HEADLINE

Buoyed by first win, Colts brace for Seahawks

Sports Xchange

September 26, 2017 at 12:39 am.

INDIANAPOLIS — On to Seattle.

That was basically the call by Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano following his team’s 31-28 win over the visiting Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

It was the Colts’ first win of the season, giving Pagano and his coaching staff something to build on heading into this week’s nationally televised Sunday night game with the Seahawks.

Despite the win, there is plenty of work to get done before heading west to face Seattle.

“(We) haven’t put teams away because of mistakes, penalties and missed opportunities,” Pagano stressed during his Monday media availability.

There were bright spots in the win over the Browns.

Quarterback Jacoby Brissett made his second straight start and continues to learn more of the Colts’ offensive playbook. Brissett is also getting his timing down with the team’s receiving corps, most notably T.Y. Hilton.

“Brissett’s done a great job in a very short time,” Pagano said. “He had experience in New England, but this was (about) learning a new system and terminology. That’s hard.”

Especially when Brissett joined the team just a few days before the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams and was pressed into service as a starter a week later.

Hilton had a big day against the Browns, hauling in seven passes for 153 yards and a touchdown. He knows things will get a lot tougher this week in Seattle.

“It’s going to be tough,” Hilton said Monday. “But at the end of the day, we’re dealing with the same situation. We’re both 1-2. We’re both looking for a win. We’ve just got to go out there and play.”

Facing the Seahawks means that Hilton will get a long look at cornerback Richard Sherman. The pair have had their moments in the past and the Colts receiver is expecting a battle on Sunday night.

“Always. It’s the best against the best,” Hilton said. “I’m pretty sure he’s going to follow me, so I look forward to it. It is what it is.”

REPORT CARD VS. BROWNS

–PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus — QB Jacoby Brissett got his second start and continued to show improvement as he learns more of the offensive playbook. He completed 17 of 24 passes for 259 yards to nine different receivers, including his first NFL touchdown pass on a 61-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Hilton caught seven passes for 153 yards with the TD. WR Donte’ Moncrief hauled in two passes for 44 yards. TE Jack Doyle, usually sure-handed and dependable, caught only two passes on five targets. But Doyle also fumbled twice and had a couple of drops. That won’t happen very often.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C-plus — As a group, the combination of RBs Frank Gore, Robert Turbin and Matt Jones combined for 92 yards on 36 rushing attempts. Gore led the way with 57 yards on 25 carries and had a 4-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. While the Colts only averaged 2.6 yards per rushing attempt, they were able to get needed yards on the ground when it counted the most. Brissett also was a weapon as a runner, rushing five times for 14 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

–PASS DEFENSE: C-plus — CB Rashaan Melvin had a career day against Cleveland, making his first two interceptions of the season and breaking up four other passes. Melvin very nearly had a third interception late in the second half. That was the good news. He also had a couple hard-luck penalties in the second half that allowed the Browns to keep offensive drives alive. CB Pierre Desir made his first start and responded with five tackles and a pass break-up. Rookie CB Nate Hairston continues to play well at nickel back, coming up with three tackles and a pass broken up. Rookie S Malik Hooker showed why he was Indianapolis’ first-round pick as he displayed his overall sideline-to-sideline range. Hooker’s interception in the game’s final seconds sealed the Colts’ win. OLB John Simon was a force for much of the first half of the Browns game. Simon ended the day with six tackles, four solo, with a sack, two tackles for loss and four quarterback hurries

–RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus — The Colts didn’t allow a 100-yard individual rusher. Cleveland RB Isaiah Crowell and QB DeShone Kizer both had 44 yards rushing. Backup RB Duke Johnson added 23 yards in two carries, including an impressive 19-yard touchdown run where he eluded three would-be Indianapolis tacklers. Inside linebackers Jon Bostic and Antonio Morrison led the way defensively with 10 and seven tackles, respectively. Bostic also had a tackle for loss.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: A — K Adam Vinatieri connected on his lone field-goal attempt, hitting from 33 yards out. Rookie P Rigoberto Sanchez averaged 45.7 yards overall and 42.9 yards net on seven punts. Two of his punts were downed inside the Cleveland 20-yard line. Sanchez also had six touchbacks on kickoffs. WR Quan Bray averaged 5.3 yards on three punt returns, including a return of 13 yards. The Browns averaged zero yards on one punt return and zero yards on six kickoff returns.

–COACHING: B-minus — The Colts got off to a quick start and led 28-7 in the second quarter. But Indianapolis continues to have issues putting teams away. Part of the problem is that the team went into conservative mode after getting the big lead. Instead of being aggressive offensively and defensively, which got the Colts the 21-point advantage, Indianapolis had to hang on at the end to pull out the victory.