In a low-scoring affair, the Indianapolis Colts come away with their fifth win of the 2023 season in a 10-6 victory over the New England Patriots in Germany. The Colts now sit at 5-5 as they head into their bye week with the opportunity to control their own playoff hopes down the stretch.
COLTS’ DEFENSE FORCES TWO TURNOVERS AND HAS FIVE SACKS IN HOLDING PATS’ OFFENSE TO 6 POINTS
Sunday’s victory for the Colts in Germany was in large part due to their defense playing as well as it did throughout the game. Both safeties Julian Blackmon and Rodney Thomas came away with clutch interceptions late in the fourth quarter, with Thomas’ ultimately sealing the victory for Indianapolis. Patriots’ quarterback Mac Jones was sacked five times in the first half, with defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo leading the charge early on and coming up with a career-high of three. Indy’s defensive front won the battle at the line of scrimmage when applying pressure for much of the afternoon, as both defensive ends Kwity Paye and Tyquan Lewis recorded a sack as well. Overall, Indianapolis’ defensive front set the tone early, which was crucial in just a four-point victory.
In total, the Colts’ defense gave up 362 yards of offense but managed to hold New England to only six points, which included a number of key stops in the red zone and a missed field goal by New England. Although Indianapolis’ rush defense did struggle throughout Sunday’s game (167 yards allowed), their defense as a whole managed to come up with key stops and takeaways when it mattered most late in the game.
There’s a lot to like about how the Colts’ defense has played each of the last two weeks, holding the Carolina Panthers and Patriots to a combined 20 points. But they’ll have to keep that level of play going if they want to have a chance at making a run for one of the Wild Card spots.
TEN POINTS JUST ENOUGH FOR COLTS’ OFFENSE TO HOLD ON FOR FIFTH VICTORY OF SEASON
Impressively, 10 points was just enough for the Colts to hold on for a win against New England. Quarterback Gardner Minshew, who was not sacked once, finished 18-of-28 for 194 yards and an interception. Although the veteran signal-caller did make some impressive throws late in Sunday’s game, he also had a tendency to bail from clean pockets on more than one occasion, rather than stepping up and making a throw on key downs. While the Colts managed to escape disaster from some of Minshew’s pocket presence, they may not be so fortunate in future matchups. Minshew has shown the ability to play fundamentally sound football in small sample sizes this season, and now it’ll be up to head coach Shane Steichen and Co. to try and help their quarterback knock off some of these bad habits.
Indianapolis’ offense only managed 264 total yards of offense, with wideouts Michael Pittman Jr. (eight receptions, 84 yards) and rookie Josh Downs (two receptions, 40 yards) leading the Colts in receiving. Running back Jonathan Taylor scored the Colts’ lone touchdown of the day and rush for 69 yards on 23 carries. Once again, we saw a big difference between the carries for Taylor and running back Zack Moss, who had just one attempt for two yards. That’ll certainly be something to watch going forward.
Although Indianapolis’ streak of scoring 20 or more points in a game came to an end, what head coach and play-caller Shane Steichen is doing with the Colts’ offense as a whole is impressive. The limitations for an offense with an immobile quarterback have been and will continue to be there for Indianapolis moving forward. But if you’re a Colts fan, you have to like what you continue to see from Steichen, especially since he’s had to tailor his offense for two different starting quarterbacks this season.