Everyone knew the Sunday night matchup wasn’t going to be pretty when it was reported that there was going to be a “bomb cyclone” in the Bay area. That was my first time hearing that term and it didn’t disappoint.
The rain didn’t let up and it led to a slugfest between the Indianapolis Colts (3-4) and San Francisco 49ers (2-4). This game had everything a bad weather game brings. Six turnovers, penalties, errant passes, and each team leaning on their rushing attack. The offense was a mixed bag for most of the night. It had its explosive moments but a pair of turnovers and penalties derailed drives.
The defense was solid for the majority of the night outside of a couple of drives. They got gashed on the ground by Elijah Mitchell to give up a touchdown on the first drive of the game. When they were up 20-12, the defense allowed Jimmy Garoppolo to make three completions to easily march down the field to make it a 20-18 game. Darius Leonard came through on a blitz to deflect a Jimmy G pass to not allow San Francisco to get the two-point conversion.
Special teams played great when you consider the conditions. Michael Badgley made all four of his attempts, three extra points, and a 42-yard field goal. Rigoberto Sanchez had a long of a 79-yard punt and pinned the 49ers inside the 20 twice. This was a big win for the Colts as they look forward to their rematch against their division rivals, Tennessee Titans, in Week 8.
Here are the top five takeaways from the prime-time win for Indianapolis:
Carson Wentz plays with a killer instinct
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After the Colts collapsed to the Baltimore Ravens a couple of weeks ago, Wentz mentioned that he told the team that they needed to play with a killer instinct. When the defense gave up the easy drive to Jimmy G, it was starting to look like they could be giving up another fourth-quarter lead.
Wentz led the offense on a 6:07 drive and help put the team in a position to get the field goal. He made a big third-down completion to Michael Pittman Jr. and scrambled on a 2nd-and-15 to get the first down to help make it happen. The biggest play came after Xavier Rhodes came up with an interception.
The offense was trying to burn time and end the drive with some points. On a 3rd-and-10, Wentz gives Pittman Jr. a shot to make a big play, and his receiver goes up to grab the ball and punches it in to put the final nail in the coffin.
The quarterback wasn’t perfect, he had a number of potential interceptions, and had a turnover in the red zone when he fumbled the ball when he was trying to extend a play.
He finished 17/26 for 150 yards and two passing touchdowns. He also grabbed 23 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He showed up when his team needed him and delivered. Wentz and the offense should look a lot more different in the rematch against Tennessee.
Defense wins the turnover battle
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For the first half of the game, it looked like everything was going to go the 49ers’ way. On the first play by the Colts offense, Jonathan Taylor fumbled and that turnover led to three points for the opposing team. On the third drive by the offense, they were marching down the field and were in a position to take the lead but Wentz’s fumble on a scramble ended it.
After forcing San Francisco to three straight three-and-outs, Darius Leonard came through with his peanut punch to force the fumble which gave the unit its first turnover on the day. That resulted in a touchdown by the offense that gave them a 13-12 lead.
It was on the 49ers’ first drive of the second half when Kwity Paye showed up to create early pressure on Garoppolo and Al-Quadin Muhammad to come behind him to get the strip-sack fumble. Paye caps it off and recovered for the second turnover.
Just when it looked like it was going to be another letdown by the Matt Eberflus unit in the fourth quarter, they showed up to force two straight turnovers after giving up the touchdown. Xavier Rhodes made up for his rough night and got his first interception of the season. Khari Willis cradled in a wobbly pass from Jimmy G to give them their fourth turnover of the night.
To cap things off, DeForest Buckner got a sack on the final play of the game to secure the victory over his former team. It was a solid night for the defense and did their part to help close the game out for the team.
Michael Pittman Jr. is taking the next step
Pittman Jr. is starting to look like he’s the guy in year two of his NFL career. He’s become a trusty target for Wentz and he’s shown up over the last few weeks when they looked to test the secondary deep. It started on the second drive by the offense on a third-and-11. Despite a pass interference, Pittman Jr. was able to bring in a contested 57-yard catch.
That led to the first touchdown by the Colts. He drew two pass interferences by the 49ers’ defense and both those happened on scoring drives. All four of his receptions came on third downs. His strong hands showed up when the offense needed to go with his effort to get the first down or find the endzone.
He capped off his night with his 28-yard touchdown grab on a third-and-10 to help finish off the 49ers. Pittman Jr. attacked the ball to secure the catch and stumbled his way for the score. Frank Reich has to love the chemistry he is seeing grow between his quarterback and receiver.
Darius Leonard and the linebackers show up
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Things weren’t looking good when Mitchell couldn’t be stopped by the Colts defense to start the game. The front seven started to bottle up and keep the San Francisco running game in check as the game went on. Three straight-and-outs in the second quarter were capped off by the Leonard forced fumble. The star linebacker continues to be a playmaker and needs to be in Defensive Player of the Year talk as the midpoint of the season nears.
On top of his turnover, he finished with seven tackles (two solo), a QB hit, and shut down a two-point conversion attempt. Bobby Okereke had a nice night as well, four tackles (two solo), one TFL, and his pass deflection should have been an interception if he brings it in.
To help slow down the rushing attack, Eberflus used three linebackers throughout the night. Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed got some snaps to help limit the open rushing lanes that Mitchell had to start the game. This group will be needed when Derrick Henry comes to Lucas Oil Stadium.
Jonathan Taylor is in a groove
Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
On a rainy night, the Colts needed to lean on the young back and their offensive line that had Quenton Nelson make his return to help boost the rushing attack. Taylor was able to put his fumble that started his night and put together his fourth straight game that he has gone over 100 total yards. He did have a second fumble but Ashton Dulin did a good job to jump on top of it for the offense.
He kept gutting the 49ers’ defense for positive gains, averaged 5.9 YPC, and had a long of 33 yards. The threat of him in goal-line situations allowed Wentz to get enough space when he kept the read to get his rushing touchdown. Taylor continued the red zone success after the early Wentz fumble and found his way for a 5-yard touchdown run.
He ran the ball 18 times for 107 yards. Indianapolis was built by Chris Ballard to win bad weather matchups like this and his roster showed up to give the organization their second win in a row. They will look to carry the momentum over and climb to a .500 record with a win over their division rivals.