Four minutes left. Four point game. This was supposed to be Andrew Luck’s time. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the case today. Too many times in the fourth quarter, offensive linemen watched in confusion as Luck struggled to avoid the rush, to break tackles, to execute impossible scrambles.
Interestingly, this wasn’t a bad game for the Colts pass rush, which generated five sacks and a fumble, or the once-maligned running game that kept Miami honest all day with 133 yards and 5.1 YPC (4.3 for the running backs – still decent). And, although Luck only finished with a 79.7 quarterback rating, he moved the offense up and down the field, going 25/43 for 321 yards, a touchdown, and an interception (and 4 rushes for 38 yards and 9.5 YPC).
However, the defensive backfield, despite some near heroic pass breakups by Antoine Bethea and Greg Toler, and a downright improbable one by Darius Butler, could not slow Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill enough (I didn’t expect to type that).
Stopping the run is important and shouldn’t be overlooked. The same is true for running the ball, but none of that will matter if the opposing QB hits on 68% of his passes. Tannehill was too much today – 23/34 for 319 yards and a touchdown. That’s good for 9.4 yards per pass and a 107.4 quarterback rating. It’s going to happen sometimes. The hope is that it won’t become a trend, especially with the upgraded secondary.
Indy started things off with a pair of decent drives on offense, the second netting an Adam Vinatieri field goal (he missed from 52 yards out on the first drive). The defense, on the other hand, had a rough start. Miami raced downfield for touchdowns on their first two drives.
The first came on an 18-yard catch and run by Mike Wallace to cap a six play, 58-yard drive. The second happened so quickly, you might have missed it if you took a restroom break. Tannehill hit fullback Charles Clay deep over the middle for 67 yards. LaRon Landry was able to make a touchdown-saving tackle at the 10-yard line, but the Dolphins would finish up with a run around the left side into the end zone by Lamar Miller for a 14-3 lead.
The Colts offense answered with a touchdown drive that featured a 40-yard bomb to tight end Coby Fleener, a drive-saving fumble recovery by Donald Brown, and a 9-yard escape act by Luck on 3rd down. Luck finished things off with a 3-yard touchdown to Coby Fleener to make it a four-point game.
Both teams’ defenses came to life as the next five straight drives ended in punts, highlighted by Pat Angerer’s third down sack of Tannehill.
Indianapolis finally dialed up some offense again late in the 2nd quarter, when two huge passes from Luck to T.Y. Hilton (18 and 47 yards) helped set up Ahmad Bradshaw’s first touchdown as a Colt, a one-yard plunge to give the Colts a brief 17-14 lead at the 1:26 mark.
Miami quickly tied the game on a 54-yard field goal by rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis, who drilled the field goal a second time after Chuck Pagano called one of those last-split-second time outs that have become so popular in recent years.
Things got somewhat odd in the second half. The Colts took the lead right back early in the third quarter. Luck threw a beautiful touchdown to Coby Fleener from 15-yards out, but it was nullified by an illegal shift penalty on Reggie Wayne.
Note: Wayne was in motion and wasn’t required to be set before the ball was snapped. However, there may be a rule that says if he went into motion a second time, he had to set his feet after the first. I didn’t have time to look it up. I will find out later, though only for curiosity’s sake.
Indy wound up settling for another field goal and a 20-17 lead. It seemed as though it would be enough for the time being with so much time left. However, Miami, after one drive ended on a Robert Mathis sack (great game from Mathis, by the way), came back and took a 24-20 lead on a 1-yard run by (who else?) Clay. This game had so much fullback action…
It seemed far from over at the time with 2:27 left in the third quarter. However, despite three 4th quarter possessions apiece, neither team would score again. With the game on the line, and Luck stepping onto the field for another 4th quarter comeback, things fell apart. Two of Miami’s three sacks came on the final drive, as Indy struggled to protect Luck, and the Colts’ hopes ended when former Colt Phillip Wheeler brought Luck down on fourth down.
There were some positives:
-Coby Fleener actually looked like Coby Fleener.
-Bradshaw and Brown ran well, and for the second straight week, the running game wasn’t a thorn in the side of the offense.
-Five sacks by the defense. That was beautiful.
-Pat Anger is back. He finished with 11 total tackles, a half a sack, and a QB hit.
-Jerrell Freeman is no one-hit wonder. Freeman already has 18 tackles, 2 sacks, and a QB hit in two games.
-The Colts held the big, bad Cameron Wake to one tackle and zero everything else.
But there certainly were some negatives:
-The score, of course.
-Tannehill carved up the defense. Yuck.
-The offensive line had some good moments but struggled mightily in the second half, especially on the second drive.
-Darrius Heyward-Bey left the game with, what may have been a rib injury.
-Donald Thomas's injury is concerning as well. Neither Player returned.
-Oh, and I nearly forgot: No penalties called against the Dolphins? Was that real?
Overall, this looked like a better performance than last week, but things went wrong at the worst possible times. You can’t win EVERY close game, I suppose. Next up, a trip to San Francisco to play the 49ers. They’re pretty good, I’ve heard. The young Colts will have to play one of their best games to avoid dropping to 1-2 next week, but if the game is on the line in the fourth quarter once again, don’t bet against Luck.Follow @MarcusDugan
Anybody else disappointed not going for it on 4th and 1 in the first? That long field goal attempt would not have even be a thought for the Pats. Maybe someone on the coaching staff has AV as his starting fantasy kicker...
This was the second straight game, that i felt like the defense allowed a mediocre at best QB and opposing offense to look pretty good. The points allowed both games were not that bad, but it just doesn't seem that Tannehill should be putting up passing numbers like that at this point in career.
I'm not going to lie, I'm more than a little worried about what a really good QB will do to our D.
The challenge for the rest of the season will continue to be generating a pass rush up front. Yesterday the Colts got pressure by amping up the blitz. This allowed the one on one coverage the Dolphins used to carve us up with short to mid-range passing. We'll need to pick our poison until we can get the pressure from the D-Line and OLBs
I think the Colts will bounce back from this game and play better on both sides of the ball for the Niners. It really makes you blender though, can they play competitively with this ridiculous offensive play calling?
The play calling at end was bad. There was more than enough time to run. Pat Angerer did not show me much today. I'll be interested to see how he was graded. The Colts have no shot next week against the 49ers. I just hope Luck does not get hurt. At least the Colts get to play Jacksonville twice.
I managed to watch the game because in Florida, we are required to broadcast Fins' games, though they could not broadcast the Manning Bowl because (and this note came up on the TV repeatedly: "we apologize but NFL rules require this channel to carry Jaguar away games". So streaming for that game.
I thought we played well, honestly. Didn't see a lot of mistakes. Certainly D could be better, but after the 1Q the D looked better. Pass rush was there. Run game was there. Short passes, long passes.
I agree with you and with AJ that sometimes you lose close games. It makes you stronger. If you win every close game, I think arrogance starts to set in. We might get lucky this year and the AFC South may be weaker than normal. But we still have aways to go.
I expect 49rs to be a difficult game for us, a million to one chance. (So there's a chance! <- movie quote)
I'll say it again, thank goodness for this site and the articles here. There's no "Oh no! Fire everyone!!!" or "Brown sucks so bad!!! He's not worthy of warming the bench!" - just idiotic. May take two years for us to get our mojo but that's okay.
Good to see Peyton carving it up again. I hope he shows some mercy in his old stadium.
I'd say this game was a wash decided by the refs. The refs missed a couple of PI's on Fleener in the redzone and the weird call on Wayne took away a touchdown. I actually didn't mind the offense this game. Hilton was used well and it seemed (my eye anyway) as though the running game actually worked with the passing game by helping play action slowing the pass rush in the first half. That said I'm still not convinced that this system can put up enough points to stay ahead of what the defense gives up. While I think Tannehill is better than people think, being carved up the Dolphins doesn't bode well.
First drive, 2nd and 1, take a shot to the end zone. Love it. 3rd and 1? Aren't we supposed to be a power running team? Don't we have a FB? Didn't we see the same incomplete pass on the same down and distance?
Oh well, we have an easy one next week. We'll make it up.
Here is my main beef. Why did Pep go empty backfield the last part of the last drive. There was plenty of time on the clock and the Colts were moving the ball great and mixing it up. Going empty backfield eliminates any run threat or screen pass (and another blocker). Also Miami started blitzing up the middle when they saw the formation. I hate the empty backfield unless you absolutely don't have time to run. I loathe it with the interior line of the Colts.
The "illegal shift" penalty that nullified Fleener's 2nd TD was a phantom infraction. Dan Fouts, the CBS Color Commentator--and HOF QB, couldn't find any replay camera angles that showed a possible penalty. If a ref misread Reggie Wayne's motion, the NFL front office will probably issue an "oops, oh well" mention on Monday.
Ok, screw the loss. Every team drops one they shouldn't drop, and makes up for it on the other end sometime later (hopefully in the same season!). What's important is continued improvement.
Fleener: Yes! I ripped him, calling him the "Poor Man's Jacob Tamme", but he produced today. More Good Coby, get Allen back, watch this Jones fellow develop, and there will be zero worries at tight end.
Bradshaw actually looked like the back we expected.
Landry's not as big a liability in the pass game as I feared.
