INDIANAPOLIS — There's no way around it: the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday suffered a tough home loss to the Miami Dolphins. But as the saying goes, it's never as good and it's never as bad as you think when you watch it a second time.
Case in point: when Pro Football Focus went back to the tape, it actually found several Colts players performed exceptionally well, even rewarding Quenton Nelson and Justin Houston with spots on its "NFL Week 10 Team of the Week."
In order of highest grade first, here are the Colts players who earned top-10 grades at their respective positions on Sunday:
Linebacker No. 5 (91.0), 66 snaps (100 percent)
Leonard lived up to his "Maniac" moniker on Sunday, becoming just the fourth player in the NFL since at least 1993 to have a sack, forced fumble, interception and at least 13 tackles in a game, according to Pro Football Reference. His 13 tackles and two for loss were both single-game season highs for him in 2019. Leonard also added two pass breakups and a quarterback hit to his stat sheet.
Perhaps most impressive was the impact that Leonard's big plays made. He opened up the game by ending Miami's first drive with a forced fumble, ended the first half with a sack on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and then the Colts' offense scored a touchdown on its ensuing drive after Leonard's interception. Per PFF:
"Darius Leonard flew around the field all game, chasing down a number of perimeter runs from his inside linebacker position. He also had a huge interception on the day, driving on a hitch route intended for Mike Gesicki."
Justin Houston and Al-Quadin Muhammad
Edge Defender No. 1 (90.7 [48 snaps, 73 percent]) and No. 6 (82.0 [22 snaps, 33 percent]), respectively.
The Colts' huge offseason free-agent pickup has come up big-time for the team, registering a sack in each of the last five games and sitting at 7.0 on the season. He picked up three total tackles (one for loss), a sack and two quarterback hits against Miami. PFF credited Houston with six total pressures and four "stops," which they constitute as a "failure" for the offense. Per PFF:
"Justin Houston gave J'Marcus Webb fits all game long. The Dolphins left tackle could not contain Houston's speed rush around the edge and got beat on the up-and-under move multiple times. Houston was also great against the run, utilizing his quickness to beat the Dolphins' blockers.
Houston recorded six total pressures against Miami on Sunday, including four hurries, one hit and a sack. He also logged four defensive stops in the affair."
Muhammad was the Colts' next best pass rusher against the Dolphins, registering three total pressures (one quarterback hit and two hurries). He was credited with one tackle and one stop. Muhammad also wasn't the only one to make a big play on Leonard's forced fumble; as Fitzpatrick was rearing back for the pass, Muhammad cut inside the offensive tackle and got the hit on the quarterback.
Guard No. 1 (84.2), 70 snaps (100 percent)
Nelson has become a mainstay on PFF's Teams of the Week, which isn't a surprise considering he's its second-ranked guard on the season to this point. Against the Dolphins, he was one of just seven guards who allowed zero pressures and had no penalties, easily earning the highest grade of them all. Per PFF:
"To the surprise of very few, the best player on the Colts' offense looked like Quenton Nelson. While he did give up a couple of run stops, he was manhandling whoever he had to move out of the way. Then in the passing game, he was perfect and didn't give up any pressure all game.
Nelson has now earned 70.0-plus overall grades and run-blocking grades in three consecutive games. Against Miami on Sunday, he earned an 84.2 overall grade, 89.6 pass-blocking grade and 77.1 run-blocking grade. He also allowed zero pressures across his 41 pass-blocking snaps."
Kenny Moore II
Cornerback No. 10 (76.7), 66 snaps (100 percent)
The Colts' do-it-all corner never left the field for the defense, earning high-quality grades in coverage (79.5) and against the run (75.4). On the day, he had five tackles (one for loss) and a fumble recovery. PFF also credited Moore II with one quarterback pressure and four stops. The four pass targets in his direction were all completed, but only averaged 6.5 yards per reception.
Braden Smith and Anthony Castonzo
Offensive Tackle No. 2 (76.7 [70 snaps, 100 percent]) and No. 6 (73.8 [70 snaps, 100 percent]), respectively.
Smith and Castonzo excelled in different areas on Sunday, Smith as a run blocker (87.5) and Castonzo as a pass blocker (82.1). Smith allowed four total pressures (two hits and two hurries), but was a road grader in the run game. Castonzo allowed two hurries on the day. Neither player registered any penalties.
With Smith and Castonzo book-ending the offensive line, the Colts gave quarterback Brian Hoyer time to throw and kept him relatively clean, allowing only eight total pressures (one sack, three hits and four hurries).
Center No. 4 (74.2), 70 snaps (100 percent)
Kelly had a solid overall day, posting an 80.4 grade in pass protection and a 77.6 as a run blocker. He was one of only five centers to not allow any pressures overall, but he was penalized once.
The Colts, led by the offensive line, had another productive game on the ground, carrying the ball 29 times for 109 yards.