Kenny Moore’s two pick-6s help Colts snap 3-game skid with 27-13 victory over Panthers
BY STEVE REED
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Indianapolis Colts defense entered Sunday’s game reeling after allowing at least 37 points in each of its past three games.
Cornerback Kenny Moore fixed all of that in a big way.
Moore returned two Bryce Young interceptions for touchdowns, Jonathan Taylor caught a touchdown pass from Gardner Minshew and the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Carolina Panthers 27-13 to snap a three-game losing streak.
“Just having that (winning) feeling again feels so good,” Moore said. “We’ve obviously been on a tough stretch with some losses that didn’t feel too good. We want to keep this feeling.”
Moore became the first Colts player in history with two pick-6s in a game and only the second NFL player to do it in the past 11 years. The other was Tampa Bay’s Mike Edwards, who did it against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2 of the 2021 season.
Colts first-year head coach Shane Steichen called Moore’s effort “phenomenal,” but quickly added that he wasn’t at all surprised.
“The way he practices and the way he works by watching tape and doing it the right way,” Steichen said. “When you watch tape, you’re going to make plays. And that’s what he did for us. Fourteen points by him is phenomenal.”
The Colts intercepted Young, the No. 1 pick in the draft, three times and sacked him four times. Young finished 24 of 39 for 173 yards with one touchdown to fall to 1-6 as an NFL starter.
Steichen said it was exactly what the defense needed.
“When you can condense the pocket from inside it’s tough for a quarterback,” Steichen said. “Bryce made some plays scrambling out of the pocket and moving around but I thought our defense was great.”
Young has now been sacked 26 times in seven starts, and the rookie clearly seems bothered by the constant pressure. He was hit seven times on Sunday and hurried on a number of other occasions.
He’s beginning to hurry his throws and his accuracy is taking a hit.
Despite the struggles, Panthers coach Frank Reich said he’s never considered benching Young for veteran Andy Dalton.
“I’ve seen this happen to the best quarterbacks in the history of the game,” Reich said. “They all have games like this. Sure it’s going to be easy to put it on the quarterback, but you bounce back. That is what makes the great ones. But developing into the franchise quarterback, it’s a long road.”
Adam Thielen, in the midst of a career season, was limited to 29 yards on five receptions for the Panthers (1-7), who matched their worst start in franchise history.
Minshew threw for 127 yards and Taylor ran for 47 yards for the Colts (4-5).
The Colts dominated the Panthers in the first half outgaining them 171-62 and took a 20-3 lead into the locker room after Moore stepped in front of Young’s pass in the flat to Chuba Hubbard and took it 49 yards for a score.
Carolina appeared to have regained momentum after cutting the Colts lead to 10 in the third quarter before Young overshot Miles Sanders and Moore grabbed it and raced 66 yards to end zone to give the Colts a 27-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.
It was a mistake-filled first half for the Panthers.
It started when recently signed Eku Leota lined up offside on a Colts punt on fourth-and-1 from deep in their end of the field. That mental error gifted the Colts with a first down and led to a 15-play drive that resulted in a 26-yard field goal by Matt Gay.
The Colts made it 10-0 after Panthers safety Xavier Woods was called for launching at Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman on a crossing route, setting up Taylor’s 10-yard TD reception.
“You can’t have penalties like that and be a good football team,” Reich said.
After Gay’s 57-yard field goal made it 13-3, Young threw a pass in the flat toward Hubbard that Moore easily made a break on and took to the end zone.
The Panthers showed some life in the third quarter behind Miles Sanders, who has seen his playing time limited of late because of fumbles and ineffectiveness.
Sanders made four big plays leading to Young’s 5-yard TD pass to DJ Chark, cutting the Colts lead to 20-10.
But Moore’s second pick-6 all but sealed the win as Reich failed to beat the Colts, who fired him last season.
Colts: CB Tony Brown (concussion), WR Josh Downs (knee) and TE Drew Ogletree (foot) all left the game with injuries and did not return.
Panthers: OLB Brian Burns (concussion), CB C.J. Henderson (concussion), S Xavier Woods (thigh) and TE Stephen Sullivan (shoulder) left the game with injuries and did not return. Reich said it is hard to imagine Burns or Woods would be ready to play on a short week as the Panthers visit the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.
Colts: vs New England in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sunday.
Panthers: At Chicago on Thursday night.
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