Ricky Jean Francois was actually making the effort to turn around and chase the ball. Since when does a spherical nose tackle make downfield effort? Today, *he* did. Sure, he didn't have the wheels to actually *get* downfield in time, but dammit, there's no loaf in that guy's play. I'm favorably impressed. I'm just sorry it's ineffective, but the heart shows.
T.Y. needs more PT. He showed that, definitively.
Luck: Sharper this year and showing it. Sure, he's still knocked around quite a bit, but experience takes time to gain. The game was where it was **because** of him, and had a couple of scores not been taken away for BS, then this game would've been won on his arm.
Pass rush. I spent the first quarter bemoaning it, and the next few going "About Damn Time". Sure, it needs to be more *consistent*, but at least it wasn't invisible today.
Yeah, I can bitch all day about the problems. But I already did that during the game. That's now water under the bridge; the thing is, what positives can this team carry forward? All the above, and more, are good things. Build on those, and things will get better.
@Spike58I was a little bit but even more because of the play call on 3rd and 1 before that. I felt like either a run or a screen would have been better than what they tried. In general, I thought that there were a couple of plays yesterday where calling a run played would have been a much better idea.
In addition, I want to express my disappointment on how Pep Hamilton calls the 2-min drives. The drive at the end was too rushed and panicky. They had plenty of time, there was no need to throw all those long passes. I admit that maybe I am too spoiled by how Peyton used to run those drives.
I'm not going to lie, I'm more than a little worried about what a really good QB will do to our D.
i.e. You're worried what #18 will do to this cheesecake defense :P
And they'll be facing the greatest of all time this year. A lot of people are excited about the Denver game this year. I'm afraid it'll be a blowout.
@stayclassysd I agree. They like bringing the heat from different positions in this scheme, but if a qb is carving up the middle of the field as a result, then they need to pick and choose when to send extra guys. I'm curious how they're going to try to handle Kaepernick next week.
@BrianKlass What was ridiculous about the offensive playcalling?
I don't share the enthusiasm about the 9ers game....maybe if they hadn't just taken one big stiffy up the rear....but they did and they'll be looking to do similar to the next opponent i.e the Colts. Forget that game and move onto the next one. If we come out unscathed, I'll be in church sunday and at the mosque friday...
Yeah, can't keep telling them what we're gonna do. Pep and Andrew need to be able to adjust faster when they see, say, a middle linebacker coming at Satele and McGlynn on every play. I blender if they're seeing that in the film session
@buymymonkey It is both funny and a little sad that they had to apologize to local viewers for showing the Jaguars. Okay, it's mostly funny.
I didn't see the game on TV, so you guys tell me if I'm wrong. At the game, it looked like Luck was off a lot. It could have bee receivers running wrong routes, but he also through into double coverage several times. He just looked off to me, am I wrong?
@smonroe Have to agree on the one three and out. A short pass and two ineffective runs. I'd say throwing is the way to go, but I haven't seen the tape yet so I can't say if receivers were actually getting open.
I really hope Allen comes back soon and Fleener keeps playing like that. If we have those two playing at their potential I'll feel way better about the offense.
Yes! I was in that end zone praying they'd run Brown to the outside. Then bring Bradshaw back in. Sunday evening QBing, I know. Going to be a tough year. I'm trying to just enjoy it.
It may have cost Indy the game. Could've been 24-24 and headed to overtime. As far as I can tell, Reggie should never have been penalized. It was definitive bullshit.
On another note, I know a lot of people find him annoying, but I like Fan Fouts as a commentator.
@AJ_ That´s more or less what I´m taking from the game. Where we thought the Colts would be eaten alive, they did surprisingly well (the OL kept the Dolphins DL off Luck´s back, the running game, the defense after that cataclysmic 1st quarter), and the reason they lost is because they couldn´t do things that are not replicable anyway (clutchness from A. Luck). This kind of loss strips the narrative from the team, and leaves the reality stark naked. Turns out, it´s not as bad as in our worst nightmares, and it shows potential in sectors that were unexpected.
@AJ_ Nice breakdown of the positives. Luck did have a pretty good game, particularly when he need to run. The only really bad decision was his interception throw to Wayne. That ball never should have been thrown.
Man, I was so glad to see Good Coby, plus a pass rush. This didn't seem like a poorly played game. I mean, there were things they should've done better, but it could've gone either way. I blender felt like we were GOING to lose until Luck was sacked on 4th down.
Side note: Dominique Jones played for the Reading Express of the Indoor Football League as a wide receiver. A WIDE RECEIVER. All 270 pounds of him.
Either he has some athleticism, or the now defunct IFL team was seriously misusing the guy.
@MarcusDugan You guys went to P-Money. Shoot, I was just thinking about Kapernick this weekend.
(And about the Denver game... I already feel like Archie probably did this previous Sunday. I am not looking forward to it at all.)
