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Richardson takes significant step forward in Colts’ 29-23 OT loss to Rams

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Having Anthony Richardson in the starting lineup was a welcome sight for the Indianapolis Colts.

Seeing him finish a game for the first time was nice, too.

Yet it was what Richardson showed between introductions and postgame handshakes Sunday that provided the most promising signs yet of what the Colts have in their 21-year-old rookie quarterback.

He comfortably navigated a 23-point rally that eventually fell short.

Still, it was progress.

“I think with a young player, you’re learning things and you’re seeing new looks and different things,” Colts coach Shane Steichen said after Indy’s 29-23 overtime loss to he Los Angeles Rams. “But once he gets rolling, he gets rolling.”

And when he plays his game, he’s tough to defend.

Richardson is off to a better start than some expected.

The critics looked at 13 career college starts, a less than stellar completion percentage at Florida, his unique athletic gifts and tabbed Richardson as someone who needed to add some polish to his unvarnished talent to be a success.

So far, he appears to be playing better than the numbers suggest. He was 11 of 25 with 200 yards and two TD passes Sunday while rushing 10 times for 56 yards and another score.

The Colts, like everyone else in the AFC South, are 2-2.

Richardson already has one head-to-head win over Houston quarterback C.J. Stroud, who was taken No. 2 overall, and the fourth overall pick already is demonstrating the difficulty in game-planning for a 6-foot-4, 244-pound quarterback capable of making all the throws and all the runs, even when it seems he’s buried.

Los Angeles (2-2) learned that lesson the hard way Sunday.

While Colts fans roared each time Richardson slid or ran out of bounds, avoiding the kind of hit that sent him into the concussion protocol at Houston and kept him out of last week’s victory in Baltimore, not much went right for Richardson & Co. over the first 2 1/2 quarters.

The Rams scored touchdowns on their first two possessions, field goals on their next two and didn’t punt until nearly midway through the fourth quarter.

Indy’s offense also was stuck in neutral, missing its only scoring chance when Matt Gay pushed a 46-yard field goal wide right late in the first half.

And yet, Richardson simply changed everything after three good runs by Zack Moss. Richradson threw a perfect pass to Mo Alie-Cox, who barreled in for a 35-yard score, and then hooked up with Moss for the 2-point conversion. Two series later, it was a 36-yard dart to Alec Pierce and a personal foul call that set up Richardson’s 1-yard TD run to make it 23-15.

He’s the first quarterback of the Super Bowl era to have a rushing score in his first three games, the first ever with four TDs during that same span and the first quarterback in Colts history to ever run for a TD in three consecutive games.

“We stopped shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties and we started working the offense the way we thought we should have been doing in the first half,” Richardson said, describing what changed. “We’re focusing on each and every play, and in the first half we didn’t do that.”

Richardson wasn’t finished. When Indy got the ball back with 7:28 to go, Richardson calmly led the Colts down the field against three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and eventually hooked up with Drew Ogletree for a 5-yard score and Michael Pittman Jr. for the tying conversion with 1:56 left in regulation.

No, Richardson couldn’t close out the victory — throwing three straight incompletions and taking only 23 seconds off the clock when Indy got the ball back with 1:32 to go. And he only touched the ball one more time, a kneel down on the final play of regulation.

But it was good enough to give everyone a glimpse of how much progress he’s already made.

“We just didn’t kind of click on certain plays when we were in that last two-minute drive,” Richardson said, referring to the next to last possession. “Partially it was on me, just getting too excited trying to win the game. You learn from it and hopefully we can get the next one.”



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