ReFo: Rams @ Colts, Week 10
Not much went right for Indianapolis from their opening drive, which ended in a sack-fumble that was returned for a Rams’ touchdown. St.Louis added another touchdown on special teams as they came away with a shocking 38-8 blowout victory on the road led by their backup quarterback.
It was definitely a bad home loss for the Colts, but at 6-3 they’re still in command of the AFC South, and have an upcoming schedule that doesn’t appear terribly difficult. Losing this badly has to be concerning, though. Conversely, the Rams looked closer to the contender that many expected before the season. Unfortunately a 4-6 record will be tough to overcome in the NFC West, especially with an upcoming schedule that includes a game against the Saints and road matchups in San Francisco and Seattle.
St Louis – Three Performances of Note
Games like this are clearly what the Rams envisioned when they used a top ten pick on Tavon Austin. He showed off his electric speed at 10:48 of the second quarter, turning what was probably a questionable decision to field a punt at his own two yard line into six points as he exploded 98 yards down the sideline. And even without that return, he still had a great day on special teams, averaging more than 15 yards on his three other punt returns. Offensively, he was dynamic as well, first getting behind Vontae Davis on a 9- route (2Q, 7:06) for a 57 yard touchdown. Austin later put the game even further out of reach when he turned a five yard crossing route (3Q, 14:08) into an 81 yard touchdown, taking advantage of a bad angle by Antoine Bethea. It was a ridiculously productive game, considering he only played 15 offensive snaps and ran just nine routes (15.33 yards per route run).
The Other Defensive End
You saw the splash plays by Chris Long and Robert Quinn, but the most consistent player on the St Louis line was Williams Hayes (+4.1). He finished with six pressures (five hurries, one hit) in 29 rushes, primarily lining up at from DLE, though he also did some damage on the few plays inside at DLT and at end in a three man line. And what was probably his best play was nullified by an offside penalty; on the play (2Q, 5:48), Hayes easily beat Gosder Cherilus outside for a sack-fumble. He also graded well in run defense, with a stop on his lone tackle. Along with the Long and Quinn, few teams possess a better defensive end rotation than the Rams, which was a huge factor in their victory on Sunday.
Good and Bad in the Secondary
The Rams got away with some pretty poor play in the secondary, notably from Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins. Finnegan allowed a reception on seven of nine targets for a 135.6 QB rating against him. Two missed tackles didn’t help either as he lowered his grade to -20.2 on the season, which is the worst among all corners by a wide margin. Jenkins fared even worse with eight targets and five catches surrendered – three of them to T.Y. Hilton. And on two of the three Incompletions, Jenkins was saved by Colt miscues, an overthrow (2Q, 11:00) and a drop. His play at 13:13 of the third adequately captures his performance, as he was torched on a double move by Hilton, saved only by Hilton falling down trying to get past the safety. Add to that a defensive pass interference penalty, and his -3.8 grade in coverage was well earned.
On the opposite side, there was Trumaine Johnson (+4.1), who’s two allowed receptions went for just 19 yards. He also got his hands on three passes, one of which could have been a pick-six (2Q, 14:26), and another that he did manage to bring down (3Q, 11:58) to keep the Colts out of the end zone.
Indianapolis – Three Performances of Note
Even the NFL’s best players are susceptible to the occasional off day, and Andrew Luck is no exception. Against the Rams, he was off target from the opening drive and eventually finished with the second-lowest graded game of his career at -4.5. He ranks in the bottom half of the league in both completion and Accuracy Percentage, which, as evidenced by the team’s six wins, hadn’t been much of a problem coming into this game. It was certainly evident here, though, as he often missed high, with a few particularly egregious throws. At both 2:05 of the first quarter and 11:00 of the second, a hard bite on play action and a double move had Colts’ receivers in position for big gains, only for Luck to airmail each pass. And another bad overthrow in the third quarter (10:11) resulted in an interception, though at 35-0, the game was probably out of reach at that point. Definitely a forgettable day for the second year QB.
Rough Day at Guard
A consistent problem for the Colts has been guard play, particularly from Mike McGlynn on the right side. He only played 28 snaps in this game, but compiled a -4.1 grade surrendering five pressures in just 19 pass blocks before leaving with an injury in the second quarter (given his performance it may have been hurt pride). Now at -19.5 for the season, McGlynn provided little resistance to whomever the Rams put in front of him, with Kendall Langford and the aforementioned Hayes each getting him twice. Check out 6:59 and 2:01 of the first quarter for examples of his play in this game, and unfortunately for the Colts, of what has been a recurring theme this season.
While the right guard spot is a bit more concerning, it would be unfair to ignore Hugh Thornton at left guard, who’s also struggled. He did his best to stall the Colts’ running game early, whiffing on his pull block at 12:09 of the first, and two plays later letting Michael Brockers inside to drop the RB behind the line on 3rd-and-1.
Standouts on D
As bad as they were on defense, the Colts actually graded surprisingly well across the board, given the Rams scored on both special teams and defense, and two of their other touchdowns came on chunk plays (81 and 57 yard passes). Cory Redding was one of the standouts, grading at +4.0 in run defense, as he did his part to hold the Rams to just 3.7 yards per carry on the ground. In fact, excluding their 56-yarder on the team’s final garbage time, clock-killing drive, St. Louis averaged less than 2.5 YPC. Though he only had two tackles, both were for losses as Redding controlled the point of attack and squeezed running lanes all game.
Robert Mathis was sensational as well in the losing effort, picking up two sacks and two hurries in 14 rushes, with a stop on both of his tackles in run defense. His play to get around Jake Long at 9:36 of the first quarter was particularly impressive, as he put his speed and ability to dip around the edge on display, dropping Kellen Clemens eight yards in the backfield.
– Andrew Luck completed just one of eight pass attempts at intermediate distance (10-20 yards).
– Trent Richardson gained just two yards on five rushes.
– Kellen Clemens had a 56 higher QB rating and 11.6 higher YPA and on plays where he didn’t execute a play action fake.
PFF Game Ball
Tavon Austin gets this one for his three touchdown performance.
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