Colts Pass Litmus Test, Demolish Jets (Tossing Horseshoes)

This+delightful+2010+drawing+sums+up+the+game+precisely.+%22-+Colts+Philip+Wheeler+Jets+Mark+Sanchez%22+by+Jack+Kurzenknabe+is+marked+under+CC+PDM+1.0.+To+view+the+terms%2C+visit+https%3A%2F%2Fcreativecommons.org%2Fpublicdomain%2Fmark%2F1.0%2F

This delightful 2010 drawing sums up the game precisely. “- Colts Philip Wheeler Jets Mark Sanchez” by Jack Kurzenknabe is marked under CC PDM 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/

Ashwin Prasad

Coming into the 4:25 p.m. game between the Colts and the New York Jets (a rare time slot for the Colts); Dad and I were nervous. The Jets, despite being one of the most dysfunctional NFL franchises for who-knows-how-long, serve as an important litmus test for their opponents. If your team barely edges out a narrow victory or succumbs to a narrow loss, you probably are not very good. If your team wins convincingly, well, it is just taking care of business and doing what it needs to do. If your team loses badly, it is undoubtedly screwed. In the end, a Jets game has a wide range of bad outcomes and not very many good possibilities.

The Jets roster is mediocre, and the coaching staff shambolic. They possess a talented young quarterback, Sam Darnold, who was obtained in a draft-day trade with the Colts in 2018. As it stands now, the Colts are laughing all the way to the bank after that trade, drafting a stud offensive lineman and several other key role players. Darnold, on the other hand, has seen his career systematically destroyed by the incompetence of the Jets front office and coaches. Nowadays, his potential flickers through in sporadic bursts of brilliance, but it is all snuffed out by a huge sack or costly turnover.

Darnold’s first pass attempt of the game could not have gone any better for the Colts. He took a shotgun snap, hesitantly shuffled back in the pocket, and threw an interception to Rhodes, who returned it 44 yards for a touchdown. On the very next drive, however, Darnold and his running backs orchestrated a 14-play, 88 yard touchdown drive. It felt like one of those drives where the result was inevitable, as the Jets carved up the Colts defense for 6 and 7 yard gains on nearly every play. Darnold then wormed his way out of a sack and zipped a beautiful 16 yard touchdown pass on the run. With only 5 minutes left in the first quarter, the Colts offense hadn’t even touched the football.

“He’s a really talented quarterback,” Dad said. “I wish we had drafted him in 2018.” I noted that the Colts still had Andrew Luck on the roster then, and he had one of his finest seasons in his career that year. Unfortunately, that 2018 season was the last one for Luck (who retired due to injury and burnout), and Dad and I flashed back to all of the great memories Luck delivered for us in his prolific, yet brief career as a Colt.

By the time we had finished reminiscing, the Colts were midway through an excellent drive that concluded in the second quarter. Philip Rivers came out sharp, and threw a one yard touchdown pass to go up 14-7. However, on the first play of the next drive, Darnold threw a 19 yard pass, and it looked like the Jets would rally like the Jaguars in Week 1.

From there, however, the Jets took the path of the Vikings in Week 2. They punted on that drive, threw an interception on the next one, and punted again to finish the first half. The Colts only got one field goal from these opportunities, though, leaving Dad edgy as the second half kicked off. After an exchange of punts, Rivers and rookie running back Jonathan Taylor spearheaded a businesslike drive to the one yard line. On fourth down from the one, the Colts decided to go for it. “Bad, bad idea,” Dad said. “We’ve got this, no problem,” I replied. After all, even if we fail, the dormant Jets offense would be backed up at the one yard line.  In the end, Taylor barged in and expanded the lead to 24-7. On the last play of the third quarter, Darnold threw his second pick-six of the game, and the score was 31-7. Dad and I breathed sighs of relief, and we changed the channel for the fourth quarter, missing out on the final five points the Colts scored in a 36-7 shellacking.

Assessing by the criteria I laid out in the beginning, it appears the Colts took care of business. 2-1 ain’t a bad place to be, and the future ahead looks bright.

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