INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts suffered a heartbreaking 30-24 loss in overtime against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1, but by virtue of going on the road and pushing a talented Chargers team to the brink, several Indy players put in exceptional efforts.
In fact, Pro Football Focus graded several Colts at or near the top of their respective positions for their Week 1 performances, including running back Marlon Mack, whose 174 rushing yards landed him on PFF's Week 1 "Team of the Week."
(While we're on the subject, go ahead and vote for Mack for the FedEx Ground Player of the Week by clicking here.)
In order of highest grade first, here are the Colts players who earned top-10 grades at their position on Sunday:
Edge Defender No. 1 (95.6), 24 snaps (38 percent)
Turay filled his role of designated pass rusher well on Sunday, consistently pressuring Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and passing with flying colors as the highest-graded edge defender in the league for Week 1. He was credited with two tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, one quarterback hit and two quarterback hurries. Turay nearly had two sacks — his first takedown forcing a fumble on a third-down play — but an offsides penalty by the Colts negated it. On the very next play, Turay just about got to Rivers again, but the veteran passer was able to get the ball off. Shortly after, Turay got his strip-sack, but the Chargers were able to recover it.
Running Back No. 1 (85.3), 48 snaps (76 percent)
Arguably the star of the show, Mack ran for a career-high 174 yards — the 11th-most rushing yards in a single game in Colts' franchise history, and the most since 2004. On 25 carries (tied for the second-most in a single game in his career), he ran for a 63-yard touchdown (career long) to spark the Colts' comeback as well as the game-tying two-point conversion with 38 seconds remaining in the game to send it to overtime. Per PFF:
"Mack’s 7.0 yards per carry average on the day was impressive, but even more impressive was the fact that he averaged 3.48 yards after contact per carry. He only forced two missed tackles on 25 carries, but his consistent running saw 11 of them go for a first down or touchdown."
Wide Receiver No. 8 (84.7), 56 snaps (89 percent)
Hilton looked excellent during training camp, and that translated to the field on Sunday as he led the Colts in receptions (eight), receiving yards (87) and touchdowns (two). Quarterback Jacoby Brissett definitely looked to Hilton in big situations, as three of Hilton's receptions accounted for first downs and two went for scores. Hilton scored the Colts' final touchdown that allowed them to tie the game inside the final minute of regulation, accounting for a good chunk of his 44 yards after catch. Brissett had a passer rating of 146.5 when targeting Hilton.
Safety No. 6 (82.3), 55 snaps (86 percent)
"The Ballhawk" was back to his selfish ways on Sunday, stealing the ball from the Chargers and notching his first of potentially many interceptions on the 2019 season. As he often does, Hooker made an incredibly difficult play look routine, flying in from his spot in the center of the end zone to snag a would-be touchdown out of the air and take it the other way out to the Colts' 20-yard line. Hooker was also credited with five tackles on the day and allowed a passer rating of just 19.4 when targeted.
The future Hall of Famer Rivers even thought he accounted for Hooker on that fourth quarter play that led to the interception. He thought wrong.
“I saw him. I can’t say that I didn’t see him. I saw him, I just didn’t think that was any way that he could get there," Rivers told reporters after the game. "You saw a little pocket there with Keenan. I thought that he was going to kind of body him up. I thought there was going to be a collision there with Keenan hanging onto it. Before we broke the huddle, I looked at the score and the time, I said, ‘Three points is good, don’t turn it over.’ About 10 seconds later, I turned it over. Yeah, I’m responsible for that, no question. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have thrown it, but I think there are times where you say, ‘Great play.’ That guy made a great play.”
Quenton Nelson and Mark Glowinski
Guards No. 3 (81.5) and No. 6 (75.8), respectively. Both 63 snaps (100 percent)
As evidenced by yet another 200-yard rushing performance, the Colts' offensive line was on one against the Chargers. Both guards Nelson and Glowinski ranked near the top of the league in Week 1. The pair were docked for allowing three quarterback pressures combined, but the yards they helped create for Mack on his way to a career day was invaluable. Both played all 63 snaps for the Colts and saw well above-average grades in run blocking.
It only took one game for Nelson to put up another highlight-worthy clip, noticed by former Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions guard T.J. Lang, who you could say is a fan of the second-year All-Pro:
Quarterback No. 4 (78.6), 63 snaps (100 percent)
People didn't know what to expect in the first game of the Brissett era, but he did very well and played efficiently within the offense. He was accurate, moved around the pocket, spread the ball around (completions to eight different receivers), showed a strong arm and a good control of the system. On the day, he went 21-of-27 passing (77.8 percent) for 190 yards (7.0 YPA), two touchdowns, a passer rating of 120.7, and most importantly, no turnovers. He also ran the ball three times for nine yards.
“His accuracy, decision making. The back shoulder throws that he had on the two-minute drive were big time throws now. I mean, that was a great drive to hit back-to-back back shoulder throws," Colts head coach Frank Reich said when asked what stood out about Brissett's Week 1 tape. "So he made all the throws and was accurate and (made) good decisions.”
Offensive Tackle No. 7 (72.7), 63 snaps (100 percent)
Continuing on the offensive line's overall effectiveness in the run game, the Colts' left tackle also stood up well in a very tough task against Chargers edge defenders Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Against one of the top edge duos in the league, Castonzo was docked for just one quarterback hurry allowed. Not a bad day at the office.