Colts Fold Vikings in Home Opener

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After an unacceptable performance in Week 1, Indianapolis dominated all aspects of Sunday’s home opener against Minnesota in a 28-11 victory at a fractionally attended Lucas Oil Stadium. Rookie Jonathan Taylor rushed for 101 yards on 26 attempts in his first career start and became the first Colts rookie to rush for over 100 yards in a game since Vick Ballard in 2012.

“After the first carry you break the ice and get into the mindset and focus on your task each and every play,” Taylor said. You have to have a great week of preparation.

Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich said that the game plan was to feature Jonathan and compliment as needed.

“When you can have rookies step up like this in game two with no preseason or OTA’s, it’s a credit to Chris (Ballard) and the scouts for getting those kinds of players,” Reich said.

Minnesota scored on the first drive of the game with a 21-yard field goal made by Dan Bailey. Quarterback Kirk Cousins completed three passes to receiver Adam Theilen for 31 yards during the first possession.

Indianapolis quarterback Phillip Rivers drove the offense down to the Minnesota red zone to end the first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Rivers threw an interception intended for Mo Alie-Cox as Vikings safety Harrison Smith tipped the ball into the hands of linebacker Eric Wilson at the 5-yard line.

The Viking offense became overwhelmed by the Indianapolis defense for the rest of the first half after being positioned deep in their territory following the Wilson interception. A four-down punt from Colquitt and was returned by Colts running back Nyheim Hines to the Minnesota 35-yard line. Jonathan Taylor scored his first career touchdown with a 5-yard rush into the end zone to give the Colts the lead.

The next five drives for Minnesota ended in another four-down punt, a safety and three straight interceptions. Defensive end DeForest Buckner sacked Cousins in the Minnesota end zone to extend the Colts lead and tally his career total to 30 sacks. Khari Willis and TJ Carrie each caught their first interception as a Colt on desperate deep throws from Cousins late in the first half. Cousins threw a third interception to cornerback Kenny Moore on the Vikings first possession of the second half.

“It takes 22 of us, the front side needs to set edges and the back side needs to stay alive and we did that the whole game,” Buckner said. Our rush in coverage worked in a couple situations. We were able to get a couple interceptions and get him down a couple times.

The Colts defense held the Vikings to 175 total yards which is the lowest amount of yards allowed since 2014 against Cincinnati. Cousins entered the fourth quarter with a passer rating of 0.0, a career low. He finished with a passer rating of 15.9 which is the lowest rating the Colts have allowed since Alex Smith in 2005.

“We did everything we needed to do on defense to stop an explosive run game,” Reich said.  

​Tight end Mo Alie-Cox had a “heck of a day” according to Rivers as his five receptions and 111 receiving yards were both game and career highs. The Colts scored on six of their ten drives and ruled the time of possession by over a full quarter.

“We made a bunch of those plays at practice and we brought that into the game,” Alie-Cox said. I try to follow Jack’s lead every day and to this point he has helped me for this opportunity.

Rivers finished the game with one touchdown pass to receiver Zach Pascal and is currently one shy of 400 touchdowns for his career. Only five quarterbacks have over 60,000 career passing yards and with 152 yards next week, Rivers can become the sixth quarterback in NFL history to do so. Indianapolis hosts the New York Jets next Sunday at 4:05 p.m. Eastern Time.

“I think this team is built to win a lot of different ways,” Rivers said. When we are efficient, run the ball like that and we play D like that, we can win a lot of ball games.

Tight end Jack Doyle, Trey Burton and veteran running back Marlon Mack were out of Sunday’s matchup against Minnesota. Mack suffered a season-ending ACL tear against Jacksonville in Week 1. Receiver Paris Campbell was carted off the field after suffering a PCL injury and Malik Hooker suffered a season-ending torn Achilles during the game.

Fifteen players representing both teams met at the midfield horseshoe after the game to display unity and take a knee in prayer. Minnesota started the season 0-2 for the first time since 2013, before head coach Mike Zimmer took the realm.

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