Everything was on fire after last week's shoutout loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the Indianapolis Colts didn't waver all week in their responses to the media and backed it up on Sunday.
It was a four-quarter effort to pull off the upset over the Kansas City Chiefs. The defense and special teams did their part to keep the Colts in the game while the offense was sputtering all afternoon. Then it all came together for the offense following a KC missed field goal and an unsportsmanlike penalty on Chris Jones that helped extend the drive for Indianapolis.
Matt Ryan helped lead the offense on a time-consuming drive to get the go-ahead score for his team. It wasn't the prettiest win but a game like this can propel a team to go on a run after starting the season looking sluggish.
Here are five takeaways from the huge victory for the Colts:
The defensive front showed up
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The Colts' defensive front four came out ferocious to start the game and they kept up the effort in all four quarters. They were getting pressure on Mahomes often even though they were only able to register one sack, which came from Yannick Ngakoue.
The veteran edge rusher had his best performance since joining Indianapolis. He finished with two tackles (one solo), a tackle for loss, a sack, and two quarterback hits.
DeForest Buckner deserves a lot of praise for his play today. He played a part in holding the Chiefs to 2.5 yards per carry and not letting Mahomes get settled in the pocket. He had four tackles (two solo) and two quarterback hits.
Today was what Indianapolis needs out of this part of the defensive unit. They just need to build upon what they put on the field and start converting the pressures into sacks. This was a step in the right direction for Gus Bradley's defense.
The rookies show up on offense
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It was a rough performance for about 99% of the game for the offense but they have to love what they got from Alec Pierce and Jelani Woods today. It was started by Woods who found his way to an open hole in the Chiefs' defense to give the Colts their first touchdown.
Pierce's day began with a 17-yard reception on a drive that ended in a field goal but his most important catch came on the final drive of the day for Indianapolis. Matt Ryan showed some trust in his receiver when he found him for a 14-yard completion that put the offense at the 12-yard line.
That play set up the go-ahead score when Ryan squeezes in a ball to Woods. The rookie tight end showed off his hand strength for his second touchdown.
Both of Woods' touchdowns were the only receptions he got for the day resulting in 13 yards on three targets. Pierce finished with three catches for 61 yards on five targets.
The pair of rookies made impact plays when their team needed it and that should earn the trust of Frank Reich going forward. Their confidence and roles in the offense should continue to grow after this game.
Give credit to Gus Bradley
AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
There was a lot of chatter about the concern over Gus Bradley's defense following the loss to the Jags and how his units have looked against Patrick Mahomes in the past. But he came up with a solid game plan to help stifle the Chiefs offense throughout the game. It wasn't just his defensive front four that came to play today, but it was also the secondary with tight coverage.
Mahomes did some Mahomes things which are inevitable but outside of some mismatches on Travis Kelce that they exploited, Indianapolis kept the passing attack in check. The secondary was helping out the front have time to disrupt the quarterback and they were able to get their hands on deflections. The Colts got their hands in on six pass deflections.
The secondary was led by both offseason acquisitions, Stephon Gilmore and Rodney McLeod. Gilmore was feisty in coverage and battled through an injury to come back and finish the game. He ended his day with five tackles (five solo) and a pass deflection.
McLeod led the team with two pass deflections but capped it off by teaming up with Gilmore on the game-sealing play. The veteran cornerback made a great play in getting his hands in the passing lane to create the tip-drill opportunity for McLeod to get his hands on the ball for the interception.
The Chiefs got both of their touchdown drives following turnovers by the Colts' offense in the first half. Outside of those drives, it was a bend but don't break day for Gus Bradley's defense. They held KC to only three points in the second half because of how they responded when their backs were against the wall.
Mahomes ended his day going 20/35 for 262 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Plus they held Andy Reid's offense to 3/10 on third downs. That's a win in my book.
Bubba Ventrone earned some flowers
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Bubba Ventrone deserves his flowers because of the way his unit played. It was kicked off by taking advantage of a Skyy Moore muffed punt after the first drive of the game. Kylen Granson jumped on the ball to give the offense the ball back on the four-yard line. That helped set up the first touchdown.
Matt Haack and Granson teamed up on the next punt to help pin KC at the 1-yard line. The Colts punter averaged 51.3 yards on his three punts. He had two inside the 20-yard line.
It was also a clean day for the new kicker, Chase McLoughlin. After getting limited action in Jacksonville, his name was called on a lot today. Three of his kickoffs put the Chiefs inside their own 20-yard line. But the last one ended up coming out because of an unsportsmanlike penalty on E.J. Speed.
McLoughlin was 2/2 on his field goal attempts with a long of 51 yards and nailed both of his extra-point tries. But the most important play by the special teams came in the fourth quarter.
Andy Reid thought he was going to catch the Colts slipping when he opted to fake a field goal attempt to go for the first down. But, Bobby Okereke was ready for it. He tracked the receiver and was in a position to make the tackle short of the sticks. This led to Tommy Townsend having to try to lead his receiver with his pass attempt and he sailed it out of reach.
This play was the cherry on top for Bubba Ventrone. His special teams unit played a major factor in the upset victory by the Colts.
Offense is a work in progress
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It wasn't all pretty for the Colts. Frank Reich's offense failed to help the defense and special teams for most of the game. The struggles on the offensive line continued today. They were unable to open up rushing lanes for Jonathan Taylor. Reich force-fed the ball to help keep the ball out of Mahomes' hands but only averaged 3.4 yards per carry on his 21 rushing attempts.
But it's the pass protection that is an alarming issue for Indianapolis. They failed multiple times to pick up blitzes and the Chiefs had a free runner to Matt Ryan numerous times. There is a major communication problem that is going on between the quarterback, running backs, and the line.
KC was able to sack Ryan five times and also had 10 quarterback hits. The inability to be consistent in this area of the offense is why they fail to sustain drives. It isn't just a communication problem but that they may need a shuffle across the line. Danny Pinter had a rough day, he generated zero push on run plays and would just get pushed around in bull rushes.
I believe there should be a consideration of moving Matt Pryor to the right guard when Bernhard Raimann is fully healthy. Ryan and his weapons are still working through their kinks but there were missed opportunities because the quarterback had no time to make his reads.
If Reich can get his line figured out and the role players can keep making plays like they did today then this offense should be a lot better by the halfway point of the season. They just need to continue to make some tweaks and add some calls in the game plan that can help create more explosive plays.
Story originally appeared on Colts Wire