As I stated in my pre-game article, I expected the Colts to win this game handily and make a statement heading into their Sunday night showdown in the Bay Area next week. The Colts did exactly that with a dominating performance in Lucas Oil yesterday, especially in the second half after a slow start. The Colts’ defense rebounded against a poor Texans’ offense, forcing three turnovers, while Carson Wentz and company created explosive plays through the air and on the ground. The 31-3 victory was the best all-around performance this team has had so far this season, and it will hopefully serve as a confidence boost heading into a manageable stretch of schedule.
The first half of this game felt like the Colts were in control the entire time, but that was not reflecting on the scoreboard. Going into halftime the score was 10-3, with the lone touchdown coming on a 51-yard bomb from Carson Wentz to Paris Campbell. The Texans were continually putting together sustained drives and converting on third downs but weren’t able to finish with points. The bend but don’t break style defense that Colts fans have become accustomed to relies heavily on big plays and turnovers, which the defense created yesterday. What the defense hasn’t been able to answer yet is how they will respond to playing competent to elite offenses? Last Monday night, we saw a defense that crumbled when pressure was applied by an elite offense. We may get the answer to this question next week when the Colts play the 49ers and Kyle Shanahan’s innovative offensive scheme. A second worrying factor was the lack of pressure the defensive line created against a Texans offensive line in shambles. Khari Willis was able to get home on a safety blitz when Eberflus dialed up extra pressure, and DeForest Buckner had his second sack of the season. With Kemoko Turay failing to be on the field consistently, other pass rushers will have to step up if this team wants to reach the playoffs. This game showed a fantastic overall performance by the defense to only allow 3 points against another NFL opponent. However, in context, the Texans may have the worst offense in the NFL behind a third-round rookie quarterback and an injury-riddled offensive line. After last week’s performance, I’m going to need to see more consistency from the defense before I believe we can call them legit.
The biggest concern for me offensively is injuries. After making the type of play fans have been waiting for, Paris Campbell had to leave the game with a foot injury. Campbell cannot stay healthy, which has made it next to impossible to gain a true evaluation of the type of impact he can have going forward for this team. Along with Campbell, both Zach Pascal and TY Hilton had to exit the game with injuries. On that note, congratulations to TY Hilton on a successful return, which included a 52 yard hookup with Carson Wentz. Hilton was the Colts leading receiver yesterday with 4 catches on 4 targets for 80 yards. Hilton, after the game, noted that his quad injury was just a tweak, meaning that hopefully, he is a go in primetime next week against the 49ers. Jonathan Taylor had himself a second-half after only getting a few touches in the first half. Taylor finished with 145 yards on 14 rushes and added two touchdowns. This included the NFL’s longest run of the season, an 83-yard burst in the third quarter. Carson Wentz had some amazing deep throws to both Campbell and Hilton while also missing some open receivers and getting Zach Pascal killed over the middle. Wentz is playing his best football so far with the shoe, but fans must expect a few missed easy throws per week that will lead to frustration. These past three weeks have shown me that Carson Wentz does have the ability to lead this Colts team to a playoff berth.
The Blue Stable Player of the Week: TY Hilton
The most obvious selection would be Jonathan Taylor after the gaudy stats he put up yesterday, but I want to commend TY Hilton for coming back and producing immediately. Hilton contemplated retirement while he was rehabbing from injury, so to go from that state of mind to once again tearing up the Texans earned him the honors of Blue Stable Player of the Week. Another honorable mention is Darius Leonard, whose interception and forced fumble made sure the Texans never had a chance to gain any momentum.
The Colts travel to San Francisco next week to play the 49ers on Sunday Night Football. The Niners are coming off a bye and should be healthy and hungry for a win. The Colts will need to play their best football if they want to come out of San Francisco a step closer to .500.