Coming into Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts had endured quite the inconsistent past month or so. Having not won more than one game in a row since November 3rd, the Colts were in the midst of trying to find out just what kind of team they are after losing their top wideout, Reggie Wayne.
Indianapolis would not find any answers as they took on the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals Sunday. Ultimately, they would find out why they are less of a contender they might think they are, and, that the Bengals are simply a much better team.
One of the biggest differences, and ultimately what will separate these two teams from each other in the playoffs, is the ability to run the football.
Early on in the season, the Colts traded for former Cleveland Browns running back, and former first-round pick, Trent Richardson. Immediately, the Colts’ stock rose drastically with everyone — myself included — thinking that Richardson could be the missing piece to a Colts’ Super Bowl run.
Richardson, though, has not lived up to expectations this season and has recently given way to Donald Brown as the Colts’ main running back. On Sunday, the Colts went away from both Richardson and Brown altogether as they finished the game with just 12 rushing attempts as a team.
Meanwhile, Andrew Luck threw the ball 46 times. While he ended the day with four touchdowns and over 320 yards through the air, the Colts proved yet again that their weakness is in running the ball. In fact, they proved they might even be scared to commit to it with how little they went to the ground against Cincinnati.
Because Indy failed to establish a run, they were made one-dimensional against a pretty good defense in Cincinnati. The Colts were just 2-for-10 on third down efficiency in this game, and all of that can be contributed to the fact that the Colts’ lack of ground game.
For the Bengals, their offense was clicking. Andy Dalton tossed three touchdowns without an interception and also added a rushing touchdown for his box score. Giovani Bernard ran for 99 yards on only 12 carries and BenJarvis Green-Ellis scored two touchdowns on the ground for the Bengals as they rushed for a total of 155 yards as a team.
Cincinnati’s victory over the Colts was a convincing one. Leading by as much as 21 on two different occasions, the Bengals flat out dominated Indianapolis. The Colts should be very worried about their inconsistency over the past six weeks. Specifically, they should be worried about their defense which has given up an average of 40 points per game in their last three losses.
Toward the beginning of the year, this Colts team looked like a strong contender in the AFC. At this point, they will probably end up winning their division but that’s about it. Come playoff time, they are no where near strong enough to contend for a Super Bowl.