It had been a long and painful 336 days since the Indianapolis Colts had last defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars. The two games separating Sunday and Nov. 14, 2021 had been some of the most embarrassing in the franchise's history. Matt Ryan had decided Sunday that it was time for the trend to halt.
“In those situations, you have to trust your instincts, trust your gut, trust your guys, and try and go win the game,” Ryan said.
On Sunday, Ryan gave out his best performance in the blue and white, and realistically one of his best career performances. Ryan completed the most passes in one game in his career (42) on the second-most attempts (58) while compiling 389 yards and three touchdowns while leading his fourth game-winning or game-tying drive this season through six games.
For reference, Carson Wentz had zero last season.
Ryan has thrived in the fourth quarter and OT this season — 686 of his 1765 passing yards have occurred in the fourth frame and beyond. Same with four of his eight passing touchdowns, and only two interceptions.
It showed Sunday, as Ryan threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns, one to 2022 third-round draft pick tight end Jelani Woods, and the eventual game winner to the 2022 second-round pick receiver Alec Pierce.
A unit that came into the season was heavily criticized — understandably so — has thrived.
Michael Pittman has started to meshed into a legitimate WR1 threat. Parris Campbell is finally starting to have the flashes that Chris Ballard envisioned when he spent a second round pick on the Ohio State prospect. Tight ends Mo Alie-Cox and Kylan Granson have combined for 27 receptions, accounting for 295 yards and two touchdowns.
Oh, and Alec Pierce, the guy who dropped a wide open week one touchdown and was on the receiving end of a scary Austin Collie-esq hit during week two, causing him to miss a game? He’s pulled in 18 balls for 271 yards in the past four weeks, and just caught the game-touchdown to push his team over .500 for the first time this season, and is gaining the trust of his quarterback in huge moments.
Pierce told the Indy Star, “He’s (Matt Ryan) definitely believing in me now. It’s different than it was in the beginning.”
It is important to mention that this victory came without the NFL’s 2021 rushing title leader in Johnathon Taylor — who missed out due to an ankle injury — and an extremely important piece on this offense in Nyheim Hines who is recovering from a concussion suffered early in the Thursday night victory over the Denver Broncos.
A major key, at least according to Frank Reich, in scoring more points this week was the implementation of the no-huddle offense. Reich made it clear in his postgame press conference that the no-huddle this week wouldn’t “just be a tool but we’re gonna commit to it” and it clearly was a huge factor in the team's victory.
Indianapolis had six scoring drives, all eclipsing eight plays and not one lasting more than five minutes and 11 seconds.
I briefly mentioned in my article last week how Reich always seems to find a way to come back from rough starts to win games and save seasons. I also added how his job might depend on it.
Well, the Colts grinded out a 12-9 victory over the Broncos and have a winning record following the win Sunday. Now Reich and the Colts look to next Sunday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville where the winner of that contest will have outright control of the AFC South.
By the time the kickoff rolls around Sunday it will have been 710 days since the Colts last defeated the Titans.
But like Reich said, “team wins come in all shapes and sizes.”