Sometimes in the NFL things don’t go your way, and you have to find ugly ways to win. Good teams, and good head coaches, manage to win this sort of unwatchable monstruosities of a football game, defined by the tiniest details and on a few meaningful plays, so it was great watching Steichen manage to defeat the king of winning ugly football games, and it was somewhat poetic placing perhaps the final nail on Belichick’s coffin.
The defense was lights out, special teams did their job, and in the end the game was basically defined by the Colts’ offense making less mistakes than the Patriots. Of course, a win is a win, and the Colts are now 5-5 going into their much needed bye-week.
Defensive line stunts and rushes on Mac Jones
The Colts had Mac Jones on his heels all game long, taking full advantage of going against an unathletic quarterback and a struggling offensive line. Everyone got in on the action, especially DeForest Buckner and Dayo Odeyingbo, who had himself a career day. It is even more impressing how the Colts managed to harrass Jones using just four rushers on plenty of plays.
The Patriots reached the red-zone four different times yet did not score a single touchdown, as the defense really managed to tighten up when it mattered the most, either bringing in the pressure or getting some key pass deflections at the best possible time.
First drive play calling
As has been the case on plenty of games for the Colts this season with Gardner Minshew at quarterback, when things go as scripted they go really well, which was the case during the first drive. 14 plays for 75 yards, with Jonathan Taylor carrying the ball a lot, and ending with the 1-yard touchdown run on 4th and goal.
Not challenging MPJ being ruled short
On 2nd and goal in the Patriots’ 11-yard line on that same first drive the Colts ran a screen play to wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. that was ruled just short of the goal line. Upon review, it was evident that MPJ had crossed the plain and had indeed scored a touchdown but instead of waiting on further replays Steichen tried to catch the defense off-guard and ran a quarterback sneak for no gain. That play voided the Colts’ chance of challenging the Pittman Jr. ruling and put them on 4th down, which of course they would then convert but they had no need to be in that situation in the first place.
Calling a pass play on third and 11 barely in field goal range
Late in the game kicker Matt Gay nailed a 51-yard field goal to put the Colts up by more than a field goal and basically out of reach, but the play before that, on third and 11. Even despite Minshew’s pocket presence being perhaps the absolute worst I have ever seen from a Colts’ quarterback during a game, Steichen called a pass play in which Minshew once again got scared in the pocket and was almost sacked. 51-yards is already long enough and considering the Colts situation in the passing game it would have been wiser to just run the ball and perhaps get 3-4 yards to make it an easier kick for Gay. It worked nonetheless, but it was not a good decision.
Just one carry to Zack Moss
This is more of a decision based on the future of the team, but I did not like the carry distribution of 24 touches to Jonathan Taylor and just one to Zack Moss. This a tight situation to be in, but I would like the Colts not to overwork Taylor considering he signed the extension and that he will be much better served paired up with Richardson next season. There is just no need for him to consistently get over 20 touches a game for the rest of the year.