On a night in which points were a premium, the Indianapolis Colts couldn't afford a single mistake out of their kicking unit.
Fortunately for the Colts, Chase McLaughlin was up to the task.
McLaughlin nailed all four of his field goal attempts in Thursday night's road contest against the Denver Broncos, the last two of which sending the game into overtime and then becoming the eventual game-winner, as he sent Indianapolis home with a 12-9 Week 5 victory.
"What a night by Chase," Colts head coach Frank Reich said. "It's a perfect night. Gets a game ball for sure. No doubt, he was a stud tonight."
That McLaughlin was able to account for all 12 points for the Colts on Thursday night is, in itself, quite the story. Colts fans were introduced to the undrafted Illinois product back in 2019, when the then-rookie filled in admirably for future Hall of Famer Adam Vinatieri over the last four games of the season, converting 5-of-6 field goal attempts — with a long of 50 yards — and hitting all 11 of his extra-point tries for Indy that year.
The Colts elected to go in a different direction at kicker in 2020 and 2021, but came calling again in September after some early-season struggles by Rodrigo Blankenship. McLaughlin was originally signed to Indy's practice squad for three weeks, and then called up to the active roster for gameday, but this week was signed to the 53-man roster for good after converting 3-of-4 field goal attempts, with a long of 51 yards, and all four extra-point attempts the previous two games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans.
On Thursday night, McLaughlin and the Colts' field goal unit knew they'd be facing a raucous Denver crowd, but perhaps some of the noise element was canceled out by the thin air that made those longer field goal attempts a little bit easier.
In fact, McLaughlin's first two field goals on the night were easily converted from 52 and 51 yards out, respectively.
"It's something we work in day in and day out and rep so many times I can't even keep count," McLaughlin told WISH-TV's Anthony Calhoun after the game about the road environment. "And at the end of the day, you block all that out and just focus on the task at hand and execute to the best of your ability."
But the pressure was really on for McLaughlin's last two field goal attempts on the night.
Trailing 9-6 with five seconds to go in the fourth quarter, though, McLaughlin nailed a chip-shot 31-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. Then, after the Colts won the overtime coin toss and elected to receive the ball, McLaughlin capped that offensive drive for Indy by nailing a 48-yard field goal to give the Colts a 12-9 lead they wouldn't relinquish, thanks to a stout defensive stand at the goal line on the Broncos' overtime possession.
"It felt great," McLaughlin said. "It was a great team win all the way around — I mean, defense keeping the score low, offense getting us in range. It was just a good operation, and got some good kicks in."
McLaughlin and the Colts now have a little extra time to rest up and then begin preparations for their Week 6 matchup on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars, as they try to avenge an ugly 24-0 loss to the Jaguars back in Week 2.
"I think that's huge for this team. I think it's something we definitely needed this trip," McLaughlin said of the win in Denver. "Obviously would've liked to have it in another fashion — in a big blowout win, or something like that — but at the end of the day, a win's a win, and on to Jacksonville to see if we could keep it going."
The Colts take on the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football at Empower Field at Mile High.