Kenny 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 on Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak.
Indianapolis’ much-maligned defense had allowed at least 37 points in each of its past three games and had allowed more points than any team in the league, but had no problem slowing down the No. 1 overall pick and a mostly listless Panthers offense.
Moore became the first Colts player in history with two pick-6s in a game and the first NFL player to accomplish the feat since Tampa Bay’s Mike Edwards did it against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2 of the 2021 season.
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Young finished 24 of 39 for 173 yards with three interceptions to fall to 1-6 as an NFL starter.
Minshew threw for 127 yards and Taylor ran for 47 yards for the Colts (4-5).
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.
The Colts dominated the Panthers in the first half and took a 20-3 lead into the locker room after Moore stepped in front of Young’s pass in the flat 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.
Indianapolis sacked Young four times and limited the Panthers to 62 total yards in the first half to take control. Young has now been sacked 26 in his seven NFL starts.
It was a mistake-filled first half for the Panthers.
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II runs for a touchdown after an interception against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
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 hitting Michael Pittman, considered a defenseless receiver, on a crossing route setting up Taylor’s 10-yard TD reception.
After Gay’s 57-yard field goal made it 13-3, Young threw a pass in the flat toward Chuba 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 Panthers coach Frank 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.
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Colts: vs New England in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sunday.
Panthers: At Chicago on Thursday night.