The Indianapolis Colts more than made up for a sluggish start. After falling behind 3-0, they proceeded to trounce the Jaguars 37-3 on Sunday.
But the numbers aren’t as good as they first appear. They’re better. You see, had the Colts held the Jags to just 205 yards of total offense that would have been a very good day. But what doesn’t come through in the stats is the fact that 138 of those yards came in garbage time, after they had already pulled Andrew Luck in the fourth quarter, with the game’s outcome a virtual certainty. For the previous 3 quarters, they held the Jacksonville to a mere 67 yards. Now THAT is a stellar day!
It had the potential to be a “trap game” in which a young Colts team (9th youngest in NFL), fresh off a convincing win versus the 49ers, would march backwards into Jacksonville, overly-confident, and get their butts kicked.
But Chuck Pagano made sure that didn’t happen when he placed fake mousetraps in the players’ lockers in the week leading up to the game to symbolize the very real possibility of a trap game.
One thing’s for sure: The Colts defense has looked very good for two consecutive games—something that helps take the pressure off Luck and the offense. They know they don’t have to play a perfect game and put up big numbers to win.
In particular, it has been exceptional play by the secondary. Opponents’ receivers haven’t been getting open, which has forced their QBs to hold on to the ball for too long.
On Sunday, it was Vontae Davis and Darius Butler who came up big. Davis intercepted a Blaine Gabbert pass that was not poorly thrown. He simply won the battle for the ball.
On another play, Davis tipped a ball to Darius Butler promptly ran it back 41 yards for a touchdown on Sunday. “You only get so many opportunities on the defensive side of the ball to get the ball in your hands,” he said. “You want to do something more with it. It’s obviously huge. Turning a turnover into points, there’s nothing better than that. It’s like a kick return (for a TD) or a blocked punt. It’s that quick turnaround that demoralizes a team.”
Robert Mathis’ three QB sacks put him just 1 shy of 100 for his career. He has made the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker quite nicely.
But highlights aside, the entire defense played superbly, holding the Jaguars to just 2 of 11 third downs and limiting their most valuable weapon, running back Maurice Jones-Drew, to just 23 yards on 13 carries.
“It’s awesome. It really is,” Luck said. “They do such a great job in practice all week, and to have them come out [like they did], it makes the offense’s job easier. Yeah, we’d love to score every play, but when you have a defense that’s playing like that, you realize it can be good team football.”
And speaking of Luck, it was obvious that he and his receivers were not on the same page early in the game. In the second half, however, they got it going and consistently moved the chains.
But it was a key run play that made a difference. Excellent blocking by the offensive line allowed Donal Brown to break loose for 50 yards right through the middle of the Browns defense. The play set up a 1-yard touchdown run for Trent Richardson.
It was a key play because until this time, it had the potential to be a close game. The resulting score put the Colts up 20-0.
But the offense wasn’t done yet. Luck hit a wide-open Coby Fleener for a 31-yard TD. It was obviously from Fleener’s body language that even he was surprised he was so open.
Luck later connected with Reggie Wayne in the back of the end zone from 5 yards out, making it 34-3, and sending even the most optimistic fans to the exits.
At the end of the day, he hit 7 of 7 passes for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns in the third quarter alone. He finished the day with 260 yards, 2 touchdowns, an interception, and 2 rushes for 26 yards.
The Colts face a much stiffer test next week when they face the Seattle Seahawks at home in Lucas Oil Stadium.