IND-MIN grades: Andrew Luck thrives behind strong O-line play
Indianapolis Colts 34, Minnesota Vikings 6
Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Indianapolis Colts’ Week 15 rout of the Minnesota Vikings.
Quarterback grade: Sam Bradford, 46.4
Dink-and-dunk from Bradford can’t halt the Colts’ momentum
This game got away from the Vikings in a big way, and with the style of offense they have played, particularly in the passing game, Sam Bradford was never likely to pull them back into it. Behind the seventh different offensive line grouping of the season, the Vikings’ passing attack once again focused on short passes, with 11 of Bradford’s 42 aimed passes targeted 10 or more yards down the field. If the wind wasn’t already out of the Vikings’ sails before the half, then a misread and a force by Bradford, which was intercepted by Colts S Mike Adams, likely called time on a Minnesota season that overcame far more adversity than you would reasonably have expected it to.
Top offensive grades:
RG Joe Berger, 75.3
TE Kyle Rudolph, 71.6
RT Jeremiah Sirles, 70.3
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, 68.9
LG Alex Boone, 67.2
Vikings meander to defeat in Peterson’s return
Adrian Peterson’s (47.7) return to the Vikings’ offense didn’t deliver the spark that Minnesota fans were desperate for. A fumble and less than 4 yards per carry stand out as underwhelming, but the six total carries form the story, as much as the turnover and underwhelming production. The Vikings ran only 14 offensive plays in the first half, and by that point, the Colts were already well out of reach. For myriad reasons, Minnesota simply isn’t setup to come from behind, especially from four-score deficits, and eventually the Colts already had what proved to be an insurmountable lead after their second drive—such was the Vikings’ struggles on offense, even with the game out of reach.
Top defensive grades:
CB Terence Newman, 78.6
LB Chad Greenway, 78.0
DT Linval Joseph, 77.3
S Anthony Harris, 72.1
S Andrew Sendejo, 71.9
Vikings fail to turn the tide in pivotal defeat
Headlines stats of seven stops for Linval Joseph and 14 tackles for Anthony Harris look like numbers from a lockdown defensive performance, but all the Vikings’ defense really achieved was giving away minimal gain after minimal gain between big plays or consistent conversions by the Indianapolis offense. You would think this defense would have feasted if they were playing with the lead, but the big plays they gave up in the first half ceded that high amount of yardage, and they never looked like shutting down the Colts’ ground game to force short drives and give their offense multiple opportunities to chip into the lead. Big plays in coverage paired with an underwhelming performance from numerous defenders in run defense saw the Vikings bow out with a whimper in the playoff race.
Quarterback grade: Andrew Luck, 84.5
Luck checks in early as Colts cruise to victory
Both teams knew coming into this that, to help their offensive line out, they had to establish a lead, and it was the Colts that did just that. Andrew Luck was pressured on 10 of his 29 dropbacks, but lit up the Vikings’ defense regardless of the pressure or any blitz Minnesota sent his way. He connected on three of his four deep balls, including both of his touchdowns, as the huge lead allowed the Colts to utilize the short game for the most part and work off play-action to keep the Vikings’ defense off balance. Wins for the Texans and Titans keeps the Colts a game back and needing help in the AFC South, but performances like this from Andrew Luck will make them a threat to pick up the division if Houston or Tennessee drop the ball.
Top offensive grades:
TE Erik Swoope, 84.5
LT Anthony Castonzo, 81.8
C Ryan Kelly, 81.6
RG Joe Haeg, 74.1
WR Chester Rogers, 73.4
Colts’ offensive line sets the tone
Now, you’re not reading that header wrong; the Indianapolis offensive line put together a big game to lead the Colts to a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. Nearly 50 percent of the Colts’ rushing yards came before contact, and the Indianapolis trusted a young interior offensive line to keep the ground game ticking, despite Linval Joseph’s presence, and they did just that, picking up positive yards on nearly every run and springing solid gains on a consistent basis. Only Jonotthan Harrison earned a run-blocking grade below 70.0 for the Colts’ offensive line, as the group far exceeded expectations against the Vikings’ defensive front, setting the tone with the ground game to deny the Vikings any chance to pin their ears back and get after them in the passing game.
Top defensive grades:
S Mike Adams, 89.8
CB Darryl Morris, 87.7
OLB Erik Walden 79.2
CB Rashaan Melvin, 78.4
CB Darius Butler, 78.0
Veteran S Adams leads the big plays as Colts stun the Vikings
Mike Adams has been on a strong run of form in the last few weeks, and forced two turnovers in arguably his best single game performance since he joined the Colts’ roster. Adams stripped the ball away from RB Adrian Peterson on the Vikings’ first foray into Colts’ territory in the first half, and then all but finished the Vikings off before the half, baiting Sam Bradford for a pivotal pick to put even more points on the board in the final two minutes before the break. The Colts’ pass-rush didn’t exactly feast in the second half with a big lead, but Robert Mathis picked up a strip sack, and Erik Walden had his second multi-sack performance of the season to ensure Minnesota never got a sniff of getting back in the game.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Mike Adams, S, Colts
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