The Indianapolis Colts held the Vikings offense to 11 points as the Colts defense helped lead the team to the win with three turnovers and a Safety. The home opener featured the Colts defense making plays and the rookie class making plays. Johnathon Taylor, Julian Blackmon, and Michael Pittman all made plays on the day helping the Colts get the win.
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Johnathon Taylor scored his first touchdown in what looks to be a successful NFL career. After the Marlon Mack injury last week, coach Frank Reich mentioned former Wisconsin running back would get the start over Nyhiem Hines and Jordon Wilkins. The rookie carried the ball 26 times for 101 yards and a touchdown. His longest run was just 13 yards as the Colts relied on him to run out the clock towards the end of the game. The other running back to carry the ball was Jordon Wilkings who rushed for 40 yards on 9 carries.
The Vikings let a few key defensive players walk in free agency this offseason and their rushing defense has been weakened significantly. The Colts offensive line was pushing the Vikings defensive line around opening holes for the running game. Everson Griffen was sorely missed in the pass-rush department as Anthony Costanzo played a fantastic game while Linval Joseph was missed in the middle.
While the running game played great the defense stole the show. Indianapolis forced three turnovers, albeit, an interception was on a Hail Mary throw as time expired in the first-half. Darius Leonard and Kenny Moore III were the stars of the show. Leonard had 6 tackles with 1 pass defended and a tackle for loss. Moore has 2 passes defended with 6 tackles, including an interception that Rivers turned into 7 points.
The other players who stood out were the two young safeties. Khari Willis had a great interception in the first half that he ran back for 43 yards putting the Colts in field goal position near the end of the first half. Rookie Julian Blackmon didn’t have a huge game on the stat sheet but made very good plays that won’t go unnoticed by me. Blackmon made two hard hits breaking up passes, both on Adam Thielen. Blackmon didn’t look like this was his first game in the NFL after an achilles injury, but rather a savvy veteran who was making plays all over the field.
Philip Rivers continues to be the Achilles heel for this team. Last week the defense didn’t play very well but luckily this week they did. Despite the score, the Colts struggled in the end zone for the second straight week. The 17-year veteran did enough to get the win, but getting 3 field goals and two touchdowns on 5 trips into the end zone won’t beat the best teams in the AFC come December. Statistically speaking Rivers didn’t have a bad game. He had a QB rating of nearly 100 with 214 passing yards a touchdown and an interception off a bad tipped pass to Mo Alie-Cox.
Early in the game, wide receiver Paris Campbell went down with what looks to be a serious injury. He was taking a reverse rush and Harrison Smith tackled him as his foot was caught on the turf and his knee twisted awkwardly. Rivers found Mo Alie-Cox for over 100 yards on 5 receptions and Michael Pittman Jr. caught 4 for 37, but the passing game looked stagnant. T.Y. Hilton dropped another pass in the end zone on third down during a contested-catch which forced the Colts to kick a field goal instead of getting a touchdown.
Overall, the defense made plays to help win the game and the offense looked stagnant at times save for the running game.
Next week the Colts take on the New York Jets who are 0-2 and coming off a loss to the NFC Champion 49ers 31-13. The Jets are will look to get their first win of the season in Indianapolis as the Colts play at home next week too.
Philip Rivers and the passing game should look to improve the red zone efficiency and getting the ball to the receivers instead of relying on the tight ends to take the blunt of the passes.