5 Things Learned: Colts Overcome Kicking Issues, Come Back To Beat Titans

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5 Things Learned: Colts Overcome Kicking Issues, Come Back To Beat Titans

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5 Things Learned: Colts Overcome Kicking Issues, Come Back To Beat Titans

The Colts evened their record to 1-1 with a 19-17 comeback victory over the Titans. What was learned from the Colts’ first win of the 2019 season.

Joe Robbins | Getty Images


INDIANAPOLIS – As the 4th quarter reached past the mid-way point on Sunday, it looked like the greatest kicker in NFL history was going to cost the Colts another game for a second straight week.

But Jordan Wilkins, strong defensive play and conviction from Frank Reich got the Colts a 19-17 comeback victory.

What was learned from the Colts winning their first game of the 2019 season?
 

FIVE THINGS LEARNED

  • Reich Keeps His Word In Comeback Win: Leave it to the former preacher to back up his words. Frank Reich has promised aggression and belief since his first day on the job, and he continues to deliver with his action. The latest installment of this occurred on Sunday, with the Colts facing a 4th-and-1 from their own 35-yard line, leading by 2, with 2:24 remaining. Convert, and the Colts can waste more time in trying to seal the road victory. Don’t convert, and the Titans are already in field goal range, which would be enough to win the game. But Reich never hesitated with his decision. After trying to first draw the Titans offsides, Reich then called the QB sneak for Jacoby Brissett, which the 6-4, 238-pound QB converted. This was backing up all the off-season comments about how much the Colts believe in their offensive line, with 4 top-40 picks, and knowing that the Titans were likely a bit worn down in the 90-degree plus heat. Like Reich did last year in the overtime loss to the Texans, the head coach is steadfast in wanting to try and ‘win the game’ versus giving the ball back to the opponent. His team loves it and they delivered for their head coach on Sunday.   
  • Jordan Wilkins Sparks It: Down 17-13 with the 4th quarter halfway complete on Sunday, the Colts desperately needed a jolt from their offense. The passing game was void of anything vertical on Sunday and the offense was struggling to sustain scoring drives. Then Jordan Wilkins sparked things with a 55-yard run off the right side of the formation. Wilkins didn’t have a carry in Week One, but with humid temps on Sunday, Frank Reich wanted to use more of a rotation in the backfield. Wilkins had 5 carries for 82 yards. The 55-yarder turned into a touchdown on the next play with Jacoby Brissett finding T.Y. Hilton for the eventual game-winning score. It was largely tough sledding for Marlon Mack (20 carries for 51 yards) on Sunday, but Reich stuck with the run, knowing that the deficit was still small enough for the run game to deliver. Wilkins, who missed nearly a month in Training Camp with a foot issue, was the unsung guy for the game-changing play.
  • The GOAT’s Struggles Continues: The Colts have a decision to make on Adam Vinatieri. And the kicker might have a decision to make as well. Vinny missed two extra points on Sunday (he was 1-of-3 on extra points and didn’t attempt a field goal). He has now missed 7 kicks inside of 35 yards in his last 5 games played. While Frank Reich continues to stand by his kicker, and thought a ‘poor operation’ led to Vinny’s first extra point miss on Sunday, the Colts cannot remain blind to their kicker’s persistent and inexcusable struggles. It nearly cost the Colts another game on Sunday. At the very, very least, the Colts have to bring kickers into workout this week. A guy’s past history in this league, which is more than two decades old, cannot continue to mask a massive issue at the kicking position.
  • Some Shaky Moments from Brissett: We did not see the same efficient and accurate Jacoby Brissett in Week Two. The quarterback finished Sunday 17-of-28 for 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. He also had a fumble in the third quarter, when the ball appeared to slip out of his hands. You knew there were going to be more inconsistent moments from Brissett, especially against a disguising defense, and we saw that on Sunday. He also delivered some big-time throws, escapeability and helped the Colts convert 50 percent of their third downs. But the turnovers contributed to the Titans taking a lead in the second half, and forcing the Colts to play from behind late. This offense is going to find more plays in the vertical passing game or else they will hover south of 25 points all year long. They didn’t have one completion of more than 20 yards on Sunday. Reich said coming into Sunday the Colts had a ‘conscious effort’ to get the ball down the field more, but it just didn’t develop. With the offense not providing enough on Sunday, it was the defense forcing 6 punts and getting two other stops that made up for the lack of offensive production (which was the opposite of last week). The defense deserves a game ball, led by Dencio Autry and his 2 sacks, for how that unit stepped up in the final quarter.
  • Got The Split: When the NFL schedule came out in April, and also when Andrew Luck was still playing football, the Colts would have taken a 1-1 split to start the season. Early season struggles have plagued the Colts in recent years and starting with at Chargers, at Titans is probably the hardest (on paper) back-to-back stretch of the entire season. Now, the Colts (1-1) will return home to take on the Falcons and Raiders, before playing the Chiefs in Kansas City, with a Week Six bye coming. Sunday’s win was huge to get a divisional victory, one away from home and making sure that the margin for error early in 2019 isn’t razor thin.

 

QUICK HITTERS

-Reich Quotable: On the 4th-and-1 decision in the 4th quarter: “It really wasn’t much of a decision. I never even considered anything else but going for it. I thought since we had the timeouts, it made sense to try and draw them offsides. I figured we wouldn’t be able to get them, but at that point, with the confidence in our offensive line, in Jacoby, he’s a big, strong guy as well, there was no chance we weren’t going for that.”

-Player Quotable: Quarterback Jacoby Brissett on running back Jordan Wilkins: “Awesome. He’s been hurt and to come back and battle back, to watch him rehab. I was standing behind him and actually saw the O-line crease it for him. It was pretty cool to see. Like you saw last week, our O-line, when we want to run the ball, we know we have the guys up front to do it.”

-Injury Report: The Colts had the following players inactive on Sunday: DE-Jabaal Sherard (knee), RB-Jonathan Williams (ribs), DE-Kemoko Turay (neck), OT-Le’Ravn Clark, S-Rolan Milligan, CB-Marvell Tell, and TE-Hale Hentges. Cornerback Pierre Desir let the game in the third quarter with a knee injury.

-Key Stat: The Colts were 7-of-14 on third down against the Titans. In the first two games of the season, the Colts are now 14-of-27 on the money down.

-What’s Next: After two straight games on the road, the Colts (1-1) will return home in Week Three to take on the Falcons (0-1) next Sunday afternoon at 1:00 PM. This will be the latest home opener for the Colts since the 2004 season.

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