A lot of people have scratched the Indianapolis Colts off their Super Bowl contenders list. Since their bye week, they’ve looked like a completely different team.
Entering Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, the Colts haven’t scored a first-half offensive touchdown since October 20 against the Denver Broncos. They’ve struggled to run the ball, protect Andrew Luck and get any momentum going on that side of the ball.
On defense, it was as bad if not worse. They gave up 38 points to the St. Louis Rams, 40 to the Arizona Cardinals and 42 last week to the Cincinnati Bengals. With a team giving up that many points and struggling on offense, it was no wonder many considered their title hopes done.
But after today’s performance, they may have shown everyone they’re not done just yet.
Indianapolis made a huge statement from the get-go, going 80 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown on the first possession of the game. From there, their defense held Houston to a punt and got the offense the ball back. On the next drive, Indianapolis drove back down the field and was in position to score again if it wasn’t for an under-thrown pass from Luck which was intercepted near the end zone.
Despite that turnover, it showed the Colts their offense was back to full throttle and gave them life. The Colts would go on to score 13 second-quarter points to give them a 20-3 halftime lead. So many are asking, why does this make them a title contender? Why does this matter? They did this on a 2-12 team.
The reason is that it shows the Colts can contend when they get to an early lead. When they have the upper hand, they can go in an all-out blitz and put tons of heat on the opposition. They’re no longer guessing.
Colts rookie linebacker Bjoern Werner told the media after the game, “This win is on the offense. They got out to an early lead which allowed us to pin our ears back and just rush the passer. That’s what we do best. We were comfortable out there. We haven’t felt like this in a long time.”
That tells you everything right there. Werner was one of four different Colt defenders to get a sack on Case Keenum today. The pressure also allowed Indianapolis to pick off two Keenum passes.
The Colts held Houston to only 231 total yards on the day (132 passing, 107 rushing). They were physical and didn’t allow much. Now if Indianapolis can get off to an early lead and hold on to it, they’re going to be tough to beat in January. This defense has the capability to be very physical and get pressure on the quarterback. This was the Colts team that beat Peyton Manning. They had an early lead in that game too.
Eric Smith is the Colts Beat 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