It doesn't get any better than that, folks.
Demond is on his way to the Luke right now, and reports that Freeney is playing today per the pregame show.
Wow. Hard not to love that guy.
- The Seahawks picked up an early third and long as Wallace evades Freeney. The Colts run defense is dominant early, however, and the Seahawks can't do it twice in a row. Great run defense early, and Freeney is indeed playing and bringing the heat. This was an excellent start for the D, and the Offense will set up at the 20.
- The Colts drive starts well with a play action pass to Addai for good yardage. Manning hits Clark on a third and four. Manning then hit Frenchy for a sweet 25 yard gain, right after Dick Stockton evoked Weird Al, saying that Manning was "like a surgeon". From that point on, the Colts ran the ball on the next 5 straight plays. Good running by Addai set the Colts up with a first and goal. Then Brown pounded it in. 7-0 Colts. A text book perfect drive. Deep and short passes and a nice running drive. Beautiful.
- After some terrible kickoff coverage, the Seahawks again pick up a first down quickly, then extend the drive further as Wallace evades the rush and scampers for a first down. The Seahawks try to cute and a run wide and a flanker screen are smothered for losses, and on third down, he's forced out of bounds by Keiaho who was assigned to spy on Wallace. All you need to know about this game on D so far is that the Seahawks have rushed 7 times for 11 yards...three on a QB scramble. Again, the Colts start at the 20. It's time to put this game away.
- Nope. A botched stretched run, a batted pass, and pressure on third down=three and out. Indy will punt to start the second quarter. All things considered however, this was a good first quarter for the team.
- The Colts D survives a deep ball aimed at exploiting Tim Jennings as Wallace overthrows him. After a short run and a nice round of applause for Edge, the Colts blitz on third down and give up the first down. After another short third down completion, Mathis got mauled and the ensuing penalty backed the Seahawks up. On third down, Wallace scrambled, hitting a big play down field, but was flagged for an illegal forward pass. It was a close play, and the Seahawks looked like they could have challenged. They didn't. Colts' ball at the 10.
- After a quick pass to Clark, the Colts got a huge break as Don Brown fumbled a ball along the sidelines. The Hawks recovered, but just barely out of bounds. Manning then hits Frenchy again on a wild floater for 35 yards deep down field after getting hit. Frenchy broke free across the field and caught the ball for a big gain and first down inside the 20. Addai does some dirty work inside the 5 before Manning hits Wayne for a TD on his first catch of the game and a 14-0 lead. Amazing. Manning is 10/11 for 127, a score and a rating over 145.
- The Seahawks do a nice job converting on third and long and piece together a real drive. The main culprit is the Colts' secondary which has allowed Wallace to complete 82% of his passes. The pressure bailed out the D after a first and goal however, as Brock and Mathis hammered Wallace on third down. Mare drained a 38 yard field goal, but it was a good stand for the D. The Offense has a minute and change to get points. They also start the second half with the ball.
- Manning burns up the Seahawks secondary and quickly gets the team into field goal range. Finally, with just 8 seconds to play, Manning hits Collie for an incredible 20 yard TD pass to end the half. Collie gets his first career TD (a 20 yard strike). It's 21-3 Colts at the half.
Here's everything you need to know about this half of football: 17/20, 220 yards, 2 TDs, a 145.8 rating and on defense: 12 carries for 34 yards (2.8 YPC).
That will get it done every time. 21-3 Colts.
- Utter and total domination folks. 5 drives. 4 TDs. This one is capped off by Addai bursting up the middle on third and 1 from the 11. Manning is incendiary right now. The Colts are running effectively and I expect we'll see a heavy dose of both RBs from here on out. Enjoy the starters while you can. They are coming out early today. 28-3 Colts.
- No contest. A hold on first down dooms the Seahawks. The Colts D has played a masterful game today, allowing a completion % of 79%, but with only 4.8 YPA (including sacks).
- Well, it took all day, but Manning finally screwed up. He tried to go quick on third down, and ended up throwing a bad pick on third and 10. No big deal, but it didn't seem necessary. Manning looked to trying to catch the Seahawks with too many men on the field. He didn't.
- The Seahawks drive ends in ignomy as Freeney pressures Wallace, allowing Mathis to fly in with the tomahawk strip. Keiaho recovers, and the D escapes unscathed. By my count, that the third sack on the day for the Colts.
- The third quarter ends as the Colts cross midfield. I imagine that Manning will finish out this drive and take a seat for the bulk of the fourth quarter. Seriously, folks, I really want to see my dream scenario with Edge take place. It could happen, right?
