Again, no podcast this week. My laptop on which I do all the recording/editing is still in the shop. You'll just have to read. Stop complaining. I don't care if it hurts your eyes. You're lazy! Lazy ingrates all of you. By the way, Eyes will be up later tonight or tomorrow.
- 2-4-SF 36 (11:28) 21-F.Gore up the middle for 64 yards, TOUCHDOWN
DS: Muir gets manhandled by two blockers, and Johnson is well blocked also. Brackett gets blocked by the Center which springs Gore. Powers and Bethea blow the touchdown saving tackle by ramming into each other and missing the runner.
DZ: Muir is the key here. He gets shoved back about 5 yards, and as he's falling to the ground, he wipes out Bob Sanders who looks to have a good shot on Gore. Forget making the play, if he had only kept his footing, Sanders could have finished Gore for a short gain. It's hard to get too upset over this play. The run D was great the rest of the way. It was one bad run. Fix it and move on.
- 3-8-IND 25 (7:12) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short right to 87-R.Wayne pushed ob at SF 43 for 32 yards (36-S.Spencer)
DS: Trips right. Manning throws the screen to Wayne. Reggie follows good blocks by Baskett and Collie and Diem. Wayne gets to the outside. I thought Wayne looked a little hobbled on the run, but still a big play.
DZ: Collie's block is close to being OPI, but the defender engaged him, so I guess it's ok. Incredible block by Diem. Reggie squeezes through for big yards.
- 3-2-SF 20 (4:09) 29-J.Addai right tackle to SF 20 for no gain (96-K.Balmer).
DS: Your 2008 Indianapolis Colts. This looks like every bad run we’ve seen. It is not even totally clear who is at fault. There’s just not gap there whatsoever. San Fran’s front line is very good.
DZ: It looks like the play is supposed to go wide but there is no hole. Addai cuts inside where there is also no hole. There was no hole. There was no gain. Fourth down.
- 1-10-SF 40 (1:18) 11-A.Smith pass deep right intended for 15-M.Crabtree INTERCEPTED by 21-B.Sanders at IND 37. 21-B.Sanders to SF 34 for 29 yards (62-C.Rachal).
DS: Decent protection, but just a poor throw off the mark. The announcer insisted it was a good throw, but it clearly wasn’t. Crabtree deflects it and it is an easy pick for Bob Sanders.
DZ: Bob Sanders catches picks. Bethea drops them. If there is a difference between the two excellent safeties that elevates Sanders to an elite level when healthy, that's it. Alex Smith's play was vastly overrated in this game. He had some moments, but in general didn't look that great. Nice coverage by Hayden who was blanked on Crabtree.
- 3-4-SF 15 (15:00) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete short right to 44-D.Clark.
DS: Clark lined up at TE right, runs a corner route. Manning floats it out to him. Looks like it is a catchable throw, but Clark is nowhere close to actually making the catch. Weird play which we can chalk up to the sunlight.
DZ: CLOSE THE ROOF!
- 3-10-IND 33 (6:43) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete deep left to 81-H.Baskett.
DS: Big third down with Indy trailing by one. Addai picks up the blitz. Manning has time to find Baskett. Unleashes a brilliant throw to a sliding Baskett. For some reason they never replay it on television, but they did at LOS. Ball hit him square in the chest.
DZ: We are not fine at WR. I don't care what anyone says. Baskett dropped two balls, and Garcon...we'll get to him.
- 2-10-IND 40 (:51) (Shotgun) 11-A.Smith pass short right to 21-F.Gore to IND 25 for 15 yards (58-G.Brackett, 41-A.Bethea). PENALTY on IND-55-C.Session, Roughing the Passer, 13 yards, enforced at IND 25
DS: Insult to injury. Colts send Session on the blitz, but Smith hits Gore out of the backfield. Nice play by Smith to buy just enough time. Session went low at the legs, which is a mandatory flag. Huge play in this game. Very atypical of the colts to give up a big play and a penalty.
