PITTSBURGH – On first-and-goal at the 12-yard line early in the second period, Jacoby Brissett dropped back under heavy pressure and tossed an incomplete pass in the direction of running back Jordan Wilkins.
The Indianapolis Colts quarterback was hit on the play, a not uncommon occurrence in the past two weeks. Only, this time, Brissett didn’t get back up.
Replays later showed left guard Quenton Nelson was pushed into the passer and landed with his backside on Brissett’s knee.
After writhing in pain for awhile, Brissett attempted to jog off the field with a noticeable hitch. He then spent a long time in the medical tent before coming out, jogging behind the bench and grabbing his helmet.
But he never re-entered the game.
“I tried,” Brissett said in the postgame locker room. “A couple times, I tried. But, as a collective group, we didn’t think it was the right decision. (Backup Brian) Hoyer was doing a great job, so there was no point in me risking it if there was no chance.”
Brissett’s status is the most worrisome development from a highly concerning 26-24 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at Heinz Field.
With its top two wide receivers – T.Y. Hilton (calf) and Devin Funchess (clavicle) — already on the shelf and center Ryan Kelly also sitting out the second half Sunday with a “burner” injury, uncertainty at quarterback only adds to the degree of difficulty for the Indianapolis offense.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said Brissett would undergo more testing when the team returned home Monday, and nobody was ready to put a timeline on a potential return.
“Just a knee, more MCL-ish,” Reich said. “I don’t know that. I think they need to get a closer look at it, but I think at this point it looks like a sprain. But we’ll see to what degree. I think we’ve got to see how it responds.”
Brissett wasn’t very expansive on the topic, either, beyond saying he feels “fine” now.
He was 4-of-5 for 59 yards before the injury, and he heaped praise on Hoyer. The veteran was 17-of-26 for 168 yards with three touchdowns and one costly interception that was returned for a touchdown.
“I thought he did a great job, especially with the limited reps he’s had,” Brissett said. “He played great. He made throws that I knew I wouldn’t, that I wouldn’t throw probably. But that’s what makes him special. So I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Brissett said a lack of lateral movement prevented him from returning to the field. Despite his desire to play, he sensed his knee was not up to the task and doctors confirmed it.
The Colts host the Miami Dolphins next Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“You wish we would have won the game,” Brissett said. “That’s all I can think about right now. I can’t really think about my knee.”
FIELD GOAL FOLLIES
There were plenty of questions in the wake of Adam Vinatieri’s missed 43-yard field goal attempt that would have given Indianapolis the lead with 1:14 remaining.
After the Colts got a first down at Pittsburgh’s 31-yard line, Reich called three consecutive run plays. That included a 3-yard loss on third-and-1 when the Steelers jumped the gap.
Reich used a similar strategy last week before Vinatieri’s game-winning 51-yard field goal against the Denver Broncos, but this time it backfired.
“When it was first-and-10, I said on the phone, ‘We’re gonna be aggressive here,’” Reich said. “Then I got the information on, just generally speaking, what the quote-unquote analytics and charts say and, really, once we gained 5 yards (on a first-down carry), then we were in a pretty high make zone and feeling that confidence.
“In the first run, we hit a pretty nice run and then hit another run. I thought about taking a shot there on (third) down but really just felt like we were in a good spot. Let’s kick the field goal and win the game.”
UP AND DOWN
Rookie wide Parris Campbell had an eventful day.
The former Ohio State star caught all five of his targets for 53 yards in the passing game and added three carries for 27 yards. But Campbell also fumbled during a kickoff return and again after tripping in the open field with the end zone clearly in sight.
Indianapolis recovered both fumbles, but it didn’t make the receiver feel much better.
“As a ball carrier, for myself, the ball should never be on the ground,” Campbell said. “And whenever that’s the case, I’m the first person to even tell myself that. I don’t need to hear it from anyone. I’m hard on myself.”