Colts implode in ugly home loss to Raiders
Phillip B. Wilson
The Indianapolis Colts buried themselves on Sunday with a defense manhandled in the trenches and caught out of position on the edges as well as an offense that sputtered with seven dropped passes.
And to think the touchdown-underdog Oakland Raiders were supposed to be the Colts’ easy game.
The Raiders, who had been outscored by 38 points the past two weeks, seized a 14-0 lead with touchdowns on their opening possessions and staved off a late Colts comeback for a 31-24 road win at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts (2-2) struggled to do much of anything right early, then couldn’t climb out of the hole they created. The Raiders (2-2) led 21-10 by halftime.
The home team had a chance to tie in the final minutes, but Raiders cornerback Erik Harris intercepted Jacoby Brissett and returned the turnover 30 yards for a game-clinching touchdown with 2:09 remaining. It was Brissett’s first interception in 96 pass attempts.
A Colts defense missing weak side linebacker Darius Leonard allowed the Raiders to move down the field on the game’s first possession for a 75-yard TD drive. Quarterback Derek Carr wasn’t pressured as he completed six consecutive passes, the latter an 18-yard scoring strike to Foster Moreau.
After the Colts went three-and-out, the Raiders needed one play to score again as wide receiver Trevor Davis raced 60 yards on an end around. The Colts defense was embarrassingly out of position on the play.
A Colts offense missing four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton didn’t do Brissett any favors by dropping seven passes. Tight end Eric Ebron, who went to his first Pro Bowl last year, had three of them. After the third, he came to the bench and flung his helmet to the ground in disgust.
Ebron’s forgettable day ended on an up note as his only reception was for a 48-yard TD with 1:10 remaining. But the Colts couldn’t get the ball back as the Raiders ran for a first down to kill the clock.
The Colts’ sixth-ranked rushing attack was stuffed for the most part in amassing just 81 yards on 23 carries. They had averaged 149.7 yards per game. Running back Marlon Mack, whose 299 rushing yards ranked third in the NFL, could never get going and suffered an ankle injury in the final quarter. He had 39 yards on 11 carries.
The Raiders ran for 188 yards on 32 carries. They had entered with a 105-yard rush average.
It’s not like the Raiders were flawless. They dropped three passes, too, and gave the Colts a short field for their first touchdown after a botched handoff fumble that defensive end Justin Houston recovered at the Raiders’ 22. That led to a Brissett TD pass to tight end Jack Doyle.
But the Colts kept making too mistakes on both sides of the ball.
Carr finished 21 of 31 passing for 189 yards with two TDs.
Brissett, who also threw a fourth-quarter TD pass to Chester Rogers, completed 24 of 46 passes for 265 yards with three TDs.
It was an ominous performance, especially on defense, for a Colts team that must travel to Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday night to face the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) and reigning NFL MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs entered Sunday with the NFL's No. 1 passing offense.
A Colts defense that had eight sacks in the first two games failed to register a sack for a second consecutive game as Carr had ample time to find open receivers against usually soft zone looks.
A Raiders defense that ranked 25th in total yards allowed overcame the loss of linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who was ejected for an egregious helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless Doyle in the second quarter.