It wasn’t the prettiest, but the Indianapolis Colts started the 2013 season with a win, 21-17 over the Oakland Raiders. In a game that, on paper, shouldn’t have been very close, the Colts came out of the gate on fire. They ran and stopped the run as they had intended (except, of course, for a certain quarterback), and more importantly, it didn’t come at the expense of passing and stopping the pass.
The Raiders’ first drive moved decently but ended with a Greg Toler interception. It may have been a bad pass, but a good corner should be able to get his hands on a bad throw when it comes his way. (more after the jump)
The Colts’ first possession of 2013 began with a 12 yard run up the middle from Vick Ballard. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Reggie Wayne chipped in a couple crowd pleasing catches of 16 and 25 yards respectively to help set up Luck’s 12 yard touchdown to none other than Wayne.
After the defense forced an Oakland punt, thanks in part to a solid 3rd down tackle by Antoine Bethea, the Colts marched right down field for another touchdown, this one a 20-yarder to TE Dwayne Allen, who flattened a Raider defensive back on his way into the endzone.
Just as the game began to resemble a blowout (14-0 early in the second quarter), the Raiders came to life. QB Terrelle Pryor escaped pressure to throw a first down to RB Darren McFadden, and shortly after began the scrambling. Pryor for 9 yards. Pryor for 29 yards. Pryor for 13 yards. McFadden eventually finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to make it 14-7, Colts.
The Colts’ pass protection problems began to plague them after that, as the teams exchanged punts a couple times before Oakland ended the first half with a missed 48-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski.
The Colts began the third quarter with more protection problems, and their first drive ended shortly after Andrew Luck was sacked for an 8-yard loss by defensive back Terry Porter.
The Raiders answered back with more Terrelle Pryor – 42 more yards worth, eventually kicking a field goal to draw to within four points.
After sacking Andrew Luck to end another Colts drive, the Raiders finally took the lead 17-14 on a 5-yard pass from Pryor to Moore in the fourth quarter. 17 unanswered points. The Colts were in trouble, and at risk of losing to a team that everyone expected them to trounce.
With 11:09 left in the game, Luck and the offense did what they did all last season when they were 9-1 in close games. They played with the poise of 10-year veterans. The young quarterback shook off constant pressure and some shaky play to lead the team on a 71-yard march to take the lead. On the touchdown play, Luck escaped a collapsing pocket, then took off and rambled 19 yards for the go-ahead score.
When the Raiders took over with 5:20 left in the game, Pryor quickly moved them to the Indy 30 yard line, thanks in part to a blown coverage and a 41-yard pass to TE Jeron Mastrud (who?), who was injured on the play.
After a 12 men on the field penalty against Oakland (yes, too many men against the offense), the defense bottled up Pryor, forcing him to stay in the pocket, where he eventually threw another ill-advised pass, this one intended for Rod Streater near the end zone. Antoine Bethea read the play beautifully, saw the mistake, and came in for the interception to ice the game for Indianapolis.
Victory formation. Game over. 21-17.
Several things certainly could have gone better. The offensive line had some great moments at times in the run game, but Luck took four sacks against a team that has struggled mightily with their pass rush, and the defense needs to be able to handle elusive running quarterbacks.
Although Terrelle Pryor looked like Colin Kaepernick 2.0 at times, running for 112 yards on 13 carries (8.63 ypc), the Colts did manage to bottle up a healthy Darren McFadden, holding the Raiders’ top running back to 17 carries for 48 yards and just 2.8 yards per rush.
They had trouble with the pass rush at times, getting into the backfield, only to be eluded by the speedy Pryor, but Robert Mathis did come up with a sack on the final drive that helped decide the game, and the defensive backs did a great job getting their hands on the football.
Vick Ballard had 13 rushes for 63 yards and a healthy 4.8 ypc, but Andrew Luck put this team on his shoulders in the first and fourth quarters, going 18/23 for 178 yards, 2 passing touchdowns and a 127.9 QB rating and carrying the ball 6 times for 38 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
At one point, he slipped out of a collapsing pocket, pushed a defender to the ground, and sped away for a first down. Luck struggled through the middle, but he reminded us (as though we needed to be reminded) just how good he can be.
It wasn’t quite the game fans or the team wanted to see against a rebuilding team, but there were some bright spots to build on. And, more importantly, they found a way to win, as good teams tend to do. They will be looking for improvement, but let’s not get too caught up in the negatives. Enjoy the win. Next up, the Miami Dolphins at home on September 15.
As you very reasonably point out, a fan should always appreciate a win in the NFL
So, I hope I am very wrong about what I am taking away from the game.
