The Indianapolis Colts came into Sunday’s matchup with Buffalo in search of their first win since defeating Washington 21-9 in week two. Better yet, this team was looking for their first home victory of the season. This game, without question, was a must-win for Indy, and from the very start, the Colts team dominated in all three phases.
Without a doubt, this victory over Buffalo was Indy’s best and most complete victory of their entire season. The offense struggled to get going during the first two drives, but there was no worry from anyone on the Colts’ sideline. Andrew Luck was masterful on the day as he completed 17-of-23 passes (74%), for 156 yards and four touchdowns on the day.
As impressive as Luck was, the running game for Indianapolis was even better, particularly Marlon Mack. Mack, after having playing well against the Jets last week (12 carries, 89 yards), continued his impressive streak as he gashed the Bills’ defense for 159 total yards (126 rushing and 33 receiving), and two touchdowns. When Mack is healthy and on the field, the Colts look like an entirely different football team offensively.
The Bills came into this game ranking 3rd in total yards allowed per game. In last week’s match-up vs. Houston, their defense only allowed 74 rushing yards on 24 carries. In Sunday’s game, they allowed 220 rushing yards on 37 carries, in a game where all three Indianapolis running backs made a contribution.
Marlon Mack had 19 carries for 126 yards, while rookies Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins had a total of 93 yards on a combined 11 carries. Andrew Luck finally had a running game he could lean on, and it paid major dividends by making the star quarterback’s job much easier Sunday afternoon. It was a thing of beauty, that’s for sure!
Speaking of beautiful sights, let’s not forget to give credit where it’s due, and the big men upfront for Indianapolis deserve a lot of it. The offensive line has been vastly improved compared to last season, and it’s showed throughout the entire season, especially on Sunday.
The best part is, not only did the line create gaping holes for all three backs to run through, but for the second straight week, they didn’t surrender a single sack. That has to make Andrew Luck and Colts fans everywhere grin from ear to ear.
Very quietly, this Colts defensive unit has been very underrated through the first seven weeks, and they too dominated in Sunday’s victory by forcing five turnovers. Yes, they were playing a backup quarterback in Derek Anderson and the 32nd ranked Buffalo Bills offense, but turnovers are turnovers, no matter how you spin it.
Three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Veteran safety Mike Mitchell, who was signed less than two weeks ago, forced two of Indy’s five turnovers and has played extremely well in place of injured safeties Clayton Geathers and Mathias Farley.
For only the second time this season, the Colts looked like a complete football team. Indy, now 2-5 on the season, is only one game behind both Jacksonville and Tennessee (both 3-4), for second place in the AFC South. The team travels to Oakland to take on the 1-5 Raiders next Sunday.
To put things into perspective, Jacksonville plays Philadelphia (3-4) next Sunday. So, with a Jacksonville loss and a Colts win, Indy can be headed into their bye-week being tied for second place in their division with Jacksonville, as both teams would have 3-5 records.
It pretty much goes without saying that next weeks game vs. Oakland is a biggie, should Indy want to gain a more firm grip on their playoff chances. The good news is, they are coming off their most dominant win this season, and should that carry over any sort of momentum heading into next week, Oakland better start preparing sooner rather than later!