The Indianapolis Colts (3-4) survived the torrential downpour and gale-force winds to come out with a 30-18 victory over the San Francisco 49ers (2-4) on Sunday night at Levi’s Stadium.
Due to the weather conditions, the game was largely flipped to a run-heavy script for both teams. The winds kept both quarterbacks from airing the ball out as much as they would have liked even though the Colts took more chances downfield than the Niners did.
Let’s take a look at the studs and duds from the Week 7 win in prime time:
Our player of the game from the prime-time matchup. Taylor took over the game for the Colts despite losing a fumble on the very first play for the offense to begin the night. After that, it was pure domination. Taylor took a season-high 18 carries for 107 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. He also added three receptions on three targets for three receiving yards. In a game where the Colts were forced to lean on the run, Taylor proved his worth yet again.
The free-agent signee hasn’t had much run with the defense entering tonight but with a run-heavy script on tap, he got a lot of work early. It didn’t last long, though, because Rochell proved himself extremely inefficient against the run. The first drive of the game saw 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell take five carries for 59 yards and a touchdown. Much of that can be attributed to Rochell’s failure to set the edge as the Colts defense was stretched horizontally.
Turning into a true WR1, Pittman Jr. got the job done yet again on Sunday night. With T.Y. Hilton inactive due to a quad injury and Parris Campbell on injured reserve following foot surgery, Pittman Jr. rose to the occasion. Even on a night when throwing downfield was a major risk, Pittman Jr. started his game off with a 57-yard reception. He also drew two defensive pass interference calls near the goal line that set up eventual touchdowns for the offense. Then, he got in on the part himself when he put the dagger in the Niners with a moss-like 28-yard reception on a third-and-10 to give the Colts a 30-18 lead late in the fourth quarter.
The Colts were certainly feeling the loss of starter Julian Blackmon, who is out for the remainder of the season due to a torn Achilles he suffered in practice this week. It was a good thing that Sendejo wasn’t challenged often on deep passes because of the weather but he still managed to miss tackles against the run. Indy may need to make a move to add some better talent because Sendejo is stringing together too many weeks of suspect tackling.
Still battling through that ankle injury, Leonard was still able to be a force on the defensive side of the ball for the Colts. The Maniac continues to be a big-play machine in the middle of the defense and kept that motor running during prime time. Leonard had seven tackles (five solo), one quarterback hit and a forced fumble that was just another example of his rendition of the Peanut Punch. Despite his physical limitations due to the ankle injury, Leonard is still playing at an All-Pro level.
It’s not often that Hines finds himself on this list. But tonight wasn’t the best night for the fourth-year running back. While Jonathan Taylor was finding and creating rushing lanes all night, Hines couldn’t find the same success. He took eight carries for 14 yards, averaging 1.8 yards per carry. But the worst part came when he dropped a wide-open pass on third down. The conditions were horrible and playing in this game was near impossible. But Hines knows he has to come down with that ball, especially considering it probably would have been a touchdown.
Wentz continues to improve every week. There was a bone-headed turnover he had inside the 10-yard line. He tried to play hero ball by evading a pressure from Nick Bosa and as he went to shovel pass, the wet ball slipped out of his hands and into the clutches of a 49ers linebacker. It was technically ruled a fumble, but the turnover was costly at the time. Still, Wentz bounced back for a strong day despite the conditions. He was 17/26 (65.4%) for 150 passing yards, two touchdowns and a 106.2 passer rating. The deep ball was working whether it was to complete a pass or draw an interference call. He also added four carries for 23 yards and scored a touchdown on a zone-read to give the Colts the lead.
We have to give up for the specialists here. We’ve covered just how brutal the weather conditions were. Not many players’ roles were impacted as much as Badgley and Sanchez. Yet, they came out with stellar performances. Badgley struggled during pregame warmups but found his groove during the game. He converted his only field-goal attempt from 42 yards and made all three of his extra-point attempts. Meanwhile, Sanchez punted six times with two of his attempts landing inside the 20-yard line. One of his attempts was a wonky touchback where Brandon Aiyuk muffed the punt at the 19-yard line, kicked the ball into the end zone as he was picking it up and got tackled in the end zone. It was called a touchback and everyone is in agreement that it’s a dumb rule.