This fall, the magazine is recapping each week of the Colts’ strange, pandemic-hobbled season. This week: Indy Monthly’s editor-in-chief Michael Rubino, with contributors Derek Schultz and Nate Miller recapped a close win over the flailing Houston Texans.
Michael Rubino: Happy Sunday, guys. This was the kind of characterless game, where, for a long stretch, I let my mind wander and contemplated whether I’d rather be a Watt brother or a Hemsworth. Then, in the fourth quarter, things got fun. The Colts defensive line, which sacked Deshaun Watson five times, came up with two huge plays to preserve a kind of weird 26-20 divisional win, but more importantly provided a sign from (a Norse?) god: Team Hemsworth is the only correct answer. And, realistically, it probably would require far too much energy on my part to be a Watt, so I don’t even know what I was thinking. But, seriously, how bad did you feel for Watson after this game? He’s terrific, isn’t he?
Derek Schultz: I tweeted during the game that I’m forever bummed that Deshaun Watson is in the division because he might be my favorite player to watch in the entire NFL. It’s actually a travesty that he had to spend his first several years with Bill O’Brien calling the shots. I don’t want to get too coach-speaky here, but this was a great win. Hell, it’s a division road game. I don’t care that the Colts’ offense put up a fat donut in the second half and required a fluky goal-line fumble to survive a four-win team. They won. Style points are important for ice skating. In the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, just win baby! (God, it feels like I’m transcribing a Jon Gruden press conference.)
Nate Miller: Michael, is it? You’re new, apparently. Do you even work here? Whatever. I don’t want to beat a dead horseshoe, but I had a LOT of fun just watching this game. The Colts are… fun again? They’re fun. They’re the IU football of the NFL. It’s neat watching something on television that isn’t eroding the American way of life (if only briefly), and it’s fun to see Nyheim Hines become the new (offensive version of) Bob Sanders, kind of. He is appointment television.
MR: “Do I even work here?” No, when you’re having this much fun, it isn’t really work. Speaking of Bob Sanders, having DeForest Buckner back made a big difference. Thoughts on the defense today and moving forward?
DS: It’s the driving force of this team, clearly. You don’t need to be Indianapolis Monthly Football Experts™️ to see that. But who knows with this offense. Maybe this was a turnaround game for T.Y. Hilton! Or maybe it was just a blip because T.Y. is to Houston what Andrew Luck was to Nashville (*stares longingly into the distance*). It’s just a guess who is going to show up each week… or which third-string tackle is going to make you break your TV.
MR: Yes, T.Y. was great—finally, because I think we’ve all been waiting for him to go off. And against the Texans, he look great, going over 100 yards receiving for the first time in two years, and catching his second (!) receiving touchdown of the season. As far as offensive tackles go, Le’Raven Clark (ankle, first quarter), we hardly knew you.
NM: The experts will weigh in later today and say all kinds of fancy football stuff. I will understand none of it, and neither will you two. Here’s what I know: This team has some juice to it. A LOT of juice, actually. Juice is good. Juice is contagious. Juice is hard to explain, and harder still to come by naturally. It can’t be bought. It can’t be manufactured or explained, really, it just… happens. (Having usually been on teams with the exact opposite of “juice”—aka “PLEASE-LET-THE-SEASON-END-ALREADY soup”—I have a keen eye for it.) It’s like momentum. BlankenSchultz will hate this a lot but I don’t care. Darius Leonard brings a LOT of juice to the table, every play, and I like him a great deal, even though it’s trite. He runs this team. He IS this team.
DS: “Momentum”, ugh. The Colts had a ton of “momentum” before getting absolutely sandblasted by Tennessee last week! Now, they have “momentum” again! At least until the “momentum”… wait for it… CHANGES! Regardless, the Colts need every force possible, real or fake, to beat a Raiders team that they’re competing for a playoff spot against. Here’s a cliche I’ll accept: Next week is a “must-win!”
MR: There you have it, everyone: Juice happens. This is the kind of analysis that launched a thousand Substacks.