COMMENTARY | The Indianapolis Colts prevailed over the Miami Dolphins in several statistical categories on Sunday, but they fell short where it matters most -- on the scoreboard -- suffering a 24-20 loss in Week 2 of the NFL.
The Colts won the time of possession battle, and they ran more plays, accumulated more first downs, picked up more rushing yards and gathered more passing yards than the Dolphins, but victories in those important statistical categories did not translate to a victory in the game.
It was a disappointing loss -- especially since I had forecasted this to be a Colts victory -- that left a lot of lessons to be learned. Here are five things I took away from this game.
The Offensive Line Gets Worse
The good news is that the Colts offensive line "only" allowed Andrew Luck to get sacked three times against the Dolphins after the Raiders got to him four times in Week 1.
The bad news is that left guard Donald Thomas tore the quadriceps tendon in his right leg early in the game and is lost for the season, forcing rookie Hugh Thornton to fill in for him. The third-round draft pick out of Illinois worked primarily as the right guard during the preseason, so now he'll move to the other side of the line and be baptized by fire for the rest of the season.
Only Brandon Weeden (11), Geno Smith (9) and Ryan Tannehill (9) have been sacked more often in the first two weeks of the season than Luck. The thought of visiting the angry, wounded San Francisco 49ers and their ferocious defensive line in Week 3 gives me cold chills.
Donald Brown Can't Block
On the Colts' final drive, they faced 4th-and-10 on Miami's 23-yard-line. Luck dropped back to pass, and Donald Brown allowed Dolphins linebacker Philip Wheeler to sprint past him as if he wasn't even there. Luck was dropped for a sack and Miami took over and ran out the clock. Game over.
The Colts would really benefit from trading for a running back. Brown is over his head in the NFL.
The Pass Defense is a Mixed Bag
The Colts pass rush was very good against the Dolphins. They sacked Tannehill five times, hurried him several other times, and forced him to fumble three times, losing one. Tannehill doesn't have the mobility of Terrelle Pryor, but as a former wide receiver, he was a concern of mine heading into this game, given his athleticism. The Colts did a nice job of holding him to a single yard rushing.
However, when Tannehill got the pass away, the back half of the defense was rough. Tannehill threw for 319 yards and a touchdown and registered a quarterback rating of 107.4. Mike Wallace unleashed his fury on the Colts to the tune of 115 receiving yards and a score. Charles Clay (who?) tallied 109 yards, and Brian Hartline chipped in 68 yards of his own.
The Colts defensive backs looked outgunned and left in a cloud of dust for most of the afternoon.
Ahmad Bradshaw is Serviceable
I'm not a big fan of Ahmad Bradshaw, and the fact that he was shoved into the starting role sooner than expected, thanks to the season-ending injury to Vick Ballard, was a little disconcerting.
However, Bradshaw did okay against the Dolphins, despite his lack of practice time. He tallied 65 rushing yards and 19 receiving yards, punching the ball in for a touchdown from a yard out just before halftime. Overall, he looked fairly decent. Not great, but not bad.
T.Y. Hilton is Pretty Fly for a Little Guy
After being almost invisible in Week 1 against the Raiders, little T.Y. Hilton (5-foot-9, 178 pounds) was front-and-center against Miami, leading the team with 124 receiving yards on six receptions. Unfortunately, he did all his damage in the first half, going catch-less in the final 30 minutes.
I still cringe every time he gets tackled, waiting for someone to snap the little guy in half, but with the shoulder injury to Darrius Heyward-Bey leaving DHB's status in doubt, Hilton might find himself with a big role in the offense in weeks to come.
The author is a resident of central Indiana and a long-time follower of the Indianapolis Colts.
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