So close yet again. The Colts, victims of their own errors fell to the Buccaneers. Against yet another playoff team were *almost* able to beat them. The Colts have gone 1-5 in games vs likely playoff teams this season, with 2 OT losses to Titans and Ravens, another loss to the Titans in the 2 sprains game, a 3 pt loss to the Rams w/o Wentz at the end of the game, & now a last second loss to the Buccaneers. While the Colts did lose, had they stopped Fournette from scoring on the final drive and kicked a FG attempt to win it, I would have gotten the exact score right in my pregame article.
The Colts did have opportunities to win this game, but various mistakes loom large:
- Inability to stop Leonard Fournette & the rushing attack
- Inability to beat the Bucs Over Formation D on the ground early
- Allowing 24 points off of 5 turnovers (-3 in margin)
- Allowing Gronk to look in his prime with wide open looks in the zone
- Pittman Jr.’s worst game as a pro with several costly early drops and bad 50-50 catch attempts
Blame can be thrown around to a lot of individuals, both on and off the field. Despite all of those mistakes, the Colts still had an opportunity to win the game late in the 4th. But in heartbreaking fashion, Brady & Fournette led a game winning drive & despite a miraculous return by Isaiah Rodgers, the Colts were one 30-40 td Hail Mary away from sending it to another OT game.
The Colts can hang in with nearly any team in the NFL for a competitive game, but today they lost because of several of their biggest strengths being taken away. They were unable to establish the run for a majority of the game & then abandoned it. This allowed their O to be predictable and stall out, and paired with a muffed punt allowed the Bucs to reclaim the lead. The Colts had previously been able to rely upon both the ground game consistently and winning the turnover battle, but this was one of the few games where they lost one of those aspects, let alone both.
The 5 turnovers had plenty of blame on many different players. Zach Pascal had the ball punched out on a good play by the defense. Wentz’s first INT was a possible DPI but MPJ got beat over the top (and the ball wasn’t placed well). The Strip sack was a blown block by Eric Fisher on the blindside. The Hines muffed punt was inexcusable for such a good veteran returner, and the Hail Mary INT was a desperation throw that was under thrown and Pittman unable to get the 50-50 ball again. This wasn’t on exclusively one player, but on several different phases of the game.
This loss hurts, but if you told me the Colts would go 1-1 in this last two game stretch vs Bills and Bucs a few weeks ago, I would have had a healthy dose of skepticism. Colts are 6-6 and still outside of the projected playoffs, but still have a solid chance. 5 games remain, 2 vs our weakest divisional opponents, 2 vs fellow AFC playoff hopefuls Raiders and Patriots, and 1 vs the Arizona Cardinals. Should the Colts win 3 or 4 of the next five against this AFC heavy remaining schedule & the teams ahead of them continue to beat each other up , the Colts have a shot at a playoff berth. Wentz will play over 75% of the snaps and thus the Colts will lose a Rd1 pick, but it is likely going to be in the teens with the chance at low 20s. 10-7 gets them in the playoffs, 9-8 they need some more help from other teams. Up next is the Texans before a much needed Bye Week.
MVP: Carson Wentz
The streak is over for JT, both in terms of his MVP of the game & his 100 total yds + 1 Rush TD streaks. While he was vital to the Colts 2nd to last drive to tie the game up, his impact was limited in the rest of the game.
Wentz on the other hand was asked to do a lot more for the entire game. For the most part he did alright. Despite a heavy amount of pressure throughout the game, Wentz was able to keep drives alive. His ball placement was inconsistent at times especially when under pressure. However he also wasn’t helped out by his top target Michael Pittman Jr multiple times. The 3 turnovers related to him were a mix of blame between himself and his receivers/pass protection. But for the most part Wentz kept the the Colts in the game and gave the Colts a chance when very little else was working offensively.