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...
- First an email from Brian H:
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.
- Second, a look at the playoff positioning. As of today, the Colts need to finish 6-1 to assure themselves of the #1 seed. If Cincinnati wins out, they will finish 14-2. If both teams finished with 14-2 records, the #1 seed would be determined by record among common opponents (as both teams would have finished with 10-2 marks against the AFC).
Currently, Cincy is 3-1 against current and future common Colts opponents (Baltimore, Denver, Houston). Both teams still play the Jets. The Bengals can finish no better than 4-1. Cincy is 2-2 against current and future common Colts opponents. The Bengals can finiish no better than 3-2. The Colts still have four games against 'common opponents' of the Bengals. They play @Baltimore, @Hou, Denver, and NYJ.
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).
- Finally, we'll record 18 Plays tonight, but a first look at the tape confirms what I thought at the time. New England did not 'take advantage' of an "injury depleted secondary" for the Colts. There were no corners getting beat by Randy Moss during the 24 point outburst. That's because there were no corners covering Moss. Indy played a straight zone on him, and it made zero sense. At least through the early part of the game, whenever Moss had a corner actually playing him, he was contained. Powers and Lacey both made plays on him. His big catches (and there were three huge ones), all came on week zone coverage. The Indy secondary is fine. Polian said last night that he felt the improvement in the second half was '80% scheme and 20% performance'. It's true. There was no one getting toasted for huge plays. It's just not a good idea to cover Randy Moss with a linebacker and safety. Rember that for the rematch.
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.
The Monday Morning Hangover has been posted, and yours truly encapsulated the Colts/Pats game (and the Jets/Jags and Dolphins/Bucs). I included the stat I posted last night which has already served to comfort me greatly as I think about last night's game. Demond likened this to the Colts loss at Foxborough to start the 2004 season. Indy outplayed the Pats that night, but fumbled the game away, eventually losing when Mike Vanderjagt yanked another key field goal.
The Colts didn't fear the Pats heading into the rematch in the playoffs, but in the end, the homefield advantage gained by the Pats in the first game proved too much for Indy to overcome.
File that away for future reference.
Bill Belichick did a lot of dumb things on Sunday night.
Not punting wasn't one of them.
Let me begin by saying that Belichick screwed up the end game royally. Facing a 3rd and 2, and a team with 1 timeout left, Belichick had an easy call: RUN THE FOOTBALL.
Indy has the 26th ranked 'Power' defense in the league. They only stop runs on third and fourth and two about 27% of the time. Conversely, NE is 5th in power running, converting 76% of all power runs. Running the ball on third down would have (at least) forced the Colts to burn their last timeout. Assuming Indy made the stop (which is a HUGE assumption), perhaps punting to them would be more palatable knowing they would be out of timeouts. Even had they been stopped on third down however, the odds of Indy stopping them on consecutive runs would be impossibly low. Add in the wasted timeouts, and it was a very un-Patriotlike final drive. The Pats screwed it up, just not how everyone thinks.
Let's tackle the popular reasons that people are citing for attacking Belichick's decision:
1. "You have to play the odds"-Tony Dungy.
He did play the odds. The odds favor going for it. Speaking strictly in mathematical terms, in a vacuum Belichick made the right call. PERIOD. Going for it was the high percentage play. Now, football isn't played in a vacuum, of course so add in these factors:
2. He said to his defense, "I don't trust you"
So what? Why should he have trusted his defense? Instead he said to his offense, "I do trust you". This is nothing but emotional blather. So let's say he trusts his defense, and Manning drives 70 yards for the winning score on them. Wouldn't that be MORE devastating than BB not trusting them by going for it? Moreover, if he doesn't trust his defense, what good does it do to tell them he does? This is just stupid talk. His defense had already allowed 14 points on two 79 yard drives that lasted 2:04 and 1:49 IN THAT SAME QUARTER. What possible sense does it make to trust your defense?
3. No one would do that in that situation.
Oh ok. The Patriots won three Super Bowls doing things unlike any other franchise in the NFL, and now BB is supposed to punt because that's what everyone would do? No way. That's an argument for cowards and the morally weak. I don't want my son to grow up to be like Bill Belichick in almost any respect but one: I want him to have the courage and intelligence to do what no one else would do when it's the right decision.
