The Indianapolis Colts completely dominated the Minnesota Vikings 34-6 during Sunday’s victory, leaving many fans to wonder where this team was exactly last weekend.
Facing the league’s 2nd best defense on the road, the Colts jumped to an early 10-0 lead–scoring on their first two offensive drives and never looked back.
Despite concerns over his elbow and right throwing shoulder, starting quarterback Andrew Luck was once again elite after a hiccup last weekend.
The Colts franchise player completed 21 of 28 throws (75%) for 250 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a passer rating of 125.6.
However, he wasn’t alone on the afternoon, as his ground game got going early and never let up. Starting running back Frank Gore ran for 101 rushing yards, having 100 rushing yards for just the 2nd time all season, while his backup Robert Turbin punched in two rushing touchdowns from ‘and goal’ situations.
One of the more surprising developments of the afternoon was that T.Y. Hilton was held to just 3 receptions for 45 receiving yards, while both Phillip Dorsett (50 yards) and Erik Swoope (27 yards) had the two touchdown receptions for the Colts respectively.
Yet, ‘tops’ was that the Colts offensive line with three rookies: Ryan Kelly, Joe Haeg, and Le’Raven Clark on the right side allowed no sacks against the Minnesota Vikings pass rush–who entered the game with the NFL’s 4th most sacks.
The defense never let up either.
Reigning Pro Bowl safety Mike Adams created two turnovers with a strip of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and an interception of Sam Bradford in the closing minutes of the first half, while another veteran Robert Mathis had a strip-sack early in the 3rd quarter that was recovered by defensive lineman Henry Anderson.
Joining them, the Colts pass rush sacked starter Sam Bradford 5 times–including two sacks by outside linebacker Erik Walden, while holding the Vikings to just 34 total yards rushing–forcing Minnesota to play from behind for the entire game.
Colts fans will rarely complain about such a dominant performance in all facets of the game: offense, defense, and on special teams.
However, it’s frustrating because it raises questions of where this performance was exactly last weekend in a must-win game at home against the Houston Texans when the Colts simply laid an egg.
The game-planning, play, and execution was great this week, but where was it when the Colts actually needed it the most just a week ago?
The Vikings at 7-7 are a very similar team to the Houston Texans: (at least) a really good defense, strong running game, and an offense that has a quarterback that is a game-manager–only with a much worse Brock Osweiler behind center.
However, the Colts were beat at home more than the now 2-12 Jacksonville Jaguars were on the road by the Houston Texans this week–who narrowly lost by a single point after a late Houston comeback.
It was the lowly Jaguars, not the Colts, who actually knocked out Osweiler from the game–who was eventually benched in-game this Sunday.
The Texans at 8-6 aren’t much better than the Vikings–even if at all, and it raises the issue of how the Colts could perform so well in Minnesota on Sunday with their playoff hopes realistically shot, yet so poorly when the team was in a must-win game and everything on the line at home against Houston.
Both opposing teams are similarly built and constructed, yet…
Why couldn’t the Colts hold Lamar Miller to 34 rushing yards instead of 107 rushing yards?
Why couldn’t the offense minimize turnovers and properly pass protect?
Why couldn’t the defense force turnovers and create consistent pass pressure?
As far as I’m concerned, that’s an indictment on both the coaching staff and the players in what’s been nothing short of a maddening season in Indianapolis this year.
The team shows up big one weekend only to show nothing just a week later–with the gravity of each game seemingly irrelevant.
The Colts performance on Sunday was no doubt great.
Problem is, the Colts needed it a week sooner to actually save their season.