In loss, Jack Doyle re-emerges with career day

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Jack Doyle #84 of the Indianapolis Colts carries the ball against the New York Jets in the first half during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

CINCINNATI, Ohio – Welcome back, Jack Doyle.

Mired in a mini-slump, arguably the most reliable Colt found his game at Paul Brown Stadium Sunday afternoon. Doyle did his part by setting career bests with 12 catches and 121 yards. His 13-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter gave the Colts a 10-3 lead.

“The ball was finding me,’’ Doyle said after the Colts’ 24-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. “That’s the way it goes sometimes.

“I just try to catch the ball when it comes to me.’’

That hasn’t been the case. He’s suffered at least three drops this season, including two earlier this month at Tennessee when he also lost a fumble. Doyle also lost a fumble against the Cleveland Browns.

Against the Bengals, Doyle was a magnet. His 12 catches came on 14 targets, and one of the incompletions – a diving grab of a 19-yarder near midfield in the closing minutes – needed replay review to negate. The 12 catches were the second-most by a Colts tight end. Dallas Clark had 14 catches in a game in 2009.

Quarterback Jacoby Brissett attributed Doyle’s career day to what the Bengals’ defense was allowing.

“He made good plays,’’ he said. “You know, he’s a good player. He’s going to be a part of the process of us winning.’’

  • Receivers non-factors: The Colts helped ease the pressure on Brissett by having him look more for Doyle and running backs Frank Gore (four catches, 19 yards) and Marlon Mack (three catches, 36 yards, including a 24-yard TD).

What was missing was anything resembling efficiency from the wide receivers. Brissett’s stats when targeting his wideouts: 6-of-15, 57 yards, one interception. That’s a 23.5 passer rating.

T.Y. Hilton continued to a non-factor with two receptions for 15 yards on seven targets. In the last three games, the team’s three-time Pro Bowl receiver has five catches for 63 yards on 19 targets.

“I didn’t play really well,’’ Hilton said, “but we still had a chance to win the game. I need to make more plays and help us win.’’

Kamar Aiken finished with two catches and 33 yards, but suffered at least two drops. Donte Moncrief was targeted once with no catches.

  • Big game for Anderson: Defensive end Henry Anderson came up with one of the best games of his career, but was in no mood to talk about it.

The 2015 third-round draft pick had seven tackles, one sack and blocked a field goal.

“We didn’t get the win so I’m not concerned,’’ Anderson said. “It was a decent game, though.’’

  • Vinatieri movin’ on up: With 11 points against the Bengals, veteran placekicker Adam Vinatieri moved into a tie with Gary Anderson for the second-most points in NFL history (2,434). Next up, sometime next season, is career leader and Hall of Famer Morten Andersen (2,544).

Vinatieri converted 29-, 33- and 29-yard field goals against the Bengals, and is 15-of-16 on the season.

  • This and that: Rookie linebacker and third-round pick Tarell Basham posted his first career sack. . . . Running back Frank Gore became the first running back to start 100 consecutive games since Hall of Famer Curtis Martin, who started 119 straight from 1998-2005. . . . Gore finished with 101 yards from scrimmage and became the ninth player in NFL history to top 17,000 for his career. . . . Gore’s fourth carry of the game pushed him past Barry Sanders (3,062) for the sixth-most carries in league history.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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