The Indianapolis Colts got back into the win column on Sunday, as interim head coach Jeff Saturday debuted and scored his first career victory with a 25-20 win over the Raiders in Las Vegas. One of the key decisions the new coach made leading up to this game was to make a quarterback switch, as Saturday inserted the veteran Matt Ryan back into the starting lineup, sending Sam Ehlinger to the bench. 

Ryan completed 21 of 28 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown in the victory, and also rushed for a career-high 38 yards and one touchdown. Down one point in the fourth quarter, Ryan led a five-play, 82-yard drive that ended with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Parris Campbell

Saturday quickly made the decision to put Ryan back under center after being named the interim head coach on Monday, following the firing of Frank Reich. Saturday texted the quarterback saying he wanted to meet on Tuesday — just to catch up, per NFL.com.

“I kind of know what has gone on here the last couple of weeks; as a player I’ve gone through it in Green Bay, getting benched,” Saturday said. “I know all of the emotions that go along with it. Where are you at?”

Ryan understood his new coach was talking about him playing again. After a quick conversation with his wife, the former Falcon said he was ready to go. 

“The two weeks prior, you never know what’s going to happen — someone could get hurt, the situation could change, so there’s always that reality that I have to stay ready, that I can’t assume anything,” Ryan told reporters after the Raiders win. “But your perspective changes when nothing has happened and suddenly they talk to you about, what are you thinking? I practiced Thursday and Friday, and I’m like, ‘OK, I’m good. I feel pretty good.’ It was his call to make at that point about what he wanted to do.”

It was one of the first big decisions Saturday made in his new position, and it’s one that directly led to the Colts’ fourth win of the season. The former Pro Bowl center understands that all eyes are on him for the remainder of the regular season. His hiring drew criticism from all corners of the NFL world, but this is what Saturday wants to do, and he’s not taking the opportunity lightly. 

“My wife and I were praying about this, and I wanted a player to get a chance,” Saturday told NFL.com’s Jim Trotter. “I’ve seen the Boones of the world go straight from TV to being the manager of the Yankees. I’ve seen basketball guys go straight to the head coaching job and get opportunities. I have not seen that in the NFL, and I told my wife, ‘This does not just come around. It’s not something that’s just arbitrary.’ And I felt very passionate and convicted that, if I step up and I do a good job, and people can see the way that former players can lead a group of men …

“I don’t pretend to be the smartest coach on the staff; I pale in comparison, and I mix [sic] no words. But I do know how to lead men, whether that’s coaches, players or an organization. And I know a bunch of men who are just like me that I’ve lived with, I’ve broken bread with, I’ve played with and against. And I want us to have a chance. I want players to have a chance. I had no idea if (Irsay) was going to go with me, but I just told my wife that I felt the Lord leading me here. The other side for me personally is, I care about this organization. This isn’t just a job; this is the organization I lived in and my adult life was forged in. My wife and I have all our kids here. I told them the first day, it’s not just about players, it’s not just about coaches — although I love them and their families, and I understand the seat that they’re sitting in — but, bro, the equipment room, the media relations, the training room, I love them and care about them. I know I can help them and help this organization turn around and get the direct [sic] they need. Maybe I break through and different owners turn around and say, ‘Hey, maybe we give guys chances, and maybe it starts with people who have played for the organization.’ “

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