The Indianapolis Colts breezed over the Carolina Panthers in Week 16, beating them 38-6 in Lucas Oil Stadium.
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The offensive line and tight ends paved the way for the Colts running backs, as the team as a whole averaged 3.3 yards before contact per rush attempt. While the offensive line was excellent, the work by Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox secured the edge; they both had great games blocking.
While it was an excellent game on the ground for the Colts, Jacoby Brissett had struggles throwing the ball all game. He completed just 52% of his attempts while failing to connect on much of anything outside the numbers.
Cornerback Pierre Desir had himself a monster game — he saw 10 targets, allowed three catches, broke up three passes and logged two interceptions. That stat line says it all. Desir shut down every receiver he went up against and was in command all game long.
Long-time standout edge defender Justin Houston racked up multiple pressures and recorded his 10th sack of the season, which means he's now produced double-digit sacks in three consecutive years. Houston's career has been remarkable, and he continues to prove he has a lot left in the tank.
Will Grier made his rookie debut, and it was not a good one. He averaged 5.1 yards per attempt and was under duress the entire game. Grier attempted one pass to the left of the numbers — which fell incomplete — and he completed just one of his 10 passes right of the numbers beyond the line of scrimmage. He missed all seven of his deep attempts (though one pass was a dime that was dropped), and if it weren't for force-feeding Christian McCaffrey on dump-offs, Grier's stat line would be far, far worse.
McCaffrey was everything the Panthers could have hoped for, yet it still didn't matter. He caught all 15 of his targets for 119 yards, with several catches resulting in a first down. This game will go down in the history books for McCaffrey breaking his own record for most receptions by a running back in a single season.
It's not often that you can solely blame the run defense for the loss, but it just might be the case in this game. The Colts had more success rushing (6.8 yards per carry) than they did passing (4.4 yards per attempt), as the Carolina defenders were worked over all game long.
Rookie edge defender Brian Burns started the year hot with multiple pressures per game, but his pressure rate has fallen off since Week 7. Burns did register a clean-up sack of Jacoby Brissett today, but he was invisible for most of the game.