When Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson suffered a season-ending injury, the prevailing thought at the time was that this season might be lost, but at least it looked like Indy has found a dynamic QB to build a future with.
The season was not lost.
In stepped Gardner Minshew, and the veteran QB helped guide the Colts to four consecutive victories and into playoff positioning.
Sunday in Tennessee, Minshew led the game-winning touchdown drive in overtime, jumpstarted by a 55-yard deep ball to Alec Pierce and capped off with a four-yard walk-off touchdown to Michael Pittman Jr.
"We're very gritty. We're gonna find a way. It's not always gonna be sexy, but dang, it's good," Minshew told CBS Sports of his club following the win.
That might be the best quote to encapsulate Minshew. It's not always pretty, and sometimes the mistakes come in bunches, but the QB finds a way to make plays to keep his team competitive.
In besting the Titans, who hadn't lost in Tennessee all season, Minshew completed 26 of 42 passes for 312 yards with two touchdowns for a 100.5 passer rating. It marked Minshew's first game with multiple pass TDs and zero INTs since Week 13, 2021, with Philadelphia. It also marked Minshew's second game-winning drive of 2023.
Indianapolis continues to play better than the sum of its parts, a credit to first-year coach Shane Steichen.
"It's just guys believing," Steichen said via the team's official website. "I mean, you hear that word a lot and it's true. If you believe every time you go out that you're gonna win a football game, no matter what the circumstances are, no matter what the situation is, you keep fighting and you keep going and you find ways at the end. If you believe you're gonna win, you're gonna go out there and win the game."
In a big road division win, Indy blocked two punts (one was ruled a fumble since Titans punter Ryan Stonehouse couldn't even get the boot off), the defense got off the field late and the offense made the plays in overtime.
"Being able to see the grit in the team and the guys that we have being able to dig deep in OT, come up with those big plays to finish -- we always preach about finishing tight games," defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. "It's been awesome to see."