I've read a lot of nonsense (written some too!), but Greg Doyle of CBS Sports just wrote the most insane column of all time.
Peyton Manning won his fourth MVP in 2009, and he deserved it more than any of his previous three for the simple reason that he has no serious weapons. Receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark caught 100 passes each, but they averaged just 12.6 and 11.1 yards per reception. If you insist on calling those players "weapons," fine. But specify the weapon. They're pellet guns.
Saturday night was more of the same. Wayne caught eight passes for 63 yards. Clark caught seven for 59 yards. Garcon had five for 34. The Colts' longest play of the game was 20 yards on a pass from Manning to receiver Austin Collie, who had three more catches for 32 more yards.
Weighed down by all those nickels and dimes, the Colts simply couldn't -- and can't -- throw it downfield. Manning tried it twice on the same drive in the third quarter, and Reed intercepted it both times. One pickoff was reversed when Garcon -- a Haitian-American who was playing heartsick and stressed out by the recent earthquake that leveled Haiti -- ran down Reed and forced the fumble. The other pickoff was nullified by a Baltimore penalty. Still, those are bad signs for the Colts. Two long passes, two pickoffs.
Um, Greg, Manning completed the second most 20+ yard passes of his career this year. Did you watch the games at Miami, at Houston, New England, Denver, at Jacksonville...I could go on buy why bother? Did he really just call Clark and Wayne "pellet guns?". I'm not even going to dignify that with a response. Then again, maybe he has a point. It's not like Manning ever threw a moster 60+ yard game winning TD pass to Wayne or hit Clark for an 80 yard TD to open a game. Oh wait? He did those things? To those pellet guns? Well, you know everyone always complains how Manning has no weapons.
He goes on to criticize the Colts' schedule:
OK, fine. But against whom? From here on out, it's big-boy football all the way. Not sure if you knew this, but the Colts beat a whole lot of mediocre-to-bad teams to post that 14-2 record in the regular season. They beat two 9-7 teams (Houston and Baltimore). They beat two 10-6 teams (New England and Arizona). And that's it. Everyone else they beat -- everyone else they played -- was .500 or worse.
So, let's ignore for a moment that the Colts have the most wins over winning teams this year (5), and were 3-1 against playoff teams (with the loss being the Jets game) and allow me to ask who did beat anyone?
The Chargers? They went 2-1 against playoff teams. 3-2 against winning teams. They beat Dallas and Philly though, so that's more important in Doyle's mind than losing to a Ravens team the Colts beat twice.
The Cowboys? They went 3-2 against playoff teams, but that's one more game played than the Colts had so I guess they are better.
The Saints? 3-1 against playoff teams, but I guess they beat the Jets so that makes them awesome.
The Vikings? Please, don't get me started. They beat the Pack twice and the Bengals. Whatever.
No one in the league has a schedule or victories any better than the Colts do. This is utter nonsense.
Up next is either 13-3 San Diego or the 9-7 New York Jets -- San Diego an absolute heavyweight and the Jets a virtual heavyweight by virtue of two things. They defeated the Colts 29-15 on this same field on Dec. 27 and, if they beat the Chargers on Sunday, they'd be entering the AFC title game on a four-game winning streak against teams that went 47-17 this season. That's heavyweight momentum.
WHAT? Momentum? No. He did not seriously go there. (banging head against the wall).
Philip Rivers of the Chargers isn't merely a game manager. Neither is whichever quarterback awaits -- Drew Brees, Brett Favre or Tony Romo -- in the Super Bowl. Mark Sanchez of the Jets isn't terribly dynamic, but the Jets level the field with cornerback Darrelle Revis, who would most likely take Wayne out of the game.
Two of those teams stand between the Colts and a Super Bowl. To win both of those games -- hell, just to win just one of them -- the Colts will have to find a faster gear than the one they showed Saturday.
I'm not sure that gear exists.
First off, Greg (may I call you Greg? Trust me, it's better than what I want to call you), Revis did not come CLOSE to taking Wayne out of the game the first time the two teams played. Secondly, to doubt the Colts have a higher gear on offense...again, that's just insanity.
Congratulations, Greg Doyle. You just wrote the worst column of 2010.
I don't think anyone will be topping you any time soon.
Don't you just love it when things go according to script? Let's be honest, what happened tonight in Indianapolis (and in New Orleans for that matter) was what was SUPPOSED to happen. Tonight, the Colts stomped Baltimore and moved on to the AFC Championship game where they'll play San Diego, oops, I mean the winner of the Chargers Jets game next Sunday. It's late, so let's get down to business:
Reasons to Smile:
- THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MOMENTUM OR RUST. If there were, the Colts and Saints who finished a collective 0-5 to finish the regular season would not have just won their two games by a combined score of 65-17. Please, next year can we just talk about matchups and ignore the pointless speculation. I saw lots of Super Bowl predictions this week. Almost no one had the Saints and Colts meeting in Miami. I have a feeling they are going to.
- I have never seen a game plan that showed more disrespect to an opposing offense than the Colts offensive game plan. It was super conservative all night because the Colts clearly didn't think Joe Flacco was capable of generating 14 points of offense against them. Peyton was super careful with the ball other than the one bad pass that Reed picked off (yes, I realize there were two, but the second wouldn't have been a pick without the obvious interference call that nullified it). In the fourth quarter, the Colts basically just sat on a 17 point lead, knowing full well the Ravens had no chance to come back. Frankly, I thought it was smart. Boring as crap, but smart. A lot of people have already started to complain about it, but it reminded me of the Super Bowl when Dungy just went into the shell because he knew Grossman wasn't bringing the Bears back. Sometimes, you just do what you have to do to roll the clock and bring it home. I don't think it means anything more than the Colts clearly had zero respect for Flacco tonight.
- Pierre Garcon. You will almost never hear me say a bad word about Marvin Harrison, but against KC in '06 Law jumped him and took a ball away. Marv sat and bitched at the ref for flag while Law streaked down the sideline. After Manning's one truly bad decision of the night, Frenchy hauled ass down the sideline and turned a game changing play back in the Colts favor by punching the ball loose from Ed Reed. Just a fine, fine moment for the kid. That's a play that will live in Colts' lore.
- 14 plays, 75 yards, 8:00 TD drive, immediately followed by an 8 play, 64 yard TD drive in 1:23. When you have the kind offense that can do both of those things, you are doing all right. Manning stone cold took the game over at a critical juncture and essentially made the second half a foregone conclusion.
- Reggie Wayne's vice grip hands.
- Austin Collie not being afraid of the moment.
- Everything about Mike Hart.
- Not having a good enough kicker to hit a 50 yard FG, so we have to go for fourth downs.
- Raheem Brock sealing his entrance into the Classic Colts with a great hustle play (and a key knock down)
- Gary Brackett in coverage when it counts.
- Finally getting all the breaks and bounces. That makes up for last year's game.
- Pat McAfee hit some huge punts at all the right times.
- Listening to Demond scream at Ravens fans "YOU WASTED YOUR TIME AND YOUR MONEY! THE COLTS NEVER LOSE TO THE RAVENS! NEVER! HOW DID YOU NOT KNOW THAT?" as he exited the stadium. It made me feel warm inside.
Reasons to Frown:
- The first pick by Reed was either a bad route by Garcon, or just an awful throw by Manning. Either way, it was ugly.
- Kelvin Hayden's play on the first drive. He looked to be feeling Mason out. Although to be fair, he had three catches on the first drive and one the rest of the game, so maybe I shouldn't nitpick.
- Not a ton of pass rush tonight. It was adequate, and Flacco certainly seemed unnerved by it, but the only sack came on a blitz by Brackett.
- 42 yards on 25 carries to go with just 5.1 YPA? Talk about playing it close to the vest. I suppose it pays to remember just what defense you are playing. The Ravens had the #3 DVOA defense, and the #3 NFL defense. The Chargers are 16th, by the way.
- The big drop by Garcon nullified what would have been a SWEET first down.
- Bethea's dropped pick. Dude. Come on.
The timeout after the first down play by the Ravens under two minutes. Honestly, I thought it was over agressive at the time, but the Colts executed it to perfection scoring a TD with just :02 to play in the half. Beautiful coaching.
In the second quarter, I hated the third down deep ball to Garcon from the 46 on third and 7. I thought they should have played two down football there. Whatever. It's hard to complain about the coaching tonight.
Reasons I'm Flying:
- We are one game from Miami.
- I think everyone will be back on the bandwagon. Is there any question the Colts D was ready to play and healthy? The blizzard was never going allow 16-0 anyway, so in the end, no harm no foul. It should be bedlam at the Luke next week.
- Lots of hustle. Brock, Garcon are just the most obvious ones. This team has a fire in their eyes.
- All the pressure is off. It's go time now.
- Uh, did I mention that we are one game from Miami?
Reasons I'm Dying
- Bethea took a hard hit at the end of the game. We need him or we are in trouble.
- Don Brown really looks lost out there sometimes. Oh, and we still have no running game at all.
- I hate games with the Chargers. They are always close. They always come down to the wire. Oh, and we really don't have a kicker who can make a 50 yard kick.
The Bottom Line:
Winning feels good. The Colts were the better team. They played a safe, controlled game tonight against a team that had no business being on the field with them offensively. The Ravens were half a team, and half a team isn't good enough to beat the Colts. Had we lost tonight, I honestly might have shut down the blog for good. It would have been that devastating. Instead, we got a satisfying, dominant win over a team that smoked the once mighty Patriots at home last week. By the way, every analyst or commentator who picked this game based on anything other than on the field things should be embarrased (yeah, I'm looking at you Jeremy Green).
There's still a long road ahead, but it leads through Indianapolis.
I wouldn't want it any other way.
By the time the rest of the country finally realized the Indy defense was as bad as hell... it was already too late for the Baltimore Ravens.no comments
(note: I'll only be updating at the end of each quarter. I'm way too uptight to do each drive tonight.)
- The first quarter defined little for the Colts. The offense moved the ball reasonably, but both drives stalled out with a field goal a punt from midfield. The Ravens have had tight coverage, and Colts receivers are struggling to hang onto the ball. The defense had major chances early, but a bogus offsides call on Mathis extended the Ravens drive. Hayden struggled early as the Ravens passed more than I would have expected. It almost bit them in the butt, as Bethea dropped an easy pick on the goal line that could have gone the other way for six. The second quarter begins with the Ravens pinned deep. Honestly, it's been a solid start, and you get the feeling the Colts need just one big play to really get going.
- THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! Manning and the defense absolutely dominate the second quarter. It all started with the defense. Flacco starts 4/4, but finishes 1/6 and the Ravens fail to get a first down. Manning takes over with 8:00 drive that took 14 plays (including a HUGE fourth down conversion to Addai), and then followed it up with a 1:23 drive also for a touchdown, which Wayne scored with just two seconds to go in the half. Manning caught fire and has a first half passer rating of 111.3. The Colts need 6 or 7 more points, and they can rely on the D to hold the lead. Absolutely a best case scenario for the Colts. Brilliant.
- Sometimes it just feels like your day. The D holds the Ravens on a key fourth down, and then Manning throws not one but two picks to Ed Reed. The first goes by the boards as Frenchy Garcon makes an incredible play to run him down and poke out the ball for a fumble. Then a second pick is called back on a good pass interference call. As we speak the Colts have a first and goal. If Manning punches this in, it will be a rare two INT drive that ends in an offensive TD. The Ravens also used two timeouts in the quarter, which means that three runs and a field goal here could go a long way to putting this game to bed.
- Put in the bag, folks. The Colts play the fourth uber-conservative, choosing to just run safe plays and punt. The Colts D continues playing large, forcing a fumble and a pick in the fourth quarter to kill Ravens drives. Tonight was all Colts, and next week we'll play at home for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Yes, I've very happy. This was a dominant, yet conservative game for the Horse, and those are hard to come by.
Marvin Lewis is the AP Coach of the Year.
He took the award over Sean Payton, Norv Turner, and Jim Caldwell. I am glad for Lewis. He did an amazing job (6-0 vs. the AFC North).
But excuse me while I laugh. Jim Caldwell smashed every NFL record for a rookie head coach this season. He started 14-0 before losing two meaningless games to close the year. Someday we'll look back and joke about this award.
Whether the Colts win the championship or not... this vote should not have been close. Caldwell took over for a living legend. His prior head coaching experience consisted of a 26 - 63 record in the NCAA. Caldwell took the reins of a team most experts expected to take a step back.
The team was without its HoF receiver. The team lost said receiver's replacement in the first quarter of the first game. The team lost its DPoY safety. The team started two rookie corners for much of the season. The team switched Left Tackles just before the opener... And all Caldwell could muster was the third best regular season in NFL history.
If Jim Caldwell wins in Miami it will cap one of the greatest coaching performances ever. In any sport.
Rookie or otherwise.
Today I bring you more great work from Profootball Reference on the real number of fourth quarter comebacks by quarterbacks. Normally, this is the kind of article I would bury in the links, but because it has such special importance to the 2009 Colts, I wanted to put it on the front page.
By now, everyone knows that Manning had 7 fourth quarter comebacks this year. What many don't know is that he now stands just one off the true top spot all time.
The 2009 regular season has presented some more interesting twists and turns in the history and data classification of fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. With the playoffs upon us, we could be in store for some memorable moments and a possible record-breaking performance that would be recognized by this website before anyone else catches on.
When I first declared Dan Marino the new King of the Comeback, I knew that Peyton Manning was closing in on the record. I just did not think he would rip off a record seven in one season to pull within one of Marino (36 to 35) so quickly. If this ever reaches the heights I want it to, it will already be too late for Marino to get the recognition he has deserved since he retired because Manning will be hogging it all up. In addition to the record seven in one year, every game played in November by the Colts was won with a 4th quarter comeback. That five-game run of comebacks is also a NFL record. Manning, winner of his record fourth MVP award, said himself that "I have to believe that starting 14-0 and having seven comeback wins has a lot to do with this award coming our way."
Though if Manning is to move past Marino this season, it will have to be done in the postseason. With the way the Colts play tight games, it is not a stretch to say Manning may have the opportunity to finish this season with as many as 38 comebacks. A potential AFC Championship game with San Diego could prove to be difficult for the Colts, and the NFC is wide open and offers several different challengers. Let's not even look past the Ravens in the AFC Divisional round, as they are used to playing some close ones themselves and one of Manning's seven comebacks this season was at Baltimore. It would only be fitting for Manning to break the record in this postseason with the kind of year he has had. The last nine times the Colts trailed in the 4th quarter (and Manning was still in the game), they have won all nine games. That is a record run that I cannot even imagine anyone has come close to in the past. Remember, in addition to the Curtis Painter fiasco, the Colts never trailed in the Wild Card game in San Diego last season. They took a 17-14 lead to the fourth, the Chargers tied the game late, and then won on the only possession of OT. The Colts have not been beaten in regulation with Manning playing the whole game since week 8 of last year against the Titans, which was 25 games ago.
If you missed the earlier explanation of why these 'comeback' counts are more accurate than commonly quoted figures, here's a case in point:
You can expect the Colts to be a tough out in any game they play this month, so pay attention to the inevitable graphic during the game that will show how many 4th quarter wins Manning has led in his career. The number that will likely appear is 43, which is incorrect as the Colts do no count the postseason (so no credit for the 2006 AFC Championship), and they do not count the Jacksonville game from last season where Manning erased the 10 point deficit and the winning score was a pick 6 thrown by David Garrard.
Here's the link to Manning's comeback page which distinguishes between game winning drives, 4th quarter comebacks, and one game in which he deserves no credit (last year's Cleveland game where Mathis returned a fumble for the winning score).
Apparently there are two conferences in the NFL.
Yeah, I know, right? Who knew?
All season we've been exclusively focused in on the AFC because at the end of the day, you only have to play one NFC to win the Super Bowl. Now that the playoffs have advanced a level, we can start to consider the inferior of the two conferences. Let's take this weekend's games as they come.
Arizona @ New Orleans
The Colts already drilled the Cardinals this year at Arizona, and honestly I just don't Zona is that good. The Saints have been slumping, but I'd rather see the statue that is Kurt Warner in the Super Bowl than Drew Brees. I think the Saints win today by double digits, but it would be great to have the Cards still around for one more week. Emotionally, I'm fine with either team.
Dallas @ Minnesota
As long as none of us have jumped off a bridge tonight, and we can still stand the sight of football tomorrow, there should be some good games to watch. The Vikes have been the most overrated team in football for months. Their only victories against winning teams were Green Bay and Cincinnati. I think they are utterly fraudulent, and I would love to see them in the Super Bowl. They are the team I would most want the Colts to face from the NFC. Unfortunately, I don't think they are going to beat Dallas in a matchup of two horrid coaches. Still, I'll be pulling for the home team in this game.
New York Jets @ San Diego
I have no fear of the Chargers, but I've made my opinions known about the Jets. I think they are no better than 13th best team in football. I think the Colts would rip them to shreds. I think the Chargers are vulnerable and not nearly as scary as the media does, but please. In this case, any sane person would want the Jets ten ways to Sunday. Mostly, I'm hoping for a triple overtime game with lots of injuries (none serious, just the kind that leave half the winning roster unavailable for a week). Again, if I'm picking this game, I pick the Chargers.
So there you have it, I'm rooting for all three teams I expect to lose. At this level, it makes sense. I want the weakest teams going forward. In my estimation those are the Cards, Vikes and Jets.
18 Things to Watch for During Saturday Night's Colts/Ravens Game
It's playoff time
It's finally upon us. All the talk, all the waiting, all the hopes and fears of an entire season will come to a head on Saturday night at the Luke. We'll all be watching. Here's what to keep your eye on:
1. Watch the shift. The Ravens have undergone a total makeover since last we saw them. Early in the season, they let fly with Flacco. Check out his attempts and passing yards per game:
Through Week 13: 34 attempts, 240 yards
Week 14-Playoffs:21 attempts, 153 yards
40% fewer attempts and 34% fewer yards
They leaned far more heavily on their running game:
Combined Rice, McGahee rushing attempts and yards per game:
Through Week 13: 21 attempts, 96 yards
Week 14-Playoffs:30 attempts, 191 yards
43% more attempts and 100% more yards
This isn't the same Ravens offense we faced in November. It's a run first attack. Tip to Rick for the stats.
2. Watch the goat. Last year, Gijon Robinson's inexcusable failure to lay even a mitt on Dobbins ruined the Colts season. He was inactive for the first game with the Ravens, but his replacement, Tom Santi, had a huge day catching the ball as Dallas Clark was largely shut down. Robinson could once again be a huge factor in a playoff game and has a chance to redeem himself.