Hey, we're all still up anyway, right? I'd might as well make the best of it:
Reasons to Smile:
- Robert Mathis. How great was he all night? How great is he all the time? He's a hero of this team. He has been for awhile now.
- Jerraud Powers. We knew he was good, but tonight was a revelation. At the end of the game the Pats ran the same pattern they ran at the end of the 2007 game when Brady hit Welker to convert the last third down. Legend has it that Welker jumped up and yelled in MJax's face "You F****** suck!". This time when the pass came his way, Powers broke on the ball and batted it down. He not a rookie any more.
- Reggie Wayne. Incredible performance by a big time player. That game winning TD catch was beautiful.
- Austin Collie redeeming himself. It was a rough first half for Collie, but Indy doesn't win that game without his contributions at the end. The big PI call he got really helped. For the record, it was CLEARLY pass interference. The defender hipchecked him before the ball arrived. That was an easy, not at all controversial call. It was bad defense.
- Joe Addai. 4.1 YPC, 2 TDs, and big runs when it counted. Hate on him all you want. He has 9 total TDs (and one throwing). He knows where the goal line is.
- Melvin Bullitt made a great hit on the final play on Faulk. I thought it was a good call, by the way. Faulk clearly juggled it, and I can't see how you can determine where he was when corralled it. The Pats screwed up by not having any timeouts, but I don't think that gets overturned.
- Over the final two and a half quarters, the Indy D held Brady to a rating of 76.6, forced 2 turnovers, allowed only 10 points (7 came on a 7 yard drive), and forced the Pats off the field on four plays to 'win' the game.
Reasons to Frown:
- New England was the better team tonight. They made some dumb, dumb mistakes (stupid timeouts, awful pick, fumble on the goal line), but so did Indy.
- From 6:17 in the first to 7:28 in the second, Indy allowed Brady to throw for 226 yards and 2 scores and a rating of 156.3. To me, this screams of a coaching problem. I don't know if guys were out of position, or if it was someone's grand design to just cover Randy Moss one on one with a safety, but let's never do that again. The pass D really wasn't bad all night...just in that one stretch, but when it was bad, it was awful bad.
- Garcon. I know he managed to catch a perfect ball on his finger tips for a score. Whoop-de-doo. He's killing this team. His drop was inexcusable. He and Collie took at least 6 points off the board between their two drops.
- Don Brown. Did he get hurt? He was pedestrian running the ball (4 carries, 14 yards), and picked up a stupid penalty, and after that he disappeared. We were all hoping for more.
- Charlie Johnson gave up another sack, and didn't run block well early.
- The two picks by Manning. Wow. I know one was a route mix up, but the floater toward Garcon was awful. I praise #18 all the time, so it's only right that I kill him when he screws up.
- I didn't think the team seemed ready to play. I don't trot that out much, because you can't prove it, but I saw too many stupid penalties on the younger players, too many blown assignments on defense. I put that on the head coach. Caldwell flunked his "Big Game" preparedness test in my book.
- Freeney was invisible. It's been a long time since I said that.
- Melvin Bullitt's play during the 'stretch of death' I referenced earlier was awful. It looked to me like he was lost.
- Tim Jennings. Randy Moss. We knew how that would turn out, but did he really have to just fall down on the touchdown? Really?
I'll cheat here and say Belichick deferring to the second half. Caldwell had no tough decisions that I can remember (for good or bad). I hate it when Indy starts with the ball. It put the Pats in a good position all night. They didn't cash in, but I liked what it did to the flow of the game in their favor.
UPDATE: Ok, I've slept a few hours and I forgot the one tough call Caldwell made. He decided to kick off to the Pats rather than onside. Great call by him. Ironically, if he had decided to onside, and the Pats had recovered, it likely would have unfolded exactly the same way, only Indy would have gotten the ball around the 30. Which is where they would have gotten if Belichick had decided to punt.
BB getting suckered into challenging the Wayne catch. Peyton clowned him there.
Reasons I'm Flying:
- If (if, if IIIIIIIFFFF) Hayden and Gonzo come back, most of what went wrong tonight goes away.
- 13.5 to 2.5. Only that tool Bradshaw still counts rings. Hmmm, maybe that's because he still thinks he's one of the 10 best of all time. He's very much not.
- We ran the ball effectively. Our YPC was much better than NE (5.1 to 4.0). I know it felt like the Pats ran the ball well, but other than a couple of big runs by Faulk, they didn't.
- Indy now has a two game lead over Cincy and three over everyone else. Worst case scenario now has us playing the AFC Championship game in Cincinnati. The Bengals are a good team, but there would be a LOT of blue there.
- Peyton Manning owns Bill Belichick. He owns him. He is so far into BBs head, that he's going to have pay rent. Belichick coached this game like Death itself was quarterbacking the other team. Manning had thrown two bad picks, and BB was STILL terrified of him. NE fans can shut it forever. Manning is as clutch as they come. Belichick confirmed it. Manning put up 35 points on his defense playing from behind the whole time.
- "Manning is like an industrial size vat of White Out, making the Colts looks cleaner than they actually are." So, so true. (tip to Stan)
- The Pats are as good as any team out there. If we can beat them with this mish mash unit, we can beat anyone.
- We just beat the Pats in one of the greatest games ever. OF COURE I'M FLYING!
Reasons I'm Dying:
- I expected more from the defense. I know they played better over the final 2 1/2 quarters, but I'm stunned the Pats put up 34 points on them. The Ravens and Texans (both on the road) are just as good of passing teams as the Pats. It needs to get solved and fast.
- New England was the better team and that bothers me. They have Randy Moss. That makes them dangerous.
- I worry that Gonzo and Hayden won't ever come back. Indy might be faced with Jennings and Garcon from here on out.
- I'm worried about CJ. He's giving up sacks like candy these days. Something bad is going to happen soon.
- San Di-freaking-ego is going to win the West. I freaking hate those guys.
- It's almost 5 am. I'm toast.
The Bottom Line:
This is a good team. It needs to get better. The good news is that because they won this insane game, they have time to fix what is wrong. That starts with a competent outsider receiver. That would fix a lot of problems. As for the defense, I'm not convinced much was wrong. The two bombs to Moss were weird plays, and I can only assume it was a scheme problem, not a talent one. Given the opponent and the performance late, I'll give the D a pass. It has two more good pass offenses coming, so if there is something broken, we'll know soon enough. This team has flaws, for sure. They are not fatal ones...yet.
I was asked in the comments where this ranks on the Best Games list. For now, I think it fits in at #3 right behind the Tampa game and the AFC Championship game. If the Colts end up winning the Super Bowl (who else is going to?), I think it could well vault higher. This win was a sweet as they come.