Raiders vs. Colts: Takeaways from Indianapolis' 21-17 Win over Oakland
The Colts were strangely conservative on both sides of the ball throughout the second half, allowing the Raiders to nearly pull off the upset. Fortunately, Andrew Luck saved the day again with a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, his eighth of his short career.
Despite getting the win, the Colts have more concerns than praises after allowing a hapless Oakland team to lead late in the fourth quarter.
Andrew Luck's Statistical Improvement Begins
It's been speculated throughout the summer that Andrew Luck's less-than-impressive rate stats as a rookie would be much improved as a second-year starter under Pep Hamilton.
If Week 1 was any indication, those speculations were spot-on.
Luck finished the game with a 77 percent completion percentage, 7.7 yards per attempt and a 149.5 passer rating. Now, Luck's bulk stats were low, just 23 attempts and 178 passing yards, but he was fantastic when he dropped back, adding six rushing attempts for 38 yards.
The only area that Luck needs to improve on is taking sacks. The offensive line was horrible once again, but Luck needed to get rid of the ball earlier on a couple of the sacks. If Luck can learn to throw the ball away quickly rather than take sacks, he'll save the Colts a few yards and drive-killing losses.
The Pass-Rushing Woes Continue
The Colts pass rush was a concern prior to this game.
It still is.
The team managed just one sack in this one, as Bjoern Werner blew up a play-action pass play, and Robert Mathis cleaned up with the sack. Cory Redding and Darius Butler also had quarterback hits, but the team rarely got close to Pryor at a reasonable time.
It seemed like Pryor was running for his life a lot, but in reality the coverage was forcing him to run, not a sufficient pass rush. When he did start to scramble, the Colts were unable to take him down far too often.
The Colts Ran the Ball, but at What Cost?
The Colts were happy with their running performance after the game, and at first glance, it makes sense.
The running backs rushed for 4.45 yards per carry, with Vick Ballard leading the way with 63 yards on 13 carries.
But the yards per carry don't tell the whole story: the Colts ran "successful" running plays just 35 percent of the time, with Ballard finishing with a 46 percent success rate and Ahmad Bradshaw finishing at 14 percent. The running game had half of their yards on just four carries and had more than 10 carries with three or fewer yards.
By running the ball, the Colts seemed to lose momentum that Andrew Luck and the receiving corps were building, slowing drives and killing progress.
There Are Still Major Coaching Questions
Not all Colts fans may realize it, but there have been questions about the Colts coaching staff all summer, namely Chuck Pagano.
Pagano coached just five games last season (and went 2-3) and has not proven himself as a game-day coach yet.
This game did not help his case. The Colts looked ill-prepared for Terrelle Pryor's athleticism and Oakland's offensive game plan. The Raiders are one of the least-talented offenses in the league, yet had a lot of success moving the ball against the Indianapolis defense.
The Colts had hare-brained mistakes, such as the 41-yard completion allowed on 3rd-and-1 late in the fourth quarter or the 4th-and-9 conversion allowed on the same drive.
On offense the Colts didn't use their weapons (like T.Y. Hilton) enough, running too often in key situations. The offensive line looked extremely ill-prepared to deal with blitzes from the outside, something that the Oakland coaching staff can mark down as a victory for the day.
Chuck Pagano's coached 6 games now for #Colts. This is 3rd time they've gone up 14-0 or 14-3 at home and blew it/almost blew it.— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) September 8, 2013
Reggie Wayne Still Has It
Prior to the game, T.Y. Hilton was the popular name on Twitter as the big fantasy play of the day for the Colts. Well, Pep Hamilton didn't play Hilton too often, and Reggie Wayne took advantage of eight targets for eight receptions, 96 yards and a touchdown.
Six of Wayne's eight catches went for first downs, including two key third-down conversions.
While Wayne's receiving statistics tell a lot of the story, Wayne also played a key role in Andrew Luck's game-winning touchdown run:
Andrew Luck said the Raiders double-teamed Reggie Wayne which allowed for the lane to open up on his game-winning TD. Credits DHB's block.— Kevin Bowen (@KBowenColts) September 8, 2013
Turnovers Save the Day
Overall, it was not an impressive day for the Colts defense, who allowed 372 total yards on the day.
But, the defense "made plays when they had to," according to Chuck Pagano, which is what saved the day for the unit.
Newly-signed cornerback Greg Toler started it off with an interception in the first half, picking off a jump ball in the end zone. Veteran safety Antoine Bethea clinched the game with a red-zone interception on the Raiders' final offensive play, as Terrelle Pryor's bid for a comeback fell short.
The turnovers are new for the Colts and something that the team should be able to produce more often in 2013. If the improved secondary can consistently produce turnovers, they may be able to offset a poor defense overall.
Colts Can't Contain the QB
Unfortunately, their first real attempt to stop, or even slow, a running quarterback fell short.
The Raiders didn't run the read-option all that often, but Colts coaches and fans will have nightmares consisting of Terrelle Pryor running around the right end for weeks.
Pryor finished with 13 rushing attempts for 112 yards, more than any other player during the early slate of Week 1 games.
With Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson still on the schedule, the Colts desperately need to figure out how to keep the quarterback contained in the pocket.
It's All About Luck
The Colts spent $140 million on free agents this offseason to surround Andrew Luck with more talent.
It didn't look much different in this one.
Much like 2012, the Colts defense struggled to get off the field against the Raiders. Much like 2012, the Colts offensive line allowed Luck to get harassed far too often, especially in the second half.
The Colts did a decent job stopping Darren McFadden (just 2.8 yards per carry), but outside of run-stopping, the Colts' additions on the defensive line failed to make an impact. They didn't get any push in pass rush, which is the most important part of a defense. The Colts' offensive line additions helped gain 4.45 yards per carry, but they were inconsistent and still allowed far too much pressure.
The weight is entirely on Luck's shoulders. He managed to drag the team to a win today with surgical first-half play and a brilliant game-winning drive, but he may not be able to carry the dead weight that is the offensive line and defense for the rest of the season.