KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Quenton Nelson can be a man of very few words.
But the Indianapolis Colts’ all-pro left guard can convey a lot in those select syllables.
On Sunday night, Nelson was asked how excited he gets when the game plan calls for a hefty dose of smashmouth football.
The resulting smile said more than the single-word answer.
“Very,” he said.
A franchise long defined by its quarterbacks – from Johnny Unitas and Bert Jones to Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck – has begun to be forged in Nelson’s image.
The sixth overall draft pick out of Notre Dame in 2018, Nelson wore a hat throughout the offseason with “Run the Damn Ball” displayed on the crown.
He’s since passed one out to almost every member of the offense. Even quarterback Jacoby Brissett has donned the cap.
The Colts’ ability to live that mantra on the field played a big role in Sunday’s 19-13 road victory against the previously unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs (4-1).
Marlon Mack rushed for 132 yards on 29 carries, and Indianapolis (3-2) gained 180 yards on 45 attempts overall – their most rushes in a single game since 1997.
Brissett was just 18-of-29 for 151 yards, but he did score the team’s lone touchdown on a 1-yard run.
“To be honest, that’s the best way (to win),” Brissett said. “That’s when you take a team’s will, when they know you’re running the ball, we know we’re running the ball. But we believe our guys were better, and today that was the case.”
Nelson couldn’t have said it better.
The man emerging as the new face of the franchise had a chip on his shoulder against the Chiefs. He didn’t like the way the Colts were pushed around during an AFC Divisional playoff loss at Arrowhead Stadium in January.
And he was even less enthused with the way the running game sputtered in last week’s loss against the Oakland Raiders.
So the goal Sunday was to make amends. Holding the ball for 37:15 and draining all three of Kansas City’s timeouts on the final scoring drive with 2:30 to play went a long way toward that effort.
“That’s what we aim to do every game, and we weren’t able to do that against Oakland last week and had a bitter taste in our mouth after that,” Nelson said. “And we improved greatly in the run game this week in a hostile crowd. Crowd noise didn’t matter. We played well.”
Second-year safety George Odum, an undrafted free agent out of Central Arkansas, was thrust into the starting lineup by Malik Hooker’s knee injury and Clayton Geathers’ concussion.
He tied rookie cornerback Rock Ya-Sin for the team lead with six tackles, forced a crucial fumble by punching the ball out of Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy’s hands during the second quarter and made perhaps the game’s second-best tackle.
His open-field stop against Kansas City receiver Byron Pringle prevented the Chiefs from miraculously converting a third-and-28 with 5:48 remaining in the fourth quarter. One player later, Justin Houston dropped running back Damien Williams on fourth-and-1 and the Colts were able to drain more than 2½ minutes off the clock before Adam Vinatieri kicked a clinching 29-yard field goal.
“One of our players slipped,” Odum said of his big tackle. “That’s the only reason why (Pringle) caught the ball ’cause one of our players slipped. And, you know, I had to cover him.”
Wide receiver Zach Pascal spent part of his pregame routine playing catch with select Colts fans in the crowd. He even went so far at one point to pull a youngster off the sideline, line him up as a receiver, send him on a route into the end zone and toss him a touchdown pass.
It’s something Pascal hopes to make a regular part of his routine.
“I try to do that every game,” he said before trying out a moniker for the practice. “Passes with Pascal. Pregame Passes with Pascal.”INJURY REPORT
Second-year defensive end Kemoko Turay continued his breakout campaign with two tackles, one half sack and three hits on Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
But Turay also suffered a gruesome ankle injury during the Chiefs’ final possession.
Colts head coach Frank Reich confirmed during his Monday conference call the pass rusher will miss the remainder of the season.
“He has a knack for getting off the ball,” Reich said. “He has this bending gift, right? Not everybody has it that can bend around the corner without losing speed. He really has that. I felt like he was really – his game was continuing to get better and improve.
“The way he was practicing was good. So it’s really unfortunate for him and for us, but yeah this will be an opportunity for (rookie) Ben (Banogu) and the other guys to step up.”
Reserve linebacker Zaire Franklin also left the game with a hamstring injury.