Carson Wentz injures ankle, can't finish game in Colts' loss to Rams

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INDIANAPOLIS — A banged-up Colts team finds itself behind the eight-ball.

For the first time in Frank Reich’s tenure, the Colts are 0-2 after dropping a 27-24 decision to the Los Angeles Rams.

But it’s the way the Colts have lost and the situation they find themselves in that are most troublesome.

Indianapolis lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz to an ankle injury, adding to an already long list of injured Colts that is comprised of most of the team’s best players. Already down two in the loss column and facing a brutal three-game streak on the road, the Colts face an uphill climb that might be all but impossible if Wentz is forced to miss time.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) tries to pass as he's brought down by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, during a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) tries to pass as he's brought down by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, during a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz injured

For the second consecutive game, Wentz played strong football, completing 20 of 31 passes for 247 yards, a touchdown and an interception while running for his life behind a banged-up Indianapolis offensive line. Wentz kept scrambling and picked up 37 yards on five carries, pulling Indianapolis back into the game and giving the Colts a chance.

But Wentz didn’t get a chance to finish his performance.

Trying to drive the Colts for a game-tying or go-ahead score, Wentz was flushed from the pocket and taken down by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and he was clearly in pain. Wentz spent the next several minutes trying to get back in the game, but he wasn’t able to do so.

Backup Jacob Eason entered the game in place of Wentz, and even though he had time on his two snaps, the second-year quarterback struggled. His first throw was wide of the mark, and the second was another errant throw picked off by Jalen Ramsey that sealed the game.

Colts defense destroyed by Rams

For the second consecutive game, the Colts struggled with one of the game’s star quarterbacks playing in a Sean McVay-style offense.

But this time Indianapolis struggled most in the second half. Although goal-line miscues by the offense put the Colts in a 10-6 hole entering halftime, the Indianapolis defense allowed the Rams to score an easy touchdown coming out of the half, gave up a four-play, 70-yard drive immediately after the Colts took a lead and then a field goal drive after Wentz’s injury gave the Colts a game-tying field goal.

Colts bumbling in the goal-line offense

The Colts offense frittered away two tailor-made chances on the doorstep of the goal line in the first half.

Indianapolis opened the game by driving down the field in impressive fashion, mixing pass and run, picking up four first downs and driving all the way down to the Los Angeles 1-yard line.

That’s when the trouble began. Colts play-caller Frank Reich dialed up three runs up the middle to Jonathan Taylor, and all three were stuffed for no gain. An offensive line built on a run-the-damn-ball ethos failed to get push on any of the three plays. Donald stuffed the first two, Taylor got taken out of the air on the third, and on fourth down, the Colts called for a pass, only to see Wentz get sacked on fourth down by Leonard Floyd.

A series later, Indianapolis fought its way down to the Los Angeles 3-yard-line, only to see Taylor get stuffed again and then suffer disaster when Donald knocked down intended receiver Jack Doyle on a shovel pass and Troy Reeder dove to pick off the receiver-less toss as it tumbled through the air.

The Colts did convert one opportunity inside the 5-yard line, although a critical mistake nearly cost them. Facing first-and-goal from the 4, wide receiver Zach Pascal was flagged for taunting, a penalty that would have been devastating if Kenny Young hadn’t been thrown out of the game for hitting the official. After two miraculous escapes in the pocket to avoid losing yardage, Wentz hit Pascal for an 8-yard touchdown.

Special play

Indianapolis has put a priority on special teams, and the Colts’ kicking game took advantage of a Rams miscue to take the lead early in the fourth quarter.

Los Angeles long snapper Matt Orzech snapped the ball off of upback Nick Scott, and punter Johnny Hekker scooped up the ball, only to get hit by Indianapolis linebacker E.J. Speed and fumble the ball back into the end zone, where Ashton Dulin fell on it for the first special-teams touchdown of the Colts’ season.

Punter Rigoberto Sanchez set up the big play by dropping a kick at the Rams’ 7, and kick returner Isaiah Rodgers opened the game with a 41-yard kickoff return, a play that would have been big if the Colts offense had been able to punch in the score.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Carson Wentz injury: Colts QB can't finish loss to Rams