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Week 15 Game Recap: Indianapolis Colts 7, New Orleans Saints 34


What you need to know

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts were simply terrible offensively against the Saints. The Colts could not consistently pick up positive yardage or get first downs. Jacoby Brissett did not have any turnovers but played very poorly. Brissett missed numerous throws to open receivers. Brissett threw high and wide of his target throughout the game. Brissett's throws were all over the place and his knee injury may still be effecting him. TY Hilton returned from injury and did not look healthy. Hilton did not seem to have his usual acceleration and was plastered by Marshon Lattimore all game. Marlon Mack lost more snaps and touches to Hines and Wilkins than usual. Mack was stuffed on most of his carries but found a little success rushing to the edges late in the game. Zach Pascal made a few plays for the Colts but most of his yards came on a blown coverage assignment. Jack Doyle could have scored a touchdown but drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints moved to 11-3 in dominating fashion against the Colts on Monday Night. It was a very special night for Drew Brees and Michael Thomas continued his quest for the all-time receptions in a season record. Brees passed Peyton Manning on the list for all time touchdown passes and also set the single game completion percentage record. The Saints game plan looked to get the record for Brees from the beginning with the rushing attack taking a back seat this week. The defense was able to sit back and allow Jacoby Brissett to make all of the mistake this week. He barely completed 50% of his passes and could not hit the broad side of a barn. The normally robust rushing game for the Colts was held to under 50 total yards and it was an all-around poor showing for the Colts offense. With the win, the Saints creep closer to a first round Bye, but they cannot sit back yet. The NFC playoff picture is very crowded at the top with 4 teams having an 11-3 record. New Orleans will travel to take on Tennessee next Saturday before closing the regular season against the Panthers.

Indianapolis Colts

QB Jacoby Brissett, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 34 - 165 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0
Jacoby Brissett did not turn the ball over but played one of his worst games as Colt. Brissett left numerous plays on the field and was very inaccurate. Brissett struggled with his consistency throwing the ball. Numerous throws from Brissett were well off target with receivers running open. Brissett threw high and wide on short to intermediate throws as well as downfield passes. Brissett missed Pascal wide open on a crossing route and Marcus Johnson for a potential 46 yard touchdown. Brissett does not deserve all the credit for this performance. The Colts struggled to run the ball and pass protect. Brissett faced frequent pressure and failed rushing attempts but the Colts behind in terms of down and distance. The Saints seemed prepared for everything the Colts did. Whenever the Colts strung together a few first downs a lack of execution would stall the drive and force a punt.

RB Marlon Mack, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 19 - 0
Marlon Mack lost more snaps and touches to Hines and Wilkins than usual. Mack was stuffed on most of his carries but found a little success rushing to the edges late in the game.

WR Zach Pascal, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 44 - 0 (6 targets)
Zach Pascal suffered as a result of Brissett's struggles. Pascal came wide open running a crossing route on his first target but Brissett missed the throw badly. Pascal made his first catch running a slant for 7 yards on 3rd and 5. Pascal did a good job of working back to Brissett as he extended the play for a 9 yard catch. Pascal was left uncovered underneath and took a pass down the sideline for 24 yards.

WR T.Y. Hilton, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 25 - 0 (9 targets)
TY Hilton did not look healthy in his return to action. Hilton struggled to separate from Marshon Lattimore all game and lacked his trademark explosiveness. Hilton drew a holding call running a comeback route on what would have been a 10 yard completion. Hilton drew a 7 yard pass interference penalty on an underneath target. Hilton made a 6 yard catch running a comeback route. Hilton made catches on consecutive plays for gains of 11 and 9.

WR Marcus Johnson, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 37 - 0 (4 targets)
Marcus Johnson made a few nice plays downfield and got open for a potential touchdown but Brissett missed the throw. Johnson made a nice adjustment on a back shoulder throw from Brissett for a 20 yard gain. Brissett's throw was not that accurate but Johnson made a great play. Johnson made a 17 yard catch running an in breaking route from the slot. Johnson got behind his defender running a 9 route and Brissett overthrew a potential 46 yard touchdown.

TE Jack Doyle, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (5 targets)
Jack Doyle made a few nice plays and could have had a touchdown. Doyle made an 11 yard catch finding a soft spot in the Saints' zone defense over the middle. Doyle made a catch in the flat for a 10 yard gain. Doyle drew a 15 yard pass interference penalty in the end zone releasing up the seam against man to man coverage.


New Orleans Saints

QB Drew Brees, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 30 - 307 - 4 TD / 0 INT
It was a truly special night for Brees this week against the Colts. The game plan was featured around him pushing the ball down the field and trying to set the all-time passing touchdowns record. Brees tied the record in the first half and looked to break it just before half time, but his third touchdown pass of the half was called back on a very soft offensive pass interference call. His first touchdown went to his favorite target in Michael Thomas. It was a 15-yard strike that split the safeties and was wide open after Brees used his eyes to look off the coverage. Thomas was able to sneak into the middle of the end zone up the seam for an easy first score. The second touchdown was a 21-yard pass to Tre’Quan Smith. It was another pass that attacked the middle of the field and Brees hit a leaping Smith just before the end zone for the score. The safeties learned from the Thomas touchdown but were playing too deep to come up and make a play on the ball this time. The third touchdown that was called back also went to Smith. Brees made a nice move on a blitzing defender and found Smith all alone in the end zone. He was flagged for offensive pass interference on the play on what looked like a very weak push off. The Saints settled for a field goal before half and Brees had to wait before setting the record. It was not a very long wait with Brees connecting with Josh Hill on the first drive of the second half. It was a 5-yard pass to Hill in the flat. It was a play action fake with the linebackers unable to get into the flat to cover Hill. Now with the record firmly in hand, Brees set his sights on finishing this game in style. On the very next drive, he capped the game off with a 28-yard touchdown to Taysom Hill. Brees hit Hill 20 yards down the sideline and Hill fought through 2 defenders for the last 8 yards and the score. It was the perfect icing on the cake for a masterful game by Brees. His only in completion was a broken play dump off to Latavius Murray who had stopped his route. It was an otherwise perfect day for Brees who is playing his best football down the stretch heading into a playoff run.

QB Taysom Hill, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 1 - 0, Rec: 2 - 42 - 1 (2 targets)
There were more than enough touchdowns to go around this week and Hill got in on the action for the final score from Brees this week. He caught a long 20-yard pass down the sideline and then fought through 2 defenders for the last 8 yards into the endzone for a 28-yard score. He caught his only other target for 14 yards and rushed the ball 2 times for a net of 1 yard. The Saints did not want to risk taking a touchdown pass away from Brees and did not have Hill throw the ball this week. They still have several tricks up their sleeve with Hill at quarterback, but they are saving them for the playoffs this year.

RB Alvin Kamara, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 66 - 0, Rec: 5 - 23 - 0 (5 targets)
It was a very quiet day for the New Orleans rushing attack. This game was all about Brees and setting the passing touchdown record and the ground game took a back seat. Kamara rushed the ball 14 times and led the team in attempts and yards. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry and had a long run of 15 yards go off the edge in the second half. He was largely held in check by a smothering Colts rush defense and saw most of his value come from catching all 5 of his targets. Even then he was almost tackled immediately and held to under 100 total yards for the game. Kamara has not been the same back since his ankle injury and the Saints did their best to rest him towards the end of the game with the victory all be assured. They still have a lot to play for in the final 2 weeks and will need him to get things going on the ground if they want to have a more balanced attack come playoff time.

RB Latavius Murray, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 29 - 0, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (3 targets)
This game was not about running the ball at all, but Murray still got his fair share of attempts. Murray had 9 attempts to 14 for Kamara. He saw Dwayne Washington cut into his work on the final offensive drive of the game for the Colts, but the game was already won at that point. Murray averaged just 3.2 yards per carry and never made it past the second level of defenders this week. His longest run went for 8 yards up the middle and he never made it any further. Murray ruined what would have been a perfect passing day for Brees by stopping a swing route on a broken play. The pass fell incomplete a few yards out in front of him and could have given Brees a 100% completion percentage had he not stopped his route. The Saints will look to go more balanced heading into the playoffs and more productive days should be ahead for Murray.

WR Michael Thomas, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 12 - 128 - 1 (12 targets)
There were several records that fell this week, including the single season receptions record for the Saints. Thomas is on pace to set the single season record for the entire NFL after his 12 catch (on 12 targets) performance. Brees to Thomas may have been the most uttered phrase in the first half and the pair connected for the first touchdown of the game. It was a 15-yard strike to the end zone up the seam. Thomas was able to split the safeties and Brees looked the coverage off for the easy score. Thomas was almost all alone in the middle of the end zone for one of the easiest touchdown catches of the season. He set the Saints single season reception record by making a one-handed catch over his shoulder for a first down. Brees to Thomas is one of the most automatic combinations in the NFL right now. Thomas is coming off back to back games with 10+ catches, 100 or more yards, and a touchdown. Through 14 games he has 100 yards in all but 5 of them and a matchup against a Tennessee team that is missing key defensive players is looming. Thomas has a great chance to set several records down the stretch this season and has been the most effective piece in this Saints offense all season.

WR Ted Ginn, 19 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (1 targets)
It seemed like everyone else was getting in on the fun this week except for Ginn. He caught his lone target for 13 yards and a first down. Brees was finding open receivers all over the field and Ginn was not one of them. Tre’Quan Smith seems to have cut into his playing time a little and the re-emergence of Jared Cook has sucked up several targets a game. Ginn still has the breakaway speed to blow the top off the defense but the Saints have just not needed it recently. His number will get called eventually but it has been a very quiet couple weeks for Ginn.

WR TreQuan Smith, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 21 - 1 (1 targets)
If you are only going to make 1 catch in a game, make it count. That is exactly what Smith did this week when he caught a 21-yard touchdown from Brees to tie the all-time passing touchdown record. Smith ran right down the middle of the field and made a leaping catch at the goal line. Brees put the ball on him before the safeties could come up and make a play and Smith fell across the goal line for the score. Smith also caught what should have been the record-breaking touchdown, but it was taken away after an offensive pass interference call. Smith made a cut back in the end zone after he saw the play break down and Brees scrambling out of the pocket. The referee deemed a push off and took the score off the board. The play could have certainly been challenged but the Saints had the game in hand and coach Payton has not had any success with the new pass interference challenges.

TE Jared Cook, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 54 - 0 (4 targets)
The only thing Cook did not do this week was make it into the end zone for a touchdown. He caught all 4 of his targets including a 20-yard catch down the sideline for a first down. He carried multiple defenders an extra 3 yards before being tackled. Cook has come on strong in the past 5 weeks and is looking every bit the part they wanted from their big tight end. He was the second leading receiver on the team this week and provides a consistent red zone threat. Look for Cook to keep producing down the stretch and playing a big role in the playoffs for the Saints.

TE Josh Hill, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 1 (1 targets)
Just like Smith earlier, Hill made the most of his 1 catch this week. It was Jill who caught the record-breaking touchdown from Brees on a 5-yard route in the flat. The Saints normally run the ball in this situation, but they wanted to get Brees the record. It was a play action fake with Hill leaking into the flat. His linebacker in coverage bit on the fake and then did not have enough time to recover and make a play on the ball. It was an easy pitch and catch for the score and the all-time record for Brees.