Five Things Learned

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5 Things Learned: Colts vs. Raiders, Week 17

The Colts fell to the Las Vegas Raiders, 23-20, and will enter Week 18 with a 9-7 record. Get inside what the Colts' loss means with this week's installment of 5 Things Learned. 

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1. The Colts still control their playoff destiny.

So here's the good news: If the Colts beat the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday at 1 p.m. at TIAA Bank Stadium, they're in the playoffs.

Where the Colts would be seeded depends on the outcomes of the Patriots-Dolphins and Raiders-Chargers games; the Colts could be anywhere from the No. 5 to the No. 7 seed with a win over the Jaguars and how those other games break.

Still, head coach Frank Reich said the Colts were disappointed after missing a chance to clinch a playoff spot on Sunday, which would've happened with a win over the Raiders.

"The level of disappointment is very high in myself and how we coached this game, how we played this game," Reich said. "Everything is still in front of us. ... Because of some scenarios, we control our own destiny.

"So, the good news for us as a team, and for Colts nation is, everything is still in front of us. Everything we want is still in front of us. It really is."

2. For the first time, the Colts lost when Jonathan Taylor had over 100 rushing yards.

The Colts entered Week 17 with a 9-0 record this season when Jonathan Taylor rushes for over 100 yards; dating back to his rookie year, the Colts were 12-0 when their star running back crossed the century mark.

Taylor rushed 20 times for 108 yards with one touchdown against the Raiders. It was his 10th game with over 100 rushing yards this season – but the first one the Colts' lost.

And losing to the Raiders put a damper on what was a momentous afternoon for Taylor, who broke the Colts' single-season rushing record previously held by Edgerrin James (1,709 yards in 2000). Taylor will enter the Colts' 17th game of the season with 1,734 yards and a chance to build on his record-setting season.

But that's not what'll be on his mind Sunday in Jacksonville.

"It is special. Would've been more special if we would've been able to solidify that opportunity (to make the playoffs)," Taylor said of breaking James' record. "So I got to find a way to be better next week to make sure that we can get the job done."

3. Something was missing for the Colts.

The Colts not only got a 100-yard game out of Taylor, they won the turnover battle with two takeaways to the Raiders' zero.

Teams are 89-14 (.864 winning percentage) when having a turnover margin of two or more in games this season. Bizarrely, the Colts are not the only team to have multiple losses when having a +2 or better turnover margin (the other came in Week 3): The Minnesota Vikings have lost four times and the Cleveland Browns twice when winning the takeaway battle by two or more.

If anything, Week 17 was a reminder of how there are no absolutes in the NFL – and how hard it is to win, too.

"We knew they'd come out with a lot of energy, and they did," Reich said. "They executed well. They were coached well, and they played well. We just didn't quite coach well enough or play well enough in all three phases.

"It was a close game, it could have gone either way. This was a winning football team, right? A team who has a chance to make the playoffs. So, as much as we want to score 30 in every game and hold them under 20, doesn't always happen. So, you fight, and you scratch, and you claw. It was a closely contested game.

"Really, what it comes down to is making one better call on offense, defense or special teams or making one play on offense, defense or special teams somewhere along the line to put us in position to win that game."

See the best images from the Indianapolis Colts Week 17 matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders.

4. Field position played an important role.

The Raiders' average starting field position for their nine drives was their own 33-yard line, and Las Vegas had as many drives start inside their own 25-yard line as they had start in Colts territory (one).

And after opening the game with a methodical 12-play, 75-yard drive, the Raiders' next three scoring drives started on the:

  • Colts' 35-yard line (seven plays, six yards, field goal)
  • Raiders' 43-yard line (nine plays, 31 yards, field goal)
  • Raiders' 38-yard line (six plays, 62 yards, touchdown)

Las Vegas was then able to drive 60 yards from their own 25-yard line for the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Credit Raiders interim head coach – and special teams coordinator – Rich Bisaccia for finding answers against an awfully strong Colts special teams unit. But really, the Raiders got the better of the Colts in all three phases, not just special teams or offense or defense.

"They out played us and out coached us in all three phases," Reich said. "In all three phases. So give them credit. Coach Bisaccia did a great job getting his guys ready. Offense, defense and special teams. They had good plans and out executed us. I give them credit."

5. The Colts need to flush this loss, and fast.

T.Y. Hilton knows the Colts can't take the Jaguars lightly. The veteran wide receiver hasn't seen the Colts beat the Jaguars outside of Indianapolis – so either in Jacksonville or London – since 2014.

"We don't play good down there," Hilton said. "So better find a way, or we're going to be out."

Here's the streak the Colts will look to end on Sunday at TIAA Bank Stadium:

  • 2015: Jaguars 51, Colts 16
  • 2016 (London): Jaguars 30, Colts 27
  • 2017: Jaguars 30, Colts 10
  • 2018: Jaguars 6, Colts 0
  • 2019: Jaguars 38, Colts 20
  • 2020: Jaguars 27, Colts 20

That's bad news. The good news is 2021 is a new season – a season in which the Colts have responded to losses well from October on.

  • Week 3: 25-16 L @ Tennessee | Week 4: 27-17 W @ Miami
  • Week 5: 28-22 L @ Baltimore | Week 6: 31-3 W vs. Houston
  • Week 8: 34-31 L vs. Tennessee | Week 9: 45-30 W vs. NY Jets
  • Week 12: 38-31 L vs. Tampa Bay | Week 13: 31-0 W @ Houston

The reason why the Colts have bounced back so well is because they haven't deviated from doing the things that got them to this point – in a win-and-in scenario to make the playoffs.

"It's people being able to fall back on their preparation," Taylor said. "I know a lot of times when things don't go some people's way they kind of change up the routine and things that they've done before. But you have to stay true to your routine, stay true to your preparation and believe that's what's going to lead you to success."

And that's the point Reich made after the game, too – this one loss doesn't erase all the good things the Colts have done over the last few months.

"We're still the same team everybody's been talking about," Reich said. "We're like anyone else, if you don't come and just lose a little bit of an edge, if you just let your guard down just a little bit, you can get beat in this league. So, I didn't think that was going to happen today. I thought we'd come out and have the edge that was needed to finish it out this week and to go in with a ton of momentum next week, but we'll have to prepare this week.

"No givens next week. We know Jacksonville is good, despite, I saw the score flash, we know when we go to Jacksonville, it's a battle. So, we got to have a great week of preparation and I'm sure it'll be a tough fought game next week and we got to go earn it."

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