The Indianapolis Colts did something on Sunday that they hadn’t done since Andrew Luck was the team’s starting quarterback. Beat the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. The winless streak at home dates back to November 18th, 2018, the last time the Colts stepped off the LOS turf victorious against their divisional foe from 316 miles south.
It was a dominant 38-10 win for Indianapolis. A fourth straight victory to officially breed new life into what was a lost season just weeks prior. Yes, the Colts memorably started that season under then-rookie HC Frank Reich at 1-5. And yes, beating the Titans was a pastime for Andrew Luck.
However, the Shane Steichen and Anthony Richardson era is alive and well, and although times have been a little rocky thus far, losing is something this team seemingly refuses to do. With rookies starting at multiple key positions on both sides of the ball, growing pains are to be expected. Contrary to popular belief, HC Shane Steichen and his team appear to have other plans, justifying this by rattling off another win to climb back above .500 amidst a wide open fight for the division.
Zack Moss Rewrote The Script
Heading into this game, although the rivalry in itself paired with the inevitable hype surrounding rookie QB Anthony Richardson were storylines, all anyone could talk about was each team’s feature back. More specifically, Jonathan Taylor. And for good reason.
A little over 24 hours before Sunday’s kickoff, it was announced that Jonathan Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts had struck a deal. A 3-year extension totaling $42M with $26.5M guaranteed. The Colts were adamant about retaining him and were open to an extension if the price was right. Days following Taylor’s elevation from the PUP List, the unexpected happened. Just in time for a possible season debut against none other than Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans.
Zack Moss, however, had other plans. Now granted, Jonathan Taylor was limited in his return as he hadn’t played and/or practiced since December 17th, 2022. Regardless, Zack Moss continued what has been an early-season breakout campaign. Since making his season debut in Week 2 against Houston, Moss has remained a top 5 rusher leaguewide statistically. After 5 weeks of play, but with MNF yet to be played, Moss is currently 3rd in the NFL in carries (89) and rushing yards (445).
Week 5’s AFC South showdown between the Colts and Titans ended up seeing little of the two proven superstars from each team’s backfield and more of their respective backups. Zack Moss, as alluded to, led the way for Indianapolis with 195 total yards on 25 touches, scoring twice en route to a much-needed victory. For Tennessee, rookie RB Tyjae Spears was the more productive back on the day, totaling 69 yards and a touchdown on 11 touches. Henry was bottled up all day, finishing with 62 total yards on 16 touches. Moss won the battle of the backup backs and the city of Indianapolis is now eternally grateful.
Richardson Exits Early, Minshew Mania Pt. Infinity, Defense Continues to Prevail
The unfortunate storyline that casts a shadow over this massive win is the fact Anthony Richardson exited the game on Sunday midway through the second quarter. He left grasping his throwing shoulder after he essentially took himself out of the game. It was a smart move to not try anything, though it was apparent the pain was undisguisable. Richardson was quickly declared out for the remainder of the game, but there was good news on the X-Rays front as his results came back negative.
Richardson’s early string of seemingly freak injuries is beginning to stir up a collective concern among the fanbase. But for a 21-year-old rookie, although physically imposing, there’s a chance he’s merely adapting. No need to fret while he’s out getting healthy, Gardner Minshew is always ready to step up for his team.
In his second time of relief already this season and third game played overall, Gardner Minshew continues to aid the Colts to victory. In 2.5 quarters of play, Minshew threw for 155 yards on 11/14 passing. The majority of his time commanding the offense was through many handoffs to Moss and Taylor but when his time came, he delivered.
The Colts defense was particularly stout against a Titans offense that was 11th in the NFL in explosive play rate heading into Week 5 whereas Indy’s defense was 22nd in explosive play rate allowed. Indianapolis’ run defense remained the top unit it had been all season, holding the Titans’ albeit middle-of-the-pack rushing offense to less than 100 team rushing yards. The Titans offense was held to just 89 rushing yards on 22 carries, a 4.0-yard average on the day, though they did punch it in once on a reverse.
The passing defense was torched across the middle of the field for the majority of the game, yet exuded the bend don’t break mantra as Tennessee was held to 3 field goal attempts. A game-sealing INT from Julian Blackmon extinguished the mid-game headaches of getting driven on with what seemed like ease. However, when it mattered, the Colts defense was up to the challenge and effectively ended the game on their terms.
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