PHILADELPHIA — The Indianapolis Colts today fell to the Philadelphia Eagles, 20-16, in their 2018 regular season Week 3 matchup at Lincoln Financial Field.
What's top of mind for the Colts as they move to 1-2 on the season?
Four yards. Just four yards away.
The Colts were that close to punching their ticket to a second straight win, this time against the defending Super Bowl champions — in their house, no less.
After a go-ahead drive by the Eagles — one that never seemed like it was going to end — put them up 20-16, Indianapolis took the field hoping to make a little magic and escape with a tough victory.
On the first play of that drive — 12-yard completion from Andrew Luck to Nyheim Hines. Second play? Pass interference on the Eagles, setting up the Colts at their own 37.
Fourth play, a 22-yard completion to Ryan Grant. Fifth play: eight-yard completion to T.Y. Hilton. Indy was now inside the red zone at the 15-yard line with plenty of time, 1:38 left on the clock.
Could this be happening?
After a four-yard run by Hines, an incomplete pass towards Ebron and a seven-yard connection between Luck and tight end Erik Swoope, however, the Colts faced 3rd and 3 from the 4-yard line.
Incomplete to Hilton.
And on 4th and 3 from the Philadelphia 4-yard line, defensive end Derek Barnett came off the left side and applied heavy pressure on Luck, who stumbled and nearly was able to regain his balance. But it wasn't meant to be, as Luck would fall to the grass, essentially sealing a 20-16 victory for the Eagles.
It was one of those weird games where the stat sheet doesn't begin to tell the whole story — and yet, somehow, the Colts still had a chance to win at the end. They'll need to regroup for divisional play against the Houston Texans next Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
After Adam Vinatieri nailed a 28-yard field goal — his third of the day — to put the Colts back on top, at the beginning of the fourth quarter. the Eagles took over, 1st and 10 from their own 25 with 14:20 left in the game.
Eleven minutes and 18 seconds later, Philadelphia found the end zone with a four-yard touchdown run by Wendell Smallwood.
It was a 17-play drive for the home team, but four crucial penalties called on the Indy defense during that sequence certainly changed the course of this ballgame:
» 2nd and 26 from the Eagles' 20? Defensive holding on cornerback Nate Hairston; automatic first down at the 25.
» 1st and 10 from the Philly 36? Encroachment, defensive end Margus Hunt.
» The backbreaker: 4th and 5 from the Indianapolis 42: Carson Wentz with an incomplete pass towards Jordan Matthews after tremendous pressure from Hunt. But fellow defensive end Jabaal Sheard was called for defensive holding on the play. Again, automatic first down at the Indy 37.
» Then, finally, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad was flagged for an offsides penalty on 2nd and 7 from the Indianapolis 9-yard line, setting up Smallwood's touchdown run on the next play.
Just a brutal stretch there for a Colts' defense that had really done a solid job settling in after some early struggles in Wentz's return to game action.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Margus Hunt's career year continues.
Coming into Sunday's game tied for the league lead with five tackles for loss — he also had two sacks on the year — Hunt continued to fill the stat sheet against the Eagles.
And he was a one-man wrecking crew on one play in particular that really could've been a momentum-changer for the Colts had their offense been able to cash in.
The Eagles faced a 3rd and 10 from their own 19-yard line with the third quarter winding down. At the 27-second mark, Wentz, lined up in the shotgun, would face heavy pressure, and Hunt knocked the ball out of the quarterback's hands (for a sack and forced fumble), and proceeded to recover the fumble at the Philly 13-yard line.
Two short passes and an incomplete pass later, however, and the Colts brought Vinatieri on to hit a 28-yard field goal to go up 16-13. That's when the Eagles went on their eventual game-winning drive.
Hunt finished his day with four tackles (three for a loss) with the aforementioned trifecta: sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery. He now has three sacks and eight tackles for loss on the season.
The 31-year-old Hunt is really producing in his second year in Indy.
The Colts had just tied the game at 10 after a Vinatieri 35-yard field goal with 9:44 left in the third quarter when their defense made what certainly could've been a crucial play.
After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, Wentz, lined up in the shotgun, tried to connect with his tight end, Zach Ertz, on the very first play of the drive, but linebacker Anthony Walker read the play perfectly and picked off the pass for his first-career interception.
Walker added an 11-yard return on the play, setting up the Colts' offense in prime territory — at the Philadelphia 17-yard line.
From there, things got murky for the Colts' offense. Le'Raven Clark was called for holding on a play in which it appeared his defender jumped offsides. On that same play, Luck might've connected with wide receiver Chester Rogers for a bobbling catch along the sideline in the end zone, but the offensive penalty wiped out any chance of a replay.
Nyheim Hines got to the six-yard line with a nice 14-yard run on the next play, but the Colts would be stuffed from there. Vinatieri would come on to hit a 31-yard field goal to give them a 13-10 lead with 8:26 left in the third quarter.
Walker had a solid game for the Colts at MIKE linebacker, finishing third on the team with nine total tackles and, of course, adding the aforementioned interception.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
• Darius Leonard had another solid, solid day for the Colts' defense. The reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week led all players with 13 tackles — an astonishing five of which were for a loss — and had two sacks and one pass defensed. He'll obviously take a win any day of the week over the numbers, but this is further proof of the playmaker that Indianapolis found in the second round of this year's NFL Draft.
• Another defensive rookie shined on Sunday: Kemoko Turay. Also a second-round pick this year, Turay logged his first-career sack, and later added another half-sack, to finish with 1.5 on the day. The Rutgers product, who continues to work on his pass-rushing skills, seems to be a nice sparkplug during passing downs for the Indy defense, and can continue to build off a performance like today's.
• Vinatieri went 3-for-3 on field goals today and, in the process, tied Morten Andersen (565) for the most made field goals in NFL history. Next up for the 45-year-old Vinatieri is Andersen's all-time points scored record, which should fall around midseason.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
• The Colts struggled in a number of key areas that usually lead to wins and losses in the NFL. Time of possession: Eagles 40:20, Colts 19:40. Third downs: Colts 2-of-12 (17 percent). Red zone efficiency: the Colts scored a touchdown in just 1-of-5 tries from inside the Philly 20-yard line. Despite all of this, Indy still had a chance to pull it out in the end, and just couldn't get the job done.
• The Eagles were able to slice and dice the Colts' defense at times on the ground. Philly ended up running the ball 35 times for 152 yards — 4.3 yards per carry — and had one rushing touchdown. Indianapolis was so solid in this area last week against the Redskins, but credit Eagles head coach Doug Pederson with dialing up the right calls when needed on the ground.
• The Colts' offense struggled to get any kind of momentum going the entire afternoon, but the first half was a real struggle. Indianapolis mustered just 67 yards in the first two quarters, and 33 of those yards came on a career-long-tying carry by Luck. The second half was a little better, with the Colts collecting 142 total yards, but the inability to punch the ball into the end zone really hurt.
— The only reported injury during Sunday's game for the Colts was to right tackle Joe Haeg, who suffered an ankle injury and did not return.
The Colts now set their sights on their Week 4 matchup against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Texans enter the matchup at 0-3, and today fell to the New York Giants, 27-22, at NRG Stadium in Houston. Next week's game will be the first foray into AFC South Division play for the Colts this season, while the Texans already fell to the Tennessee Titans, 20-17, back in Week 2.
The Indianapolis Colts played the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in week 3.