5 takeaways from Colts’ 54-19 loss to the Cowboys

The Indianapolis Colts played the Dallas Cowboys tough for three quarters until it became completely unraveled in the fourth quarter.

After making it a 21-19 game with 3:43 left in the third quarter, the Cowboys took over the game and never looked back. Their offense responded with a touchdown on the following drive. Which was followed up by a Mo Alie-Cox fumble that was returned for a touchdown by former Colt, Malik Hooker.

That led to the complete collapse of the Colts. Matt Ryan would go on to throw his second interception of the night which led to another touchdown for the Dallas offense. This hasn’t been the season that was imagined for Indianapolis and now they are entering their bye week with three straight losses.

Here are my five takeaways from the loss on prime time:

Ugly Turnovers

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The Colts entered Week 13 tied with the New Orleans Saints with the most turnovers this season. After tonight, they are likely going to have the most in the NFL, depending on how Monday night goes for the Saints’ offense. The first turnover of the night was a costly one. With under two minutes left in the first half, Matt Ryan and Alec Pierce fail to connect which led to a tipped interception for Malik Hooker.

That led to a Cowboys touchdown to give them the 21-13 lead heading into halftime. Then everything fell apart for the Colts in the fourth quarter. After Dallas made it a 28-19 game, Mo Alie-Cox fumbled the ball on the first play of the drive and Hooker capped off his revenge game by recovering it and taking it all the way back for a touchdown.

That would start with four straight turnovers by Indianapolis. Ryan would throw two interceptions and lose a fumble. He was responsible for four of the five turnovers tonight. The question is now, will Ryan be the starting quarterback coming out of the bye week?

The Colts’ turnover woes were on full display for a national audience and they led to a complete unraveling of this franchise.

Cowboys ground game gashed them

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The Colts’ defensive front got dominated in the trenches by the Cowboys’ offensive line throughout the night. Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott kept on picking up chunk gains for their offense to keep the chains moving. As a team, they averaged 6.5 YPC. That effort was led by their up-and-coming back, Pollard.

He ran the ball 12 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 15 receiving yards to go over 100 total yards for the night. Zeke chipped in as well with 17 rushes for 77 yards and a touchdown.

Overall, the Cowboys had a total of 220 yards and four rushing touchdowns. This was a disappointing performance by the defensive front as only Kwity Paye was the only defensive lineman that registered a TFL. The Dallas offensive line was generating a push and giving their backs room to run through.

We will see if the Colts can bounce back after the bye week when they have to deal with Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota Vikings’ rushing attack.

Reemergence for Alec Pierce

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The passing attack from the Colts was pretty ugly for the most part against the Cowboys but it was promising to see Alec Pierce put together his best game in recent weeks. The rookie receiver got the first touchdown drive ignited with his 45-yard reception that flipped the field position for the offense.

That led to Matt Ryan’s first touchdown pass to Ashton Dulin to give Indianapolis a 10-7 lead. Pierce would have some missed connections between him and Ryan but eventually, the two were able to get going again on the second touchdown drive of the game.

Pierce kept the drive alive with a 14-yard reception a third-and-two then would go on to win a contested ball situation to secure the score to make it a 21-19 game.

The first-year receiver finished as the leading receiver with four receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. It’s hard to find positives with how this game finished but it was nice to see Pierce make plays for his offense tonight.

Couldn't stop CeeDee Lamb

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It wasn’t just the Dallas rushing attack that the Colts struggled with tonight. They also had a tough time keeping CeeDee Lamb in check. It was the second drive of the game for the Cowboys’ offense when they marched down to the 20-yard line. On a third-and-nine, Rodney McLeod made a great read on a throw to Lamb, but the receiver did a great job at realizing he was on top of McLeod’s body so he got back up to take it all the way to the endzone.

Lamb was vital in keeping drives alive throughout the game for the Cowboys. One of his biggest third down conversions game on the touchdown drive made it a 28-19 lead for Dallas. On a third-and-10, Lamb was able to take a pass short of the sticks and navigate his way for a 17-yard gain to give the offense the ball at the three-yard line.

Lamb finished his night as their leading receiver with five receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. He also had two rushes for 23 yards. The third-year receiver was putting on a display of his talent for a national audience and the Colts’ defense didn’t have an answer for him.

Defense couldn't get off the field

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With the success of the Cowboys’ rushing attack, the Colts defense wasn’t putting their offense in unfavorable third-down situations which led to sustained drives by Dallas. The Colts gave up points on seven of the 12 drives by the Cowboys.

Dallas was 7/13 on third downs and converted their only fourth down attempt of the night. Even when the Cowboys found themselves in third-and-longs, they were able to find a way to get the first down. Dak Prescott had plenty of time to throw because the Indianapolis defensive front couldn’t generate any pressure on the quarterback.

The Colts’ defense finished with only one sack and one QB hit. They had those numbers entering halftime so they failed to get their hands on Prescott at any point in the second half. While you can understand that the defense eventually gave up because of the collapse by the offense. This was still a very uncharacteristic night by the defense.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire