3 reasons the Colts were able to pick up their first win vs. the Dolphins
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Backs against the wall and riddled by injury, the Indianapolis Colts found a way to get the win they desperately needed over a Dolphins team in roughly the same situation.
Facing off against former Colts starter Jacoby Brissett, an Indianapolis defense that had struggled against explosive offenses the first three weeks put the clamps on a terrible Dolphins offense in a 27-17 victory that kept Indianapolis from dropping to 0-4 for the first time since the disastrous 2011 season.
The Colts (1-3) still have a long way to go, but Indianapolis is now in the win column, and the schedule starts to lighten a bit after next week’s Monday-night trip to Baltimore.
Colts Jonathan Taylor carries the load
After the Colts gave star running back Jonathan Taylor just 10 carries in Tennessee last week, Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich chalked up the lack of carries to a lack of plays for the offense in the first half, too many 2nd-and-long situations and the lack of a lead in the second half.
Indianapolis had a chance to ride Taylor against Miami.
The Colts didn’t pass it up.
Unable to get the ball for most of the first half, Indianapolis finally got a jump-start when Taylor ripped off a 23-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and the Colts went right back to him to start the second half. Taylor took a sweep around the left side for 38 yards, setting up a 3-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to Mo Alie-Cox.
Taylor, who was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game due to a knee injury but downplayed the severity, battled his way through the rest of the game, picking up 103 yards on 16 carries and pushing the game beyond the reach of a late Dolphins comeback.
Defense does enough
The Colts know Brissett’s weaknesses better than most.
Now a backup in Miami who started because of injuries to Dolphins starter Tua Tagovailoa, Brissett holds the ball in the pocket too long, struggles with accuracy and doesn’t take too many shots down field.
Making matters worse, the Miami running game can’t give him the same sort of support he had from the Colts’ 7th-ranked rushing offense in 2019.
Forced to play without injured starters at defensive end (Kwity Paye), cornerback (Rock Ya-Sin) and safety (Khari Willis), the Colts struggled to tackle at times, but they took advantage of Brissett’s worst impulses throughout the game.
Indianapolis sacked Brissett three times, and on the third, Grover Stewart forced a fumble that Darius Leonard picked up, ensuring the Colts defense had a turnover for the third time in three games. Indianapolis also limited the Dolphins passing game to painfully short gains until the fourth quarter, when Brissett had to go deep.
Most importantly, the Colts took the running game out of the equation, limiting Miami to just 35 yards on 16 carries and forcing Brissett to throw.
Indianapolis still has issues defensively. With Ya-Sin out, starting cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Isaiah Rodgers struggled, particularly against DeVante Parker in the fourth quarter.
But the Colts didn’t let one of the league’s worst offenses get on track.
Avoiding the big mistake
When the Colts traded for Wentz, the book on the former Eagles quarterback was that he’d become the kind of passer who couldn’t avoid making the back-breaking mistake.
Hampered by the two sprained ankles he suffered against the Rams, Wentz hasn’t been perfect the last two weeks. But he’s also not making the big mistake, and he made several critical throws in the second half to help salt the game away. Wentz played efficient football, completing 24 of 32 passes for 228 yards and tossed two touchdowns to tight end Mo Alie-Cox.
Indianapolis made one critical mistake, a muffed punt by Nyheim Hines in the first quarter that led to Miami’s first points.
Outside of that, the Colts protected the football and made plays on critical downs, handing Wentz his first win in his last eight starts.