When it appeared that Carson Wentz was finally turning his career around, he took a massive step backward with a horrendous performance for the Indianapolis Colts in Week 8. After helping his team take an early 14-0 lead against its division rival, the Tennessee Titans, on Sunday, his massive mistakes led to Indy losing 34-31 in overtime.
However, after what could have been a season-jeopardizing performance, Wentz may have just received a lifeline that could significantly help his and the Colts’ playoff chances.
Carson Wentz’s turnovers were costly for the Colts against the Titans
The Colts desperately needed to win over the Titans in Week 8. Beating Tennessee would have put them at at 4-4 and just one game back of first place in the AFC South.
Wentz and company had been rolling going into the game, too, as they had won two straight, and the former Philadelphia Eagles QB had only thrown one interception all season.
However, after taking an early 14-0 lead over the Titans, the Colts let their rival come back and tie it in the second quarter before they re-took the lead and led 17-14 at halftime.
The teams then went back and forth in the second half, but with 1:26 left in the fourth, Wentz threw an ugly interception near the goal line, which led to Tennessee returning it for six and taking a 31-24 lead. The Colts, however, drove down the field and tied it 31-31 with 22 seconds left to force overtime, but another Wentz mistake cost the Colts in OT. The former Pro Bowler threw a pick near mid-field, and the Titans returned it to Indy’s 32-yard line before later sinking a 44-yard field goal to win 34-31.
All in all, Wentz threw for 231 yards and three touchdowns, but he only completed seven of 22 passes in the fourth quarter and OT, which was just as costly as his two game-changing picks. The North Dakota State product has performed well all year, but he played his worst half of football in the most important game of the season.
The Colts are now 3-5 and essentially four games back of the 6-2 Titans for first place in the AFC South due to Tennessee holding the head-to-head tie-breaker.
But Wentz may have just received a lifeline, although potentially at the expense of one of the game’s biggest stars.
Derrick Henry may have suffered a season-ending injury
The Colts did a pretty good job of containing Derrick Henry in Week 8, holding him to 68 yards on 28 carries, which was good for 2.43 yards per attempt. Heading into the game, Henry had run for 869 yards on the season and averaged 4.55 yards per carry.
However, the 2020 AP Offensive Player of the Year suffered a foot injury in the game against Indy, and according to ESPN, it could potentially be season-ending. The running back will undergo an MRI to see the extent of the injury on Nov. 1.
If it is, in fact, season-ending, the news is devastating for the Titans and the NFL as a whole. Henry is one of the league’s best players, and Tennessee isn’t the same type of team without him.
But while no one wants it to happen this way, the injury might be the lifeline Wentz needed.
Derrick Henry’s potential injury opens the door for Carson Wentz and the Colts
With a healthy Derrick Henry, Carson Wentz and the Colts have no chance to win the AFC South. But if the Titans are without him for the remainder of the year, Indy’s chances increase significantly.
Tennessee still has the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and San Francisco 49ers on its schedule in addition to games against the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Miami Dolphins. While the Titans still have elite playmakers in A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, teams won’t have to worry about the run with Henry out of the lineup. They will just force a mediocre Ryan Tannehill — who only has a 10-touchdown-to-7-interception ratio this year — to throw.
More pass attempts from Tannehill could then result in more turnovers. With the Titans’ defense also allowing a middle-of-the-pack 24.4 points per game this season, the offense may end up having a difficult time keeping up with the team’s opponents on the scoreboard, which could then lead to several more losses.
Luckily for them, though, they do essentially have a four-game lead on the Colts. Wentz will also have to try and lead Indy to wins over the Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, and Las Vegas Raiders. That’s a brutal schedule when his team is already so far behind in the standings.
But if Indianapolis can win a couple of games they’re not expected to, the division race will certainly get interesting, and the Colts could steal first place from the Titans.
Yes, they still have a long way to go, but Derrick Henry’s potentially devastating injury may have just given Wentz and the Colts their last lifeline of the season.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference