The Colts eeked out another comeback win on Sunday, this one a 27-23 win over the Titans.
The Colts are now 9-4, and have all but guaranteed a playoff spot, a phenomenal feat for a young patched-together team. Here were the Colts Authority staff's instant reactions to this one.
Kyle Rodriguez: T.Y. Hilton with the 36-yard catch-and-run, just blew by people there.
Seth Olsen is awful. Luck is feeling the pressure early again this week, looks like it's messing with him again. They need to get Olsen out of there.
Greg Cowan: Colts came out extremely flat after their miracle comeback against the Packers. After today's first half performance, they're 2-for-2. Not sure what that means or why it's happening. Colts are at home, Pagano is in the stadium, and the Titans aren't good, so there's a chance for a comeback, but I'm not feeling good about it. Not a lot of good to take away from their performances on either side of the ball.
Kyle Rodriguez: Only good thing is that they get the ball at the beginning of the half, can make it a one score game.
Ben Savage: Was it the Jets last time? Thought at the time it was a case of Rex Ryan defense and the Shonn Greene/Zbikowski deal. Think you might be onto something. As far as this game is concerned, I'm pretty angry. Terrible performance all round.
I'm a bit concerned about this team in the long-term, in that I think we're Seahawking ourselves by making the playoffs. Desperately need to re-stock with premium talent, and Luck's probably going to stop it happening. Gonna need some good drafting.
Josh Boeke: I don't think anyone wants my thoughts on this first half. I'm fuming. The pick-6 was a blown call but the throw never should have happened. Chris Johnson fumbles but BA doesn't challenge after losing the first one (an inconsequential 8 yard completion) and getting gun shy.
The offensive line has never been worse, and that's almost impossible to believe. The secondary is getting shredded by Jake f'ing Locker (Vaughn is a high school level CB). People were fearing an emotional letdown after that big win (ala the Jets game) but this has been something else entirely. It's so bad I'd almost play Stanton to avoid Luck being seriously injured (only half in jest do I say that, it's embarrassing. I knew Seth Olsen was bad but this is shocking).
We've had amazing second half turn arounds before, here's hoping for another one (but I'm not optimistic after that first half).
Kyle Rodriguez: Cassius Vaughn is seriously the worst. I have no idea why he continues to start. I can't imagine Butler being any worse.
Ben Savage: Said it on Twitter, will say it here. As long as Vaughn continues to start, i'll continue to hold the defensive coaches in the very lowest esteem. He's 8 yards guaranteed, he offers nothing in terms of potentially intercepting the ball, and he's an average tackler at best.
Pagano was originally a DB coach, and while he's got a hell of a lot to be focusing on right now, he's in the stadium. Surely he can see the standard of play, surely..
Regarding the insane cap space, I've never been one to bank on Free Agency, think it's Nate's doing. If we have another offseason like we did last year, I'm with you. I don't think we can replicate that sort of drafting though, too good.
Josh Boeke: Well they're going to need to spend a lot just to reach the minimum, it's got to be spent on someone.
Kyle Rodriguez: Great running by Ballard on that drive, just like last week to start the third quarter. Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne showing up on long third downs, Luck was 2-2 on that drive.
Greg Cowan: I love to whine about officiating, so today isn't going to stop me! I have no clue what Pass Interference is anymore, and based on how it's enforced, I'm guessing the refs don't, either. I'm not sure the "fade" to Donnie Avery (more on that in a minute) was PI - I'd have to look at it again - but on the insane Luck-to-Wayne 3rd-down conversion, Wayne was being pulled down from behind while the ball was in the air, no call.
Now, as for the fade to Donnie Avery: WHY? He's Donnie Avery. Holy cow, I don't understand Arians thought process a lot of times.
Kyle Rodriguez: From George Bremer on Twitter: "Outstanding defense from Cassius Vaughn forces a punt"
Never thought I'd hear someone say that. #Mayans
Greg Cowan: Hilton is a threat every time he touches the ball. Amazing pick. I love him. Even if he tops out at a #3 (which I don't think he will), he's a valuable player as that big-play guy in the passing game and his return ability. Awesome draft pick by Grigson, maybe the 2nd best pick in the draft? (Hard to pick between Hilton and Allen).
These referees are the worst. The next person that talks about how bad the replacement refs were should be sent to mars.
Kyle Rodriguez: Pat McAfee is a boss. He's having a great year and just had as good of a coffin-corner punt as possible, rolling out of bounds at the 1 1/2.
Cassius Vauhgn. Wow, made a play. How big was that Pat McAfee punt now? What a crazy sequence of plays.
Ben Savage: Now, I look a bit of an idiot for lambasting Vaughn so badly, and fair play to the guy for making a play. However, and it's a big however, the read and throw from Locker was almost as bad a decision as Luck's earlier on.
Kyle Rodriguez: Holding call on Fokou... questionable. Waiting for Greg's meltdown in 3...2...1...
