Missing their starting quarterback Josh Allen and watching running back LeSean McCoy leave the game with a head injury early on, the Bills struggled to find any offensive consistency against a stifling Colts defense. With both teams feeling each other out in the first quarter, the Colts offense took off in the second quarter. To cap a 13 play 75 yard drive, Andrew Luck found tight end Eric Swoope from 17 yards out for the game’s first score. A wobbly point after attempt by Adam Vinatieri was no good. This was the first of two missed extra points for Vinatieri on the day. Late Monday, Frank Reich told reporters that Vinatieri is dealing with a nagging groin injury. There’s no word on Vinatieri’s availability for next week’s game at Oakland.
The next Buffalo drive, the Bills were moving the ball quite well on the ground. Backup running back Chris Ivory rushed for 28 yards on two carries on the drive. With an opportunity to answer, tight end Charles Clay fumbled the ball at the Indianapolis 22 yard line after a big hit by safety Mike Adams. The ball was recovered by linebacker Darius Leonard at the 26 (the first of 5 Bills turnovers). Three plays later, Andrew Luck found running back Marlon Mack wide open in the flat for a 29 yard touchdown. The ensuing two point conversion put the Colts up 14-0.
A quick three and out by the Bills offense gave Indianapolis the ball back with just over 7 minutes left on the clock. Andrew Luck and the Colts offense took advantage of the opportunity, capping a 9 play 82 yard drive with another passing touchdown, this time to T.Y. Hilton.
With Indianapolis already up 21-0, Derek Anderson might have been feeling some pressure. Four plays into the drive, he tried to force a pass into a tight window to wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, only to be picked off by the Colts’ Mike Mitchell. This set the Indianapolis offense up at the Buffalo 32 yard line. Two plays later Nyhiem Hines would take a 14 yard scamper to the Bills 18 yard line, and set up a 36 yard Adam Vinatieri field goal, putting the score at 24-0 at halftime.
In the second half it was much of the same, turnovers by the Bills, and the Colts offense capitalizing on said turnovers. The Colts would add two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and roll to a 37-5 victory.
Marlon Mack and the running game played a big part in this game. Mack rushed 19 times for 126 of the Colts’ 220 rushing yards on the day; as well as, 33 yards and a touchdown on two receptions. The sudden explosion in the run game was pleasantly surprising Indianapolis has struggled to get the run game going this season, but were able to break out against a top 10 rush defense. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, as all three Colts running backs (Mack, Hines,Wilkins) rushed for more than 6 yards per carry on Sunday. Having an effective running game allowed the passing game to take a more conservative approach. Andrew Luck and his receivers were effective and efficient as he completed 17/23 for 156 yards and 4 touchdowns.
With the Colts finally getting their second win of the season, it begs to question if this is the start of a long winning streak for Indianapolis. The Colts will travel to Oakland to face the Raiders next weekend, and there’s a lot of reason to be optimistic of the matchup. Defensive star Khalil Mack was traded to the Bears earlier in the season, the Raiders’ number one wide receiver Amari Cooper was traded to the Cowboys for a first round pick today, and starting running back Marshawn Lynch has been placed on IR. The Raiders’ misfortune, could be a great opportunity for the Colts to get a much needed victory before heading into their bye week. With a tight race in the AFC South, a win would put the Colts right back in the division mix to keep playoff hopes alive. Here’s a look at the current division standings:
Photo: Thomas J. Russo/ USA Today Sports