*INDIANAPOLIS — *The Indianapolis Colts on Sunday afternoon defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 26-23, in overtime in their Week 5 matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium.
What’s top of mind for the Colts after improving to 2-3 on the year?
There’s a reason why the saying “forget about their record” was a common theme about the 49ers in the week leading up to Sunday’s game. Though San Francisco came to Indianapolis winless at 0-4, it had been on the cusp of victories its last three games, in which the 49ers lost by a combined eight points.
San Francisco showed that same fight on Sunday against Indianapolis. Down 14 points midway through the fourth quarter, the 49ers scored two unanswered touchdowns down the stretch — the second of which came with just 20 seconds remaining in regulation — to tie the game at 23 and force overtime.
Although the Colts’ second-half demons reared their ugly heads again, Indianapolis would eventually come out on top for a second straight home game, as Adam Vinatieri nailed a 51-yard field goal with 1:38 left in the overtime period to lock in the 26-23 victory.
On one side of the coin, a win is a win, and if you’re the Colts, you’ll do whatever it takes to get it. But on the other side, the team has plenty of teaching points to go over tomorrow when it looks at the film of this one.
The Colts looked poised to earn the win much earlier in overtime, when quarterback Jacoby Brissett found T.Y. Hilton for a 46-yard connection at the 6:37 mark to get to the San Francisco 8-yard line. But on the very next play, Brissett tried to find tight end Darrell Daniels in the back of end zone; instead, linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong stepped in front of the pass at the goal line and secured a potentially catastrophic interception.
While extremely deflating at the moment, the Colts didn’t fold. The defense held the 49ers’ offense back on its first and only possession of the overtime period, and Brissett and the Indy offense took the field once again with a 1st and 10 from their own 18 with just more than three minutes remaining.
Two plays later, however, the Colts faced a 3rd and 4 from their 24. If they couldn’t convert, then the 49ers were likely going to get the ball back for one final try with about 2:30 left.
On that 3rd and 4 play, however, Brissett would fire a perfectly-placed strike to wide receiver Donte Moncrief to his left near the sideline, just out of reach of the 49ers player in coverage. The seven-yard connection not only gave the Colts a critical first down, but it set up a 35-yard run by rookie running back Marlon Mack on the very next play, which all-but sealed the final result for the Colts.
But that clutch throw and catch on third down made it all possible.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Colts had plays of 63, 46, 35, 26 and 26 yards in Sunday’s game, but it was a 22-yard run play that really was something special.
It was a game of field goals by midway through the third quarter, when the Colts took a 9-6 lead.
But Mack ended that theme with 3:17 left in the third quarter.
Facing a 1st and 10 from the San Francisco 22, Brissett lined up under center with one receiver on each side of him, Daniels lined up as a fullback and Mack lined up behind him as the running back in the I-formation.
After the snap, Brissett handed off to Mack to his left. But he immediately didn’t like what he saw, cutting back to his right around the 25-yard line. He found an opening around the right edge of the offensive line and then continued to veer right, getting to the first-down marker at the 12-yard line.
The play looked dead at that point, as two 49ers defenders closed in on Mack near the sideline.
But, somehow, the speedy rookie made those two defenders collide with each other as he turned on the jets, tiptoeing his way down the sideline and running into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown of the afternoon.
It was Mack’s second rushing touchdown of the season, and the fourth-round pick would finish his day with a career-best nine carries for 91 yards (10.1 yards per carry average), and nearly had another dramatic touchdown run with about 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
As Hilton goes, so do the Colts.
When the sixth-year veteran receiver has a big day, wins usually follow for his team; that was the case two weeks ago against the Cleveland Browns (seven receptions, 153 yards, touchdown), and it happened again on Sunday.
Though he had a shaky first half — Hilton had a huge drop and a couple key penalties called against him — Hilton battled back on Sunday to the tune of seven receptions for 177 yards, for an average of 25.3 yards per catch.
It seemed like nearly every time the play broke down at the line and Brissett had to scramble out of trouble, he was able to connect with Hilton for a huge play on Sunday. On the day, he had receptions of 16, 26, 63 and 46 yards.
The 2016 league leader in receiving now has 24 receptions for 466 yards and a touchdown on the year, averaging 19.4 yards per reception.
*WHAT WENT RIGHT• *49ers running back Carlos Hyde came into Sunday’s game ranked sixth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage. But he would be bottled up all afternoon by the Colts’ defense, which limited Hyde to 8 carries for 11 yards, and one reception for seven yards. In all, the 49ers ran the ball 22 times for 66 yards — for just 3 yards per carry — confirming what Indianapolis defensive coordinator Ted Monachino had said in the week leading up to the game: the Colts have showed flashes of being dominant against the run this season. On Sunday, they did it for the entire game.
• The Colts had a terrific third quarter on Sunday, one week after being outscored 22-3 in the third period of their loss to the Seattle Seahawks. This time around, Indianapolis went back ahead, 9-6, with a Vinatieri 38-yard field goal at the 7:42 mark in the third quarter, and then saw that lead extend to 16-9 with the aforementioned Mack touchdown run at the 3:17 mark. Brissett was 5-of-5 for 52 yards in the quarter, while the defense stopped the 49ers on two key third-down plays, sacking quarterback Brian Hoyer twice.
• Jabaal Sheard had a terrific game for the Colts’ defense, finishing his day with seven total tackles (two for a loss), and 1.5 sacks. Both plays in which Sheard got to the quarterback came on third down — the first came on a 3rd and 10 with 13:38 left in the third quarter, when Sheard and inside linebacker Jeremiah George sandwiched Hoyer for a loss of eight; the second came at the 6:37 mark of the third quarter as Sheard got free and took down Hoyer for a loss of nine this time, forcing another punt. The seventh-year Pittsburgh product now has 2.5 sacks on the year.
• Vinatieri could very well be on his way to AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors once again. The 44-year-old connected on all four of his field goal attempts on Sunday (52, 23, 38 and 51 yards), the last of which accounted for his 10th career game-winning field goal in overtime, the most in NFL history, according to Randall Liu, the NFL’s Senior Director of Football Communications. For the season, Vinatieri has connected on 9-of-10 field goals and 8-of-9 extra point attempts
WHAT WENT WRONG
• For a fourth straight week, the second half continues to haunt the Colts. On Sunday, it was the fourth quarter, particularly. At the 9:56 mark of that fourth quarter, the Colts extended their lead to 23-9 with a three-yard run by Brissett, but it would take less than two minutes for the 49ers to respond, scoring on a six-yard shuffle pass from Hoyer to fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and then tying the game with a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end George Kittle with just 20 seconds left in regulation. In that final 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, Indianapolis needs to find a way to not only get stops on defense — maybe even force a back-breaking turnover or two — but its offense also needs to get back into the end zone and really put the game out of reach. That didn’t happen on Sunday, but fortunately for the Colts and their fans, they were able to make just enough plays to escape with their second win.
• While the 49ers are to be commended for all of their extremely close losses this season, their offense, for the most part, hasn’t been a factor — up until Sunday’s game. In fact, San Francisco had gone 22 straight possessions without a touchdown when Hoyer found Juszczyk for that six-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter. So while the Indy defense certainly played 3.5 quarters of solid ball, it’s that last half of the fourth quarter that will likely earn the most groans tomorrow when the team looks at the film.
• Hoyer, who has struggled the last couple years against just about every other team, continues to be a Colts killer. Last year as a member of the Chicago Bears, Hoyer had a career day in Indianapolis, completing 33-of-43 passes for 397 yards and two touchdowns. On Sunday, it was much the same, as Hoyer threw for 353 yards on 29-of-46 passing with two touchdowns. Almost half of his completions — and more than half of his yards — went to two receivers: former Colt Pierre Garçon (eight catches, 94 yards) and Marquise Goodwin (5 receptions, 116 yards). But, just like the Bears game last year, Hoyer’s heroics came in a losing effort, so that’s what matters in the end,
The following players were injured during Sunday’s game:
• Wide receiver Krishawn Hogan (knee; out): Hogan was injured covering on a kickoff during the third quarter. Pagano said after the game Hogan suffered a knee sprain and will undergo an MRI tomorrow.
• Inside linebacker Anthony Walker (hamstring; out): Walker, Pagano said, re-injured the same right hamstring that had kept him off the field Weeks 2-4.
The Colts enter AFC South play for the first time all season — and in primetime — when they travel to take on the Tennessee Titans next week on Monday Night Football. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Titans are 2-3 on the year, and lost on the road to the Miami Dolphins, 16-10, on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.