The Indianapolis Colts took care of business Sunday versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the AFC’s 2nd seed still up for grabs at the time, there would be no resting starters, and no taking the foot off the gas.
Though the scoreboard showed a final score of 30-10, the game was never even that close. The defense played lights-out, and held the Jaguars to just 3 points for virtually the entire game. It wasn’t until the waning seconds of the 4th quarter that the Jags managed a garbage-time touchdown.
Off to a Quick Start
Little more than a minute into the game, Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman hit Maurice Jones-Drew, forcing a fumble which was recovered by Darius Butler.
The offense capitalized, driving 42 yards to put the game’s first points on the board, courtesy of a Donald Brown leaping touchdown.
On the ensuing possession, with the Colts still leading the Jags 7-0, Luck found Coby Fleener deep for a 25-yard strike.
Five plays later, on 4th-and-goal, the much maligned Trent Richardson found his way into the end zone to put the Colts up 14-0.
In the second quarter, with the Jags trailing 17-3, Colts defensive End Fili Moala got just enough of a Chad Henne pass intended for Mike Brown, causing it to sail into the hands of Colts safety Antoine Bethea, who took it 46 yards in the opposite direction.
The Colts would eventually settle for an Adam Vinatieri field Goal, and close out the first half 20-3.
Fast-forward to the 3rd quarter, on the Colts’ opening possession, Andrew Luck found Griff Whalen for a 7-yard touchdown, extending their lead to 27-3 with the extra point.
Other Game Notes…
- Robert Mathis notched two more sacks, to put his season total at a league-leading 19.5.
- Jerrell Freeman had another great performance, with 8 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and two pass deflections.
- T.Y. Hilton caught 11 passes for 155 yards, bringing his season total to 82 receptions for 1,083 yards.
- Pep Hamilton seems to have come to his senses. Sunday’s was the third straight game in which the Colts ran an up-tempo, 3-wide receiver set out of the shotgun formation. The result was a fluid offense that moved the ball well, and put up points early—something that will be most valuable in the playoffs.
- Luck completed 70.27% for 282 yards and a touchdown, and looked good despite being under pressure at times.
If the Kansas City Chiefs were itching for a chance at payback, they will get their wish on Saturday. But they will face a Colts team that has rediscovered its defensive identity. They will face a Colts team that has found a new offensive identity since losing Reggie Wayne to injury. And they will face a Colts team that doesn’t beat itself with dumb mistakes and penalties.
I have to say I like their chances versus the Chiefs. Of course, there is no such thing as an easy win in the playoffs. By now, these teams are in the playoffs for a reason: They know how to win games. This includes the Chiefs.
How far they go in the playoffs depends on several factors, including the health of the team. Cornerback Vontae Davis’ groin injury, for example, is concerning. His excellent performance in the Denver game was instrumental to winning that game. If he isn’t ready to go if/when the Colts face a high-caliber quarterback, then we must all hope his replacement is up to the job.
The bottom line is they probably won’t be the favorites in any game, other than perhaps the upcoming matchup versus the Chiefs. But as they showed in the first half of the season, this is not a team to be taken lightly. You don’t beat the likes of Seattle, San Francisco, Denver and the Chiefs on accident.
I think the biggest thing this team has going forward is a new-found belief in itself. Winning tends to have that effect.
After a rough 6-week stretch of playing .500 football, the Colts once again have the look of a team that is getting hot at the right time. Does 2006 ring a bell?