MVP of the Game: Zaire Franklin
I was tempted to leave this one as “Vacant” for the game, but because of the heart he showed and the plays he made, I will give this honour to Franklin, who seemed like the only guy that understood this was a key game in the playoff race.
Dud of the Game: Bernhard Raimann / Gardner Minshew / Matt Gay / Refs / Taven Bryan
I definitely had my fair share of choices for this one, so I took the liberty of having four different Duds of the Game on Sunday. I don’t think there was a single player worse than Raimann on the field, as his performance gave me flashbacks of the Matt Pryor/Julie’n Davenport days because of how pathetic it was. A bad game can happen to anyone, and Raimann has been a good left tackle this season, but he looked completely overmatched against the talented Trey Hendrickson. I also fault Steichen for failing to adjust for what was clearly a losing matchup.
Gardner Minshew played exactly like he has been playing the past five games, and while he was not that bad against the Bengals, it was still hard to watch. He makes a couple of decent throws here and there, but in the end the amount of head scratching decisions, panic in the pocket, and missed throws deep help explain why he is not a starter in the NFL.
Matt Gay is easy to judge, he missed a field goal under 40 yards and then proceeded to miss the extra point attempt after the Colts scored a touchdown. Both misses were when the game was well within reach, so there is extra fault on that.
Now I am nowhere close blaming the refs for this loss, the Colts played horrible football and definitely deserved to lose, but there were two missed calls which seemed blatant to me. First of all, the second bad DPI called on rookie cornerback Jaylon Jones, and the most important one was the holding called on Quenton Nelson that nullified a Zack Moss touchdown that would have shortened the Colts’ deficit.
Taven Bryan gets an dishonourable mention because he was a non-factor and a mistake by him on special teams gave the Bengals four extra points.
Play of the Game: Ronnie Harrison Jr. pick-six
Not like there was much choice, Harrison’s pick-six and the subsequent two-point conversion tied the game at fourteen early in the second quarter.
Whammy of the Game: Special teams’ two mistakes.
There were a ton of plays to choose from, but the true Whammy plays have to be Taven Bryan gifting the Bengals a first down in the redzone because of a leverage flag, and then later in the game right after the Colts forced a three and out, Ameer Speed ran into Isaiah McKenzie who had already called for a fair catch resulting in a muffed punt recovered by the Bengals in the Colts’ redzone.
Rookie of the Week: Josh Downs
Not that Downs had a great day, but he was the only productive rookie, with three receptions for 32 yards.