The Indianapolis Colts (9-7) remain playoff hopefuls after besting the Las Vegas Raiders (7-9) at home in a 23-20 victory. With the AFC South Champion still to be determined, the Colts’ playoff fate will come down to its season finale peformance against divisional opponent in the Houston Texans.
Although Indianapolis appeared to have control of the game for all sixty minutes, only netting three second half field goals scores while allowing 17 late gave the Raiders enough to hang until the fat lady sang. The game came down to an onside recovery attempt by Las Vegas, though thankfully for Colts fans, Rodney Thomas II is no Hank Baskett.
Colts Offense Works as One
Colts HC Shane Steichen’s offense had quite the test this past week as the Raiders defense had been among the best units in the league in recent weeks. The Indy offense found paydirt twice in the first half and was able to capitalize with more points thrice more in the second half, although each of those second half scores were limited to field goals.
Despite semi-stalling out in the second half, the performance from this Colts offense was the most collective they’ve been all season. The three starting WRs (Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce, and Josh Downs) all answered when they were called upon. All three of them did so on big third downs as well, further adding perspective to just how important they were today.
Not only were the passcatchers in their bag on Sunday but so was the guy dishing them the pigskin. QB Gardner Minshew had another solid day managing the Colts offense, committing zero turnovers on the day en route to a pretty efficient day overall. It was Indy’s fifth time with zero turnovers committed by the offense and ironically enough, Indy is now 5-0 when doing so.
Indy’s offensive line was finally at full strength once again and as a complete starting unit, they proved their worth and then some. Behind the starting quartet of Raimann, Nelson, Kelly, Fries, and Smith, the Colts’ offense averaged 9.7 yards per attempt and 4.6 yards per rush against the aforementioned stout Raiders defense.
Bernhard Raimann, Quenton Nelson, and Ryan Kelly served as the team’s three best graded players from Sunday. Indy’s OL will need to stack this day with a similar, if not better, performance against the Texans to get into the playoffs.
Defense Gets Job Done Despite Starting Strong and Finishing Soft
After Julian Blackmon was placed on IR a week ago, the Colts defensive backfield was scheduled to take another hurting. As we approached game day however, it was soon revealed that longtime Colt and Pro Bowl CB Kenny Moore II would no longer be suiting up after a back injury flared up. Not to fret, the youthfully inexperienced defensive backfield that we saw on Sunday (Brents, Cross, Harrison, Jones) proved they were up for the challenge.
Superstar WR Davante Adams ended up getting the best of this unit to the tune of 13 receptions, 126 receiving yards, and 2 TDs, though the final score speaks to this group getting the job done.
Indy’s front seven had a solid day overall despite playing soft, schematically, in the second half. They started off strong, notching a sack in the first half as they held the Raiders offense to just 3 points. In the second half, DC Gus Bradley ordered the guys to play on their heels which resulted in 17 come from behind points from this resilient Raiders team.
The biggest test all was met with flying colors though as the Colts halted the Raiders’ recent rushing success to 84 yards on 25 carries, a 3.4 average. Indy’s defense will have to change their focus ahead of next week as rookie star QB CJ Stroud comes to town to do what he couldn’t do earlier in the season: win. The only mindset that both of these teams will have come next Saturday.
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