We tried to give it to you, but you just didn't want it....
We tried to give it to you, but you just didn't want it....
Should be a great game today when the Colts visit Baltimore. Your meaningless stat of the morning: The Indy defense is allowing fewer than 16 points per game, but in the past four games it has allowed 6, 14, 17, and 34. That's a trend we should keep an eye on. The Ravens have allowed just over 17 points per game this season. Through 6 games they were allowing nearly 22 points per game. Baltimore's average has dipped dramatically in the past three weeks, allowing just 7, 17, and 0 points in the month of November.
1.) Colts will get the ball first. Chad Simpson gets a horrible return to start the game, kick took a high bounce which slowed him down. Manning starts at the 13 yard line. Play-action, but Manning can't hit Garcon deep thanks to double coverage. Stretch play with Addai. Nothing. Crowd is very loud. Huge conversion to Wayne after the Ravens blitz Lewis. Addai loses one on first down. Pump fake to Garcon. Manning hits him deep inside the ten! Finally! Addai for a couple inside the five. A ONE HANDER FOR DALLAS!!! Manning put it a little long, but Clark makes the grab TO PASS JOHN MACKEY. Colts lead 7-0.
2.) Ravens fumble the Kickoff. Under review. Reversed and ruled down by contact. Homer call, not surprising though. Ravens run twice with short gains on each. Flacco abuses Tim Jennings on third down. Duh. Seen that over and over for two years. That's where Hayden and Jackson's injuries hurt so bad. Short pass to the back. Draw to Rice sets up 3rd and one. McClain easily picks up the first. Flacco to Mason for ten. McGahee for four. Timeout Ravens. No pressure on Flacco, hits McGahee short, breaks a bad tackle to the 34. Lacey breaks up a deep out on first down. Nice one. Draw for 6. Big third down: Flacco goes deep, but can't hit his man deep thanks for VERY HANDSY COVERAGE BY JENNINGS. Cundiff just sneaks his kick in. Colts lead 7-3.
3.) Colts O starts at the 24. Tipped and picked. Bad decision. Manning is fearless perhaps to a fault right now. Returned to the Indy 29.
4.) Rice for 3 yards. Flacco for the endzone, nearly picked by Bullitt. 3rd and long: they pick on Jennings again. ANOTHER GREAT PLAY TO TIP IT AWAY by 23. Field goal. Colts lead 7-6.
5.) 4:01 to play in the first quarter. Couple obvious blocks in the back on the kickoff return. Colts start at the 11 yard line. Great blocking by the line and Addai gets 6. Interior running works best for Indy right now. Santi is back on the roster and picks up the first! Back to Santi again down the seam!! 31 yard gain past midfield. Addai for three yards. Manning under pressure from the blitz, tosses it away. 3rd and long: Ravens rush four and Addai is just short on a catch. 4th and 1: Timeout. Colts run and Addai picks it up. Holding penalty on Indy. The run would have been stuffed without the hold by Saturday. Punt to the ten.
6.) McGahee for two.
1.) This game looks like the grinder most of us predicted. Another draw! Johnson snuffs it out for a short gain. 3rd and four: False Start. 3rd and 9. Huge play here. Dump off to Rice for very little. Tackled by Jennings. Punt. Another return penalty.
2.) Colts will start at their own 32 yard line. Short pass to Garcon. Brown is stuffed. 3rd and 5: Manning has time and hits Collie with a wobbler for 12! Brown to the sideline for 6 yards. Nice. Santi for four. Crowd is into it. 3rd and short: 2nd Timeout. Very uncharacteristic. Manning appears to be having a hard time getting everyone on the same page. Probably due to the noise and Santi being "new." Brown picks it up. Solid. Manning rolls out right and eventually tosses it away. Manning goes deep and it is picked off by Ed Reed who has Wayne doubled. Horrible decision, easy pick. On replay it looks off-target, a good throw is a deep completion to the sideline. Returns it near midfield. Manning is struggling.
3.) Dump off to the back for 5 yards. Rice for 5 and the first. Gouging for another 5 yards. Rice for 14 yards. Draw for no gain on first down. 5:54 to play. Rice for three, down to the Indy 20. Huge third down and 7. Screen is read by Session and company. Interesting blitz. Field goal. Ravens lead 9-7. Big stand by the Indy defense.
4.) Chad "Touchback" Simpson returns the kickoff to the twenty. Colts need to use a little clock and get some type of points. Even 3 would be big. The stretch to Addai for 21!! You read that correctly. Santi down the seam -- takes a shot and HANGS ON! Gain of 22 inside Ravens territory. Addai outide for 5 yards. THIS LOOKS LIKE THE COLTS. 2nd and five: Draw is stuffed. Nice idea, though. Inside three minutes to play and running. Big third down and 5. Just enough time to find 87 on the sidelines. Just gets the feet in. Veteran effort. Ravens almost challenge, but decide against it. Addai for five yards on first down. 2:00 warning. Very pleased with the running game. Perhaps the Ravens are back to the death by 1000 paper cuts defensive strategy that has gotten them beat so many times before. Manning needs to be much more patient, and he'll prevail. TOUCHDOWN JOE ADDAI. Colts lead 14-9.
5.) Ravens get a field goal before the half. Colts nearly get the sack to keep them off the board. Colts lead 14-12.
Manning's mistakes have been the difference between the close game and a comfortable margin at the half. It's too bad because beyond the two picks the Colts played a solid half on both sides of the ball. The good news: the Ravens are kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns.
The Colts have been able to create decent pressure with Coyer's combination of rushing four and creative blitzing. Rice had a nice half running the ball, but so did Addai. Flacco hasn't done much at all, but unlike #18 he's protecting the football.
1.) Touchback. Rice for one yard. Draw to Rice, breaks a couple tackles. 3rd and 2: Flacco can't make a play to Clayton, defended by Brackett. Punt. Fair catch.
2.) Colts start at their own 33 yard line. Addai right for 3 yards. Colts are blocking thus far. Crazy. Lewis blitzs. Santi catches it near midfield. Addai around the left end for a couple. Wayne over the middle for a big gain and a first down inside the Ravens 30. Addai for seven! Garcon on a quick slant for another first down to the twelve. CHARLIE JOHNSON MISSES THE BLOCK. Could have been six for Brown. Santi fumbles at the goal line, Ravens ball. Third turnover for the Indy offense, and certainly the most critical.
3.) Ravens start at their own 9. Big play for Baltimore. Ravens drive down to the ten yard line, but get stuffed on a critical third and short. Pretty rare short-yardage stop for the Indy D. HE JACKS THE POINT BLANK KICK.
4.) Computer issues: Colts three and out. Punt
5.) Ravens driving near midfield. Lacey breaks up a deep ball. Actually it was a flat drop. Poor coverage. First down, the pressure is not getting there. But it is close. Rice for a short gain. Designed QB keeper fails, Jennings makes the play. Big third down coming.
1.) Colts hang on to the lead despite losing the turnover battle three - nil. Mammoth play here on 3rd and long: Offsides on the Colts. UNREAL. Big penalty because they had forced fourth down. Flacco picks it up on a short toss. Stuffed on first down. WHERE'S THE HOLD?? HOLYCRAP. They held Mathis. The Indy's offense has wasted a pretty decent outing by the defense. Great stand on THREE SHOTS FROM JUST OUTSIDE THE GOAL. Ravens lead 15 - 14.
2.) Nice return by Simpson. Colts start with good field position. Colts drive inside the ten and kick a field goal. Will that be enough? Colts lead 17-15.
3.) There will be no complaining from Indy if they lose this game. Pretty clear storyline. Great return by Baltimore.
Summary: Okay, I'm back. It's too hard for me to do play by play updates in crunch time. I'm too busy throwing pillows and kicking the wall. Did you know: If you slam a pillow against the wall with enough force it sounds like a gunshot? What a finish, though. Baltimore drives deep into the redzone before throwing the game away to Mr. Gary Brackett. Did you see the look on Flacco's face. Agony. Dude looks like Dario Franchitti to me.
The Colts offense gets the first down they needed thanks to some running by Joe Addai. Ray Lewis put a sick hit on Pierre Garcon (6 catches for 108), but the second year player held on. Then the clutch conversion to Wayne off the play action roll out. Great play call that almost didn't work because Reggie slipped. Killer false start on Santi on the next play. That left Indy with little choice about what plays to call. Run, run, run. Punt. Ed Reed did the rest. What a game by Indy's defense. I told DZ on the Colts last drive that I thought a field goal could win it. Surprisingly, I was right. Also: is there any question about who should be the starting running back in Indianapolis? More later.
The Colts face another tough test in Baltimore this week. They are closing in on locking up a bye. The other AFC powers can't afford to slip up. Let's take a look at the important games of week eleven in the NFL.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City: Call me crazy, but this game could be closer than you think. The Steelers haven't played well without Troy Polamalu, who will be out.
Cincinnati at Oakland: Another 7-2 team heading out west to face a struggling 2-7 team. Chances are either the Bengals or Steelers will lose. That's just life in the NFL. The Bengals have an easy stretch of @Oak, CLE, DET. It would be nice if the Raiders came alive and pulled off the upset.
San Diego at Denver: I want the Broncos to win because I think they are the worse team. It is as simple as that. I've never been in the camp that says the Chargers are Indy's kryptonite. I look at it the same way I viewed the Patriots, who knocked the Colts out in consecutive years. When the Colts are the better team they will beat San Diego. That said, I always root against Norv and Rivers. They're just annoying.
New York (A) at New England: The ultimate easy call.
Tennessee at Houston: Hard to root for either team here. I'm open to arguments either way. The Titans are hot. I wouldn't mind seeing them get blown off the field. It would be hard to root for Houston, though. At least we get the Texans on a short week.
AFC Playoff Standings
1.) Indianapolis (9-0)
2.) Cincinnati (7-2)
3.) Denver (6-3)
4.) New England (6-3)
5.) Pittsburgh (6-3)
6.) San Diego (6-3)
7.) Jacksonville (5-4)
8.) Baltimore (5-4)
9.) Houston (5-4)
18to88 trades questions with Baltimore Blog Right of Russell
It hit me yesterday that the Colts are 9-0. We are about to witness a flood of obnoxious articles about their quest for perfection. This being one of the first.
Colts fans will be reminded of the 13-0 start to 2005. We'll hear Tony Dungy's thoughts and be reminded of some difficult what ifs. We will be reminded of New England's EPIC FAIL. We'll hear about the Dolphins and their champagne. We will talk about what it would mean for Manning (or Brees) to go where no man has gone before.
But first let's agree on a couple ground rules:
1.) Perfection means 19-0. Obviously. We associate 16-0 with Tom Brady. We associate 16-0 with failure.
2.) Perfection is not the goal. Again, this is obvious, but it has to be said. The goal is playing in Miami in February. Perfection is just something fun to talk about while we wait for the playoffs.
3.) This website won't mention perfection again until after this road swing (@Baltimore, @Houston). At that point the Colts would be 11-0 and over halfway towards perfection. They'd still have to win another 8 games in a row. Highly improbable? Yes.
4.) We don't get excited about perfection unless the team gets much better. If the Colts get to 14-0 the natural reaction will be to start freaking out. But I won't be joining in the hoopla there unless the team improves drastically. Indy needs to amp up its running game, receiver corps, and overall line play. In the event that Anthony Gonzalez and Kelvin Hayden come back better than ever I reserve the right to start freaking out.
5.) If the Colts go undefeated... we are all getting 19-0 tattoos. I'm not a tattoo guy, but I'm doing it. You are too.
6.) If the Colts go 18-1... I am getting hammered on pills and booze with JC. I'll be in south Florida anyway for the game.
(Okay, now I kind of hope they lose to Baltimore this weekend.)
18 Things to Watch for in this Sunday's Colts/Ravens Game
Yeah, I don't think this qualifies as a 'rivalry'
Last week's game was one of the greatest of all time. This week's game? Well, it should be pretty solid in its own way. Indy travels to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in a matchup of preseason favorites in the AFC. Indy, of course, is off to a 9-0 start. The Ravens? They are really glad they've played Cleveland twice. They currently sit at 5-4 and desperately need to win this game at home on Sunday to stay in a tough AFC playoff race that might just require 11 wins to take a Wild Card slot. Make sure you watch for:
1. Watch the myth of the 3-4. The next time someone says, "Peyton Manning struggles against the 3-4", bring up the Baltimore Ravens. In his career, he's 5-2 in the regular season against the Ravens with 64.3% passing for 16 TDs, 3 picks and a rating of 106.2. He's never posted a rating lower than 80 against them, has been over 90 six times in seven games, and passed 100 three times. Manning has no inherent problem with the 3-4 as a scheme.
2. Watch the run. The Ravens are strong running team with Ray Rice who is 2nd in DVOA and success rate. The Colts have been credible against the run this year despite playing 4 teams in FO's top 10 (Jax 1, Miami 5, Ten 7, NE 8). The Ravens are 4th in running and very good in power situations and up the middle. This is a major test for the Colts' D line. If they can contain Rice, it will be a positive sign for the rest of the year.
3. Watch for points. Indy still fields the #1 scoring D in football, but it will be put to the test again this week against the Ravens. Baltimore can put points up in bunches, and has scored over 30 points in 4 of their 5 wins. This isn't the old Ravens team that won games 17-9. Indy gave up big points to the Pats in the first half, but tightened things down. Ironically, the Ravens best chance to beat the Colts is probably to get into a shoot out with them like New England did. The Ravens are 5th in scoring defense (17 points a game), but that number is boosted by playing one of the worst offenses in history twice in 9 games. Take out the Browns (3 points allowed in two games) and the Ravens PPG jumps to 21.5. This game could make the scoreboard turn.
4. Watch for leaps and bounds. When last we saw Joe Flacco, he looked like a deer in the headlights. Since getting crushed by the Colts, he's taken his game to a new level. In his last 20 games since throwing 3 picks to the Colts, the Ravens are 14-6 and Flacco has thrown 25 TDs to 12 picks and a rating of 90.5. He now seems to have passed 2008 rookie of the year Matt Ryan in ever possible way. The Ravens have clearly found a QB for the first time in franchise history. Considering how successful a franchise it has been, that is mind blowing.
5. Watch for a step backwards. The Colts running game has become more palatable in recent weeks as Joe Addai has been subtly effective carrying the ball. The Ravens however are a stingy run D and are in the top 5 both conventionally and by FO's rankings. The Colts have shown a willing to go with what works this season, so don't be surprised to see them abandon the run if it doesn't generate much room early on. This could well be the best running defense Indy plays the rest of the year, so don't freak out if Manning decides to pass 50 times.
6. Watch the screen. The Ravens leader receiver (by catches) is their leading rusher. Ray Rice does it all, and already has 49 catches on the season. He's on pace for 87 on the year. How many is 87? Reggie Wayne has passed that number only once in his career. Indy has been good against RBs catching the ball this year (5th in the NFL in DVOA verses RBs catching), so this game could hinge on whether the Colts allow Rice to consistently make good yardage receiving.
7. Watch the Dynamic Duo. Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark have a combined 133 catches, the most in the NFL by a tandem this year. They are on pace to break the all time record for most catches by teammates. They are 1st and 2nd in the NFL in catches and 2nd and 5th in yards. They are the Indy offense right now. Both players seem to be hitting new highs and could not be playing better. If the Ravens can't contain Wayne and Clark, they can't beat the Colts.
8. Watch the sidekick. The Colts must get more production from Pierre Garcon. His catch rate fell to a miserable 47% after last week's game. Considering that Manning is completing nearly 70% of his passes, the fact that Garcon is catching less than half the throws aimed at him should be alarming. He's not getting separation and even when he does, he's not hauling in enough balls. Feel good time is over, Frenchy. It's time for production. You get the feeling that if his play doesn't improve quickly, Manning will be forced to start ignoring him.
9. Watch the scorned kicker. The Ravens just cut their place kicker months after refusing to invite Matt Stover to camp. Stover doesn't have a big leg, but is 6 for 6 with the Colts this year. Baltimore has to rooting for Vinatieri to come back soon so the Colts can cut Stover, so they can pick him back up. Ironically, if Stover hits a game winning field goal against the Ravens, he could potentially be helping to keep himself out of the playoffs. Of course, if he thinks ahead and misses the game winning kick, the Ravens might never sign him at all. Whoa. Matt Stover's life sucks. It's like a Greek play.
10. Watch the ramifications. Caldwell's been on "Wuss Watch" all year when it comes to fourth down. He's mostly fared well, but I fear the fallout from the Belichick call could tip the scales in the wrong direction. Watch how Jim handles the tough calls inside the 45. If he's aggressive, I'll calm down. If however, he seems unusually timid, perhaps my worst feels will be realized. I wouldn't mind the Colts losing a game in the regular season because Caldwell wussed out. I'd rather us win one because he was bold.
11. Watch the Star. Jerraud Powers was a revelation last week against the Pats. He's been a major star for the Colts this season, and is quickly becoming a very good corner in the NFL. The Ravens really only have one true receiving threat, the ageless wonder Derrick Mason. To put it in perspective, the Colts have four players with as many or more catches than the Ravens #1 WR. If Powers can help keep Mason quiet, Joe Flacco will have to focus in on his lesser options.
12. Watch the Blind Side. Apparently there's some little independent film starring some actress no one's ever heard of out about the life of rookie RT Michael Oher. It's not a big deal or anything, and I hear they aren't promoting it heavily. I'm sure this is the only mention of it that will be made this weekend. This is why you come to 18to88, to find out things that you couldn't get from just turning on the TV and watching it for 5 seconds. What would you do without us?
13. Watch for a chip on the shoulder. Bethea and Freeney both made big plays last week, but both caught a lot of negative attention as well. Bethea was responsible for several of Moss's big catches early, and the perception (false) was that Freeney was handled by a rookie LT. Both men are among the best Colts' playmakers and both will show up eager to make a statement on Sunday. In fact, the entire Colts D should come in angry. They played well after the early mistakes, but haven't gotten any credit for shutting down the Pats on four straight plays to help win the game.
14. Watch for the let down. Indy played an epic game that felt like it should have decided the NFL season (maybe it did). Baltimore played on Monday night in a scrimmage against the Browns. Either team could come out flat this Sunday and no one would be surprised. The Colts never seem to get too high or too low, and I doubt there is a lot of euphoria after they have been trashed and written off by many in the media after their terrible performance in beating the second best team in football on Sunday night. Still, it could be a tough turn around.
15. Watch the injury report. Both teams are facing a waiting game on key players. Baltimore apparently has lost Terrell Suggs after a cheap hit by Brady Quinn. Suggs has 3.5 sacks on the year for the Ravens, so his loss will hurt. Indy on the other hand is hoping for good news from Bethea and Freeney (d'ouh!) as well as Eric Foster. Football often turns into a war of attrition this time of year, and the game could come down to which side can field a healthy team.
16. Watch the chess match. Manning and Ray Lewis are the two iconic players and their positions in the NFL this decade. There are no two more recognizable faces in the NFL. As noted above, Manning has owned the Ravens during the Lewis years, but like Manning, Lewis is still playing well at an advanced age. He's on pace for his most tackles since 2004 and also has two sacks on the season. Manning will seek to account for Lewis and Ed Reed at all times.
17. Watch for ten. A win would give the Colts their 8th consecutive 10 win season, and their 10th in 11 years. Before Manning game, the Colts had never posted 10 regular seasons wins since 1977. 22 years with no 10 win teams. Ten 10 win teams in ll years. Peyton makes all the difference, doesn't he?
18. Watch for ownership. The Colts own the Ravens, and this isn't a good matchup at all for Baltimore who doesn't field nearly the defense they used to. Indy shows no signs of let down and rolls to a 28-17 win. Demond likes the Colts 23-16.
For your listening pleasure, 18 Plays is ready. We discuss all things related to Sunday night's Colts/Pats classic. You can click the link, listen in the embedded player below, or subscribe via Itunes.
18 Plays is brought to you by Broad Ripple Tree Service. Broad Ripple Tree: for all your tree needs.
Just a note, we'll probably go with written versions of 18 Plays the next couple of weeks. I'm going on vacation, and will try to curtail some of my 18to88 activities ever so slightly. The podcast, while fun, is also time consuming, and I'm not sure I'll have great access to the tape or a decent skype connection. So that's a long winded way of saying, "Enjoy this one. It could be awhile".
I've had to listen to bizarre whining about the pass interference call in the final minutes that gave the Colts the ball at the 15. I've heard JC complain. Bill Simmons whined incessantly. The idiot 'Pod Vader' on ESPN's Football Today Podcast complained nonstop that the call was terrible.
Having just watched that play about 10xs, let me just respond by saying:
Are you people insane?
1. It was on first and 10. It did not "keep an Indy drive alive". It was a 30 yard penalty. Big, but not huge.
2. Collie had two hands on the ball. It was not a 'wild, uncatchable' ball.
3. The DB CLEARLY grabs Collie, and almost pulls his jersey off the shoulder pad. It should have been holding, but they missed that call. When you watch the play, watch Collie's jersey almost come off his shoulder. That was a mugging.
4. The DB clearly hip-checks Collie before the ball arrives.
This was a simple, obvious call. Not only was it not a bad call, it was an easy call for the officials.
Find something else to whine about, people.
Random thoughts that wouldn't fit anywhere else...
I have a question concerning what constitutes forward progress on the 4th and 2 play from Sunday night's Colts/Patriots game.
If a player has his momentum carrying him backwards before he has possession of the football, is forward progress "established" once he gains possession and the ball spotted at that point, or is the ball spotted where he is down by contact since he was never moving forward with possession at any point? Does it matter if he doesn't get two feet down once he gains possession?
From what I've seen of the replay, Faulk's momentum is clearly carrying him backward as the ball arrives. As described above, should the ball be spotted where he gains possession or where is eventually down by contact as Bullitt falls on him? He never gets two feet down either since his bobble comes after his first foot lands and comes off the ground.
Listening to the broadcast on NBC, Collinsworth says that "Kevin Faulk was bobbling the ball, so instead of getting forward progress, they marked him down where he actually landed on the ground," which suggests that forward progress is not established simply by possessing the ball but where he is down by contact.
Of course, given some of the errors made by commentators about the rules of football in recent weeks, I don't fully trust his assessment, but it seems like it could be right. As far as the actual spot, in my opinion, if possession establishes forward progress, he may have gotten a bad spot, but if the spot is where he is down by contact, then his spot seemed to be much more generous.
I don't hear anything about what constitutes forward progress in the discussion anywhere. Could you clear this up? Thanks for your time.
Thanks for the email. I've spent the last hour with the NFL Rule book (don't bother with the useless one on NFL.com) and cannot find any definition of "forward progress". A catch is defined by possession and two feet down. My understanding was that forward progress for an untouched receiver is measured by where he lands. So if a player catches the ball at the 40, but is in the air and lands at the 38 where he is then hit by a defender, I believe he only gets the 38.
If he is contacted in the air, however, forward progress is marked by the point at which he securely gained control of the ball. So he jumps at the 40 and gets possession, and is driven back, he is awarded the first spot he had clean possession.
Not only can I not confirm that from the rule book, I can't find ANYWHERE in the book any definition of forward progress at all. I'm reasonably certain what Collinsworth described is incorrect, however. If anyone else can find any definition of forward progress in the rule book, please let me know.
So until the Bengals lose another game (which I'm sure will happen), we assume Indy has to win 6 games. If they do lose two or more games, if
at least only one of them is to someone not on that list, Indy would finish tied with ahead of Cincy in that tie breaker, and the next would strength of victory (which is impossible to calculate now).
Bill Belichick is not a nice man.
People in the media don't like him.
Neither do I.
Some of us can stow the loathing for 5 minutes. Others can't.
After his call the other night, the MSM swarmed Belichick like sharks in a tank full of chum, eagerly extracting their pound of flesh as payback for all the times he's dissed them. Believe me, I'm not sad Bsquared is getting pummled, I just wish it would have been for any of the many good reasons and not the one thing he did Sunday that made sense.
Apparently, I'm not alone. Our dear friends over at Cold Hard Football Facts have noticed that bloggers seem to be at odds with the vast majority of the mainstream press. They cite 18to88 favorites like: 18to88.com (yeah, we are our own favorite. Deal with it. Just consider following that embedded link as some kind of existential ironic commentary), Stampede Blue, and fellow Bloguin site Foxboro Blog.
CHFF comments: The irony here is that 18to88 is a blog run by hopeless Colts-loving homers (and also CHFF contributors). But at least they're up front about their biases ... and they still offer more rational, two-sided analysis than the "objective" mainstream media, who provide lead stories with witticisms such as "fourth-and-jackass." Somewhere, Mark Twain's sense of humor cringed in its grave.