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Colts Make It to Promised Land, Finally Reach End Zone in First Half

After 40 years in the desert, the Colts finally made it to the promised land. OK, it wasn’t QUITE 40 years, but it sure felt that way. That’s because the they did something on Sunday that had eluded them in their last 38 possessions: Score a touchdown in the first half of a game.

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The last time they scored a TD in the first half came in the Denver game, when Andrew Luck hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for an 11-yarrd touchdown with 1:27 remaining in the first quarter—talk about dry spells!

Whether Sunday’s 25-3 domination over the Texans represents the beginning of a late-season resurgence, or a one-game aberration made possibly only in virtue of who they were playing, remains to be seen.

One thing’s for sure: After watching them get outscored by a combined 49-9 in the first quarters of their previous six games, it was a much needed breath of fresh air.

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A combination of better execution and a refreshingly, up-tempo approach propelled the Colts offense 80 yards down the field in 5½ minutes. They spread the field from the shotgun formation, and moved the ball in a way that almost looked like a different team. Receiver Griff Whalen, who was once again promoted from the practice squad, hauled in a 14-yard laser strike from Andrew Luck to give them their first touchdown of the day.

Maybe it’s finally sunk into the coaching staff that come-from-behind victories aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and that there is something to be said for breaking out to an early lead.

Word in the locker room is that Darrius Heyward-Bey is a great guy and a hard worker. It’s a shame that hasn’t translated into better execution on the field. In fact, I would go so far as to say NOT having him on the field, other than to block, was a big factor in the Colts’ ability to move the chains early on. How many sure 3rd downs have been foiled by dropped passes?

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On Sunday, it was Griff Whalen who showed a consistent knack for catching the ball. And when it wasn’t him, it was T.Y. Hilton, who had 8 catches for 78 yards, including a nice 41-yard reception; and Trent Richardson, whose receiving skills are something the Colts should make more use of.

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And speaking of Richardson, he finally showed flashes, albethey brief, of the player the Colts thought they were getting when they traded a 1st rounder to get him. When he wasn’t getting stuffed on a regular basis, managed to break a few nice runs, including a 22-yarder. On the day he averaged 3.4 yards/carry.

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Before leaving the game with what was described as a “stinger,” Donald Brown gained an impressive 38 yards on just 5 carries, for a 7.6 YPC average. Let us hope it the injury doesn’t linger.

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But it wasn’t just the offense that played with a new purpose. The defense held Texans quarterback, Case Keenum to just 18-of-34 passes for 168 yards.

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Add to that 2 interceptions, nearly 3, courtesy of Darius Butler, and 4 sacks, one of which gave Robert Mathis the new franchise record for sacks in a single season, and it wasn’t a bad day for the defense.

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In the final analysis, the Colts took a step in the right direction with Sunday’s win. But they’re going to need a lot more than that in the playoffs. Converting just 30 percent on 3rd downs won’t cut it, unless the defense is playing lights-out. Even then, it probably still wouldn’t cut it.

Here’s to the continued emergence of this new crop of wide receivers, be it Griff Whalen, LaVon Brazill or Da’ric Rogers. Here’s to a continuation of the up-tempo approach that was long overdue. Here’s to the Colts defense finally getting pressure as it did on Sunday. And here’s to a miraculous transformation, back into the team that showed it could hang with elite teams Seattle, San Francisco and Denver. Here’s to the Colts somehow coming to life in the playoffs, and making it to the ultimate promised land.

 

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