1. The impact of Shane Steichen's culture showed up again.
As the Colts stared down a 23-0 deficit midway through the third quarter, you would've been forgiven if your mind wandered to what happened last year. The Colts lost games 24-0, 26-3, 20-3 and 38-10 in 2022.
But this isn't 2022. Far from it.
"It shows this team has a different type of fight than we had last year," defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo said.
"It" is the Colts scoring 23 unanswered points on offense, and the defense keeping the Rams off the scoreboard, over the final 20 or so minutes of regulation to force overtime. Anthony Richardson's 35-yard strike to tight end Mo Alie-Cox – who rumbled over safety Russ Yeast on his way to the end zone – and cornerback Kenny Moore II's ensuing interception of Matthew Stafford were sparks that ignited the Colts' sideline and the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium. All of a sudden, the comeback was on, capped by Richardson finding tight end Drew Ogletree for a touchdown and hitting Michael Pittman Jr. in the end zone for a game-tying two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
"It shows there's no quit in us," safety Julian Blackmon said. "It's really exciting. We haven't had that in a while."
The Colts' comeback was a reflection of the culture head coach Shane Steichen has worked to instill in his team over the last seven months. At halftime, the Colts' mindset was to block out the scoreboard and focus on the play in front of them because, as Blackmon said: "The reason why we were losing was things we had done to ourselves, not anything they were doing spectacularly."
There's an inherent trust in the scheme and coaching this team has, in addition to the talent the Colts collectively possess. Eventually, the Colts were confident they'd find answers; on both offense and defense, those answers came in the second half.
"We got a lot of dogs on this team," running back Zack Moss said. "We work hard day in and day out. We got guys who are banged up and just continue to show up . Veteran guys, young guys, everyone's really bought in to coach Shane and everything he's vocalized to us. And he also walks the walk as well."
The culture Steichen is fostering mattered quite a bit on Sunday – because, if the Colts didn't coalesce behind it, the 23-0 comeback wouldn't have happened.
"If we didn't believe, I don't think guys would fight as hard for the name on the front," Moss said. "We play for the name on the front and the back. We believe. It's a long season. It sucks sitting at 2-2 right now, but it's a long season and we control our destiny."
2. Anthony Richardson made some spectacular plays.
Back in August, assistant general manager Ed Dodds was asked about something that stood out with Richardson over his first few months with the Colts.
"One of the things that I got excited about him," Dodds said, "(is) his poise and his feet in the pocket and how he kind of feels pressure and moves. That's that natural instinct that he has that some others don't."
That natural instinct showed up a few times in critical situations on Sunday.
No. 1: With the Colts needing the first of two two-point conversions to erase a 23-point deficit, Richardson dropped back to pass and was quickly pressured by all-world Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald through the A-gap. Richardson, while going through his progressions to his right, felt Donald's pressure to his left and sidestepped him, making the three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year whiff in the pocket.
Richardson then escaped the pocket to his left, away from Donald, keeping his balance after stumbling through a mess of 300-pound bodies. Linebacker Ernest Jones IV left his coverage of Moss and sprinted at Richardson, who floated through the air while delivering a pass to Moss for the two-point conversion.
No. 2: With the Colts needing an explosive play to spark an offense staring down a second-and-20 early in the fourth quarter, Richardson again was pressured by Donald – with the seven-time first-team AP All-Pro lined up as a wide-nine defensive end and pressuring Richardson's blind side. There was also pressure from the right, which forced Richardson to step up in the pocket – where Donald was waiting.
As Donald wrapped his arms around Richardson, the Colts quarterback uncorked a deep ball. It traveled about 45 yards through the air before landing in the hands of Alec Pierce for a gain of 38.
"I tried to sit in the pocket and throw it but 99 (Aaron Donald) got hands on me really good," Richardson said. "Alec made a great play and I'm glad he did because it led us to a touchdown drive."
3. A few injury updates from Steichen.
- Cornerback Dallis Flowers sustained an Achilles' injury and will miss the remainder of the 2023 season.
- Defensive end Kwity Paye entered the concussion protocol after developing symptoms Monday morning.
- Tight end Jelani Woods remains on injured reserve.
- Running back Jonathan Taylor, who is on the Reserve/PUP list, will begin practicing with the Colts on Wednesday.
The news on Flowers is tough to see – the second-year former undrafted free agent was in the midst of a strong showing against the Rams. Flowers had two physical pass break-ups in the game, including a critical one late in the fourth quarter. He allowed only one reception of 15 or more yards in 170 coverage snaps, and he allowed 0.68 yards per coverage snap, the eighth-lowest average among cornerbacks through Week 4.
4. Dayo Odeyingbo had a productive game.
Odeyingbo led the Colts with six pressures and 1 1/2 sacks, and he added five tackles and a forced fumble against the run on Sunday. The 2021 second-round pick is second on the Colts with 10 pressures; the six he had against the Rams were a career high.
"It's just staying after it," Odeyingbo said. "(Sacks) come in bunches. You might not be hitting home — just like in any game, you might not hit home for the first three quarters and then you have two sacks in the fourth quarter. It's really staying consistent and staying after it."
With Paye in the NFL concussion protocol, Odeyingbo could be called on to take on a larger share of snaps against the Tennessee Titans next weekend. If he does, he'll do so coming off one the most productive games of his career.
5. The last two games meant a lot to Wesley French.
Last thing here. I caught up after the game with second-year center Wesley French, who started Weeks 3 and 4 with center Ryan Kelly (concussion) out. French is a former undrafted free agent who's earned his way on to the Colts roster in each of the last two seasons, and over the last two games got his first chance to start in the NFL.
I asked him what these last two games meant to him, and to his family, and wanted to share his responses.
"I can't say anything else but God did it. I'm so thankful that God gave me the opportunity to get out here on the football field and share these games with my brothers. I gotta get better as a player so I can just help us win. I'm sure everybody feels that way after a game like this. I take these games personally to me. I have to get better as a player and the more accountability everybody takes for a game like this, the better we're gonna be the next week. I'm just thankful God gave me an opportunity and I came out healthy."
"My father grew up on dirt floors. My mom was a house cleaner growing up. I didn't have a lot growing up, but I had a loving home and I'm super thankful for what I have and what I had. I'm just super grateful they raised me the way they did. I got some grit to me and I'm always going to come back and never quit. And just stay faithful and know that God has me in his hands. And it just means a lot to my family, coming from nothing and always staying faithful. You keep the faith and work hard, great things will come to you."