4. He opened himself up to criticism.
He did that the moment he picked up a headset. If anything, he successfully distracted the world from the fact that his team folded like a house of cards.
The Pats offense did NOTHING in the final 2.5 quarters. They scored 10 points on drives that started from the Indy 7 and the Indy 31. They also turned the ball over twice. That's the definition of doing nothing.
The Pats defense gave up 28 points already and was about to have Peyton Manning drive the length of the field on them.
Instead, Belichick flipped the script. Instead of the headlines being, "PATS WEAK", "PATS BLOW LEAD", "PATS DEFENSE SOFT", "BRADY GREAT IN FIRST HALF, WEAK IN SECOND HALF" everyone is focused on what an idiot Belichick is, as if he gives two craps what they say.
Bill Belichick fell on his sword for his team Sunday night. They folded, and he took responsibility in the most manly way possible. No one is questioning the players about their mistakes. They are all focused on the coach. It's brilliant.
Let me end by saying this: Belichick might have killed the Colts on Sunday night. By being aggressive and failing, he has opened the door for Jim Caldwell to play passive the rest of the year and get away with it. Now when Jim punts instead of going for it, the local fans and media will embrace the conservative calls. This possibility terrifies me. Don't listen to the pundits. Belichick did the right thing. I can only hope Caldwell has the balls to do the same when it matters.
Hey, we're all still up anyway, right? I'd might as well make the best of it:
Reasons to Smile:
- Robert Mathis. How great was he all night? How great is he all the time? He's a hero of this team. He has been for awhile now.
- Jerraud Powers. We knew he was good, but tonight was a revelation. At the end of the game the Pats ran the same pattern they ran at the end of the 2007 game when Brady hit Welker to convert the last third down. Legend has it that Welker jumped up and yelled in MJax's face "You F****** suck!". This time when the pass came his way, Powers broke on the ball and batted it down. He not a rookie any more.
- Reggie Wayne. Incredible performance by a big time player. That game winning TD catch was beautiful.
- Austin Collie redeeming himself. It was a rough first half for Collie, but Indy doesn't win that game without his contributions at the end. The big PI call he got really helped. For the record, it was CLEARLY pass interference. The defender hipchecked him before the ball arrived. That was an easy, not at all controversial call. It was bad defense.
- Joe Addai. 4.1 YPC, 2 TDs, and big runs when it counted. Hate on him all you want. He has 9 total TDs (and one throwing). He knows where the goal line is.
- Melvin Bullitt made a great hit on the final play on Faulk. I thought it was a good call, by the way. Faulk clearly juggled it, and I can't see how you can determine where he was when corralled it. The Pats screwed up by not having any timeouts, but I don't think that gets overturned.
- Over the final two and a half quarters, the Indy D held Brady to a rating of 76.6, forced 2 turnovers, allowed only 10 points (7 came on a 7 yard drive), and forced the Pats off the field on four plays to 'win' the game.
Reasons to Frown:
- New England was the better team tonight. They made some dumb, dumb mistakes (stupid timeouts, awful pick, fumble on the goal line), but so did Indy.
- From 6:17 in the first to 7:28 in the second, Indy allowed Brady to throw for 226 yards and 2 scores and a rating of 156.3. To me, this screams of a coaching problem. I don't know if guys were out of position, or if it was someone's grand design to just cover Randy Moss one on one with a safety, but let's never do that again. The pass D really wasn't bad all night...just in that one stretch, but when it was bad, it was awful bad.
- Garcon. I know he managed to catch a perfect ball on his finger tips for a score. Whoop-de-doo. He's killing this team. His drop was inexcusable. He and Collie took at least 6 points off the board between their two drops.
- Don Brown. Did he get hurt? He was pedestrian running the ball (4 carries, 14 yards), and picked up a stupid penalty, and after that he disappeared. We were all hoping for more.
- Charlie Johnson gave up another sack, and didn't run block well early.
