It took a mere five seconds into the game for lightning to strike.
That lightning bolt was Kenny Moore II, the cornerback for the Indianapolis Colts whose elite talent has been a secret outside of Colts fans for far too long.
“I gave Kenny (Moore) the nickname when I first got here “Lightning in a Bottle” and that’s exactly what he is,” Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said on HBO’s Hard Knocks In Season: The Indianapolis Colts. “He brings high energy every single day. He’s super smart in terms of coverage.”
It was five seconds into the game when Houston Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor rolled out to his right and tried to deliver a strike to wide receiver Davion Davis along the sideline.
But Moore was right there, stepping in front of the throw and getting his feet down in-bounds for the interception. The pick was Moore’s fourth of the season, the most on the Colts this season.
“Well, we were just working on the spring outs that Houston was playing,” Moore said after the game on what he had recognized. “They actually came back to that play as well. I recognized that it was boot and the play caller, made me span to the sideline and he just wanted a cheap move with the receiver. That's just something that I had -- or it's one of those heads up plays, like think fast.”
The Colts didn’t waste any time taking advantage of the turnover as running back Jonathan Taylor got his first of two touchdowns on the day. The defense was quickly back out onto the field, and Moore wasn’t done.
This time it was the fourth play of the drive as Texans tight end Pharaoh Brown caught a ball over on the right side and was fighting for extra yards. Lightning struck once again, as Moore came from behind to knock the ball loose and force the fumble. The ball was recovered by cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and Moore had forced his second turnover in less than five minutes.
From there, the onslaught was on as the Colts cruised to a 31-0 win over the division-rival Texans. The shutout marked the first time the Colts had shut out an opponent since 2018 when they blanketed the Cowboys 23-0. Even more impressive, this is the Colts’ first shutout on the road since they beat the New England Patriots in 1992 by a 6-0 score.
But the guy that got everything started was Moore. Moore is one of the most underrated players in the entire NFL. He certainly does not get the national recognition that he deserves. Instead, he continues to go out each week and make huge plays for this Colts defense.
“I think Kenny Moore is a Pro Bowl player. I really do,” head coach Frank Reich said. “I just think he's a difference maker. We think he's the best nickel in the league. He's a great corner when he's playing corner, and when he's playing nickel, he's great. He just understands the game, he makes plays and he's consistent.”
Moore has never been selected to a Pro Bowl and strives to be a Pro Bowler one day. Moore went undrafted out of Valdosta State in 2017 and was cut by the Patriots before finding a home in Indy. He’s had to fight and claw for everything, truly earning all the success he’s had.
When asked what it would mean for him to be selected to the Pro Bowl, Moore was very honest.
“Everything,” he said. “And I think that's for anybody that haven't been on that platform before. I think it'll be pretty emotional for me in where I come from and starting in high school and going Division II and just beating all the odds.”
Moore is having a Pro Bowl-worthy season. His four interceptions on the year rank fourth in the AFC and seventh in the NFL. His five total turnovers are part of the 29 turnovers this Colts defense has forced this year.
One guy that has been pushing for Moore to get more respect nationally is linebacker Darius Leonard. Leonard, who has been involved in 10 of the 29 forced turnovers himself, is a captain of this defense and always pushes his teammates to be better. It’s no different with Moore.
“Darius Leonard sent me a text Wednesday just encouraging me to reach the pinnacle of my play and just be better to help this team win,” Moore revealed. “He's basically the middle of the defense, making a lot of plays, and he's great at what he's doing, but he put -- I don't want to say pressure -- but he just encouraged me, gave me a nudge, to be the player that I am, and that's turning the ball over, communicating with the guys in the back end, getting everybody lined up, and playing hard with effort.”
The Colts now enter their Bye week at 7-6, one game back from the final Wild Card spot in a crowded AFC. The defense has been coming on as of late, with players starting to play up to their potential as we get into December. This has been especially true for the stars of this defense in Moore, Leonard, and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who have all been playing their best ball of 2021 in the last few weeks.
If the Colts want to make the playoffs and play into January, it’ll take their stars on defense playing like stars. With the Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, and Las Vegas Raiders coming up after the Bye, the road does not get any easier.
For Moore, he’s used to a hard road ahead. It’s made him into the player we see today, someone with elite talent that isn’t being talked about enough. However, I have a feeling that’s not going to be the case much longer.
Have thoughts on Kenny Moore II's two turnover performance against the Houston Texans on Sunday? Drop a line in the comments below and let us know how you feel!
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