Greg Cowan: The meltdown happened in real life. These refs are a joke. Non-holding calls on the Titans OL, the Fokou hold that wasn't, the pick-6 that wasn't, the PIs on the Titans that they are missing, the false start on the Colts that they missed (game changer), they have no clue what they're doing.
Ben Savage: Agreed, it's quite pathetic. Worst officiating I've seen in a long time. Joke.
Greg Cowan: This drive... I have no words. The refs should be fired. I only wrote fired because I want to maintain my composure. The Colts have LEGALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY stopped the Titans twice on this drive, but the incompetence of the Refs have extended it. It will likely result in a touchdown now. If the Colts lose, it will come down to the pick-6 THAT WAS NOT A PICK-6 and the drive that ended 5 minutes ago.
I'm so angry. Colts stopped 'em 3 times! Davis dropped an easy interception in the end zone. Locker gained extra yardage on a scramble because Colts players RIGHTFULLY afraid to hit him along the sidelines, lest Pete Moreli give the Titans 14-points as makeup for tackling the QB.
Ben Savage: Apparently the refereeing in the Browns game is almost as bad, so there we go. At least we aren't the only ones.
Josh Boeke: I agree with all these points. On the bright side, at least Davis was in position for a pick, it's something at least.
Kyle Rodriguez: Davis is actually playing really well today, outside of that one long pass to Britt. Really tough in run support and screens, and good coverage overall.
Ballard is running really well since the first quarter, where I thought he was struggling. The draws are working perfectly.
Kyle Rodriguez: Donnie Avery is bad and should feel bad. Great scramble and throw by Luck should have been a 36-yard touchdown pass.
Greg Cowan: I've said this a lot this year: Luck eschews the easy first down with his feet to take a chance at a low% play. I'm not arguing with the read, it was correct, but a bomb to Donnie Avery is a 50-50 proposition at best this year. Also, I realize that this is a hindsight thing, but the Colts just haven't connected on a lot of those 'right read, bad outcome' plays this year.
Ben Savage: This game isn't good for my blood pressure. Players and officials taking it in turns to screw up.
Greg Cowan: Colts run D has turned a corner, in my mind. It's not horrible.
Kyle Rodriguez: In fairness, it's been pretty good all season outside of the Jets game.
Ben Savage: Uncalled defensive holding on the Butler INT there, gotta be honest.
Josh Boeke: I love Vontae Davis, which is easier on a team with so many bad corners. He may not be great but he's good at least and that's a lot right now.
Regarding the bomb to Avery, it was a perfect pass. Should have been a TD, but I know what you mean. As I type that he throws a 30 yard attempt on 3rd and 4 and doesn't complete it. Just get the first down man.
Greg Cowan: I love taking shots. I love it more when it works, so clearly I'm guilty of some confirmation bias here, but honestly, I like offenses that pick up 1st downs. Get enough of 'em, it'll lead to 7. The Colts needed one more 1st down there to make the Titans uncomfortable, even if they wound up settling for a FG (either 2 more minutes off the clock or all 3 time outs)
Kyle Rodriguez: I liked the one to Avery, but the throw to Wayne was a bad decision. He wasn't as open and the situation is different here; you need to take time off of the clock.
Really? Cassius Vaughn keeps coming up with big plays? WHAT IS GOING ON??
Ben Savage: That was great from the officials. CJ takes the handoff and comes up clearly a yard short. The refs for some reason signal first-down, and the Titans, not realising this terrible error, quicksnap it and find themselves @ 2nd and 10.
Kyle Rodriguez: Best scenario possible with BAL, PIT, and CIN all losing today. The Colts are inching closer and closer to a BAL-IND matchup in the playoffs.
Scott Kacsmar: Keys to the victory: defense finally made some takeaways, and Andrew Luck just did what he does best: situational football. Two big conversions to Reggie Wayne on third and long to set up one touchdown, the defense gave them the lead with a pick 6, then he came through in the 4th quarter again with help from Adam Vinatieri.
That formula will work. Maybe not against a playoff team, but it's another hard-earned win.
Marcus Dugan: Post game thoughts: This team has found ways to squeak by against middle to lower tier teams. I think in a year, they'll be winning these games convincingly and holding their own against the contenders.
But none of that will happen if Seth Olsen is starting. I'm sure he's a great guy, who is better than I could ever be at football, but that's not enough to be an NFL offensive lineman charged with protecting the franchise quarterback.
This offseason is going to be a lot different than we imagined 6 months ago. The Colts are going to have to be very active in free agency given their draft position, lack of a second rounder, and the salary cap minimum. And I definitely wouldn't have thought that the O-line would be the most pressing need, although I guess it's really a tie with the atrocity of a secondary (but at least there we can count on two guys to be solid. OK one. But Davis is looking better). Pagano/Manusky have done a pretty incredible job with the defense, I think. The results (as modest as they've been) are wayyy out of line with the talent.
And I'm still leading the sign-Mike-Wallace bandwagon.
I remember a lot of my reactions being similar. I could be caught cursing the refs, Bruce Arians, Seth Olsen, Cassius Vaughn, the commentators, Jim Caldwell and Shannon Sharpe at different points of the game.