The Indianapolis Colts are starting the season 0-2 after losing to the Los Angeles Rams, 27-24. It was a hard-fought battle between both teams after the Colts fought back after being down 17-6 to after LA marched down the field to start the second half with a touchdown.
After that, the offense and defense flipped switches and started crawling their way to close down the 11-point lead that the Rams had. Carson Wentz helped lead the team on a scoring drive to bring themselves within three while the defense went on to force three straight three-and-outs. The ball bounced Indy’s way when a fourth down snap by LA went directly into their personal protector’s chest and Ashton Dulin recovered it in the endzone to give the team the 21-17 lead.
The Rams would go on to score but the offense responded with a field goal drive to tie it up 24-24. Then terrible timing hit the Colts, Wentz injured his ankle on a pass attempt and he never came back into the game. Los Angeles took the 27-24 lead with 2:27 left on the clock. Jacob Eason took over from there and he ended up throwing an interception on his second pass attempt that helped seal the win for LA.
It was a brutal way to end a great game and it took away a chance for Wentz to have his moment with his new team.
With that being said, here are my top five takeaways from the game:
How bad is the Carson Wentz injury?
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Wentz was having a very solid performance against the Rams defense prior to exiting the matchup after getting rolled up by Aaron Donald on his last pass attempt. Outside of his poor decision to shovel pass that ended in a turnover, he made sound decisions throughout the afternoon and was delivering the ball to his receivers in stride so they can pick up some extra yards. He was under constant duress by the LA defensive front but he used his mobility to make defenders miss and to extend plays to find an open man. He went 20/31 for 247 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He also picked up 37 rushing yards on five rushing attempts. His injury not only came at a terrible time in the game, but it also comes before the Colts face the Tennessee Titans in Week 3. If he can't go, then it will be the Eason show in Nashville.
The secondary is still a work in progress
The pass defense wasn't as bad as it was against the Seattle Seahawks but the secondary had their struggles again this week. Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp put on a clinic. The tandem torched the Colts' defense throughout the game and nobody could lockdown Kupp. He finished the day with nine receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns. He got 87 of those yards on a pair of two 40+ yard catches. Stafford wasn't perfect but he went 19/30 for 278 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Xavier Rhodes has yet to make his season debut and Matt Eberflus will once again hope he can get him in the lineup for Week 3. It isn't going to get any easier facing A.J. Brown and Julio Jones next Sunday.
Michael Pittman Jr. shows up
AP Photo/AJ Mast
After having a quiet opening game, Pittman Jr. busted onto the scene and seemed to find a connection with Wentz. The Colts fed him the ball to start the game and he continued that momentum throughout the game. His biggest play of the day came on the second drive when they were facing a three-and-out scenario. On 3rd-and-14, Wentz delivered a nice throw with Donald in his face and Pittman Jr. did a great job at tracking the ball to bring in the catch for a 42-yard gain. It helped keep the drive alive that ended with a field goal. His 12 targets were the most by a Colt. He turned them into eight receptions for a career-high 123 yards. Regardless of who the quarterback is next week, Frank Reich and Marcus Brady should look to get him involved to start games. He tends to have his best games when he is featured and is getting the ball in his hands.
The defensive front was much better
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
After giving up 5.2 YPC to the Seahawks, the run defense played a lot better, the Rams averaged 3.5 YPC on the ground against Indianapolis. They did a good job at keeping rushing lanes tight so Darrell Henderson couldn't explode through for chunk gains. Outside the 3rd quarter opening drive, the defense kept the LA rushing attack in check for the majority of the day. They also had a solid day in doing their part to help defend the pass. DeForest Buckner and company were disrupting the pocket which didn't allow Stafford to sit to find the open man. Tyquan Lewis helped forced the interception when he tipped the ball to make it sail over Kupp into Khari Willis' hands. The only issue was despite making Stafford move out of the pocket was that they didn't get home to finish plays. They only got three quarterback hits and a sack. If they can get better at getting their hands on the quarterback then that will help out their secondary.
The offensive line had another rough outing
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Despite getting Eric Fisher to make his debut as a Colt, it wasn't enough to improve the play by the offensive line. Braden Smith being out of the lineup wasn't going to help, but Fisher didn't play every snap, Reich rotated Julien Davenport from right tackle to left tackle occasionally and put in Matt Pryor at right tackle. The unit struggled to give Wentz any time to make his reads and he spent most of the time avoiding the rush. The Rams' defense finished with 12 quarterback hits and three sacks. The rushing attack wasn't much improved, they only improved from 3.8 YPC to 4.2 YPC, and failed to dominate the trenches when the team needed it. The biggest blunder came in the opening drive after the LA defense stuffed the Colts at the 1-yard line to force a turnover on downs. The group couldn't generate a push to help punch in the ball to get the touchdown. Whether it's Wentz or Eason, the offensive line has to address all the issues that they got going on right now.