5 takeaways from Colts’ 23-20 loss to the Raiders

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The Indianapolis Colts (9-7) are going to have to wait another week to clinch a playoff after losing in a close game against the Las Vegas Raiders (9-7).

Despite getting their star players back on the roster because of the change in COVID protocols it didn’t seem to provide much of a boost for the team. The offense was out of whack for the majority of the game outside the touchdown drive that ended the first half.

They failed to get in any rhythm and missed opportunities allowed Las Vegas to keep it to a one-score game throughout the second half. The defense struggled to start the game but got comfortable after giving up the opening touchdown drive. They forced a couple of turnovers but the offense failed to score on both drives that followed them.

After a strong second and third quarter, the unit let Derek Carr pick them apart on the Raiders’ last two drives on offense. 10 of the 23 points came in the fourth quarter. It was mostly a clean day for the special teams but they gave up a big punt return to Hunter Renfrow that helped Las Vegas end a drive with a field goal. A

lot of mental mistakes in all three phases of the game ended up costing the Colts this game. Here are my top five takeaways from the loss to the Raiders:

Rough outing for Carson Wentz

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

It was a strange week for the Indianapolis quarterback. After testing positive for COVID, it was expected that he would be out of this matchup because of the old protocols. Then a couple of hours later, the NFL made their changes and it gave him an opportunity to play in the game.

It was clear that Carson Wentz was coming off a week he didn’t get any practice reps. His timing was off on his dropbacks and you could tell that his chemistry with the receivers took a hit as well. His best drive of the game came in the final drive of the first half. Wentz was able to march the offense down the field and end the second quarter with a Jonathan Taylor touchdown. He went 7/9 for 59 yards and his final completion got his unit at the one-yard line.

On the opening drive of the second half, he did get some luck on his only touchdown pass of the day. After avoiding the pass rush, he took a risky throw that was headed to two Las Vegas defenders but Ashton Dulin was able to help make it a tipped ball that ended up right into T.Y. Hilton’s hands for the score.

After that drive, Wentz and the passing offense couldn’t really get anything going. His biggest blunder came on a third-and-seven situation, Wentz had Hilton not only wide open for the first down, not only the drive would’ve stayed alive, but T.Y. had room for a potential touchdown. This resulted in a three-and-out for the Colts and the Raiders took the lead on the following drive.

Wentz ended his day going 16/27 for 148 yards and a touchdown. Indianapolis is going to need more out of their quarterback if they want to clinch a playoff spot in Week 18.

No answer for Hunter Renfrow

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis defense has done a better job at letting opposing receivers not go off against them over the last couple of months. That wasn’t the case against Las Vegas. Hunter Renfrow was a nightmare for the secondary today as Derek Carr leaned on him when they needed to get first downs.

His craftiness as a route runner gave the cornerbacks problems and he did a good job at finding the open holes in the defense. Renfrow showed up when it mattered in the fourth quarter. Carr was able to connect with him on a fourth-and-two situation that resulted in the touchdown to take the lead.

The biggest play was when Carr avoided Darius Leonard for a sack and Renfrow was able to secure a 24-yard completion that put them in field position for the win. I am still wondering why Leonard jumped up in the air when he had Carr in an arm’s reach.

Renfrow ended his day with seven receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. The Colts just couldn’t disrupt the chemistry between the Raiders quarterback and receiver.

The rush defense delivered

AP Photo/AJ Mast

While it wasn’t the best day for the Colts’ pass defense, they were able to bottle up the rushing attack after letting the Raiders run all over them on the opening drive. Las Vegas averaged 5.0 YPC on the first drive and grabbed 35 of their 85 rushing yards which were capped off with a Josh Jacobs rushing touchdown.

Matt Eberflus was able to get his unit dialed in against the run for the rest of the game. They only let up 2.5 YPC on the next 20 rushing attempts by the Raiders. DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart dominated in the middle of the trenches which helped close the rushing lanes for the Las Vegas running backs. Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke started to flow to the ball better to help force third-and-long situations.

Leonard’s peanut punch forced fumble on a Marcus Mariota rushing attempt helped force a field goal attempt when the Raiders got inside the 10-yard line. Jacobs was the leading rusher for Vegas, he ran the ball 16 times for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Defending the run will help in the postseason, as long as they can get the job done to clinch a spot against next week.

Jonathan Taylor does his job

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Well, the narrative of the undefeated Colts when Jonathan Taylor rushes for 100 yards has officially come to an end. It wasn’t an easy day for the stud back to get over the 100-yard mark. The Raiders’ defensive front did a nice job at limiting the rushing lanes and had their moments where they were able to bottle him up for little to no gain.

It was on the third drive of the game by the Indianapolis offense when he finally broke through for some chunk games. He had an 18-yard gain on the second play of the series. Then he was able to follow that up with his longest run (24 yards) of the game to help get his offense in scoring position. The Colts ended the drive with three points, their first of the game. Taylor had 20 rushing attempts for 108 yards and a touchdown. His score showed the faith that Frank Reich has in him.

He called a run play with less than 10 seconds on the clock and zero timeouts left in the first half. This was also a monumental day for Taylor. He passed Edgerrin James to have a franchise record with the most rushing yards in a season. There wasn’t much more the Indianapolis running back could have done to get the win for his team so he shouldn’t leave his head hanging after the loss.

Can't go through the motions

AP Photo/AJ Mast

After beating the Arizona Cardinals last week despite missing multiple starters, the Colts entered this game looking like they expected to go through the motions and clinch a playoff spot. The Raiders outplayed them on all three phases of the game. The defense came out flat-footed on the opening scoring drive by Las Vegas.

They started the game with no energy and let the Raiders move the ball with ease. The mental mistakes by the offensive line were costly on two of their three penalties. Matt Pryor’s holding call negated a first down by Nyheim Hines which led to Indianapolis settling for a field goal. Braden Smith not lining up in the proper spot cost them a first down and ended that drive for the second three-and-out by the offense.

One of the biggest issues that show up in the Colts’ losses this season has been inconsistency. The offense failed to sustain drives and didn’t capitalize off the two turnovers. They went three of 11 on third downs and had three three-and-outs. The defense did their part for a couple of quarters but giving up those 10 points on the final two drives by the Vegas offense leaves you wanting more out of the unit.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have given the Colts fits in Duval County, they haven’t won there since 2014. Frank Reich’s team better have a change in energy and not start that game like they did this one today.

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