In no way is this an assertion that I am on the level of prognostication of say Nostradamus or Punxsutawney Phil. But the Indianapolis Colts 31-9 victory last night over the Tennessee Titans played out just as previewed last week, and I would like to savor the flavor for I am sure it will not happen often enough. As with most of the Colts AFC South Division games, last night’s marque match-up started off tough.
After a stalled Indianapolis drive to open the game, the two teams traded turnovers that resulted in points. These points off of turnovers were very indicative of how the game would proceed. While the Colts scored a touchdown off of a Antoine Bethea forced fumble, the lowly Titans could only muster a field goal. It does not take an NFL insider to realize that if your team can trade touchdowns for field goals with the opposition, it is going to be a good day.
WHAT WE LOVED…
- Peyton Manning. At the risk of sounding like a 12yr old schoolgirl with a crush, Peyton has consistently been the best player in the league through the early part of the 2009 season.
- The aforementioned quarterback is playing some of the best football of his career right now. He is racking up just as many accolades from announcers, coaches and players as he is yards this season. A look at last night’s game totals for the part time actor, and full-time game manager with a laser rocket arm explains why: 36/44 completions, 309 yards, 3TDs , 1INT and QB rating 109.2
- Last night marked Peyton’s fifth consecutive 300+ yard passing game with at least 1 touchdown pass. More than just the numbers though is the fact that Manning showed he is capable of running any type of offense the Colts need.
- Example #1- with 1:07 left in the first half, Manning and Co. took the ball 93 yards in 6 plays in 48 seconds to score a touchdown and extend their lead to 21-9 at the break. Yes this drive was aided by two roughing the passer penalties which gave Indy 30 yards in freebies, but that is not the Indianapolis Colts fault and penalties are part of the game.
- Example #2- with the game well in hand, Manning lead the Colts offense on a drive that saw the Blue Horseshoes take 8:38 off of the game clock while going 70 yards in 15 plays. The drive resulted in a cherry-on-top field goal by Adam Vinatieri. These two drives show the Colts offense is capable of a quick comeback strike, and the ability to eat up precious clock…things that prove very necessary come playoff time.
- How about rookie wide receiver Austin Collie. Just to make sure his name and number do not get lost behind Pro Bowlers Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, the rookie out of BYU had a career game last night finishing with 2 touchdowns and 97 yards on 8 receptions. Collie proved he can move the ball after the catch when he scored the Colts third touchdown of the night just before halftime on a 39 yard play.
- How about some love for the Indianapolis Colts defense, specifically their run defense. The best chance the Titans had to stay in last night’s game was to get their young speedy running back Chris Johnson involved early and often. Tennessee tried, Tennessee failed. The Colts defense did not give Johnson any room to operate last night, taking the normally elusive back down on first contact almost every time he touched the ball.
- While the Colts defense has been criticized for years for their lack of run-stopping abilities, an nice statistic is that Indianapolis has given up 516 yards rushing so far this season. 239 of those rushing yards came in their Week 2 game in Miami against a Wild Cat formation the likes of which they won’t see the rest of the season. Of their other four games they have given up an average 69.2 yards a game. Not bad for a team with no run stopping capabilities, especially a team still without their great safety net Bob Sanders in the secondary.
- Speaking of the Colts secondary… with perhaps the exception of his mother, did anyone expect Antoine Bethea to be playing as well as he has this season? He is leading the entire Indianapolis Colts team with 34 tackles this year. Add his forced fumble from the Tennessee game last night and 2 interceptions so far this season and the Circle City has found one heck of a “replacement” while Sanders continues to heel.
- Finally, a congratulations is in order for first year head coach Jim Caldwell who became only the fifth NFL head coach to start his career 5-0 since the merger. Lost in all the Manning mania is the fact that Caldwell has done a great job so far filling the huge shoes left behind by the former coach Tony Dungy.
WHAT WE COULD LIVE WITHOUT…
- With the goal of objectivity in mind, it was hard to find a lot for this week’s “live without” section. The Colts went on the road to Tennessee and handily beat their biggest rival in the AFC South. On paper last night’s game looked like the mismatch it turned into. But you never know what is going to happen when you go against a team that knows you so well and, at 0-4, has nothing to lose. While by no stretch of the imagination did the Indianapolis Colts play a perfect game, they played very well in all facets last night.
- In the spirit of always improving, we offer up the fact that the offense line allowed more pressure on Peyton than they have all season. Although no sacks were recorded, Manning ended up on on the ground more than any Colts fan would like to see. Again, just nit-picking here but can anyone remember the last time Peyton Manning received a delay of game penalty? That is a 5 yard flag usually reserved for the Manning brother who plays in New York.
- Even though it had no real impact on the game other than infuriating thousands of fantasy owners last night, how does a player like Reggie Wayne drop that pass in the end zone during the fourth quarter last night? The man has made more unbelievable one handed grabs in the past few seasons than the rest of the league combined. Let that be a reminder to all the kids out there to see the ball into your hands.
Again, this section is not supposed to be a weekly addition. But as long as Peyton and his offense keep setting them up we will keep knock’em down.
- Last night the Colts recorded their 14 consecutive regular season victory. This marks the longest such streak in Indianapolis Colts history. While this is qualified by the fact that they lost during the wild-card weekend in the playoffs last year, the Boys in Blue have not lost a regular season game since their previous visit to Tennessee during the 2008 season.
- Not to be outdone by his team’s accomplishments, Peyton Manning passed Fran Tarkington for sole possession of third place in all-time touchdowns thrown with 343. By the end of the night Manning had upped his number to 345.
- Not so much a record as it is a football geek’s talking point, but Manning became just the third quarterback in NFL history to finish 70 games with a QB rating over 100. Whether or not you find that impressive, you can not argue with the fact that the Indianapolis Colts are 63-7 in those games, that is phenomenal .
The bad news for all of those crazed Indianapolis Colts football fans out there is that the Colts have a bye this week so they won’t be playing. The good news is you can spend next Sunday with the family and try to save your marriage. Also, talking Colts football with you is so much fun that we will be back on Friday despite the hiatus. So be sure to check back as we will take a look at the Colts division and who else is looking good in the AFC this year.
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