1. Lamb: He didn't have as many yards as last week and he only had one touchdown... but just about everything he did was big for the team and the offense. He moved well to get open, which provided for some big runs after the catch, including the TD in the first quarter. He had a couple of nice carries in the game that helped create some first downs, but the biggest thing was that he drew attention to him. Colts' defenders often seemed to shadow Lamb and this in turn left other guys open. In this, Lamb opened up Gallup for his two TDs by pulling the corners and safeties away from Gallup.
2. Defending the Run: A lot of this has been hit and miss in previous games. Against Minnesota, we built up such a big lead so quickly, that Delvin Cook was reduced as a threat because our lead was so big. Against the Giants, they seemed to move away from trying to run the ball, even when the game was close. However, that wasn't the case with Indianapolis... at least not through the first three quarters. Once we started blowing the Colts out in the fourth quarter they got away from the run, but up until then the Colts did try to run the ball.
Taylor had some 20+ carries on the game, more than Zeke or Pollard individually. And had the game stayed close, the Colts probably would have run him more. And through the course of the game, we held Taylor to under 100 yards, no TDs, and only 3.9 yards per carry. He had some longer runs on occasion, but they were limited, and we largely kept the Colts' ground game limited.
3. Hooker: If any one defender could claim "hero" status for this game... Hooker would be one of the two, though, I'd lean more toward the safety. Going into halftime, with the score close, Hooker made a critical interception off a deflected pass, which set up a Dallas touchdown before halftime putting Dallas up eight going into the half. Then, in the fourth quarter, after Dal had thrown his second TD to Gallup, the Colts passed to their tight end, who fumbled... Hooker recovered the fumble and then scored a TD on the return, which extended the lead further.
4. The Running Backs: And this wasn't just limited to the starters. Pollard and Zeke both did a great job... Pollard with the explosive plays to the outside (including 2 catches for 15 yards) and two TDs rushing, Zeke with more of the power blows up the middle and a TD of his own. And then in "garbage time," Davis came off the bench and added a 23-yard TD run of his own.
5. Answering Indianapolis Scores: The game was close... and came with a slow start... but the good that Indianapolis managed didn't last long. In fact, while it didn't always happen that way... the way the game flowed, it felt like when the Colts scored, we were able to answer. Now, this may just being able to beat a bad team... but then, since Saturday took over as HC in Indianapolis... they'd actually been playing pretty good football, up to tonight.
6. Turnovers: Turnovers are never good to have... but they're always good to force. And the defense had a fair number of them tonight. Mo Alie-Cox and Ryan both fumbled the ball, both recovered by Dallas, and the secondary added in 3 INTs of Ryan. Two of the INTs came from DaRon Bland, which could give him a shot to challenge Hooker for defensive hero of the game.
7. Managing the Indianapolis Defensive Front: They were a potential threat coming into this game... particularly if they could get going on a pass rush. They've also been strong against the run. This made dealing with them potentially dangerous, particularly in cases where we were either at a third and long or having long developing plays. And our line answered well, and actually did somethings that did a lot to negate the dangers that their defensive front and linebackers could do. At times this included shuffling the line, including bringing Peters in to LT and moving Tyler Smith to LG, or setting moving plays that allowed Smith as LT to get out and block in space that helped set up some of the big runs in the game.
8. Backups Doing Well: By the late fourth quarter... this game had gotten out of hand, and just as with happened against Minnesota, we brought in the backups to fill out the clock. And they came in and did very well. I don't think Rush ever got a chance to throw a pass, but Davis got a long TD run and it looked like Rush was actually out there to look like a blocker at the end of the run.
1. Defending the Big Plays: For the most part, the defense did very well, particularly with the turnovers forced in the second half. However, there were points in the game where it seemed like they struggled in covering deep downfield throws, which Ryan did complete and set up all of the Colts' scores.
2. Lucky Call: The fourth quarter was exciting... and was one of the highest scoring fourth quarters in the team's history. However, on the drive that ended with Zeke's 4-yard TD run, that run was largely set up by a defensive pass interference penalty that really shouldn't have been called. If anything, one could make a stronger argument for offensive pass interference than defensive pass interference.
Dak's night was a bit of everything and could easily be one of those nights where it was more luck than skill...
Where Dak Was Good: This would relate to execution in the redzone, often something brought up to criticize Dak. All 3 of his TDs came from the 20 yard line or closer in the Indianapolis redzone. That's all very good.
Where Dak Was Bad: This came at selective points in the game, and in situations where Dak was either under duress or "just trying to be aggressive" and trusting guys to be open. This led to at least 3 passes that could or actually were intercepted. Now, only one of these passes was intercepted, that being Gilmore's INT in the 2nd quarter that lead to the Indianapolis field goal to make it 14-13 in our favor. In this, the defense ultimately saved Dak from the worst on that play... but just as been the case with several of Dak's INTs this season, this was also on a ball that should have been thrown away. Recognize that Gallup wasn't open and throw the ball away. Don't throw it and pay. For while one may argue that Gilmore had committed DPI there, no one should rely on that. Especially when one considers that the first play of that drive also should have been a pass intercepted by Gilmore. And it ends with a pass that was underthrown and behind Lamb, and probably could have been intercepted, had the defender not been as deep as he was. Which all comes off as Dak seeming to want to gamble... which isn't something anyone should do.
Where Dak Was "Meh:" This is more in relation to his general statistics. While he completed 67% of his passes, which is good, most of them were pretty short passes and most of his deeper throws were well overthrown and were never going to be caught. And in the end, even with that 67% completion rate, he only threw for 170 yards, 63 yards fewer than Ryan did. Some of this could come from the success the running game had as it went on, but then, Dak also threw 30 passes, and thus one would hope that some of those deeper plays would have been there. So... the completion percentage is good, but the yardage from it is pretty "meh."
Which would mean that if one is to take real positives from the game for Dak, was that he did get TDs in the red zone and the areas where he had mistakes did not prove costly enough to lose the game.