Nick Pease checks in with his game report. Nick helps out on Eyes in the Backfield and is specializing in 'opponent blog relations' for 18to88. I asked Nick to give a run down on what the atomosphere was like at the Luke on Monday. It's informative to hear what people in the stands are saying and responding to during the game.
None the less, we decided that last Monday night would be great time to attend our yearly game. My wife had never been to a Monday Night Game, and I had only been to one, but it was years ago in the RCA Dome. We found some well priced tickets (through TiqIQ of course!) and waited impatiently for Monday night to arrive. We were both excited to head downtown, especially since we were facing the Texans and with serious implications at hand. Finally, the time arrived and we made our way to section 449 in the north west corner of the Luke.
And wow, we had a blast. Despite the woman next to us talking about a wager she had on the game (the type of wager we can't talk about on this website, if you know what I mean) and the fans behind us not standing up for third downs and seeming kind of disgruntled to even be at the game, it was a great time.
And So here are some thoughts from the game, from the fans perspective, way up in the corner of section 449:
The Luke was loud. I think this much is obvious, but I mean it was loud, like as in louder than usual. The fans were clearly in the game and I think it made a difference. This was evident in the Texans having to burn two timeouts in the first quarter. Great job 12th man.
The fans were loving them some Mike Hart. The crowd erupted after his huge run to open the game and cheered emphatically each time he touched the ball. There were grumblings all around when he was not in the game, and conversations were swirling about him being better than Donald Brown and even Joseph Addai. Late in the game, before he got hurt, people were constantly yelling for Hart to be in on offense.
On the contrary, fans were not happy with Donald Brown. I thought this would be a prime time game for Brown to show his skills and prove his worth. Unfortunately that didn't happen. I think he might still be nursing that hamstring, but maybe not. A woman two seats down from us, who was only slightly less annoying than a crying baby, said he was playing scared. I disagree. I really think nearly every time he got the ball, the Texans were reading the play and ready for the run. Just my two cents.
The fans were thrilled with Jacob Tamme. I was not surprised with the results. I knew Tamme had great hands and would make some plays. But the fans were clearly happy, and I think taken off guard, with his performance.
The officiating was terrible. They simply whiffed on the Mike Hart face mask call. He was nearly decapitated and they made an awful call on placing the ball after Manning's run. It was ugly and the crowd was letting them know it too.
The crowd, (ok well at least me and the guy next to me), were impressed with Blair White as a punt returner. He seemed to read the ball well, make some moves and give the Colts solid field position. And I'm not worried about White and ball security. Perhaps the Colts have found their punt returner? The fans were not happy with Ryan Diem.
Peyton Manning can do it all, and this game proved it. Running for a first down, getting rid of the ball underneath, staying in the pocket and taking a hit, seeing Pierre Garcon coming back around and having the smarts and quickness to go lead block. And moving out of the pocket to find the open man. Who says Peyton isn't mobile? His pass to Anthony Gonzalez while on the move was a thing of beauty. He is simply the best at what he does.
Speaking of Gonzalez, I think the crowd was pleased with his efforts. For his first game back, and the constant pressure on Manning, his stat line was not terrible. However, there was a twinge of fear every time he caught the ball. After he caught a pass, my wife (an OSU fan) declared, “He made the catch! And he's not hurt either!” But then it happened. He did get banged up on that sideline hit. Hopefully, he it was just a rough landing and he will be ok. The fans wanted a flag, but honestly I think it was a good no call, and I don't believe it was a dirty hit. Maybe it could have been prevented, but maybe not. Bernard Pollard was heading at Gonzalez full speed and Gonzo was heading at the sideline at an angle, also at full speed. Perhaps I'm wrong, perhaps I'm just an idiot, but from the replay, the two seemed to meet right at the sideline and it looked like it would have been hard for Pollard to avoid the collision.
Lastly, it was a late night. Too late. My wife worked all day. I worked a 10 hour day as well. It was 11:00 pm and the game was still wearing on. The crowd was not the same crowd in the second half. They just didn't have the energy, and it was evident. By the time we got home it was 12:35 and my wife had to work the next morning, just like countless other fans. There is no reason the night games, especially Monday night being on ESPN, can't be moved up. Have countdown start at 7:00 pm and move kickoff up to 7:45 or so.
Sounds good to me.