In a situation that many fans didn’t expect to see, the Colts had an opportunity in the waning moments to steal a win in rainy Philadelphia. After trading blows all day, the Eagles began (and nearly ended) the fourth quarter, by running a exhausting 17 play drive that lasted 11 minutes and 18 seconds. Down 16-13, Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense started their game winning drive at their own 21. With consistent passing (8-8 on the drive), and a little help from penalties, (most notably a critical defensive hold on 4th and 5) the Eagles methodically marched down the field, eventually punching it into the end zone with a 13 yard strike from Wentz to tight end Dallas Goedert. That drive left Indianapolis with just 3:02 on the clock. The Colts would take possession at their 25 yard line, starting with a pass play from Andrew Luck to Nyhiem Hines for 12 yards. From there, the Colts would drive down the field into the Eagles red zone. At the Eagles 11, Luck threw a pass incomplete to Eric Ebron leading to second down. The next play, a 7 yards strike to Eric Swoope, put the ball on the Eagles 4 for a 3rd and 3. On 3rd down, Luck would try and float one in to T.Y. Hilton, but Hilton was unable to track the over the shoulder throw. Finally on 4th down, down 20-16, Luck dropped back to pass, evaded defensive end Derek Barnett for a moment, but couldn’t escape gravity, as Barnett caught Luck’s foot sending him to his knees for the sack. A quick 3 and out by the Eagles offense would allow the Colts offense to get back on the field with under a minute left. Playing a deep zone defense, the Eagles didn’t allow a deep pass, but did allow a few quick passes to Ebron and Hines to move the ball to midfield. With 5 seconds on the clock, head coach Frank Reich made an interesting decision. He brought on backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett to try a long Hail Mary. With the Colts on trips formation the Colts snapped the ball, Jacoby rolls out right and launches a deep rocket of a throw to the back of the end zone. With a sea of hands from Colts and Eagles players, the ball is tipped for a moment, but sadly falls to the turf, just out of reach of T.Y. Hilton. That’s how it would end.
The Colts, although unlucky in this game, do have some big takeaways.
- The defense showed up to play: For the second straight week, rookie linebacker Darius Leonard was a force. (13 tackles, 9 solo,5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 2 qb hits) The Colts finally have an identity on the defensive side of the ball, and it looks really promising. Indianapolis managed to sack Carson Wentz 5 times on the day, bringing the season sack total to 10. The switch to defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus’ 4-3 scheme has been virtually seamless, and Eberflus has them playing at a high level.
- Colts won the turnover battle: after at least 2 turnovers in their first two games, the Colts offense was clean in the turnover department this week. Unfortunately, that didn’t translate to too many points, but hey, it’s a stepping stone.
- Too many drops in the end zone: Eric Ebron, Chester Rogers, and T.Y. Hilton all missed scoring opportunities, as the ball slipped from their grasp. Much of that can be attributed to a rainy day, but they can’t squander key opportunities in the red zone.
- The Colts really need to establish a run game. Not having Marlon Mack (hamstring) or Rober Turbin (suspension), has really made the Colts offense one-dimensional. There is news in the rumor mill of Indianapolis exploring trade opportunities with the Pittsburgh Steelers for Le’Veon Bell, but unless that dream becomes a reality, we’re left with rookie Jordan Wilkins as our leading rusher. (6 carries for 19 yards in week 3)
- Congratulations to Adam Vinatieri, who is now tied with Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen with 635 career field goals. Vinatieri has truly had legendary career, and I would expect him to collect his gold jacket when he finally decides to hang up the cleats.