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First Impressions: Colts Fall To Rams

Posted Sep 10, 2017

Intro: Colts.com’s Andrew Walker takes a closer look at Sunday afternoon’s 2017 regular season-opening loss for the Indianapolis Colts to the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

LOS ANGELES — The Indianapolis Colts opened their 2017 regular season with a 46-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams Saturday afternoon at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

What’s top of mind for the Colts as they head home to Indy?

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Simply put: it wasn’t the way the Indianapolis Colts wanted to open up a new season.

And after their 46-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday afternoon, no excuses were made — the Colts’ simply didn’t get the job done.

Head coach Chuck Pagano, in his postgame press conference, took all the blame. Then came quarterback Scott Tolzien, who thought the blame should fall on his shoulders.

But no matter what the film shows when the team returns to Indianapolis early Monday morning, one thing’s for certain: there’s only one thing to do if you’re the Colts, and it’s move on to next Sunday’s home opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

REVEALING MOMENT
It didn’t take long for the Rams to show that they came to play on Sunday.

After holding Los Angeles to a field goal on its opening drive, Tolzien and the Indianapolis offense took the field for its first drive, hoping to answer with a score of their own.

But on their very first play, Tolzien would be picked off by Trumaine Johnson, who returned it 39 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. It was a third-down play intended for T.Y. Hilton, but Johnson read it perfectly and came away with the big play.

The 10-0 lead certainly wasn’t back breaking at that point, but it was unfortunately a sign of things to come the whole afternoon for the Colts’ offense, which would end up throwing another pick-six, give up five five sacks and a safety on the afternoon.

PLAY OF THE GAME
Eight days ago, the Colts acquired Jacoby Brissett in a trade with the New England Patriots.

On Sunday, after a week of cramming as much of the Colts’ playbook as he could, Brissett found himself under center for the Indianapolis offense early in the fourth quarter.

And on his very first play, he chucked it deep down the left sideline for Donte Moncrief, who made a nice effort to go up and grab the ball and come down with it in his possession — with the Rams defender clawing at it the whole way — for a 50-yard completion.

It was the biggest play of the day for the Colts’ offense, and a couple plays later, rookie running back Marlon Mack earned his first-career touchdown, punching it in from three yards out, to cut the Los Angeles lead to 37-9.

Kudos to Brissett for his ability to take what he learned and to be able to go out and execute like he did in short relief on Sunday. He finished his day 2-of-3 passing for 51 yards.

UNSUNG HERO(ES)
Two Colts defensive players might not have had eye-popping stats by the time Sunday’s game was over, but they certainly were factors throughout the contest: inside linebacker Jeremiah George and nose tackle Al Woods.

Woods finished his day with two tackles, including a stuff of Rams running back Todd Gurley at the end of the first quarter for a loss of three yards. But, beyond those stats, Woods was able to get penetration time and time again against the Los Angeles offensive front, forcing plays the other way — which is exactly what you’d want out of a nose tackle in the 3-4 defensive scheme.

Then there’s George, who cemented his spot on the team’s initial 53-man roster with a solid outing in the Colts’ preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals. He also finished with two tackles on the day Sunday, but made a big play on special teams early in the third quarter, when he recovered a muffed punt return by the Rams’ Tavon Austin at the Los Angeles 24-yard line.

If the result was different for the Colts on Sunday, efforts like Woods’ and George’s certainly would’ve meant a lot more. Yet they certainly kept plugging away in a frustrating afternoon for all involved.

WHAT WENT RIGHT
• The opportunities ended up being few and far between, but Frank Gore did a solid job running the ball for the Colts’ offense on Sunday. In all, he would log 10 rushes for 42 yards, an average of 4.2 yards per carry, and had multiple runs that resulted in big chunks. He had carries of eight and 16 yards in the first quarter, and then added a 10-yard run in the second quarter. While the Colts would have to mostly go away from the run with such a large deficit from there, Gore certainly looked good to go as he officially kicks off his 13th NFL season.

• The Rams’ running game was simply shut down by the Colts’ defense on Sunday. In all, Los Angeles attempted 33 rushing plays and got a total of 63 yards — an average of 1.9 yards per carry. While one can imagine the Indy defense would’ve wanted more pressure up front throughout the contest, it was solid against the run, which is something to build off of against a talented Cardinals team that features David Johnson at running back.

• Indianapolis played a clean game when it came to penalties on Sunday. In all, the Colts had just four accepted penalties for 40 yards, compared to seven penalties for 50 yards for the Rams. While the Colts had several key misplays throughout the day, the yellow flags, for the most part, didn’t add to those woes in their opener.

• Matthias Farley was all over the field for the defense on the day. The second-year safety led the team with 10 tackles, eight of which were solo stops. For Farley, Sunday’s game was his first-career start, after he played in all 16 games for Indianapolis as a rookie last season.

• Margus Hunt broke through and recorded a sack in the beginning of the fourth quarter for the Colts, the first on the season for Hunt and the Indy defense. Hunt would log two tackles and two quarterback hits on the day, and got some nice push up front for the defensive line.

Adam Vinatieri’s 20-yard field goal in the first quarter tied Morten Andersen for the most field goals made from 20-29 yards in NFL history (176). The kick also marked his 42nd different stadium having converted at least one field goal, as Sunday’s game at Los Angeles Coliseum was the first of his career at the venue.

WHAT WENT WRONG
• Offensively, the issues have already been spelled out: the Rams’ defense would score more points (16) on the day than the Colts’ offense (9). As Tolzien pointed out after the game, those kind of factors very rarely lead to wins in the NFL.

• Indianapolis was also 0-for-10 on third downs on Sunday, and 0-for-1 on fourth down.

• Defensively, the Colts had a tough time against second-year quarterback Jared Goff and the Rams’ passing attack. In all, eight receivers logged catches on the day for Los Angeles, led by Cooper Kupp’s four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Goff, in all, completed 21-of-29 passes for 306 yards and a touchdown for a 117.9 QB rating.

• On special teams, Vinatieri would end up missing a 38-yard field goal in the third quarter, as well as an extra point after the Colts’ fourth quarter touchdown. These misses certainly didn’t factor into the final outcome, but one can figure Vinatieri will be able to bounce back next week.

INJURY REPORT
The following players were injured during Sunday’s game:

• Inside linebacker Anthony Walker (hamstring; out): Pagano did not address Walker’s injury after the game.

• Nose tackle Al Woods (unknown; returned): Woods was also tended to by team trainers, but would return to the field.

WHAT’S NEXT
The Colts officially open up Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time next Sunday, when they play host to the Cardinals. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on FOX.

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