5 Things Learned: Colts Allow 24 Unanswered Points As Playoff Hopes Take Serious Blow

5 Things Learned: Colts Allow 24 Unanswered Points As Playoff Hopes Take Serious Blow

Blog > Kevin's Corner > Colts Coverage > 5 Things Learned: Colts Allow 24 Unanswered Points As Playoff Hopes Take Serious Blow

5 Things Learned: Colts Allow 24 Unanswered Points As Playoff Hopes Take Serious Blow

With a double-digit lead in the third quarter on Sunday, the Colts then saw everything unravel in a huge home loss to the Titans. What was learned from the Colts losing 31-17?

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INDIANAPOLIS – It all unraveled so very quickly on Sunday, and the result has many Colts fans wanting to talk 2020 NFL Draft.

The Colts gave up 24 unanswered points at home to the Tennessee Titans, falling 31-17 in a game that has seriously dwindled any realistic playoff hopes for Frank Reich’s team.

What was learned from Colts (6-6) losing their fourth game in the last five weeks?

FIVE THINGS LEARNED

  • All The Unraveling: Leading 17-7 with 10 minutes to go in the third quarter, the Colts looked like a team who should be leading by even more. Well, that lead totally unraveled, thanks to struggles by every unit. The run defense disappeared and the playmaking from that side of the ball was absent. On offense, that group couldn’t find the same chunk plays we saw in the first half. Jacoby Brissett threw two terrible interceptions and Quenton Nelson committed a huge holding penalty, leading to a 46-yard field goal attempt that got blocked. And the special teams bunch continues to be the laughing stock of the NFL, with a blocked field goal getting returned 63 yards for a touchdown. Frank Reich was spot on after the game saying every unit shared in this loss. It was what mediocre/.500 football teams look like, particularly in monumental moments of the season. The Colts have had two of those the past two weeks and they’ve failed to put away either divisional opponent. A team that was playing with fire earlier this year in all those one-possession games has seen that catch up to them with water finding its level in that department.
  • Kicker Operation Continues To Be An Abomination: The Colts persistent refusal to make any changes to their placekicking operation has cost this 2019 team yet another game. Sunday’s loss certainly doesn’t carry the same individual burden onto the shoulders of Adam Vinatieri. Nope, this one is for more of that entire 11-man placekicking operation. Now, Vinatieri missing from 55 and 53 yards in the first half isn’t ideal. Most kickers in the NFL should make 1 of those, with Vinny getting the second one blocked on a kick that had no chance to go in. But the major crime from this unit on Sunday came on a 46-yarder in the 4th quarter, when Vinatieri barely made contact with the ball before it was being returned 63 yards the other way. The Titans overloaded the right side of the field goal formation, in a similar look they showed earlier in the game, putting 6 defenders against 4 Colts’ blockers. Despite rushing 9 guys against the Colts’ 9 blockers, the Titans executed one of the easier field goal blocks you will ever see in the NFL. Margus Hunt took blame for not blocking free rusher Dane Cruikshank, who easily blocked a Vinny field goal try that could have given the Colts a 3-point lead late in the 4th quarter. The Colts have now missed 14 kicks this season, with 3 blocks. Again, the placekicking itself has been the biggest culprit in the kicking game issues this year, but the entire unit has had breakdowns at various points. Opponents are feasting on this year-long weakness of the Colts and this staff only has itself to blame for not making any changes to it.
  • Offense Misses Opportunities: It needs to be stated that we know full well the personnel offensively was depleted on Sunday. The Colts were missing some really important skill players and it showed in the inability to finish off drives. Thanks largely to their defense, the Colts had their first four drives of the game all enter field goal range, including two get to the red zone. But they scored just 10 points on those drives. Those missed opportunities in the first half let the visiting Titans stay within striking distance throughout a poor first half for them. Jacoby Brissett did bounce back and hit on some chunk plays early in the game, but that went away in the game’s critical moments, with the normally ball secure QB throwing two massive interceptions in the second half. Sunday was a day when the Colts needed to rely on their offensive line and ground game. The run game produced just 3.4 yards per carry, with starter Jonathan Williams (8 carries for 14 yards) not touching the ball in the second half. And the free rushers were way too abundant with the Colts unable to make the Titans pay for blitzing.
  • Colts Get Playmaking From Defense, Needed More: Before the game, given the Colts’ injury situation, they needed to lean on a fully intact offensive line and an incredibly healthy defense. In Sunday’s first half, the Indy defense lived up to that. That unit produced 5 sacks and forced 2 turnovers in the game’s first 30 minutes, setting up the offense with some terrific field position. But the defense started to leak in the second half. Derrick Henry gashed them for 149 yards on 26 carries (5.7 yards per carry) and Ryan Tannehill completed 77 percent of his passes. Then with Kenny Moore getting hurt in the second half, the Titans hit on a game-clinching 40-yard touchdown pass with 3:02 remaining, on a 3rd-and-10, with backup Rolan Milligan in coverage. For the Colts to earn a victory on Sunday, they needed a really outstanding performance from their defense. They got it in the first half. But a repeat in the second half, particularly with the playmaking, wasn’t there.
  • Playoff Hopes On Life Support: For a second straight week, the Colts lost a game in which their playoff chances could shift about 40 percent with a win or loss. Sunday’s second straight loss, with both defeats coming in the division, has the Colts (6-6) with about a 10 percent chance of making the playoffs. Jim Irsay spoke to the team after Sunday’s loss about running the table (at Tampa Bay, at New Orleans, Carolina, at Jacksonville) and seeing if 10-6 is good enough. That’s an extremely tall task, but that’s likely what it will have to take. The tiebreakers with a 9-7 record are not at all in the Colts’ favor, with their overall/conference/divisional records taking another hit on Sunday. From a 5-2 record in October to 6-6 now entering their final quarter of the season, after losing 4 of their last 5 games, the Colts have not been able to find the same late season magic as last year. Another loss and the vast majority of the fan base will be full-on 2020 Mock Draft watch.

 

QUICK HITTERS

-Reich Quotable: On not finishing the last two weeks against divisional teams: “It’s just a question of making plays in the fourth quarter, critical third-down plays, stops, or not having a negative play that gets you behind the chains. We made a few critical errors in the 4th quarter (on Sunday).”

-Player Quotable: Quarterback Jacoby Brissett on his third-quarter interception: “It was a bad decision.”

-Injury Report: The Colts had the following players inactive on Sunday: DT-Trevon Coley, QB-Chad Kelly, CB-Quincy Wilson, OT-Le’Raven Clark, WR-Parris Campbell (hand), RB-Marlon Mack (hand), WR-T.Y. Hilton (calf). Wide receiver Chester Rogers hurt his left knee in the first quarter and did not return. Rogers left the locker room on crutches with a knee brace after the game. Cornerback Kenny Moore injured his ankle in the third quarter and did not return.

-Key Stat: The Colts allowed a 100-yard rusher on Sunday for the first time in 29 games (Week 15 of the 2017 season, Denver’s C.J. Anderson).

-What’s Next: The Colts (6-6) will now have 3 straight games against the NFC South, with a trip to Tampa Bay (5-7) coming next Sunday at 1:00 PM.


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