No matter what else happens over the final two weeks of the season, the 2010 Colts didn't let the Jacksonville Jaguars end their season in Indianapolis.
That alone is a great comfort to Colts lovers and Jags haters everywhere.
The Colts dominated the Jaguars on Sunday. It all started up front for the defense which dominated the line of scrimmage and held Maurice Jones Drew to just 46 yards rushing on 15 carries, and just as importantly, held Garrard to 8 yards on four carries. Last week, I openly questioned Larry Coyer's ability to get this defense ready for the Jaguars. And while I do wonder how much MJD's knee and Garrard's hamstrings limited them, I also have to admit that Indy defenders looked well prepped. They had Garrard's number on every bootleg and roll out. Coyer did a nice job developing blitzes to get pressure on Garrard who often threw off his back foot.
On a day when the Colts birthright as AFC South Champions was being threatened, the Colts' cornerstone players on defense all made the biggest plays. Gary Brackett forced a four point swing, with a huge tackle for a loss on the goal line. Robert Mathis went airborne to take Garrard down early in the game. Freeney forced several penalties and was a dominant rushing force all day, and when the Colts desperately needed a stop, it was Betha who provided a huge interception.
46 yards rushing for the Jags compared with 155 for the Colts. That tells the story of the game. Indy did the two things they haven't been able to do all year: they ran and they stopped the run. Don Brown had a breakout game, showing that if he gets a hole, he absolutely has the big play ability to punish the defense. Perhaps we just need to see a return to the stretch play when Don's in the game. Or maybe it just helps to play on the NFL's worst defenses. Either way, it was a timely performance. As Darren McFadden is showing in Oakland, two years isn't enough time to judge a running back, especially one playing behind a suspect line.
When Tyjuan Hagler sprinted through the Jags into the endzone it capped a memorable day. With the Luke begging for a Christmas miracle, the Colts offered up a holiday beatdown.
Unfortunately, the mood in the Circle City isn't one of unbridled joy today.
As important as the win was, the Colts' hopes this season took a major blow as well. While Hagler's return won't soon be forgotten, neither will the scene of Austin Collie lying motionless on the turf. How incredible was Collie yesterday? Sure he had 87 yards and two scores in the first half, but more than that, his affect on the game was undeniable. With Collie, Manning was 20-27 for 166 and two scores. Without Collie he was 9 of 12 for just 63 yards. Collie was the dominant figure in the game, and while everyone's first and second thoughts were for the young man and his family, the third thought that came to mind after the horror wore off was, "Oh no. We are screwed."
The Colts are a weapon short right now. They are actually three weapons short, but you get the feeling that any one of them would change this offense. Austin Collie helped stretch the field running great routes up the seam. Blair White is a nice story, but he's not in Collie's league (as evidenced by a big third down miscommunication with Manning in the third quarter). I'm no doctor, but I don't want to see Collie on the field again this season. This young man's life and future are in serious jeopardy, and even if it meant giving up a Super Bowl, I wouldn't want to see him play. God willing, he's got 60 years ahead of him. Going back out on the field now will almost certainly shorten those years.
It was a great win. The loss of Collie was just as big.