Indianapolis Colts penalties – grading nine penalties that could have snatched a loss out of the jaws of victory

Deshawn Watson is dejected because his fumble did not allow the Texans to take advantage of Colts penalties that could have won the game.

Coaches will always tell you that victory favors the team making the fewer mistakes.  In other words, screw ups are more likely to determine the winner of a game that highlight reel plays.  Such was the case yesterday in Houston.

The Colts appeared to be the better team throughout their win against the Texans, but there was Deshaun Watson at the Colts two-yard line with 1:28 left about to take a lead the Colts would be challenged to overcome.  Watson fumbles the snap, Grover Stewart bats it away, and Anthony Walker recovers.  Colts win.

But there were chances for the Colts to put the game away prior to that, and penalties were a big part of how that didn’t get done.

The Colts committed nine penalties.  Some were unimportant, but others had a massive effect on game flow.  Here are the nine penalties graded by their severity and potential to impact the result.

    • 2nd & 12 at HOU 27 (11:31 – 1st)

      PENALTY on IND-M.Pittman, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at HST 27 – No Play.  Colts scored a touchdown on this drive.  No effect.

    • 1st & 10 at IND 49 (5:57 – 1st)

      D.Watson pass incomplete deep left to B.Cooks. PENALTY on IND-T.Stallworth, Defensive Offside, 5 yards, enforced at IND 49 – No Play.  Result of the drive was a 42-yard field goal.  Effect on the game was minimal.

    • 3rd & 12 at IND 15 (5:12 – 2nd)

      D.Watson scrambles left end to IND 11 for 4 yards (A.Walker; K.Turay). PENALTY on IND-A.Walker, Defensive Holding, 5 yards, enforced at IND 11.  This penalty resulted in an automatic first down which led to a touchdown rather than field goal for Houston.  The net effect was four points for the Texans.  The penalty would have been critical had the Texans take a one-point lead late.  It was a dicey call, but penalties called are penalties enforced.

    • 3rd & 10 at HOU 24 (1:20 – 2nd)

      P.Rivers pass short left to J.Taylor to HST 24 for no gain (V.Hargreaves). Penalty on IND-C.Green, Illegal Formation, declined.  No effect, which was good because it was a garbage call.

    • 3rd & 2 at HOU 34 (0:39 – 2nd)

      D.Watson pass short middle to C.Hansen to HST 49 for 15 yards (X.Rhodes). Penalty on IND-X.Rhodes, Defensive Holding, declined.  No effect.

    • 4th & 7 at HOU 19 (8:27 – 3rd)

      B.Anger punts 54 yards to IND 27, N.Hines pushed ob at HST 38 for 35 yards (B.Anger). PENALTY on IND-Z.Franklin, Illegal Block Above the Waist, 10 yards, enforced at IND 40.  Assuming the illegal block was not responsible for springing Hines, the change in field position because of the penalty was 32 yards, and likely cost the Colts a shot at a field goal that would have extended their lead to 27-20.  We will call this penalty net -3 points.  It would have been a critical key to a Colts loss.

    • Free Kick following safety (6:02 – 4th)

      B.Anger kicks 64 yards from HST 20 to IND 16. N.Hines pushed ob at HST 12 for 72 yards (L.Johnson). PENALTY on IND-A.Walker, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at IND 35.  The following Colts drive stalled at midfield and required a punt.  Without Walker’s penalty, which had no effect on the return, the Colts are looking at a field goal that would extend the lead to nine.  The net result of the penalty was 61 yards.  We will call this penalty net -3 points as well, although it could have been seven. This penalty would have been another critical key to a Colts loss.

    • 2nd & 10 at HOU 49 (3:08 – 4th)

       J.Wilkins right end to 50 for -1 yards (C.Omenihu, W.Mercilus). PENALTY on IND-R.Kelly, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at HST 49 – No Play.  (See next penalty)

    • 3rd & 18 at IND 43 (2:57 – 4th)

      PENALTY on IND-M.Pittman, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at IND 43 – No Play.  These two penalties were on the same set of downs, and cost the Colts 15 yards of field position and a potential opportunity at a long field goal that would have put the game out of reach.  Even a first down likely would have exhausted enough time to keep the Texans offense from having a legit chance to win.  Cannot have these penalties late in the game – especially a false start on a wide receiver.  The net effect may have been three points.

The total points the Colts cost themselves was a minimum of six, and they gifted the Texans four.  That is a net -10 for a team that could have very easily lost by one.

The impact of penalties on a game can be huge, and the impact of a game on playoff eligibility is massive.  Yesterday’s win could be the difference between playing and sitting at home the second weekend in January, and penalties could have caused a shift in the result.

Playing against a 4-8 team like the Texans allows a team like the Colts to win despite massive game-changing errors.  Against playoff teams, this level of sloppiness will end the Colts season.  Their offense is just not dynamic enough to overcome negative field position shifts.

Penalties didn’t bite the Colts on the backside yesterday, but they very easily could have.  And if they don’t get cleaned up, they will.

One thought on “Indianapolis Colts penalties – grading nine penalties that could have snatched a loss out of the jaws of victory

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *