Nyheim Hines sparkles, Jacoby Brissett unimpressive in easy Colts victory

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts second-year running back Nyheim Hines didn't return only one punt back for a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers. He became the first player in Colts history to return two for scores in their 38-6 victory on Sunday.

Hines became the first Colts player to return a punt for a touchdown since T.Y. Hilton in 2012 with an 84-yard return that was capped off by him running through the tunnel before returning to the field. The Colts went into Sunday having gone 115 straight games without a punt-return touchdown, the fourth-longest active streak in the NFL.

The Panthers made the mistake of punting to Hines again in the fourth quarter. He started in the middle of the field before squeezing his way through a tight hole and bouncing to the outside. And just like the first return, Jonathan Williams provided the final block to spring Hines free the rest of the way on his 71-yard return. Hines imitated Deion Sanders by high-stepping the final 15 or so yards into the end zone for the touchdown.

Hines' 195 punt-return yards are the most since Eddie Drummond had 199 with the Detroit Lions in 2004. Hines is also the fourth player since the 1970 merger to have multiple 70-yard punt returns for a touchdown in the same game.

QB play still suspect: Starter Jacoby Brissett was an unimpressive 14-of-27 for 119 yards.

The Colts have already been officially eliminated from making the playoffs, but the final couple of weeks of the season are being used as an evaluation period for the front office and coaching staff.

There's no player who will be under the microscope more than Brissett. He went from looking like a solid fit as Andrew Luck's replacement earlier in the season to prompting questions about his ability going forward.

Brissett has gone three straight games without completing better than 52.9% of his pass attempts. That’s not going to get it done, regardless of the Colts' injury issues at the skill positions.

There's little doubt that general manager Chris Ballard will be looking to bring in competition for Brissett during the offseason, whether it's through free agency, trades or the draft.

The highlight of Brissett's day was his work on the ground, as he showed elusiveness in running for 37 yards and a touchdown. But it's not about Brissett’s running ability -- it's all about his right arm and being able to throw the ball down the field effectively.

And questions remain about him being able to do that.

Promising trend: One area the Colts won't need to worry about during the offseason is running back. Third-year back Marlon Mack became just the second Colts running back to rush for at least 1,000 yards since Joseph Addai did it in 2007. Veteran Frank Gore is the only Colts running back to rush for at least 1,000 yards since 2007. He did it in 2016. Mack finished the game with 95 yards on 16 carries.