The Indianapolis Colts get to head into their Week 11 bye with an even 5-5 record after obtaining an ugly 10-6 win against the Bill Belichick-led New England Patriots, who now fall to an unprecedented 2-8 record.
While the offense looked rough at times, they made the plays necessary when they mattered most. But, it was a dominant Colts defense that would silence the Patriots’ already struggling offense, despite the latter having momentum swings in their favor multiple times throughout the contest.
With the dust now settled in this historic rivalry, let’s dive into the good and bad for the Colts from their close win across the pond.
Colts' recently extended running back Jonathan Taylor took over the rushing duties for the contest. On the day, he’d get 23 carries for 69 rushing yards (3.0 avg) and the only touchdown for the game on either side.
The offensive line did wain at times, which is what the three yards per carry showcases. However, Taylor showed in this contest that he’s likely back to take over the backfield, as Zack Moss only got a lone carry for two rushing yards.
Look for Shane Steichen to continue turning to the 2021 rushing champion to carry the offense after the bye week to finish the 2023 campaign.
While running back Taylor showcased toughness in a gritty win, QB Gardner Minshew had a couple of great plays, but overall showed limitations. He’d throw 18-of-28 for 194 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, and one interception.
Minshew has struggled with turnovers this season and continued to do so in a game where points and field position were at an all-time high premium. He would throw an awful interception in the middle of the field to Patriots cornerback Myles Bryant, rather than scrambling for three to five yards.
There must be credit given, however, to a couple of great plays that showed Minshew’s height-of-pocket presence on display. The one that stood out the most was a beautiful diving catch from rookie wide receiver Josh Downs that came from Minshew’s pass after he danced around Patriots defenders to deliver a meteoric dart, which turned out to be a crucial play in the decision of the game.
Despite this highlight delivery to his pass-catcher, Minshew will need to be a better manager of possessions to finish the seven games left on the schedule for the Colts if they want to sneak into the postseason. He simply can’t keep having a trend of turnovers if they want to accomplish this goal.
The Colts were in the face of Patriots QB Mac Jones all day, which is why New England went with such a run-heavy scheme in the second half of the game. But, for the first half, it was an insane pace the Colts were setting.
Defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo would sack Jones a ridiculous three times in the first half alone. Fellow defensive ends Tyquan Lewis and Kwity Paye would also get the job done, each snagging a sack to bring Indy’s total to five on the day.
Odeyingbo now has six sacks on the season and is the team leader in the category. We’ll see if the former second-round draft pick can continue to wreak havoc, along with the rest of a potent Indianapolis defensive front.
The Patriots tried their best to keep the ball on the ground with a lack of receiver depth and Jones’ turnover issues. They were quite effective, as both Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott had solid performances. Below are the metrics.
- Stevenson: 20 carries; 88 rushing yards (4.4 avg)
- Elliott: 13 carries; 54 rushing yards (4.2 avg)
Even Jones himself had 25 rushing yards on the day, which would tally 167 total for the Patriots when it was all said and done.
Even though Indianapolis has a softer schedule to finish the season, it’s likely that the Patriots are the worst team on the schedule, along with the already defeated Carolina Panthers. It will be great for the Colts to get back Grover Stewart when he’s eligible to return, which will greatly assist the interior run defense.
In a game where passing yards seemed like an expensive taste, Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr. continued to lead the receiving charge.
He’d grab eight catches on 12 targets for 84 receiving yards (10.5 avg). The next closest was fellow receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who had four catches for 31 receiving yards (7.8 avg).
Even when Downs returns to full snap count, Pittman will continue to be an underrated and overlooked constant league-wide for the Colts to finish the 2023 stretch.
When an offense plays as rough as Indy’s did against the Patriots, it’s honestly difficult to judge any performance from the receivers. However, given that tight end Drew Ogletree wasn’t at the contest with an injury and receiver Downs was limited due to recovery from a knee ailment, tight end Kylen Granson had a chance to be a prominent piece in Minshew’s progressions.
However, he’d find himself targeted twice with one catch for five yards. He would miss a huge play downfield in the second quarter on a wide-open pass from Minshew, which Granson miss-timed on the left sideline. This play could have been a massive gain given Granson’s speed.
The tight ends as a group have played solid, but not great. Granson started the 2023 season on a solid pace and has fallen off a cliff since. He’ll look to bounce back after the bye week, as Indy’s offense will need him to get back to his early season momentum.