- The two picks by Manning. Wow. I know one was a route mix up, but the floater toward Garcon was awful. I praise #18 all the time, so it's only right that I kill him when he screws up.
- I didn't think the team seemed ready to play. I don't trot that out much, because you can't prove it, but I saw too many stupid penalties on the younger players, too many blown assignments on defense. I put that on the head coach. Caldwell flunked his "Big Game" preparedness test in my book.
- Freeney was invisible. It's been a long time since I said that.
- Melvin Bullitt's play during the 'stretch of death' I referenced earlier was awful. It looked to me like he was lost.
- Tim Jennings. Randy Moss. We knew how that would turn out, but did he really have to just fall down on the touchdown? Really?
I'll cheat here and say Belichick deferring to the second half. Caldwell had no tough decisions that I can remember (for good or bad). I hate it when Indy starts with the ball. It put the Pats in a good position all night. They didn't cash in, but I liked what it did to the flow of the game in their favor.
UPDATE: Ok, I've slept a few hours and I forgot the one tough call Caldwell made. He decided to kick off to the Pats rather than onside. Great call by him. Ironically, if he had decided to onside, and the Pats had recovered, it likely would have unfolded exactly the same way, only Indy would have gotten the ball around the 30. Which is where they would have gotten if Belichick had decided to punt.
BB getting suckered into challenging the Wayne catch. Peyton clowned him there.
Reasons I'm Flying:
- If (if, if IIIIIIIFFFF) Hayden and Gonzo come back, most of what went wrong tonight goes away.
- 13.5 to 2.5. Only that tool Bradshaw still counts rings. Hmmm, maybe that's because he still thinks he's one of the 10 best of all time. He's very much not.
- We ran the ball effectively. Our YPC was much better than NE (5.1 to 4.0). I know it felt like the Pats ran the ball well, but other than a couple of big runs by Faulk, they didn't.
- Indy now has a two game lead over Cincy and three over everyone else. Worst case scenario now has us playing the AFC Championship game in Cincinnati. The Bengals are a good team, but there would be a LOT of blue there.
- Peyton Manning owns Bill Belichick. He owns him. He is so far into BBs head, that he's going to have pay rent. Belichick coached this game like Death itself was quarterbacking the other team. Manning had thrown two bad picks, and BB was STILL terrified of him. NE fans can shut it forever. Manning is as clutch as they come. Belichick confirmed it. Manning put up 35 points on his defense playing from behind the whole time.
- "Manning is like an industrial size vat of White Out, making the Colts looks cleaner than they actually are." So, so true. (tip to Stan)
- The Pats are as good as any team out there. If we can beat them with this mish mash unit, we can beat anyone.
- We just beat the Pats in one of the greatest games ever. OF COURE I'M FLYING!
Reasons I'm Dying:
- I expected more from the defense. I know they played better over the final 2 1/2 quarters, but I'm stunned the Pats put up 34 points on them. The Ravens and Texans (both on the road) are just as good of passing teams as the Pats. It needs to get solved and fast.
- New England was the better team and that bothers me. They have Randy Moss. That makes them dangerous.
- I worry that Gonzo and Hayden won't ever come back. Indy might be faced with Jennings and Garcon from here on out.
- I'm worried about CJ. He's giving up sacks like candy these days. Something bad is going to happen soon.
- San Di-freaking-ego is going to win the West. I freaking hate those guys.
- It's almost 5 am. I'm toast.
The Bottom Line:
This is a good team. It needs to get better. The good news is that because they won this insane game, they have time to fix what is wrong. That starts with a competent outsider receiver. That would fix a lot of problems. As for the defense, I'm not convinced much was wrong. The two bombs to Moss were weird plays, and I can only assume it was a scheme problem, not a talent one. Given the opponent and the performance late, I'll give the D a pass. It has two more good pass offenses coming, so if there is something broken, we'll know soon enough. This team has flaws, for sure. They are not fatal ones...yet.
I was asked in the comments where this ranks on the Best Games list. For now, I think it fits in at #3 right behind the Tampa game and the AFC Championship game. If the Colts end up winning the Super Bowl (who else is going to?), I think it could well vault higher. This win was a sweet as they come.