The Indianapolis Colts defense showed up in a big way in Week 9 after a difficult past few weeks. Veteran CB Kenny Moore II had two pick sixes that carried the Colts to their fourth victory of the season against old coach Frank Reich and the Carolina Panthers. Let’s take a look at the good and the bad from the win.
Kenny Moore II
Not hard to name Kenny Moore II the most impactful player from Sunday’s game. Moore finished with eight tackles and had not one, but two, pick sixes to really keep the pressure on the stagnant Panthers offense. These were not only game changing plays, but they were deflating to the entire Panthers team. He is the first player in Colts history to achieve this feat and only the second player in NFL history to achieve it in just over a decade. Moore is in a contract year and is reminding us that he can still play at a high level and make big plays when called upon. He, without question, will be named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 9.
While Kenny Moore II is the big reason for this, you cannot neglect the play of the overall defensive on Sunday. Shaq Leonard was more involved with 10 tackles and we saw a terrific effort from backup LB Segun Olubi, starting for Zaire Franklin who missed the first game of his career on Sunday. The Colts’ pass rush also made an appearance as they disrupted Bryce Young all day and was probably the reason Moore was able to get to the spots to make the big plays as well. The Colts got four total sacks on Young as he moves to 1-7 as a starter. While the Panthers are not known for their offensive output, it was important for the Colts to put together a strong defensive performance after the last few weeks of regression and this will go a long way in the confidence department.
Gardner Minshew and the offense
This was your typical backup Gardner Minshew performance: nothing spectacular but did enough to get the win. He finished 17-of-26 but only had 127 yards. He was a game manager today and was unable to really get anything going offensively in the big play department. The offense was depleted a bit with playmaker receiver Josh Downs leaving the game early after re-aggravating his previous knee issue that plagued him last week in practice.
The Indianapolis rushing attack wasn’t terrific either, even with Jonathan Taylor commanding the brunt of the carries this week. Taylor and Zack Moss accounted for only 73 yards this week. The offense just seemed to struggle against the Carolina defense accumulating only 198 yards of total offense.
Colts special teams (not named Matt Gay)
It’s hard to nitpick when you win a football game but the special teams unit had a couple mishaps on Sunday. Matt Gay was perfect (again) on his kicking, but punt returner Isaiah McKenzie had a muffed punt that went right into the hands of the Carolina Panthers— the only turnover that the Colts committed on Sunday. The special teams also allowed a punt return that the Panthers were able to get a field goal out of. While its not huge, its something that will need cleaning up for next week as the Colts travel to Frankfurt, Germany for a Sunday morning tilt against the New England Patriots.