- Wayne drops a first down pass with the pink gloves, and the Colts drive stalls just shy of midfield. After a penalty, the Seahawks get the ball at the 25.
- Dwight Freeney must be fine. Not only is he playing with the Colts up 25 points in the fourth quarter, but he picked up a sack. He has had sacks in all four games this year. Rushing runs the kick back across the 50, and the Colts are in business. It remains to be seen if 18 is in or not.
- Indy moves the ball a little, but generally looks sloppy doing it. Manning takes a couple of shots, but the Horse extends the lead anyway with a field goal. Seriously, Jim. It's Sorgi time.
- Good Lord. It's just turned into a bloodbath now. Colts ball, first and goal at the 5 as Wallace gets killed again. Oh! The humanity!
- Quick three and out. 3 more points. 34-3. It's time for Edge's 80 yard run.
- Wallace scrambles for a garbage TD with less than three minutes to play. It's utterly irrelevant.
- The Seahawks onside kick results in a desperation drive and another meaningless TD. 34-17 is your final.
END OF GAME:
All good things. Ride the bull. Do the bull dance.
This team is rolling.
Welcome to week four in the NFL. The Colts have a two game lead over the AFC South. Is it too early to start thinking about earning a division title and possibly a bye? Not in my book. Despite the Colts history of squandering them, I hold byes in very high regard. Remember: Even if the Colts had beaten San Diego last January they still would have had to win two more road games to get out of the AFC. It's the difference between playing in Indianapolis instead of Baltimore, Pittsburgh, or New England in January.
I have a weekly habit of staring at the standings and the schedule to figure out who to root for that week. I'll root for anyone if it helps the Colts. That includes the Jacksonville Jaguars (see last week). Here's how I see week four. Keep in mind that this involves predicting how you see the rest of the season playing out for the teams involved.
1. Jets at Saints. I've been rooting for the Jets early and often this season (Houston, New England, Tennessee). I really want them to win the AFC East because of personal animosity towards the Pats, but they need to lose this week. The Jets are the kind of team that could randomly win 13 games, much like Tennessee did last year. I'm not saying they will, but they appear to be in competition for a bye at this point in the season. They need to lose.
2. Titans at Jaguars. The Titans at 0-4 would be incredible. Needless to say I don't fear the Jags, and their best case scenario is an 7-9 season. I still think the Titans will win some games this year. The bigger the hole they dig, the more likely they call it quits at some point (like when the Colts beat them next week).
3. Ravens at New England. This is probably the toughest game of the week to choose. It mostly comes down to the records. If the Ravens start 4-0 they will be firmly in bye-hunting mode. I won't be sorry at either outcome, but I think you have to root for the Pats. As if that's possible.
4. San Diego at Pittsburgh. This one is fairly easy. Pittsburgh is going to have a hard road towards a bye because of their division and their style of play. San Diego, on the other hand, is a potential threat. They play in a horrible division where they are handed five or six wins. This advantage makes 12-13 wins very reachable. I'm firmly in the Steelers camp here.
Overall, I think the Colts are in great shape to win 12 games and earn a first round bye. The AFC doesn't scare me this year. There are some good clubs, but no one who threatens to run out and win 14 games. Except maybe the Colts.
As part of the Bloguin network, I often get the chance to interact with bloggers from other cities. Today, I'm trading shots with Chris from Seahawkaddicts.com. Here's a sampling of what to expect from the Hawks this week. Here's the link to my answers to his questions on his site.
I woke up this morning not planning on doing a major post. I was up late working on 18 Plays. I have 'real job' responsibilities to tend to. I just didn't have the time.
Most importantly, there was nothing to say. The Colts played great. The schedule looks sound. There are injured players, but no real concerns. When there is no real angle on a day, I try to keep my mouth shut. Coming up with stories is hard work. I refuse to just write garbage to fill this slot each morning.
Not everyone works so hard. Some columnists are so incredibly lazy that they'll just write whatever so long as they can fill a page of print.
Kravitz wrote a column today saying the Colts will lose in the first round of the playoffs. That's no crime, per sea, and there could be valid reasons for holding that opinion. I can think of lots of reasons this season might not work out: teams clamp down on Wayne/Clark, the run game vanishes at the wrong time, injuries on defense mount instead of recede, Caldwell goes conservative in a big game, ect. I'm not saying those are probable, but they are reasonable and it is possible to make a sound argument around some of them. It would take some work, creative thinking, and sound research. But, if one is going to say the Colts aren't for real, you'd had better give some reasons for it.
