Indianapolis Colts Week 1 game balls vs Bengals Each week throughout the Indianapolis Colts 2018 season we’ll hand out game balls to those players who made their presence known. Whether it be a receiver carving up a secondary Youth Quincy Wilson Jersey
, a running back owning the ground attack or a defender making life impossible for a quarterback we’re going to recognize someone in all facets of the game each week.The Colts lost their opener 34-23 to the Cincinnati Bengals, but there was plenty to look forward to as this young group kicked off their season.OFFENSEAndrew LuckI mean it’s gotta be Luck, doesn’t it? Luck hadn’t played a meaningful game since January of 2017 and came out looking very much like the guy we expected him to be. Luck finished with 319 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception on 39-of-53 (73.6%) passing for his first game back.Luck largely showed very good decision making, stayed strong in the pocket through his second and third reads and led the Colts in converting 11-of-17 opportunities on third down. Luck evaded pressure well all game, got the ball out quick, and to his playmakers and threw some absolute dimes downfield. We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season from Luck, and he was without a doubt the shining star for the Colts on offense Sunday.DEFENSEMargus HuntOn this side of the ball there was a few quality options to choose from. Darius Leonard led the team in total tackles and was a ball of lightning all day, Kenny Moore had an interception and Matthias Farley forced a fumble Sunday. But, it was Hunt who made an impact throughout the game and was able to get to the quarterback not once, but twice.The Colts’ pass rush has been anemic over the past several years, and though we hoped to see an increase in pressure being generated with this group, I don’t know if anyone suggested it would come from Hunt. He did have a third tackle for loss in this one as well, and did his job against the Bengals’ run game as well as anyone.We saw that the Colts front four were able to get into the backfield a bit, but the team as a whole only had 3 QB hits for the entire game. For Hunt to succeed in getting big sacks which put the Bengals into a third-and-24 situation, and a third-and-15 respectively.Hunt’s first sack helped force a three-and-out on the Bengals first drive of the second half, and his second would have stymied Andy Dalton’s final touchdown drive had it not been for a pass interference call on the very next play. Both were big plays and gave the Colts a chance to get the ball back. That counts more than downfield tackles to me.SPECIAL TEAMSAdam VinatieriLook, I know he missed a 55-yard attempt, but he also nailed a 51-yarder and gave the Colts 9 points that they truly needed in a tight game. Realistically http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-clayton-geathers-jersey
, Vinny was the only choice here. Zach Pascal did a fine job returning kicks, but he didn’t do anything great. Chester Rogers, again, nearly caused disaster by failing to have the spacial awareness to make a fair catch.Rigoberto Sanchez was fine Sunday, but he only had two punts and they didn’t play much of a part in the Colts outcome. Aside from that, nobody had an inordinate amount of special teams tackles or anything to speak of.We underappreciate Vinny far too often as the ‘old man’ on the roster, myself included. But, we’ve seen him rightly earn the game’s MVP honors for the Colts in the recent past. It’s pitiful, but true. The Indianapolis Colts put the ball in Andrew Luck's hands. They probably should have trusted Adam Vinatieri's leg.The Colts failed to convert three fourth-down plays 鈥?all in field-goal range 鈥?and lost 6-0 to offensively challenged Jacksonville on Sunday.The first two were aggressive calls, calculated risks early in a scoreless game. The last one was a desperation move late. Regardless, they proved to be the difference in a low-scoring affair."In a game like that, if you have a crystal ball, I suppose you maybe play it a little different," Vinatieri said.The second-guessing for the Colts (6-6) started early in the second quarter 鈥?with some help from the Jaguars (4-8).Vinatieri made a 29-yard field goal, but rookie defensive tackle Taven Bryan was flagged for roughing the snapper. That gave Indy first-and-goal at the 5. Luck misfired twice and then connected with Nyheim Hines on third down for a 4-yard gain.Instead of sending Vinatieri back on the field for a chip shot, the Colts called for a shovel pass to Jordan Wilkins. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue read it and stopped Wilkins just short of the goal line."We were down in there enough, and that's why you have to make every play count," Colts coach Frank Reich said. "They deserve a lot of credit for stopping us. Not every game is going to be running up and down the field, especially when you play a defense like that in their home stadium."On Indy's ensuing possession Jabaal Sheard Jersey
, facing fourth-and-1 at the Jacksonville 31, Luck handed the ball to tight end Eric Ebron on an end-around play. Ebron fumbled, and the Jaguars recovered near midfield."I need to get that first down," Ebron said. "I need to lower my shoulder and run him over. I did it the last time. I've done it before to get the first down. ... I like losses like this because it makes you look back and it makes you think and you never let it happen again. Yeah, we got shut out. We can't get shut out again."The Colts had another decent scoring chance late.Trailing 6-0 and facing fourth-and-1 at the Jacksonville 19 with 2:38 remaining, Luck got sacked for a 10-yard loss ."All the numbers say strong go there, and we liked the play we called," Reich said.The Colts entered with a five-game winning streak and the fourth-most points in the league. They averaged 34.6 points during their win streak, and Luck had thrown three or more touchdown passes in eight consecutive games.So putting the ball in his hands seemed like the right call.Even the Jaguars agreed."It made sense. They gambled on themselves," Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack said. "They're high in the red zone, high on third down, so fourth down, play the lottery. That's what they did, and they lost."Luck completed 33 of 52 passes for 248 yards and an interception. He was sacked three times after getting hit just five times in the entire month of November. He was sacked once in the previous five games."I didn't feel very sharp," he said. "I didn't feel like I was putting the ball in the places to really give guys a chance to catch them. And credit to their coverage, you know, it's a great team game. ... I know I can be sharper. I know I need to be sharper. I'm discouraged today, but I'm also in a sense encouraged to get back to work and work on these things and improve."