Despite losing, Grover Stewart had a noticeable impact in first game back with Colts

Grover Stewart returned from suspension on Sunday and the defensive tackle had a noticeable impact for the Indianapolis Colts, despite the team losing.

Sep 24, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Grover Stewart (90)
Sep 24, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Grover Stewart (90) / Brent Skeen-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, Grover Stewart played his first game with the Indianapolis Colts since Week 6. Indy’s starting defensive tackle was suspended six games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, so Indianapolis was without Stewart from Week 7 to Week 13. Stewart made his return on Sunday, jumping right back into the starting lineup for Indianapolis.

Unfortunately, Stewart’s return ended in a 34-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Stewart played 39 snaps, 65% of indy’s defensive snaps, recording five total tackles. While not necessarily an impressive stat line, Stewart did have a noticeable impact in the game. Indianapolis had one of its best days against the run since the last time Stewart was in the lineup.

Grover Stewart helped Colts limit Bengals run game

Stewart is one of the best run-stuffing defensive tackles in the NFL; that’s where he makes his money. Considering he’s currently in a contract year, the Colts should be ready to pay him a lot of money, because the defense was horrid against the run while Stewart was serving his suspension.

In Indy’s first six games, before Stewart was suspended, the Colts gave up just 113.5 rushing yards a game. While Stewart was out, that number skyrocketed to 133.3 rushing yards a game. Indianapolis allowed more than 125 rushing yards in every game that Stewart was suspended.

On Sunday, with Stewart back in the middle, the Bengals only ran for 111 yards on 32 carries against the Colts. It’s safe to say that Stewart was a big reason why that was the case.

No one was probably more excited to see Stewart back on the field than linebacker Zaire Franklin. Just as interior offensive linemen are important to running backs, interior defensive linemen are important to linebackers. Stewart does a phenomenal job of keeping linemen off Franklin and opening up gaps for Franklin to shoot through. That’s a big reason why Zaire Franklin finished the game with 14 tackles, including one for a loss where he darted into the backfield for a big hit.

It’s great that Stewart is back on the field and making an impact, but with four games left in the regular season, that impact needs to start translating to wins, as the Colts make a push for the playoffs.