Bob doesn't give any. Instead, his argument is more simplistic:
After Sunday night's game in Glendale, Ariz., Wayne joked with me in the locker room.
"Hey, you picked us to lose," he said, smiling. "What's up with that?"
"Yeah, I picked you to lose," I told him. "Every year in the playoffs I pick you to win, and where does that get me?"
Until further notice, these are still the Atlanta Braves of the NFL. What they are doing, what they have done, is absolutely startling. What's this now? Twelve straight regular-season victories? The remarkable has become commonplace. Parity, it seems, is for everybody else.
And yet, without winning in January, it doesn't seem to matter quite as much.
So Bob has no reason for ripping the Colts other than irrelevant games that happened 5 years ago. The truth is this column is lazy. Bob had nothing to write today, and he's been pretty easy on the Horse recently, so for no reason at all, he turned his pen on them. No analysis. No logic. Just emotion and recrimination.
He does quote one stat about the Colts' points production in the playoffs. Of course that goes back to 1999 and there's only two players from that offense still around (Manning and Saturday). Hell, it goes back to the 41-0 game after the 2002 season, and the only guys on offense still here from that game are Manning, Wayne, and Saturday.
He kills the Colts for losing in San Diego, but that was because he was too stupid to see the flaws in that team and wrote a big column about how they were sure to win when anyone with eyes knew it was going to be a tough game to come away with.
There's no analysis in his piece. There's no explanations, true or false. He doesn't provide any reasons why the Colts lost those games that might be applicable to this season. If anything, the entire story line on the Colts has been CHANGE for the past 6 months. It would seem logical to assume things would be different this year. Bob, however, focuses on the one thing that is the same: 18. His only 'logic' is that he subtly insinuates that it's because Peyton Manning is a choker:
For all the regular-season greatness, for all the gaudy numbers, the bottom line is that the Colts are 7-8 in the playoffs during the Manning era. In those eight losses, the Colts have averaged a meager 13.6 points per game, despite the widely held perception it's the defense that holds the Colts back.
I've seen this movie before.
So have you.
Go ahead and have Super Bowl dreams, but do so at your own peril.
Ah, so that's the Colts' problem? Manning? His 90+ rating in the last three losses are the reasons the Colts didn't win? Did he even watch those games? He wanted Dungy fired for the playoff losses, and now Tony is gone, but Kravitz STILL wants to pile on.
It must be Manning. He clearly blames Manning for everything that has gone wrong...every bad call, every injury, every tough break in the past decade.
I'm not going to go through the normal litany of reasons why this kind of thinking is stupid. I've done it scores of times. At this point, if you can't accept that the NFL playoffs have become a royal crap shoot every January, there's not much more that I can do to convince you.
But surely, SURELY after what we've seen Manning do already this year, we can elevate the discussion of the Colts beyond the level of "Manning is a choker". Even Bill Simmons can see that's not true.
All the rest of us can.
Bob Kravitz can't.
He's lazy. Not because of what he said.
Because of how he said it.
Just a quick note: Due to work obligations, I might be more scarce for a few days (though I always squeeze in what I can). As a parting gift, here's the newest 18 Plays Podcast. Demond and I discuss Sunday night's game in depth. 18 Plays is brought to you by Broad Ripple Tree Service. If you call for an estimate, you may just luck out and get a personal visit from a surly blogger/pleasant professional arborist. As always, you can direct down load the podcast, listen in the embedded player, or subscribe via ITunes.
One note I meant to mention that didn't make it in was that Bethea said his own name in the introductions and pronounced it "Bethe-uh" instead of the new fangled "Beth-A" that he apparently asked the media to say. Seriously, if he's going to say his name one way, shouldn't the rest of us get to as well?
Fans freak out.
Fans spread rumors.
Fans are irrational.
Sometimes, fans do great research.
Yesterday was one of those times. Yesterday we linked to 18to88 reader Cass's fan post on Stampede Blue where tried to play junior medic and diagnose Dwight Freeney based on the symptoms and known issues. At the time, he thought Freeney's injury would cost him a handful of games because of a strained quad.
Then Bill Barnwell of footballoutsiders tweeted that it was a torn quad. We wept. We gnashed our teeth. We cursed. Freeney was done!
That is until Cass pointed out that a strained quad and a torn quad are essentially the same thing. Whew.
Since then there have been two different reports as to when to expect Freeney, the most recent claiming he'll be out 2-3 weeks. While that certainly makes it doubtful he'll play in the Tennessee game, with a bye and then the hapless Rams on the docket, it now appears that Freeney will hopefully be in good shape for the tough stretch of games starting with San Francisco in November. The Colts schedule in November is manageable, but more difficult than the early section. Indy plays SF, Hou, NE, @Bal, @Hou, and Ten. That's the stretch when they'll need to have Freeney. With any modicum of luck, the Colts should be able to go at least 2-1 or 3-1 without him. Because neither the Rams nor the 49ers have explosive passing offenses, the Colts don't need to rush Freeney back. They can give him an extra week or two of rest if necessary. I realize the 49ers are a solid club, but they'll try to beat the Colts by running the ball so if you had to pick a game against a solid team for Freeney to miss, that would be the one.
To date the single most informative article written about what to expect from Freeney's injury was written by a fan. Will wonders never cease.
"Stats are for losers", they say.
Yeah, but they said the same thing about Star Wars and comic books, and look how that turned out for me.
I love the numbers, and one of my favorite parts of every Monday is heading over to the NFL stats pages to pour over who is where. Now as part of my weekly contribution to Cold Hard Football Facts, I get started on Sunday afternoon. For the record, I enjoyed researching that Texans/Jags game. Seriously. After covering three straight Texans games, I now no longer fear them at all. Demond rightly compared them to the 2001-2002 Colts team. Lots of fire power, really shaky D.
Here's some of the feel good numbers after three weeks in the season.
- #2 in passing yards (8 behind Rivers)
- #2 in Passer Rating at 117.7 (Brees is at 118.1)
- #1 in YPA
- #4 in comp % at 68.8% (Roethlisberger is at 71.6)
- #2 in TD passes with 7 (Brees has 9)
Reggie Wayne/Dallas Clark
- 4th and 7th in receptions with 20 and 18 (Moss has 26)
- 1st and 4th in yards with 325 and 284
- tied for 2nd with 2 TDs along with Garcon as well (Colston has 3)
Dwight Freeney is third in sacks with 4 (Antwan Odom has 7)
Antoine Bethea is tied for fourth with 2 picks (three with 3)
The Colts are:
- 4th in total offense (1st in passing, 2nd in yards per play)
- 5th in defensive yards per play
- 3rd in fewest points allowed.
- 8th in sacks, 6th in defensive passer rating, 2nd in passing TDs allowed.
- 31st in 3rd down % allowed. The Colts D gives up 50% of all third downs. I definitely believe the injuries in the secondary are hurting this number.
I couldn't be happier with the game. That's the kind of put-it-all-together football we haven't seen from this team since the early part of 2007. When training camp opened, we had visions of this kind of team...dominant on offense, cruel on defense, competent on special teams. Last night was revelatory. Please put any minor details or criticisms in that context. There are no complaints today, just observations. These are my completely gut reactions from last night's game.
Reasons to Smile:
- The pass pro was great, aside from the one play where Pollack got beat, and Manning was hit as he threw. Listen, it's officially time to stop worrying about Charlie Johnson at left tackle. He's been absolutely acceptable. I don't gauge this on the lack of sacks. Manning was rarely sacked last year, but his YPA was the third lowest of his career. This year, he clearly feels comfortable enough to take deep shots downfield. He's looking deep, so I'm happy. CJ, I apologize. I doubted you. You are getting the job done. I was wrong. I don't mind saying that at all. I don't know if you are the answer, but you are an answer, and I can live with that. CJ has already been better than I thought he could be.
- 12 carries. 24 yards. One fumble. That's ok, I guess. Melvin Bullitt is Baby Bob. Last week, his play was erratic and you could see that we still very much need Sanders to be healthy, but if he was your team's real starting safety, you could live with him and win with him.
- The run game is officially competent. This actually goes hand in hand with #1. It was beautiful to watch Addai run the stretch left last night. Going into the game the Colts were last in the league running around left end, but that seems to have been patched up. Addai has now had back to back good YPC games. Don't look now Addai haters, but his YPC is better than Don Brown's 3.8 to 3.4. Seriously, everyone needs to stop begging for Addai to get benched.
- Speaking of Don Brown...he's pretty good. You can see he's still figuring out the run game some, and I actually think Addai is visibly running more effectively, but Brown has that big play burst that is tantilizing. He's still kind of boom/bust, which isn't what works best in the NFL, but I think that will come. We'll have to keep an eye on his "success rate"
- The young receivers played wonderfully. Last night was the kind of game I wanted to see in order to fully buy into them. I never denied that they were talented or that they were ahead of the curve, just that they were good enough to make the offense truly fearsome. Now, I can buy it. Last night they combined for 6 catches for 111 yards and a score. That's almost as many catches and MORE yards than they had in the first two games combined. They caught balls thrown more than 3 yards past the LoS. Garcon is clearly a freakish weapon waiting to happen, and Collie did enough early to open things up for the other guys. Very impressive game to say the least, and it was a huge step up from weeks 1 and 2. It was interesting to hear Collinsworth say that Collie and Manning did one on one work all week to prepare. You could see a difference in the confidence level.
- Jim Caldwell took a major step forward with this win. I felt that he was too conservative during the game, but I almost always think that. Having said that, however, the Colts' offensive game plan and thought process was aggressive and innovative. There were lots of reasons the Colts could have chalked this game up as a loss and blamed Monday night's game. Instead, they showed the same killer instinct they did under Dungy. This team couldn't look any identical to previous Colts squads. That's to Caldwell's credit for sure.
- Pat McAfee. Wow, great kickoff work.. Again, three games is way too soon to judge anything, but can you ask for anything more out of a draft than Polian gave us this year? Ironically, the thing we were most excited about (the DTs) is the only thing to show no results so far. Amazing.
- Kurt Warner just got sacked again as I write this. Dwight Freeney ran him down in a wheel chair.
- Revenge for Edge James. That makes me happy, what can I say?
Reasons to Frown:
- Garcon played wonderfully, but picked up two more penalties. That gives him 5 in three games. The official numbers say four, but that doesn't count the illegal formation penalty that he caused on Monday (which technically wasn't on him because there weren't enough men on the line, even though it was his responsibility to be there). Collie's little give up short of the first down was weak. These are talented young men who are playing well, but mistakes aren't hard to find either.
- The third and one play early was not blocked well at all. I didn't like the play call, and there was just no place for Addai to go.
- AV. Let's face it. We are all concerned.
The end around to Clark on third and one. We all love that play and it's a real tendency breaker. That was an exciting game plan.
Not challenging the spot on the Addai catch on third down. I would have gone for it anyway, rather than kick, but not challenging didn't make sense. There was no downside; considering the lead, losing a timeout was not going to hurt any.
Reggie Wayne's TD catch. He may never make a better play. How good is this guy? He was always going to be remembered as a great Colt, but he's becoming something else before our eyes this year. Stunning.
Pollack Saturday allowing pressure on Manning as he threw. It looked like Peyton had Wayne breaking free deep for a touch down, but instead it turned into his second pick of the year.
Reasons I'm Flying:
- A two game division lead after three weeks. The rest of the AFC South is 2-9 and both wins came in the division. I know there were some tough games early, but please. That's just weak.
- I had this game marked as a loss on the schedule from the start. The other three losses I marked: @ Tenn, @ Hou, @ Buff (because it wouldn't count for anything). This team could post a 13-3 or 14-2 kind of mark real easily. Anytime you 'win a game you shouldn't' it's big. Considering that Indy almost never has those kinds of games in the first place, it's doubly big.
- Peyton Manning's YPA is up. WAY up. He's going to have a monster year.
- This team has a championship attitude. The defense shrugged off every possible excuse and played an incredible game (their second in three games).
- Our next three opponents are a combined 1-8. Our first three opponents? 2-7. Murders' Row it ain't. This is only significant because this team has already showed it's not the kind of club that's going to go out and stink because they overlooked someone.
- This team is missing MAJOR stars. Gonzalez, Brackett, Hayden, Sanders. Those aren't just warm bodies. To get wins with guys like that on the sidelines...
Reasons I'm Dying:
- "I heard something pop". No Brackett AND no Freeney. I just threw up in my mouth. We have to hope it's not serious
The Bottom Line:
Yes, we don't know how good the Cardinals are. And yes, they played an awful game. They were sloppy and stupid. I don't care. When you beat a team on six days rest on the road, it's a good win. When you blow them off the field in every possible way, it's a great win. I'm astounded at the job Caldwell did to get this team fresh and healthy enough to go out there and dominate last night. That'll buy him a few punts on fourth and inches in my book any day. Arizona was a perfect matchup for the Colts on paper, but they had enough natural advantages to win that game. Their two turnovers (especially the Warner pick) in the red zone were unforgivably bad. In the end, everything they had to do they didn't do, and everything Indy had to do, they did (go back and read that again. I know picked the Colts to lose, but the key issues were all right there).
Seattle is up next. It's time to take care of business at home and generate serious momentum going into the big game at the Titans.