Pryor really is closer to Kaepernick 2.0 the Colts made him out to be than the Vince Young 2.0 I expect him to be. (Actually, my expectations for Pryor are that calling him Vince Young 2.0 is a huge insult... to Vince Young.)
The Raiders really are the surprisingly frisky team they were on Sunday in Indy, instead of a potentially historically bad team that 0-16 is in play. (Their game with the Jags should be of epic proportions.)
Hamilton will learn in a hurry, that here is a HUGE difference in calling plays in the NFL as opposed to college. I mean two perfect drives to start the season and then absolutely nothing until the last series of the game. (And that drive was really all about Luck's incredible ability to improvise instead of anything Hamilton did to help him.) It'd be one thing if this was something like Belichick making adjustments... but this was the friggin Raiders who Hamilton managed to make look like the Steel Curtain.
Still, it was the first game of the season and a win is a win.
This game was a battle to see who could beat themselves. The Colts' O-line went into complete brain lock and our CBs milled around like they were at a convention. Meanwhile Sea Bass shanked a kick that would have won them the game and we learned that Pryor should never attempt a pass longer than 10 yards. Fortunately their screw-ups were worse than ours.
The good news is it wasn't as bad as getting bossed by Chicago in week 1 last year. Once they settle down and find their feet this team still has plenty of great games in it.
Also, you can't spell "ugly win" without WIN.
This game was like watching your parents kissing. It's uncomfortable to watch and you don't know what to say after you've seen it. That being said there were some highlights. DHB playing like a first round draft pick. We ran the ball effectively a couple times. Defensively however had me yelling at the tv. I hope Dwayne Allen didn't re-injure his ankle. I definitely hope they get a good look at Miami and the wildcat. The wildcat may be old news, but it's still a pretty effective way of confusing a defense just like the read option is. The next five games look like they will be hard fought, run orientated games, all with me yelling "stop him!' at the TV. Luckily, after this five game series of teams that run effectively either with a QB or RB comes that Peyton Manning guy. I heard he's pretty all right as well.
Most of the comments reflect my opinion on the game. Ugly first game from a young team with a lot of new faces. But it means that we have plenty to improve on! I take this game as more of an outlier with so little tape and no experience against the big, physical and fast Pryor. It certainly wasn't a boring game, and Luck was amazing when he wasn't on his back (and even when he was on that TD to Allen!). Bottom line is that we need to be able to get off the field on defense so that Luck can get the ball more. In the second and third quarters, we got killed in time of possession.
DHB looked pretty good for the most part, and his big body shielded that early big 3rd down conversion nicely.
Reggie is a monster. All hail Reggie.
78% completion, 128 PR, and a 95 QBR for Luck
No turnovers! +2 TO differential
There´s a win at the end of the day, which means the Colts just bought themselves time to correct areas of weakness serenely, I get that. And yeah, first game of the season, lots of new players, so it´s highly likely there will be solid improvements in the future. But still, one of the things I´m most worried about is that the coaching staff showed no ability at all to make adjustments as the game progressed, be it on O or D. The game was won on a Luck scramble, for Loki´s sake, against a Raiders team that did the same thing over and over again on both sides of the ball, and that could spell disaster going forward, in my opinion.
I donno. I found the offence a little conservative at times as if they were playing not to lose rater than to win. We will see how Pep approaches a game again a more high powered offence.
I agree with you about the defence. While they are obviously not great, I think they might fare better against a less mobile QB. The line looked pretty stout and the LBs did get into the backfield.
This game does make me think the SF game will be ugly. It'll be my only chance to see the Colts live this year and I'm pretty afraid I'm going to see Kapernick run circles around the D and Luck on his back for most of the game.
One of the things that upset me was that they had no answer to the blitzing DBs. After the third or fourth time, you'd think they'd have the quick outlet or screen ready. The O line is bad enough, we have to account for additional pressure.
Funny, not a lot of people complaining about Arians right now.
Well and I have to agree with another poster. The game did have me mad - especially when Pryor would scramble and scramble, eluding tackles only to find someone downfield WIDE open. Then Toler celebrating every tackle he makes, pointing at himself, only to miss coverage on slant for a TD.
Let's hope there's some learning for next week and we play better against the Dolphins.
Did Brown run at all this week? I don't think I saw him? And Bradshaw was okay. He wasn't used that much.
QB protection is again going to be a problem it looks like. And pass rush. I'm very afraid of the 49rs now. I think Kapernick will toast us like soft, gooey marshmallows. Mmmmm..
What I didn't like was the fact that there were more rushing plays than passing plays. Luck is your best player. Put the ball in his hands. If we have to watch the colts run the ball 55% of offensive snaps this year, it could be a long year.
I enjoy this blog! Even keeled analysis like this article is refreshing. There are certainly things to improve on, but the main thing that hurt the D was a RB playing QB. Hopefully this game gives us some tape to work on other running QB's we will face this year.
