INDIANAPOLIS – A pick-me-up positively was wanted. Or possibly it was some severe soul looking.
They had been on the verge of opening a season 0-4 for the primary time in a decade and simply the sixth time since 1986. Every of the earlier 5 events resulted in a demise spiral and a minimum of 13 losses.
The Indianapolis Colts had been banged up basically, discombobulated on offense and dazed and confused on protection. Their season was teetering on irrelevancy, if not one thing a lot worse.
If ever there was a time for a players-only assembly, it was early final week.
The thought apparently started with a annoyed Kemoko Turay, who bounced it off of DeForest Buckner, Ben Banogu, rookie Kwity Paye and his different pass-rush colleagues. He noticed Buckner doing his job at his standard excessive degree, however there wasn’t almost sufficient assist.
“We couldn’t simply depart him hanging,’’ Turay mentioned. “So it bothered me final week and we wanted that discuss.’’
It was Buckner’s name to make, being the All-Professional sort out and defensive captain.
“It’s not my place,’’ Turay mentioned, “however the factor is, it bothered me. I like this recreation.’’
His message was clear, and hinted at desperation.
We’re going to must step it up.
We’ve obtained to get this proper.
We’ll by no means know if the assembly was the driving pressure behind the Colts’ 27-17 domination of the Miami Dolphins Sunday at Exhausting Rock Stadium, or if it merely was good timing. The Dolphins misplaced a 3rd straight recreation after the season-opening win over the New England Patriots in Foxboro, and have their very own mounting issues.
However let’s give credit score the place it’s due: this was extra like what everybody has anticipated.
After a gradual begin – three punts and Carson Wentz’s 3-yard landing cross to tight finish Mo Alie-Cox within the first half – the offense gave a glimpse of what it’d quickly be as soon as so many key figures regain their well being. It generated two TDs and a pair of Rodrigo Blankenship subject targets after the break.
Wentz was rather more cell in opposition to the Dolphins than in final week’s loss to the Tennessee Titans – there was no higher instance than his 10-yard run-pass possibility round proper finish on second-and-8 from the Miami 3 early within the second quarter – and Reich leaned closely on Jonathan Taylor in opposition to Miami’s susceptible run protection. Taylor pounded, slashed and burst his approach for 103 yards on simply 16 carries and the Colts completed with a season-high 139.
Wentz accomplished 24-of-32 for 228 and two touchdowns to Alie-Cox. It snapped a private eight-game shedding streak, together with the playoffs.
“It feels nice,’’ he mentioned. “I really feel like I obtained the monkey off my again somewhat bit, for me and the crew.’’
The protection utilized a hammerlock on the Jacoby Brissett-led Miami offense, albeit with a late lapse. For his half, Turay contributed his first two sacks of the season. A 3rd by Grover Stewart resulted in a Brissett fumble scooped up by Darius Leonard.
On the finish of three quarters, the Dolphins trailed 17-3 and their offense had 91 yards and 6 first downs on 34 performs. It took a pair of late drives for issues to look semi-respectable. Of Miami’s 203 whole yards – the fewest allowed by Indy since week 2 of final season in opposition to Minnesota (175), 112 and each TDs got here within the remaining quarter-hour.
“Protection was actually stout,’’ Reich mentioned. “It allowed our offense to get in sync somewhat bit.’’
Within the spirit of a complementary win, particular groups total did its share, after Nyheim Hines’ muffed an early punt that arrange Miami’s Jason Sanders’ 38-yard subject aim. Blankenship knocked down 34- and 43-yard subject targets and Ashton Dulin coated a muffed punt by the Dolphins’ Jakeem Grant Jr.
Proper time and proper opponent for a players-only assembly? Or an indication the Colts are starting to get their act collectively?
“Hopefully we will use this to get some traction and get issues shifting in the fitting route,’’ Reich mentioned.
Possibly we’ll be pointing to final week’s assembly as a place to begin. It was adopted by a Wednesday observe that heart Ryan Kelly described as “one of the crucial bodily’’ he had skilled in his six-year profession with the Colts.
Whereas the assembly was generated by the protection, the message was for everybody’s ears.
“We all know that everybody hasn’t been enjoying their greatest ball,’’ shared Taylor. “We’ve been working, enjoying onerous, however we haven’t been enjoying our greatest ball.
“So as to win video games, you’ve obtained to be at your greatest and your greatest is required. It was only a second of reflection on, ‘What are we going to do that week to present somewhat extra so as to be at our greatest on Sunday and are available out with a win?’’’
Alie-Cox did his half. The veteran tight finish had three catches for 32 yards within the first three video games. Sunday, he had three for 42, together with 3- and 11-yard landing catches. On the latter, Wentz lofted a excessive cross to him ultimately zone and the 6-5 Alie-Cox high-pointed the catch in opposition to 6-1 security Eric Rowe.
“That’s simply the boldness I’ve,’’ he mentioned. “If he’s proper on me, simply put it up. I feel I can go up with anyone.’’
Alie-Cox additionally indicated the players-only assembly produced the specified outcomes. Buckner spoke. Darius Leonard took his flip, as did Al-Quadin Muhammad.
“(Muhammad) was speaking about simply go on the market and observe,’’ Alie-Cox mentioned. “In the event you’re hurting, everybody’s hurting. We’re shedding. We’re 0-3. Go on the market and observe and sacrifice for the remainder of the crew.
“The message hit and Wednesday was in all probability our hardest observe in 5 years. That was in all probability my hardest observe ever since I’ve been right here.
“Guys simply took it. Everyone simply listened with open ears. No person took something private or something like that. On the finish of the day, the aim is to win. We’re shedding, so guys are going to pay attention with open ears.’’
You possibly can comply with Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.
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