Indianapolis Colts Recap: Week 14, at Las Vegas Raiders

Colts fans
Colts fans file into Lucas Oil in happier, COVID-free times.

Courtesy of bnpositive, Flickr

This fall, the magazine will recap each week of the Colts’ strange, pandemic-hobbled season. This week: digital editor Derek Robertson, with contributors Derek Schultz and Nate Miller break down a crucial AFC win that was, uh, very good.

Derek Robertson: We are witnessing the last few minutes of a slow-motion blowout. I am ready to give full credit for this blowout, on a completely emotional and illogical basis, to one man: Kenny Moore, who committed one of the most excellent interceptions I have seen in my football-watching life with an OBJ-style one-handed snag out of the end zone. The Colts looked astonishingly sharp on both sides of the ball today, with the secondary giving Derek Carr hell and Jonathan Taylor finally having a true breakout game dominating the hapless Raiders D on the ground. That was a lot of fun; please, by all means, go off, my friends.

Nate Miller: That pick was an M.C. Escher drawing wrapped in sorcery wrapped in Pippen dunking on Patrick Ewing’s eternal soul. It didn’t seem plausible. It still doesn’t. It’s how the Black Panther would intercept a pass if he were so inclined. I want to choose my words here carefully and not engage in any sort of hyperbole: it was the physically most jaw-dropping Colts play of my lifetime. (Shout-out to Vic Ballard’s OT dive to the pylon in the number two spot, Bob Sanders going all Vlad the Impaler on Willie Parker in, like, 2004 at number three.) Kenny MF-ing Moore, you wonderful little supernatural sprite, you!  

Derek Schultz: Everything about today’s win was great. It was great because the Colts virtually assured themselves of a playoff spot as long as they don’t stub their toe at home against Houston, who might’ve quit on the season, or Jacksonville, who quits on every season. It was great because the running game finally got going, spearheaded by the version of Jonathan Taylor Colts’ fans thought they were getting all along. It was great because this defense has guys who can make insane, “he did what??” plays (Kenny Moore!) even when it looks like the opposing offense is about to score. This is easily the best I’ve felt about the Colts all season, and after weeks of downplaying their chances of making a run, I’m starting to maybe/kinda/sorta/possibly re-think that…

(Oh and fun fact, Nate: Scottie Pippen and the Bulls LOST that series. Slander Pat Ewing again and you can go ahead and subtract one full Derek from these Colts’ recaps.)

NM: Slander is a spoken misstatement, sir. Libel is a written one. This was neither, of course, in that it’s not a misstatement at all. (#RIPatrick)

DR: While I’m all for re-living 1990s hoops blood feuds, can we also take a second to recognize, as Schultz pointed out on Twitter, how solid Rivers has been these past few weeks? And, at that, that he’s been shining in pass-heavy situations, throwing for nearly 1500 yards with only two picks over the past five games. That’s pretty good for the old-timer, especially considering how this season started. Not to jinx it, but if they show up and dominate the Texans and the Jags a way a real contender should, I can see this team generating some buzz going into the playoffs, especially with the way their secondary has been playing.

NM: Rivers’ play has been nothing short of shocking, really. Especially considering that every throw begins with the unpleasant look of a rusty shoulder dry-heaving… and it somehow ends with a perfectly placed ball floating down into a 15-square-inch window. It is uncanny. It’s like a platypus or the Electoral College; an affront to God that makes no sense on its face and SHOULDN’T work, but somehow does. Again, not to exaggerate or be hyperbolic, but Rivers has been 6,000,000,000,000 times better than I thought he’d be. If he keeps doing this—and T.Y. keeps being 2013 T.Y., and Jonathan Taylor keeps being Tecmo Bo Jackson, and there isn’t an outbreak of polio or scurvy throughout the defense—this team can beat the Chiefs in the playoffs. There, I said it. Belief is a helluva drug, Dereks. This surely won’t come back to haunt me.   

DS: I think this has mostly been the Rivers that Frank Reich was hoping to get when he stuck his neck out there for him last spring. I’m still pessimistic about this offense’s ceiling, but the beauty (and curse, as we found out with the 2000s Colts) of the NFL playoffs is that stupid or dumb or inexplicable crap can happen in any single-game elimination scenario. To me and other Smart Football Analysis People, Kansas City is the class of the league, but you can pretty much stick everyone else in a blender. I’ve felt all along that getting back to the playoffs and winning a game would make this season a success, so at the very least, the Colts are certainly in line to accomplish that.

DR: As I’ve mentioned several times before in these recaps, I’m a Lions fan, so watching anyone I have some level of investment in win just a single a playoff game would basically feel like a Super Bowl. Fingers crossed for it. Speaking of my terrible team, the Titans play them next week, then the Packers, and then the Texans as well, meaning the division title is probably going to be neck-and-neck here. At the very least, the Dolphins’ loss today gives each team a little bit of breathing room in the conference. If the season ended today, the Colts would be up against the Bills, a matchup I’d honestly feel fairly confident about; I can see this defense giving Josh Allen a little more trouble than he can handle.

NM: I’m sold. I’m on board. I am emotionally invested, even though it will likely end with getting ferociously walloped in my soul’s groin at some point in January. This Colts team is as close as we’re going to get to “inspirational” or “fun” in this Year of Our Dark Underlord 2020—it would be unwise to pass up this chance. Let’s ride this train until it psychologically ruins us in the end. FUN!

You guys need to set your sights HIGHER. We are long past “let’s just get to the playoffs” time. That is, in fact, some real Lions-fans bullshit. We are certainly not that. No, we are stately and urbane—dashing, in fact—and we will act as such. (Bangs anvil with an even bigger anvil) We are in four-down, “Super Bowl or Bust” territory here. I find your lack of unbridled, illogical optimism troubling.

DR: I would say “the truth hurts” here, but Lions fans have evolved far past the point of feeling any pain at all. See you all next week!