INDIANAPOLIS — Locally, Indianapolis Colts cornerbacks Pierre Desir and Kenny Moore II have been no secret to Colts Nation. But they introduced themselves to the rest of the country in a big way on Saturday in the Colts’ 21-7 Wild Card playoff win over the Houston Texans.
Against a budding star quarterback in Deshaun Watson and his top target, DeAndre Hopkins — one of the best wide receivers in the league — the Colts’ defense stepped up and answered the call.
Watson targeted Hopkins 10 times Saturday night, but the First-Team All-Pro was only able to bring in five of them for 37 yards (7.4 avg). The yardage total is a career low for Hopkins in the postseason after the Colts held him to just 36 yards back in Week 14, his lowest total since Week 6 of 2017.
“They mixed it up on Hop,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien told reporters after the game. “Hop had catches. They did a good job on him. Like I said, we tried to move him around. He had some great plays, but they had some good coverage on him, too.”
While Desir drew the primary assignment of covering Hopkins, Moore II had his opportunities as well and even contributed as a pass rusher, harassing Watson throughout the game.
Hopkins was targeted while being covered by either Desir or Moore II seven times, and the pair only allowed three catches for 14 yards.
It must be noted that Hopkins suffered a sprained right shoulder in the first half of the game, but it did not deter him from wanting the ball thrown his way.
"He still said to look for him, give him a chance,” Watson said of Hopkins. “The Colts did a good job of playing a guy underneath, a guy over top. They kind of cut off certain things you can really do, tried to do a lot of short routes where it's kind of one-on-one, not too far down the field with the safety."
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Moore II had 15 pass rushes against the Texans, which is the most by any defensive back since 2016. He was able to get home to Watson for one sack and hit him another time. Moore II's sack came on a Texans 3rd and 15 midway through the third quarter while the Colts were up 21-0, forcing Houston to punt.
Perhaps Moore II's biggest play was his interception near the end of the first quarter on a Texans fourth down attempt. Similar to his pick last week against the Tennessee Titans, Moore kept his eyes locked on the quarterback, mirrored his movement and then made the decision to stop and jump the pass when he saw Watson gearing up to throw.
“It was great. Coach Eberflus just put me in the right position to make a play,” Moore II said. “He's known for doing that, to me. Then I just give all the glory and praise to God. I couldn't do it without him.”
Although Saturday’s assignment against Watson and Hopkins was a tall task for the Desir, Moore II and the Colts secondary, they relish the opportunity.
“It's a little playful at times, but I love that within my teammates and myself,” Moore II said. “But it's a work ethic mindset. We're so hard on each other, we pressure each other. I told them I was gonna jump in front of it and I did it. That's just how we are.”
THE CORNERBACKS MAKE AN IMPRESSION
With many people around the country either seeing the Colts play for the first time this year or re-familiarizing themselves, they left quite an impression — especially their lock-down cornerback duo.
According to Pro Football Focus: "The Colts’ secondary deserves recognition for their work on the back end of the defense. The Colts held All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins in check all game and did not allow a deep shot all game to go completed. The Texans were forced to check down for the vast majority of the game, and DeShaun Watson proved not to be accurate enough on Saturday evening."