@MarcusDugan On the plus side, Manning's got a shot to set the single-game touchdown pass record. ;)
And icing on the cake: We'll probably get him breathing room on achieving the season record, yeah? :-S
@MarcusDugan They're going to have Walden set the edge to contain him.
Then after the game, they're going to show the team video of where he was supposed to be in order to set the edge to contain Kaepernick. :-S
As an aside: Anyone think ole Rob Morris still got something left in the tank?? ;) #fantasyland
@MarcusDugan Man, if the coaching staff thinks Satele and McGlynn are effective, they're off in Blenderland.
@smonroe His pick was horrible. Wayne was blanketed and he never should have thrown the ball. It seemed to me that Wayne was having a hard time getting open, so that likely made things worse. I think we all need to say a prayer, sacrifice a chicken, or buy a voodoo doll to get Allen healthy. Luck needs another go to guy.
@smonroe They just kept sending Wheeler up the middle. It would've made perfect sense to keep a back in there to help block him if the center and guards can't handle him.
@MarcusDugan Would have been 24-24 with the Colts kicking a Game Winning FG there at the end. Huge mistake from the Zebras.
@MarcusDugan The pass rush came either on risky blitzes or when the coverage held long enough. The pass rush remains one of their main problems in my opinion.
@MarcusDugan Oh, one last thing: At 270lbs, yeah, he certainly is a **wide** out. ;)
Jokes aside, if he pressures Fleener and Allen, I won't even be mad. Competition is a good thing. And knowing the backup can truly step in is comforting.
@MarcusDugan Well, in my mind that's the whole problem: What the Colts were told to execute, they executed fine. It's just that when you're told to execute run-run-run-punt on one possession just because you're deep in your own territory, I think three's a problem. It's just not one of poor play. And I was actually worried about it on that FG after the supposed illegal shift penalty; at *that* point, I started thinking "Oh man, we can't be settling for FGs, that'll haunt us". And it did.
I thought Luck had enough time to come back in the end too, but to me, when you ask your QB to be clutch all the time, there are times he's going to fail simply because he's not the only one out there. What you need to do is get far enough ahead to where it doesn't matter what happens in the end game.
Don't get me wrong, I blender ;) want to be so down on a team that I write them off. But when a problem appears glaring, I don't want the people responsible to hide from the problem. Not that I, personally, am ever going to affect what the Colts do or think, but fans can and will be heard if they all have the same message. The "blowing" of the perfect season is one of those things, the whole anti-Polian backlash is another.
@Bobman1 @AJ_ @MarcusDugan I didn't watch the Philly game fully though it was on here...but I know Freeney was brilliant against the Texans...considering a lack of any discernible passrush is what's plaguing this team right now...it's safe to say, it was a bad move bringing in Walden for Free (yes two games in)
@AJ_ @MarcusDugan Well... I guess it couldn't happen to a nicer guy... ah, I guess. Unless Luck gets one more than PM. Then I'd be okay with it. Hell, I love watching 18 tear up the league, just not against us, dammit! Can we get Freeney back for just one game?--he got great pressure against Philly (the game I was forced to watch here in Seattle).
@MarcusDugan @AJ_ @Bobman1 I´m afraid that in this case you should go with your worst-case scenario. Seattle´s crowd makes it the toughest place to play in, first of all, but mostly, compare the ´Hawks D with ours, and ... weep? Brace yourself? It´s true that San Fran´s offense was bad, but a lot of it had to do with the fact their receivers couldn´t gain consistent separation because of the quality of Seattle´s secondary. Toler´s no Sherman, that´s fo´sho.
@AJ_ @Bobman1 @MarcusDugan I was a little relieved to see SF suck it up all over the field last night. On the other hand, I don't like the idea of facing a team that good that just laid a stinker. They might be all amped up and motivated to come back with a vengeance at home. (It's also possible that they're going come out flat again *crosses fingers*)
@smonroe Yup. I'll be at the game in San Fran. A victory would be sublime, but I'm just looking forward to getting to see the Colts live in historic Candlestick Park.
I'll buy the bucket of chicken. (Bull Durham?)
I thought the run game was working, we abandon it so fast. Time to take a breath, get a good night sleep.
@DougEngland Yeah, he gets on my nerves. I tend to like about half of what Fouts has to say, which is a pretty good indicator of balance for a guy who's supposed to say good things about both teams.
@codrutc I hope they'll be wiser about when to use some of those blitzes the next time they're allowing a qb to carve up the middle of the field. You know Peyton already knows how Pagano's defense works, and he can't wait to mercilessly slice it to bits.
@MarcusDugan "Three's a problem"?.. Holy Goat, I've got my own language problems today. :-S