Most people will be talking about Andrew Luck beating Peyton Manning, Jim Irsay‘s comments coming true or how the Indianapolis Colts defense shut down Manning in the house that he built, but the most overlooked reason why the Colts won Sunday night was their special teams play. Indianapolis’ special teams kept them in the game early and made key plays in huge situations to give Indianapolis the victory.
First was the strip fumble on Denver Broncos kick returner Trindan Holiday towards the end of the first quarter off a Pat McAfee punt. Technically, the Colts scored on that fumble, but the play was whistled dead after the fumble recovery. Indianapolis went on to score a touchdown on the next play to give them a 10-7 lead.
If they don’t get that key turnover there and Manning comes down and leads them to a score, it’s 14-3 Denver and we’re talking about what I presume to be a totally different outcome.
From there, how can we forget that huge hit McAfee put on Holiday on another return? Holiday was nearly knocked out by a punter. That gave the defense huge momentum coming onto the field after a score and allowed them to stop Denver on that possession.
The Colts’ special teams did everything asked of them. The ever-so-dangerous Holiday only had 16 yards on four punt returns and 123 yards on four kick off returns. 56 of those 123 yards though came on that play where McAfee laid him out near the sidelines.
This unit has stepped up in two of the biggest wins of Indianapolis’ season, whether it’s a blocked field goal against the Seattle Seahawks or the fumble recovery in the first quarter, or McAfee’s great kicking and huge tackle. Credit a big portion of this win on the Colts’ special teams.
Eric Smith is the Colts Writer for Rant Sports. He’s covered the team the past four seasons and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Colts. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru