If Sunday’s performance was any indicator, Jim Irsay’s “commanders” got the memo about his dissatisfaction with the team’s “crap performance” in the preseason opener against Buffalo. The Indianapolis Colts handed the Giants a 20-12 exhibition loss in New York on Sunday.
Granted, it is only preseason, which means these games are about talent evaluation and roster pruning as much as they are playing to win. Even if teams aren’t showing a lot in terms of play-calling, unlike practice, the competition is real.
“That’s more like it..there r sum that shrug off losing,even at checkers;they’ll never wear the HORSESHOE or touch the Diamond’s of Champions,” Irsay tweeted immediately following the game.
There were several encouraging signs, starting with a 107-yard, 2-touchdown performance by Andrew Luck, who looked like a 10-year veteran as he carved up the Giants’ secondary. But he wasn’t flawless.
He threw under pressure and nearly got picked off by Giants cornerback Aaron Ross who had the ball bounce right off his hands and into Reggie Wayne’s. Wayne, who was in already in the end zone, managed to tip the ball back to himself for a fortuitous touchdown. The result was a 28-yard score that put the Colts up 7-3.
“It wasn’t perfect,” said Luck, who completed 69 percent of his passes and finished with a 133.7 quarterback rating. “There is still a whole bunch of room for improvement but it was good to get in a rhythm, it was good to put points on the board. What a great job by our defense, holding them to three points on some short fields.”
“He wants to win, he wants to play hard, he wants to do what everybody else wants to do,” said the recently-signed, former Giants running back, Ahmad Bradshaw. “He knows everybody’s spot on the field. He’s that way. He has to know what everybody’s doing. You ask him anything and he knows exactly what to tell them, when to tell them and how to tell them. He’s hip to this offense.”
Luck capped off the evening by leading his team on a seven-play, 60-yard drive that was kept going by two 3rd-down conversions, both of which came on 18-yard passes to T.Y. Hilton and one of which resulted in a 3rd down conversion from the New York 18 when Hilton slipped by Jayron Hosley to pull down a perfectly floated pass in the right corner of the end zone. It was close, but an automatic review confirmed that Hilton’s right foot was inbounds.
While Luck was under pressure on more than one occasion, the offensive line held up well overall against the pressure. Gosder Cherilus, who was signed in the offseason to a 5-year, $35 million contract, looked pretty good in the 11 snaps he played, yielding no pressures.
Defense Steps Up
But the Colts’ offense wasn’t the only thing clicking; the defense made its share of game-changing plays too, one of which came when cornerback Greg Toler intercepted a third-down down pass by Eli Manning, giving the Colts’ offense good field position at the New York 41. Adam Vinatieri added 3 more points to the board with a 52-yard field goal.
Perhaps no other free agent signing has been questioned more than that of Erik Walden, an outside linebacker formerly of the Green Bay Packers. He was quite literally making plays all over the place, and led the team with six tackles. He also had the first of six sacks on the evening when he beat Giants veteran tackle David Diehl to get to Manning.
Colts first-round draft pick Bjoern Werner, who was held out of the Buffalo with a sore knee, finally got a chance to shine. He blew up a running play, stopping running back David Wilson for a 4-yard loss. He also blew past Giants veteran right tackle David Diehl for what should have been a sack. He got within inches of Manning, but failed to make the tackle.
For the Colts, the only injury of note happened to tight end Coby Fleener, who left the game with what was described as a mild knee sprain. Fleener started in place of Dwayne Allen, who has now missed two preseason games with a foot injury.
The Giants weren’t as fortunate in the injury department. Receiver Victor Cruz, who recently signed a new 6-year, $35.8 million contract with the Giants, left the game with a foot injury, while center David Baas started limped to the sidelines after sustaining what appeared to be a knee injury.
Injuries aside, it was fun to watch the Colts redeem themselves after that awful Buffalo game. As always, the regular season is highly anticipated. Two preseason games down, two to go.