INDIANAPOLIS – Quarterback Carson Wentz’s best throwing game of his NFL career ended up being a footnote in Week 5 because the Indianapolis Colts blew a 19-point lead in their road loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
In Sunday's 31-3 victory over the Houston Texans, Wentz again took a backseat, because the defense forced three turnovers, including an interception by linebacker Darius Leonard that got the Colts going in the right direction.
But make no mistake, the Wentz we saw in the past two games is the Wentz the Colts envisioned when they traded for him in the winter. The quarterback is 36-of-55 for 625 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions the past two games.
And while those stats are impressive, here are some even better numbers: 42, 51, 52, 76 and 83.
It would be great if those were the correct lottery numbers, but they’re actually the number of chunk-play yards the Colts have gained in the past two games.
“This is the guy I knew in Philadelphia,” coach Frank Reich said about Wentz. “He can be a big-play machine. What I’ve been more impressed with: I know he can make those plays, but I like the way he’s taking care of the football.
"I like the way he’s handling the game, getting us in and out of the right run checks. Just being in control out there and trusting his guys to make the big plays, and making good decisions, and being accurate with the ball, especially down the field, which he’s been off the charts.”
One of the reasons the Colts brought Wentz to Indianapolis is because of his arm strength. That was lacking last season with Philip Rivers at quarterback. This is no knock on Rivers, because he played a significant role in the Colts finishing 11-5 and making the playoffs. Wentz simply brings an added dimension to the offense with his ability to throw the ball down the field.
The Colts had 56 plays of at least 20 receiving yards in 16 games last season.
They already have 20 plays of at least 20 yards in six games.
Wentz got a key weapon back when wide receiver T.Y. Hilton made his season debut Sunday after missing the first five games with a disc injury. The two connected on a 52-yard completion where all Hilton had to do was run under the ball because Wentz perfectly placed it. It was like Hilton was playing with Andrew Luck again.
“With Carson, you’ve got to run,” Hilton said. “If you don’t run, you’re not going to catch up to the ball. Just a couple plays that we talked about, and he was able to hit me.”
Although Wentz got Hilton back, he’ll now be without another speedy receiver for an extended period of time. Reich said Monday Parris Campbell suffered a “significant” foot injury when he hauled in a 51-yard touchdown pass from Wentz in the first half against the Texans. Campbell, who has played 14 out of a possible 38 games since being selected in the second round of the 2019 draft, could be out for the remainder of the season.
The "chunk plays," as the Colts like to call them, should continue to be part of the team's offensive identity, as they look to fight their way out of their 2-4 start.
The team -- minus Campbell -- is starting to get healthy. Reich is holding out hope for Hilton's right quad injury, which caused him to miss the final seven minutes of Sunday's game, isn't too severe. There is a chance right tackle Braden Smith (foot), and left guard Quenton Nelson (ankle) could return Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).
And the most important player of the group who has dealt with injuries -- Wentz -- is no longer showing signs of his two ankle injuries. You can tell by the way he's able to step into his throws.
"I’m happy with the progress we’re making," Reich said. "We’re still missing a couple of great players in Quenton and Braden. So, hopefully, get them back, maybe this week, who knows? I hope we’re just scratching the surface. There are going to be some ups and downs for sure, but in all three phases, we just need to continue to get better.”