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With history-making pair of pick-sixes, Kenny Moore II adds remarkable chapter to remarkable story with Colts

Moore's two pick sixes accounted for 14 points – the exact margin of victory the Colts walked away from downtown Charlotte with after beating the Carolina Panthers, 27-13, on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. 

CHARLOTTE – One-thousand five hundred and sixteen people have played for the Colts in team history. Only one of them – .007 percent – has had two pick-sixes in one game.

It's fitting, then, that singular player is Kenny Moore II – a person who's defied the odds at every turn over his seven-year career with the Colts.

Moore's two pick-sixes of Bryce Young vaulted the Colts to a 27-13 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. Those interceptions and returns of 49 and 66 yards added to a lengthy highlight reel and amplified an exceptional journey Moore's been on joining the Colts as a cut-down day waiver claim from the New England Patriots just before the start of the 2017 season.

"I think every moment that I've experienced along the journey has been a historical moment for me - it wasn't just tonight and what they put in record books," Moore said. "But going to New England, making it out of there to here and being a special teamer, getting my foot in the door, working each day to be who I envisioned myself being.

"And then, you know, obviously being at this point right now in my seventh year, every year is something that I'm jotting down in my history. It's something that I'll never take for granted and something that I'm, grateful for."

The Colts, as defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said, were in "gotta have it" mode on Sunday. 

They arrived in Charlotte on a three-game losing streak, one which had to end no matter the opponent. That the Panthers were a one-win team didn't matter inside the Colts' locker room; they had to head back to Indianapolis with a win, full stop.

With urgency as an undercurrent on Sunday, Moore's two pick-sixes were, quite literally, the difference in his team's win. Those two plays accounted for 14 points – more than the Panthers scored (13) and the exact margin of victory for the Colts. The first touchdown came late in the second quarter and put the Colts up, 20-3; the second came a few plays after Young connected with tight end Hayden Hurst for a 48-yard gain that momentarily injected momentum into a Panthers side down by 10 in the fourth quarter.

But instead of cutting the Colts' lead to one score, Carolina found themselves down by three possessions as Moore accelerated into the end zone.

"It's a testament to him," Buckner said. "Everybody knows the impact he has on this defense and the type of player that he is. He found his opportunities within the scheme and he took them for six."

Head coach Shane Steichen noted the work Moore put in leading up to the game put him in the right position, allowing his natural playmaking ability to take over in critical moments.

"The best players in the league have great instincts, you know what I mean?" Steichen said. "You can coach them as hard as you want. But the guys that are really good with ball skills and good instincts, sometimes that takes over and he's got a great feel for that position inside there at the nickel position, and he just continues to show up and make plays."

Moore's 2023 resurgence wasn't guaranteed, though. A disappointing 2022 season, in which Moore admitted he wasn't on the same page as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, ended with a season-ending injury in December. On locker cleanout day, Moore lamented he wasn't able to deliver an interception to his defense or to the Colts fans who supported him every step of his journey. 

An introspective Moore dug deep in the offseason and returned to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in April with a fresh mindset. Since then, he's impressed everyone around the facility. Plenty of folks saw Moore taking steps toward re-claiming his reputation as one of the NFL's best slot corners. 

And that's exactly the kind of player Moore's been halfway through the 2023 season, with Sunday's twin pick sixes an emphasis but hardly the end of his story this year. 

"I think I've needed every moment that I've had here in the organization this year just to just feel like me," Moore said. "We've already talked about everything to get back to who I am and I have a lot of great vibes. I have a lot of great energy with the organization. You know, just being in a position to make the plays. That's all you can ask for as a player. All you ask for is the trust and the consistency aspect. And I feel great. I feel great."

Opposing quarterbacks now have a 69.5 passer rating when targeting Moore this season. For reference, the lowest passer rating a regular starting quarterback has in 2023 is 70.5 (the Giants' Daniel Jones). 

So when someone targets Moore in coverage, he turns them into statistically the worst quarterback in the league. 

Moore on Sunday not only became the first player in franchise history to have two pick-sixes in a single game, but he became only the 27th player in NFL history to do so. Only one other player – Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards – has had two pick-sixes in a game in the last 10 years. 

And it wasn't just that Moore made history on Sunday. It was the circumstances in which he did it. When the Colts needed someone to step up and win them a game, it was Moore, adding yet another remarkable chapter to a remarkable story. 

"What he did today is crazy," wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. said. "And there's a reason that hasn't been done in our franchise history. Because that's not normal."

View highlights from the Colts' matchup versus the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 5.

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