowns between four different ball carriers.

The Colts’ offensive line has been playing extremely well through the first five weeks of the season, despite being down a few starters throughout the early part of the season. The unit deserves a ton of credit for the team’s overall dominant rushing performance Sunday. With Taylor now back in the lineup, Indianapolis’ rushing attack with Moss and Taylor could continue to give opposing NFL teams fits going forward.


The obvious and most note-worthy news item is that rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson exited Sunday’s game with a right (throwing) shoulder injury. Whether it’s a short-term or long-term injury remains to be known, but the initial x-rays came back negative, which is a positive sign as he’ll undergo further testing. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the initial diagnosis is an AC joint sprain. Richardson will undergo an MRI to further assess, according to Pelissero.

It’s clear the kind of abilities Richardson brings to the Colts’ offense as a dynamic playmaker, and if he does end up missing an extended period of time, it’ll be interesting to see what the Colts’ offense looks like with veteran quarterback Gardner Minshew at the helm. As a quick aside: Minshew certainly deserves credit for stepping in for Richardson and playing well, completing 11-of-14 passes for 155 passing yards. Having an experienced backup who’s familiar with the offense has come in handy for Indianapolis this season.

Understandably, there are some who have concerns over Richardson’s playing style as a whole. The 21-year-old has only been able to finish one game this season. Sure, some of his early injuries, (concussion, bone bruise, ankle), may not be as concerning or servere as the right (throwing) shoulder injury, but those types of hits can add up in the long-term. While certain situations can’t truly be avoided with injuries, the 21-year-old rookie does have to a better job overall at protecting himself.


After trailing 23-0 in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis’ defense bounced back nicely in several ways Sunday. For starters, the Colts’ defense held Tennessee to just 16 total points. Tennessee was able to move the ball well against Indy’s young secondary at times, but one of the biggest differences in the game was the Titans’ inability to come away with touchdowns in multiple red zone trips. While Indy’s defensive front only sacked Titans’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill once, the key stops in the red zone and pressure in crucial situations played a major role in the Colts coming away with their second divisional win of the season.

Not only did Indianapolis’ pass defense step up in key situations, but the units’ rush defense was far more effective against Titans’ running back Derrick Henry. In total, Henry rushed for just 43 yards on 13 attempts, an average of only 3.3 yards per carry. Indianapolis held Tennessee to just 89 total rushing yards between three different ball carriers. Getting both DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart back and fully healthy certainly played a key role in the overall success of Indianapolis’ run defense playing as well as it did Sunday. Major props should be given to the Colts’ defensive front, with Buckner, Stewart and linebackers Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed standing out yet again.