I agree about Pep. I'm glad they were able to stumble their way into a victory, where the 2011 team or, say, the 97 team would've found a way to lose.
Trust me, they looked bad to me too. I think a lot of teams like Indy that are just decent to pretty good look awful in week one, and oftentimes young teams look bad in week one. I can remember when they sucked - like the Bob Irsay days, every time an opponent didn't trounce the Colts, they and their fans were panicking. The Raiders will get blown out soundly a few times, but they'll lose some other games like yesterday's.
Can double-like a comment? I might have to borrow your last phrase, there.
Good news, Seabass's kick would've just made it a a 21-20 final ;)
And those deep passes by Pryor...wow. He just hurls it and hopes for the best, eh
Nothing like yelling at the TV. If only they would listen to us once in awhile.
Looks like Dwayne Allen's injury is a hip. MRI today, I believe.
Yeah. Parts of that game were just plain hideous, but there were some positives. The Raiders won't get shellacked every week. Teams like that have a way of bringing out the worst in their opponents, then losing anyway.
Let's hope the coaching staff gets better at making adjustments.
@hankster I agree. The 49rs put quite the beating on the Packers. The score was close but from a physicality perspective, Frank Gore, etc. beat the crap out of the Packers. Ugh.
Arians will be getting Palmer killed (figuratively) in Arizona.
Pep calling running plays like it was 1960 was kinda ugly. Might've been coverage based at times, but I believe I saw a few forces against 8 man fronts.
They did do some quick WR screens, but I'd have to go back and look to see if it was done against blitzing DB's. way too much pressure on plays that should've left someone wide open.
I think a young team like this will have bad games early. If they're playing like that in a couple weeks, we should worry. A lot. Meanwhile, in glad they didn't fold against the raiders.
I hated that. Maybe they thought they were gonna catch Oakland off guard and outsmarted themselves. But I didn't like Pep forcing the run or giving up on that series like that.
I'm afraid Brown must've fallen out of favor somehow. He was playing on the kick coverage team.
They had no idea what to expect from Pryor. Unfortunately, Kaepernick is a much better QB on a superior team (same goes for Wilson). They'll have tape of those guys, but they are going to need to be far more disciplined against them. One one of Pryor's completions, he started scrambling, and Butler left his man to lay a hit on him. Pass complete for a first down. They can't leave assignments like that against the 49ers and Seahawks.
As for the pass pro, I don't think it's going to be any better until they're ready to bring Thornton in at RG. But even Castonzo got beaten badly a couple times :(
I'm glad rhey pulled it out. They looked like a young team, but they still looked like the better team.
Hopefully, they'll play we'll against Miami next week and put some of our doubts to bed.
@BlueAndWhite17 Amen. If they do that all year, ol' Pep might fall out of favor.
@Music Man Same here. QB containment is going to be important this year, especially facing the NFC West. Loved seeing Luck pull that TD run out of nowhere though
@BigBlackRichard I just sat down at my computer to check for comments and smiled. Thank you for reading and for commenting :)
I'm hoping the next time they face a qb like that, they'll be able to handle him better. It's still fun to see a win though.
@MarcusDugan I hear you and I know you are right.
But after the first two drives, it was literally like the Raiders knew exactly what the Colts were going to run on offense. That is what scares me most. Still it was Hamilton's first game and hopefully he will adjust.
Of course, not wanting to assume too much with Pryor, but if Sea Bass had made that field goal to end the first half, the Raiders would have probably handled their last drive differently as they would have only needed a field goal to win.
@MarcusDugan Yeah, I just like some time to celebrate a win however ugly before acknowledging what we need to work on. Sundays for wins are celebration day.
Hankster and buymymonkey, I think Seattle could be a problem too. Wilson might not be as fast as Pryor and Kaepernick, but he sure as hell isn't slow. And they are such a solid team, right up there with SF.
@MarcusDugan Agree. Nothing wrong with running, but to me you should only run when it's advantageous. We have great QB and some pretty good WRs and TEs the pass should be the first option.
In this game I think part of running might have been the game plan. To me it looked like they were trying to control the clock against what they thought was an inferior team. Unless the D improves dramatically, I doubt we'll see too much of it in future since the Colts will be playing catch up.
@MarcusDugan I said the same thing about Palmer. He's not Big Ben or Andrew physically. I won't be surprised if Stanton is their QB by time we play them.
I'm not sure I can re-watch this game. I swear it made me a little sick.
It was like they had a couple run formations and a couple pass formations. Barely interchangeable. They have to know better than to do that (right?). If we see that next week against the Dolphins defense, we may be want to watch the whole game.