You could point to a number of things as to why the Indianapolis Colts came home victorious 21-17 over the Oakland Raiders in the season opener for both teams on Sunday afternoon in Lucas Oil Stadium. One would be Andrew Luck‘s three touchdowns, including the game-winner with just over five minutes to go.
Another could be the two interceptions the Colts’ secondary had in key situations. The biggest, though, is the great fundamental play all around by the entire team.
This game was solely won by Indianapolis’ fundamentals and the lack thereof for Oakland. Indianapolis won the turnover margin, being +2 at the end of the game. Usually whoever wins the turnover battle wins the game in this day and age of the NFL.
Before the game, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said he’d like to be +2 to win this game. That’s exactly where they were.
The Colts’ young offense had zero turnovers. That’s huge. To go through an entire game and not turn the ball over once usually leads teams to victories. Today, that’s exactly what it did.
Oakland was getting a good pass rush on Luck and stopping the run. They didn’t allow any points after the Colts went up 14-0 on their first two possessions until the fourth quarter. That kind of grind-out game is won if teams don’t turn the ball over.
On the flip side, they didn’t beat themselves with penalties either, only committing three for 31 yards for the game. Again, that’s huge.
Compare that to two turnovers by Oakland and eight penalties for 51 yards, and there’s your ball game. Also mix in the fact Sebastian Janikowski missed a field goal in the first half, and that’s the difference in the game.
If Indianapolis can keep the penalties down and keep winning the turnover margin, they will be in good shape this year.
Eric Smith is the Colts Beat Writer for Rant Sports. He’s covered the team the last four years and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Colts. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru