Don't you just love it when things go according to script? Let's be honest, what happened tonight in Indianapolis (and in New Orleans for that matter) was what was SUPPOSED to happen. Tonight, the Colts stomped Baltimore and moved on to the AFC Championship game where they'll play San Diego, oops, I mean the winner of the Chargers Jets game next Sunday. It's late, so let's get down to business:
Reasons to Smile:
- THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MOMENTUM OR RUST. If there were, the Colts and Saints who finished a collective 0-5 to finish the regular season would not have just won their two games by a combined score of 65-17. Please, next year can we just talk about matchups and ignore the pointless speculation. I saw lots of Super Bowl predictions this week. Almost no one had the Saints and Colts meeting in Miami. I have a feeling they are going to.
- I have never seen a game plan that showed more disrespect to an opposing offense than the Colts offensive game plan. It was super conservative all night because the Colts clearly didn't think Joe Flacco was capable of generating 14 points of offense against them. Peyton was super careful with the ball other than the one bad pass that Reed picked off (yes, I realize there were two, but the second wouldn't have been a pick without the obvious interference call that nullified it). In the fourth quarter, the Colts basically just sat on a 17 point lead, knowing full well the Ravens had no chance to come back. Frankly, I thought it was smart. Boring as crap, but smart. A lot of people have already started to complain about it, but it reminded me of the Super Bowl when Dungy just went into the shell because he knew Grossman wasn't bringing the Bears back. Sometimes, you just do what you have to do to roll the clock and bring it home. I don't think it means anything more than the Colts clearly had zero respect for Flacco tonight.
- Pierre Garcon. You will almost never hear me say a bad word about Marvin Harrison, but against KC in '06 Law jumped him and took a ball away. Marv sat and bitched at the ref for flag while Law streaked down the sideline. After Manning's one truly bad decision of the night, Frenchy hauled ass down the sideline and turned a game changing play back in the Colts favor by punching the ball loose from Ed Reed. Just a fine, fine moment for the kid. That's a play that will live in Colts' lore.
- 14 plays, 75 yards, 8:00 TD drive, immediately followed by an 8 play, 64 yard TD drive in 1:23. When you have the kind offense that can do both of those things, you are doing all right. Manning stone cold took the game over at a critical juncture and essentially made the second half a foregone conclusion.
- Reggie Wayne's vice grip hands.
- Austin Collie not being afraid of the moment.
- Everything about Mike Hart.
- Not having a good enough kicker to hit a 50 yard FG, so we have to go for fourth downs.
- Raheem Brock sealing his entrance into the Classic Colts with a great hustle play (and a key knock down)
- Gary Brackett in coverage when it counts.
- Finally getting all the breaks and bounces. That makes up for last year's game.
- Pat McAfee hit some huge punts at all the right times.
- Listening to Demond scream at Ravens fans "YOU WASTED YOUR TIME AND YOUR MONEY! THE COLTS NEVER LOSE TO THE RAVENS! NEVER! HOW DID YOU NOT KNOW THAT?" as he exited the stadium. It made me feel warm inside.
Reasons to Frown:
- The first pick by Reed was either a bad route by Garcon, or just an awful throw by Manning. Either way, it was ugly.
- Kelvin Hayden's play on the first drive. He looked to be feeling Mason out. Although to be fair, he had three catches on the first drive and one the rest of the game, so maybe I shouldn't nitpick.
- Not a ton of pass rush tonight. It was adequate, and Flacco certainly seemed unnerved by it, but the only sack came on a blitz by Brackett.
- 42 yards on 25 carries to go with just 5.1 YPA? Talk about playing it close to the vest. I suppose it pays to remember just what defense you are playing. The Ravens had the #3 DVOA defense, and the #3 NFL defense. The Chargers are 16th, by the way.
- The big drop by Garcon nullified what would have been a SWEET first down.
- Bethea's dropped pick. Dude. Come on.
The timeout after the first down play by the Ravens under two minutes. Honestly, I thought it was over agressive at the time, but the Colts executed it to perfection scoring a TD with just :02 to play in the half. Beautiful coaching.
In the second quarter, I hated the third down deep ball to Garcon from the 46 on third and 7. I thought they should have played two down football there. Whatever. It's hard to complain about the coaching tonight.
Reasons I'm Flying:
- We are one game from Miami.
- I think everyone will be back on the bandwagon. Is there any question the Colts D was ready to play and healthy? The blizzard was never going allow 16-0 anyway, so in the end, no harm no foul. It should be bedlam at the Luke next week.
- Lots of hustle. Brock, Garcon are just the most obvious ones. This team has a fire in their eyes.
- All the pressure is off. It's go time now.
- Uh, did I mention that we are one game from Miami?
Reasons I'm Dying
- Bethea took a hard hit at the end of the game. We need him or we are in trouble.
- Don Brown really looks lost out there sometimes. Oh, and we still have no running game at all.
- I hate games with the Chargers. They are always close. They always come down to the wire. Oh, and we really don't have a kicker who can make a 50 yard kick.
The Bottom Line:
Winning feels good. The Colts were the better team. They played a safe, controlled game tonight against a team that had no business being on the field with them offensively. The Ravens were half a team, and half a team isn't good enough to beat the Colts. Had we lost tonight, I honestly might have shut down the blog for good. It would have been that devastating. Instead, we got a satisfying, dominant win over a team that smoked the once mighty Patriots at home last week. By the way, every analyst or commentator who picked this game based on anything other than on the field things should be embarrased (yeah, I'm looking at you Jeremy Green).
There's still a long road ahead, but it leads through Indianapolis.
I wouldn't want it any other way.