Hey New England, you like apples…well how do you like them apples? In today’s sports world, rarely is one single game going to live up to the hype and expectations the media place on it. There are just too many outlets dedicating too much time to 60 minutes of pigskin on a random Sunday during the Fall. But every once and a while they are blessed with a game like last night’s 35-34 Indianapolis Colts win that makes it seem as if they knew what they were talking about.
The only downside to this is that these same talking heads will be rattling on about Colts/Patriots ’09 for the next 96 hours non-stop. If you live in the Circle City this is great news, you’ll never get sick of reliving Bill Belichick’s blunder on fourth-and-two on their own 28-yard line. If you’re a Patriots fan, this means you don’t read the paper or turn on your TV until next Sunday.
As a quick aside, I was at the game last night thanks to my brother, who is a season ticket holder. He was unable to attend due to the fact that he and his wife were in London celebrating their birthdays that both happen this week. All I can say is I hope you had a great birthday because you missed one hell of a game.
This Week 10 match up will forever be remembered for Belichick getting too “cerebral” and letting his ego get in the way of correct football thinking. But it will also be one of the shinning examples as to why Peyton Manning is so scary with the ball in his hands, and will go down as one of the best the game has ever seen. While Peyton didn’t have his best game, he was at his best when it counted most.
Last night’s game at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis was stunning. The New England Patriots dominated most of the game, and at times, made the Colts look foolish on both sides of the ball. After Indianapolis scored on a 90-yard drive on their second possession of the game to take a 7-0 lead, the Patriots went on a rampage.
Indy‘s biggest fear that Randy Moss would prove too fast and tall for the Colts young secondary came to fruition almost immediately as Tom Brady found No. 81 streaking across the middle for 55-yards and a first and goal. New England punched in the touchdown on a Laurence Maroney 1-yard run and the floodgates opened.
The Indianapolis Colts looked jumpy and nervous on offense much of the game. Nothing was more telling of this fact than Indianapolis going three-and-out on four of their eight first half possessions. Colts punter Pat McAfee was called on to punt six times in the first half alone. Up until last night’s game, McAfee had only punted six times in a game once all season. Partially to blame for all of these three-and-outs were the Colts receivers dropping passes that were hitting them in the hands. I’m not a football scholar but I would guess that “catch the ball” is usually a top priority for a successful offense.
In contrast,New England was moving the ball in huge chunks of yards with passes to Randy Moss (who finished with 9 catches, 179-yards, and 2 touchdowns) and Wes Welker (9 catches 94-yards). Including their first touchdown, New England scored on four consecutive possessions, highlighted by a 63-yard tally from Brady to Moss, that left Colts fans scratching their heads.
In a span of just under 14 minutes of game play, the Patriots were up 24-7 and their only real concern was whether or not their kicker Steven Gostkowski’s leg would hold up from kicking so many field goals, extra-points and kickoffs.
Even though the Indianapolis Colts cut the lead to 24-14 at halftime, there was a feeling that Sunday night just wasn’t going to be the Colts night. But the second half came, and apparently Bill Belichick’s brain went.
The Colts defense was still giving up big yards, but in a “bend don’t break” fashion they forced two New England turnovers in the end zone to keep the Blue Horseshoes in the game. The offense responded with squadoosh, in fact less than squadoosh. The third quarter went scoreless for both sides and fans all over Indiana were talking themselves into how a loss was not that bad of a thing.
After the Pats took a 31-14 lead just 42 seconds into the fourth quarter, Lucas Oil started to slowly empty. But most stuck around because “In Peyton We Trust,” and even though the offense was unimpressive most of the first three quarters anything could happen right? Well anything did happen.
For much of the game I was thinking about how the Colts inability to put together four consecutive quarters of sustained offense was finally going to catch up with them, and how the Colts unproven, undersized secondary was overwhelmed by an overpowering offense. And while the Colts 21 fourth quarter points did not erase all of these shortcomings, they speak volumes of this team.
In what is now their third consecutive come from behind fourth quarter victory, the Colts showed that they believe anything is possible with their team. No matter how bad it looks, until 60 minutes has expired they are not giving up. As a fan could you ask for anything more?
WHAT WE LOVED…
- Reggie Wayne. The man looked possessed in the second half and was the only Indianapolis Colts receiver who seemed sure-handed last night. He had 126-yards receiving on 10 catches. Two of which were diving snags in the end zone, including the game winner with just 13 seconds left to play.
- How about the reemergence of Joseph Addai as a major cog in the Indianapolis Colts offense. With the Boys in Blue still struggling to get it going on the ground, Addai has come up big when it counts. He had two more touchdowns last night which gives him five total over the Colts past three games. Also, Addai’s 13-yard run on the Colts final drive placed Peyton and the offense just one yard away from pay dirt. This allowed the Colts to run the clock down before punching in for six, thus leaving the Patriots virtually no time left to try and score. His play over the Colts three game home stand is as much a reason for the Colts going 3-0 over this last month as the next man on our list.
- Even though he did not have a great game, he was great when it counted. Peyton Manning finished off Sunday night’s game 28 for 44 with 327-yards 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The two interceptions were both ugly and un-Peyton-like. Rarely do you see Manning and his receivers not on the same page on ever route, let alone twice in one game. In the end though Peyton got it done. He also may have been the deciding factor on Bilichick’s Blunder in the fourth quarter. When a team like New England would rather gamble on their own 28-yard line than giving you the ball deep in your own zone, you know you are good.
- The Colts defense is going to fall into both categories today. But their second half defense only surrendered 10 points to New England and made several huge goal line plays to keep Indy in the game. For last night’s comeback to be possible, the defense had to blank the Pats on their final few possessions, and Melvin Bullitt’s tackle of Kevin Faulk set up the Indianapolis game winner.
- Just an observation on my behalf but Gary Brackett seemed to be everywhere last night. When other defenders were getting juked by Welker, it was Brackett that came in to clean up and take down the New England receiver. Gary also recovered the Maroney fumble in the end zone which proved to be a huge turn over. In no other game this season did Brackett look more deserving of the C on his chest.
- Being in attendance, I was able to see first hand just how great the Indianapolis sports fan truly is. Against a powerful team like the Patriots, and with an offense that only scored 14 points in the first three quarters, very few people left Lucas Oil before the final whistle. They were just as loud on the faithful fourth and two as they were during New England’s first possession three hours earlier.
WHAT WE COULD LIVE WITHOUT…
- The 2nd Quarter.
- I told you they would be here. The Colts defense was exposed last night all over the field. It seemed that New England had more plays for 10+ yards than plays that went for under 10 yards. Moss is still a fantastic wide receiver, and they won’t see too many more like him this year. But come playoff time they will, and he owned the Colts deep all night long. Welker was a guaranteed first down every time he touched the ball last night and rarely went down after first contact. Tom Brady was given all the time he needed to find open receivers down field, with the weapons they have on offense this is a luxury no team can afford NE. The Colts highly vaunted pass rush struggled to get in his face, and the result was over 360 yards through the air.
- On offense, the Colts receivers were dropping passes like the fix was in. Pierre Garcon had several drops before finally hauling in a 29-yard touchdown that only partially made up for his previous shortcomings. Austin Collie dropped what would have been a huge gain, and possible score, across the middle on the Colts final drive of the first half. Even Joseph Addai, who is normally great out of the backfield, got a sudden case of the “I hear footsteps.”
- It is a tough point to drive home when a team goes 3-0, but the Colts were still unable to put together four quarters of sustainable offense since their bye in Week 6. Their second quarter performance was flat out ugly, and their inability to hold the ball on offense may have played a hand in New England scoring so easily on a tired Indy defense.
- Special teams as a whole are vastly improved compared to what the Colts have offered up in the past, but they gave up a huge punt return to Wes Welker at the end of the third quarter that ended just six yards short of six more points for the Pats. Also, when was the last time the Colts returned a kickoff or a punt? Just because the Colts special teams is no longer bad does not make them good.
- Fellas I am relatively young, but for the sake of both your elderly fan’s circulatory system and bed times, how about wrapping up one of these W’s before the fourth quarter? Fans can’t cheer all that loudly when they are attached to an oxygen machine.
- We will start by applauding Dwight Freeney. His consecutive games with a sack streak came to an end Sunday night as he went sack-less. His nine game streak still set a franchise record and fell just one short of the NFL record.
- Speaking of nine consecutive games, Jim Caldwell is still posting a goose egg in the loss column for his career as a head coach. At 9-0, he stands alone as having the best record of any head coach to start his career in the history of the NFL.
- Peyton Manning is now in sole possession of fourth place on the all-time victory list with 126 wins to his name. He passed Fran Tarkenton who finished his career with 125 .
- The Colts as a team have now won 18 consecutive regular season games, which ties them for the second longest streak in NFL history. Who are they tied with? The 2004-2006 New England Patriots. The Patriots of 2006-2008 hold the over all record with 21 consecutive regular season victories.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?…
It means the Indianapolis Colts won an important regular season game, that is it. They can enjoy it until Tuesday but it is not something to hang their hat on. Sure the score 35-34 is great, but by no stretch of the imagination was it their best game of the season. The real importance of this victory lies in the fact that the Colts now have only one team within two games of them for the AFC’s best record and subsequently home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. With New England losing and the Denver Broncos falling to the Redskins on Sunday, both of these teams are now sitting at 6-3. This leaves the surprising Cincinnati Bengals at 7-2 and the Colts closest competition.
On a more personal note, this also means that my brother will never leave the country, nay the state, again during football season. I can already imagine him saying that McCordsville, IN is beautiful this time of year when travel is discussed for next year’s birthday celebrations.
The Indianapolis Colts take to the road next week as they head to the city they once called home, Baltimore. Indianapolis will look to make it a joyful homecoming as they take on the 4-4 Baltimore Ravens who have become better known for their offense this year rather than the defense that struck fear in the hearts of many. Be sure to check back with us at funcityfinder.com this Friday for a full rundown on what will go down.
Spike Lee said it best when he stated do the right thing. So come on Indianapolis, do the right thing and pass this and all of your favorite funcityfinder.com articles on to everyone you know. After all it’s the right thing to do.