OAKLAND, Calif. — The Indianapolis Colts and their tight ends made some history on Sunday in their 42-28 win over the Oakland Raiders.
With touchdown grabs by Mo Alie-Cox, Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle, the Colts became the first team in NFL history to have three different tight ends with touchdown receptions in a single game, according to Mike Chappell of CBS4.
The Colts needed every bit of their tight ends' effort to come back and defeat the Raiders, as they now head into their bye week on a high note and winners of two straight.
The party got started on the Colts’ first drive of the game, as quarterback Andrew Luck lobbed a pass downfield to Alie-Cox for a spectacular one-handed 26-yard touchdown grab.
Luck would later describe the catch as "awesome," "incredible" and that "words wouldn't do it justice."
Colts head coach Frank Reich agreed.
"It was unreal. I don't get too emotional on the sideline, but I got pretty jacked up after that catch," Reich said after the game. "That was unreal. That catch will rival anything that we'll see, big time."
Alie-Cox’s one-handed grab was the first touchdown of his career and put the Colts up 7-0 to begin the game. The first-year player — who was filling in for the injured Erik Swoope — was a basketball player collegiately at VCU, and it showed as he jumped up and palmed the ball like a rebound.
The Colts cooled off a bit after that before heating up again in the second half.
After Oakland took a 21-13 lead in the third quarter, Luck would march the Colts downfield again and find Ebron for his NFL tight end-leading seventh touchdown reception of the season.
As has become commonplace with many of Ebron's catches this year, he used his body to shield himself and the ball away from defenders as he high-pointed it for the score.
Ebron’s touchdown added to an already single-season career high in touchdowns. It was also his second such touchdown of the year of at least 20 yards, proving that he is the vertical threat at the tight end position that the Colts hoped he would be when they signed him this offseason.
The final Colts tight end touchdown of the game punctuated a drive completely owned by Doyle, who was playing in his first game since suffering a hip injury in the team's Week 2 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Doyle caught four passes for 52 yards alone on a fourth quarter drive that spanned just six plays — the first three catches converting first downs — and was highlighted by his 10-yard, go-ahead touchdown, in which he willed his way into the end zone with an impressive final effort.
The score put the Colts ahead for good, 35-28, helping the team overcome an eight-point second-half deficit.
On the day, the trio of Alie-Cox, Doyle and Ebron combined for 10 catches for 133 yards (13.3 avg) and three touchdowns.
"I think we have an incredible group of tight ends," Luck said after the game. "They complement this offense, they complement each other. it's a fun group to play with."
Throughout the offseason, Reich and the Colts' offensive coaching staff were asked their thoughts about the strengths of the team, and the tight end group was always mentioned. On Sunday afternoon, Reich said it again.
"We've said it all offseason; tight ends are a point of strength of this team and this offensive roster," Reich said. "And they showed up big today."