On Sunday evening, the Indianapolis Colts made outside linebacker Jason Worilds a virtual non-factor on their opening drive. And that was about it.
The Colts went three-and-out on drive number two, after the Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher was able to pressure Andrew Luck into incompletions on second and third down.
For the second straight week, Worilds failed to register a sack, but has been a consistent presence—nay, menace—in opposing backfields. He may be the best pass rusher in the league right now that isn’t getting sacks.
Although he did almost get one, later in the game. but the problem was that it seemed Luck took advantage just about every time the Steelers couldn’t get in the backfield, and that translated into a heaping helping of explosive plays allowed on defense. That included Worilds not having his head on a swivel and getting knocked down by the tight end on T.Y. Hilton’s 28-yard touchdown pass late in the first half.
Still, the fifth-year pass rusher deserves some acknowledgement for his strong pass rushing over recent weeks, embarrassing Derek Newton of the Houston Texans last week and giving Gosder Cherilus a headache on Sunday.
On one occasion, Worilds was able to jump out in front of a screen pass and knock the ball down. Later in the game, he sped around the right tackle and nearly hit the ball out of Luck’s hand before he felt the pressure, tucked it, stepped up in the pocket, and delivered the throw.
It was two plays after that on which he had the sack that wasn’t, hitting Luck from his right side unseen, but the athletic quarterback was able to absorb the hit, only to be funneled into James Harrison. But make no mistake, it was Worilds who created that sack.
That created a third and 19 situation, and with the defense licking its chops, Worilds bull rushed through Cherilus before throwing in a late spin move to hit Luck for the fourth time in the game up to that point, forcing an incomplete pass.
The right tackle seemed to get awful handsy following that sequence of plays, doing everything in his power to keep Worilds out of the backfield, though no holds were called. But it did have the effect of making Luck more gun shy, getting the ball out quickly every time the pocket started to collapse to his left.
That is how you make a quiet impact on a game. While it may not produce a lot of statistics, changing the way your opponent plays and has to account for you is a significant contribution, and that is what Worilds has been doing in recent weeks.
While Worilds, and the team as a whole, has had difficulty registering sacks—particularly against the slippery Luck—they have been generating some pressure and forcing incompletions, even turnovers. The Colts quarterback had just enough time to see that Worilds beat Cherilus with a spin move and would have a clear path to the quarterback before he turned around and threw the ball to William Gay for a pick six.