Yes, that happened. And it's a great day to be a Colts fan.
If you had told me before today that the Colts would need to play a great game to beat San Francisco, I’d believe you. If you’d told me that the Colts run game might struggle against the heavily favored 49ers, I believe I’d be on board with that too.
However, had anyone wished to inform me that the Colts defense, especially their secondary, would play a masterpiece of a game against a very talented 49ers team, I might have had my doubts – even as a fan. Had anyone predicted Indianapolis would roll up 179 rushing yards while blowing the doors of the 49ers, well, we know where this is going. In fact, all the ingredients were in place for a blowout, just not the kind we saw today.
The experts predicted a big loss. The Colts had other plans, and they made it known from the start with a beautiful touchdown drive on their first possession, moving 80 yards in 7 plays, featuring two big first downs by Darrius Heyward-Bey, a pass interference penalty, and a one-yard endzone plunge by newly acquired running back Trent Richardson.
Indianapolis frustrated QB Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers on their first drive, forcing a three and out after Kavell Conner and Jerrell Freeman, both of whom had marvelous games, stopped San Francisco running back Kendall Hunter for a two-yard gain.
San Francisco would eventually answer back with a touchdown drive that may have made fans worry that Frank Gore might average 15 yards per carry on the day (he did finish with 11 carries for 82 yds). San Francisco would cap it off with a 13-yard scamper around the left tackle by Hunter to tie things up.
They would never score again. Read that again, and enjoy it. Indianapolis would go on to force 7 punts, 3 sacks, and two turnovers, as the stunned Bay area crowd looked on helplessly.
The Colts would take the lead for good, as it turned out, with an Adam Vinatieri field goal in the second quarter, making the halftime score a tenuous 10-7 lead. San Francisco’s first half stats: 139 yards, 1-5 on 3rd down, and Kaepernick was 2-8 for 37 yards and a 46.9 QB rating. Most of their yards came on their lone touchdown drive, but the Colts didn’t look much better: 152 yards, 1-6 on 3rd down, and Andrew Luck only had 87 yards (albeit with a respectable 83.9 QB rating).
As the second half approached, it was time to see if the Colts coaching staff had improved at making offensive adjustments. Indianapolis struggled badly in the second halves of their first two games, having scored just seven in week one and three in week two.
That would not be the case today, as the Colts came out with poise and purpose, appearing to be ahead of whatever defensive adjustments the flummoxed Jim Harbaugh and his staff may have implemented.
After a huge 3rd down stop on which safety Antoine Bethea, seeing that Kaepernick had committed to the run, came up and brought him down for a one-yard gain, the Colts took over for their first drive of the second half. Bethea, as the defense did most of the day, opted for a solid, fundamental wrap-up tackle, instead of going for the big hit (which leads to missed tackles). It was a thing of beauty.
On the next series, Andrew Luck scrambled for 15 yards early and hit Reggie Wayne for 14 yards, setting up another Vinatieri field goal to make it 13-7, Colts.
The defense kept working. A running back flattened by nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, a 3rd down tackle by Darius Butler, a 3rd down sack by Robert Mathis and Corey Redding, Jerrell Freeman’s sack-fumble recovered by Kavell Conner (again, very good games from these guys), and, of course, as San Francisco’s hopes were all but dashed, Cory Redding’s deflection of Kaepernick's pass…off his facemask, high into the air to Cassius Vaughn, who stepped under it for a game-sealing interception.
While their defense demoralized the 49ers (delighted to type that), the Colts offense put together a two-touchdown fourth quarter. So much for second half struggles.
The first of those scores came on a beauty of a drive, with two big penalties against the San Francisco secondary (It’s nice to see an officiating crew that enforces the rules of the game), capped off by what appeared to be a designed running play by Andrew Luck.
Luck faked a handoff to Ahmad Bradshaw, who was definitely a threat on the day, tucked the ball immediately, and chugged into the endzone for a…wait for it…20-7 lead.
After the sack-fumble-recovery by Freeman/Conner, Ahmad Bradshaw finished off the scoring with a one-yard plunge for a well-deserved touchdown. 27-7, Colts. And, just when everyone thought the 49ers were going to make things look closer with a garbage time touchdown, came Redding’s well-timed - and somewhat comical - facemask deflection (what a game from the big man) and Vaughn’s heads up interception.
Ah, victory formation. This was a huge win for a team that appeared to be reeling from injuries and the home loss to Miami. Ladies and gentlemen, the Colts are 2-1, and this win was no fluke. This was a complete dismantling of a very good team. Something tells me they’re going to have a fun plane ride back to the Circle City.
-Bradshaw finished with 19 carries for 95 yards, talk about running angry. Pagano wasn't kidding around about him.
-The Colts ran well with the lead, even though Trent Richards, who just joined the team, struggled with just 2.7 ypc.
-Andrew Luck didn’t have as many yards, but he threw some of the tightest spirals I’ve ever seen en route to the, well, the rout.
-Darrius Heyward-Bey caught all 5 of his targets. He is a clear upgrade at the number two receiver position.
-Reggie Wayne is still awesome and led the team with 63 receiving yards.
-The Colts avoided making the 49ers’ reserve tight ends look like Pro Bowlers in Vernon Davis’s absence. That is big considering their struggles against tight ends.
-Indy allowed just 254 yards on the day, 67 on the 49ers’ final drive, a.k.a. garbage time.
-This was a great win. The Colts will prepare for the Jaguars now, and a good chance to be 3-1. The rest of us can enjoy this for a while. 27-7 over the 49ers. Yeah, we’ll take that.
What are you guys expecting for TRich against the Jaguars? I think we'll see TRich's true potential in this offense this weekend. Hard to expect much from somebody who has barely seen the playbook and was probably short on sleep.
Hopefully, the Colts organization are helping him get properly settled in here in Indy. A man needs his favorite recliner, his own adjustable bed, hot tub, silk PJs, bunny slippers... in order to do his best.
I have to admit I was so stunned by what I was seeing, that I almost couldn't enjoy it.
It is one thing, when a team gets all the breaks and there are multiple freak turnovers. But the Colts yesterday dominated the 49ers at their own game.
I may have just been imagining it, but the look on Pagan's face immediately after game was almost like he couldn't believe it either.
I was sooooo happy that I was able to watch this game, even recorded. I liked watching Bradshaw run like he did but I was really happy to see the patchwork offensive line work like it did. It could have been ugly but it kinda worked. I think Cory Redding should be mentioned as well because he was playing with loads of energy and seemed to be everywhere. Moala looked pretty good as well. The secondary held together and was able to make some big plays. I was also just happy to see Kaepernick struggle to find receivers. He proved that he is still a young QB and he can be rattled just like other young QBs - even at home. I don't think that this game plan will do it against Denver or Houston but it was a very good win.
Also, I hate to be the one to be negative after a win like this, but at times I hate the play calling and how much we run. I remember saying pass the ball way too much or throw it down field and called it when they were going to run it. I mean having a running game is great, especially a top 5 one which is weird because we're the Colts.
I also feel like we are vastly using Luck and his abilities at times. He is likely already a top 10 QB, yet we're 20th in passing. It's like when we do pass it's dink and dunks, and outside the Miami game we've rarely taken shots down field. And I'm surprised we haven't taken a few deep shots with DHB considering how great he's doing. I mean we could have an elite passing game, but we choose to have an elite running game. With a QB like Luck, you would think they'd choose the passing game over the running.
I'm just starting to take issue with our philosophy, and how we're becoming the 49ers. Which while isn't a bad thing, look at teams who have won the Super Bowl recently. Teams who won by passing. I mean we are winning and just pulled a major upset, but I still just have a nagging feeling that I don't like how much we run and how little we pass.
Glad to eat some crow (mmm, ketchupy) after saying thing last week like "we all know it will be ugly, but let's look for silver linings...." I THOUGHT I was writing on a Niners website. My mistake...;-)
The Niners should change their nickname to the Noners. I told @MarcusDugan that I was so not looking forward to this game that I was making cookies during the first half. The cookies turned out much like the game: surprisingly good.
Did any of you see T Riches schedule this week? Find out you got traded Tuesday, fly in at 6 am, pass a physical at 7 am, in the classroom learning blitzing pickups at 8 am on Wednesday. I think he will get better as he learns the playbook. He also said he has never been this tired before a game.
I think T Rich with Bradshaw makes an incredible 1-2 punch much like Bradshaw had with Jacobs. Too bad we don't have the offensive linemen that he had with the Giants.
One thing I hope to see, is that instead of having Vinitari try to kick 50+ field goals on 4th and ones,, we instead use TRich or Bradshaw and go for it. You don't have a 40 year old kicker, even a possible HOFer try making 50+ attempts in a windy outdoor stadium when you want to impress the league that you are a "power running" team that can impose its will.
Also note to Pep Hamilton, even Colts fans who are not Donald Brown haters will tell you he is not the best choice for a 4th and one.
Did anyone else think they saw some nice things from Bjoern Werner. Folks have been panicking that Werner might be a bust. I actually beg to differ.
One thing I have to say about the coaching, that thankfully didn't end up biting us in the ass. With 4 minutes left in the game, we score a TD to go up 19-7, then proceed to kick the PAT...Why? Were we afraid the Niners were going to score a TD and kick 2 FGs in 4 minutes? In the future, I hope to see more awareness by the staff to give us the best odds to win the game.
"Darrius Heyward-Bey caught all 5 of his targets. He is a clear upgrade at the number two receiver position"
Very True, DHB had a real solid game especially given that he was playing with sore ribs. Still give the old whipping boy, Donnie Avery some love. Avery had over 140 yards for the Chiefs on Thursday. Avery showed that he could carry the load when Bowe was nearly shut down with a constant double teamed.
wAHHOO! My first Colts game live and it was an unexpected win. Good summary, Marcus.
The Colt's defence looked surprisingly good. While their running game struggled at times it turned out to be effective overall. I gotta say though, Brandshaw looked way better then Richardson. I'm sure Richardson will improve, but he just plain looked slow out there. The run game did leave the Colts in some bad third down situations though and had to fall back on Wayne. God I hope that guy never gets old. Luck obviously looked great and didn't seem to be holding the ball too long (at least to my non-expert eye). While not perfect, he did get the ball out to avoid most of the hits.
The only think I didn't like was the two decisions not to go for it on fourth and inches around midfield. I know the Colts won, but those calls seemed absurdly conservative. This time the defense held, but against a team with more than one receiver Pagano might have to play a less conservative game.
Oh, I completely forgot Dominic Jones. He lead-blocked so well today it made me wonder why we have Havili.
The only really bad flag all game I thought was the first crown of the helmet personal foul. That was a clean hit.
What kind of refs have to waive off 3 flags in the span of like 5 game minutes? Sheesh.
How is one to succeed without being properly equipped with bunny slippers? Maybe get him a pair of these: http://www.bunnyslippers.com/nfl-team-slippers/indianapolis-colts-slippers.php
I think David Thornton is actually in charge of helping the young guys (usually rookies) get settled. I bet he and the Colts will take good care of T Rich.
Also, I hope he's a beast next week against the jags.
@DougEngland He might have looked a little incredulous, but what his apparent disbelief would say about him is he was realistic about this game too, no matter what he said. Sometimes a facial expression or body language can kind of give away what a person is really thinking, like, "damn, I can't believe we did that."
@bradicus18 My hope is that if the running game keeps plowing along the way they are, Luck's ypa will increase, and we won't be as worried about the imbalance on offense. I hope. Otherwise, Denver for sure is going to destroy us.
@Candlebox Don't forget though, this team can play in different ways depending on the opponent. We know they can pass if need be...I'm not mad at being able to attack defenses in a host of ways i.e. attacking the weak points.
@Candlebox Couldn't agree more. I felt the play calling was obvious for large periods of the game, and I were very surprised, the 9'ers didn't made any adjustments to their gameplan, both offensively and defensively. I think we caught the 49'ers on a very bad day (for them), and would probably lose this matchup 9 out of 10 times.
That being said, I was quite pleased with our defensive effort which exceeded my wildest dreams.
I TOLD you they had a chance buddy. Also, I'm going to check out PFF grades and maybe look at the "tape," but I think that's one of the better games we've seen from this offensive line. Marshmallow - er, uh, McGlynn was a beast as a center. Total transformation. I don't know what to say, except sorry McGlynn.
@thellamajockey He looked better than Walden in every facet of the game. Strong against the run, good instincts, great quicks off the ball. As he matures, our D WILL get better.
@thellamajockey I thought he looked good. like he was Bjoern ready. a natural. Natural Bjoern Killer....I couldn't help it.
@thellamajockey DHB has been great thus far this season. So weird seeing him use his hands to catch the ball.... Reggie must be showing him a thing or two.
@thellamajockey Yeah, one thing that can be said in Avery's defense that I use to say about Pierre Garcon when he struggled, is soooooo many of his targets were deep balls, it's just hard to catch many of them. Avery had tons of drops and bad looking plays, but when he's catching higher percentage passes, he might actually be a little better than we gave him credit for.
@hankster I agree on the 4th and inches. I can see where they were coming from, but they had SF absolutely reeling, put the hammer down and trust your defense -- since this was a game where they could actually do such a thing.
@BDiddy I'll never argue to support an offense that trots out an FB as much as we seem to do nowadays, but I will say that Havili laid the wood on a couple blocks. Specifically, in the 4Q I think, he set his gun to "stun" and dropped an LB to his knees where he stayed upright and just kind of bobble-headed around for a minute before getting to his feet and trying to figure out where he'd left his keys.
Of course, a play or two later, Havili completely whiffed on an edge rush block.
@BDiddy Jones is such a beast as a lead blocker. He isn't just a big-ass tight end, he looks like a darn good blocker. Cunningham isn't bad or anything, but I can see why they went with Jones.
@BDiddy Isn't it better to waive a flag than to miss, or not call, a penalty? It's a refreshing alternative. Many times another ref has a better angle and can correct the flag thrower. That's why they have multiple refs. Isn't this how it's meant to work?
@MikeMiller4 That might just be because Landry was out... Just kidding. Kind of.
@MikeMiller4 Well said, sir.
@pierrezombie I thought if Indy could win this, it would be a nail-biter.
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@ColtsHead_Ben @thellamajockey I agree. I've had my doubts about Werner and they still remain but he looked decent this game. I hope he continues to get better. I would like to see him chase a play from behind still but his pass rushing is looking better. I thought Walden was a train wreck early in the game.
@MarcusDugan @thellamajockey IMHO its bad karma to wish ill for a former Colt. Avery is most likely less talent than DHB, so I really respect Grigson's decision to not resign for Avery for the money he was asking for , or blow mega bucks on lets say a Mike Wallace. DBH is looking like the out of left field quality find that Grigson is getting a rep for .
Good Luck Donnie.
@Jayjaybe @BDiddy You'll see this happen maybe once a game, for it to happen that quickly that many times is a bit outside the norm and shows something was off. Perhaps that is why there were so few flags the rest of the game? Officiating is such a subjective thing, that might have had an impact on a ref the rest of the game.
@Bobman1 @hankster Well, there's that. Gotta do better in the passing game. One thing we overlooked in the excitement is that was Luck's career low in yardage (despite throwing passes on a "frozen rope" as they say), and he only had something like 4.6 yards per attempt. I'm not going to worry too much yet, especially after they dealt out such a complete butt whooping. If the running game keeps working well (4th in the league), we should see Luck unleash the freaking fury on someone (watchout Jags). Now, those 3rd down play calls...