CARSON, Calif. — Jacoby Brissett dropped back and thought he saw Eric Ebron start to break open over the top for what could've been a big play late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.
But when you're playing quarterback in the National Football League, the outcomes of plays you think you see developing and the ones you know will develop usually are drastically different.
So instead of risking a forced pass to the tight end, Brissett went with a short pass to his left to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who at first looked like he was going to be stopped for short gain, which would've set up a third-and-medium scenario in four-down territory with the visiting Colts trailing by eight, 24-16.
Instead, Hilton — as he's known to do — shook off the first tackler and snuck down the sideline, diving to the pylon to complete the 19-yard touchdown play. Marlon Mack then jammed the ball into the end zone on the ensuing two-point try, and the Colts had come back to tie the game at 24 and eventually force overtime.
For Colts head coach Frank Reich, plays like that are a prime example why he has so much belief in Brissett as the team's starting quarterback. While Brissett — making his first start Sunday since the 2017 season — isn't scared to take chances, he's smart enough to know when to stay patient and in system, and the fourth-year quarterback showed those traits time and time again in the Colts' 30-24 overtime loss to the Chargers.
"I think Jacoby played really, really well," Reich said. "I mean, I can't remember too many mistakes that he made, quite honestly. I can't remember that many incompletions."
Brissett, in all, completed 21-of-27 passes for 190 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. His 77.8 completion percentage and 120.7 passer rating are the second-best totals of his career in a single game, and his two touchdown passes also tied a single-game career-best.
Brissett also completed passes to eight different receivers on Sunday, a staple of Reich's playbook.
"He was in complete control," Reich said. "He was poised, he knew what he wanted when there were discussions on the sideline about, 'Hey, this or that,' he knew what he wanted and he made it work. So that was a good start for Jacoby."
Brissett put in a solid first half — completing 12-of-14 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in the first two quarters — but it was his work in the Colts' game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter that really showed off his mastery of the offense.
Taking advantage of a sensational one-handed interception by safety Malik Hooker in the end zone, Brissett methodically drove the Colts down the field with a 16-play, 80-yard drive that took 7:52 off the clock.
While the Colts certainly stuck with the run on that drive — Indy had 203 rushing yards on the day — Brissett completed four of his five pass attempts for 39 yards during that span, including the 19-yard touchdown play to Hilton that ultimately tied the game with 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Instead of panicking and haphazardly chucking the ball into tight windows in a pressure-filled situation, Brissett said he was perfectly content with getting five yards at a time during that final Colts drive.
"I think Frank and Nick (Sirianni) and Marcus (Brady), they do such a good job of drilling that, and beating that into you as, 'Our plays are going to come,'" Brissett said. "You know, we've got good players, so you throw it to T.Y. on the shallow where he's supposed to be tackled for a two-yard gain and the clock's supposed to be running, and he scores a touchdown. So it was great for me to see it, 'cause, to be honest, I wanted to throw it deep — I went and saw Eric coming over in the back and it's hard to pass that up. But, you know, the discipline and trusting your coaching, trusting technique and things will happen."
Ultimately, the final result on Sunday — an overtime loss — certainly stings. But Brissett is confident that there are far more positives to build off of heading into next week's AFC South Division clash on the road against the Titans.
"Oh yeah. I mean, we did a lot of good things to build off of," he said. "We ran the ball for a lot of yards, which is, when you see that in Week 1, teams in Week 15 have to respect what we did in Week 1, you know? So things like that just go unnoticed now, but long term, they're going to stuff the box, and you've seen we've got good players outside.
"A lot of players made a lot of plays today, so we've got a lot of stuff to build off of," Brissett continued. "You know, nobody's trying to win the Super Bowl Week 1, so we'll build off this — we've got a division game next week, so we've gotta get ready to go."