DZ: Great read by Smith on the blitz. Gore was the perfect outlet. Brackett had the coverage, but had to respect the TE crossing underneath, that left him a step slow in getting back to his left to cover Gore. The Session penalty was another idiot "Brady" rule call. He was stumbling. There was nothing he could do as he was falling down. The hit wasn't late, it was just low. I hate that rule. It penalizes players for things they can't possibly control.
- 1-10-IND 39 (:26) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass deep left to 17-A.Collie pushed ob at SF 38 for 23 yards (26-M.Roman).
DS: Collie in the slot to the right. Play action to Addai. Niners drop one lineman back into coverage and blitz two. Addai and CJ pick the blitz nicely. Collie slides all the way across the field to the left. Very tough route to defend. Manning puts it just over the linebacker. Collie gets out of bounds.
DZ: Collie is open because the 49ers blitzed. They didn't get home because Joe Addai threw a good block. Excellent execution. What is amazing is that to a Colts' fan :26 is plenty of time for a FG drive. Insane.
- 3-20-IND 16 (13:31) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass deep right to 85-P.Garcon to IND 48 for 32 yards (36-S.Spencer).
DS: Garcon is lined up right. Manning fakes the quick throw to Wayne and finds Garcon amongst three defenders on a deep in route. 8 men in coverage on this play. Sick sick play.
DZ: Demond said to me, "That play is was worth the price of admission". Incredible throw just beyond the linebacker. The 49ers only rush three, so there are tons of people in coverage. Laser rocket throw. By the way, it was 3rd and 20 because Pollack got blown up for a sack.
- 3-4-SF 15 (9:55) 18-P.Manning sacked at SF 22 for -7 yards (91-R.McDonald).
DS: Yet another big third down. Colts need a touchdown. Peyton drops back and pump fakes to Garcon. Pollak gets stormed over. Just a horrific job. They didn’t get much of a hit on Manning, but enough to get him to the ground.
DZ: Pollack allowed two sacks on the drive
- 2-10-SF 44 (5:20) (Run formation) 11-A.Smith pass short left to 15-M.Crabtree to SF 46 for 2 yards (25-J.Powers). FUMBLES (25-J.Powers), RECOVERED by IND-25-J.Powers at SF 46. 25-J.Powers to SF 42 for 4 yards (88-I.Bruce). San Francisco challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #1 at 05:10.)
DS: Quick throw to Crabtree in the slot. He slips past Sanders, but is hit simultaneously by Hagler, Powers, and Bethea. It appears that Powers strips him just as Bethea provides the impact. If they could have gotten Bruce blocked it is a touchdown. Interesting that both turnovers involved Crabtree.
DZ: The quick throw is forced by the blitz. Then the Colts swarm the ball carrier. Sandres misses the tackle for a loss, but Crabtree has to make a crazy move to avoid him, and swings the ball out loose. Then he's met simultaneously by the law firm of Hagler, Powers, and Bethea. When you see lots of hats on the ball, good things are going to happen. Powers has been a season saver considering the injuries to Hayden and Jackson.
- 1-10-SF 42 (5:10) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete deep right to 85-P.Garcon.
DS: Manning goes deep for Garcon who appears to have no idea what route he is running. He moves into the coverage, allowing the defender to get a nice grab. No flag.
DZ: Bad route. He'll learn. He's open, but then just drifts and the coverage man catches up to him. If he had run to the spot where the ball was going to be thrown, it's 6. Manning made hand motions after the play indicating he didn't run the right route, which was obvious on tape.
- 3-5-IND 35 (2:39) 18-P.Manning pass short left to 87-R.Wayne to IND 46 for 11 yards (36-S.Spencer). SF-98-P.Haralson was injured during the play
DS: Manning gets the play off before the defense is set. Throws short to Wayne. Great job by Manning. This time the Colts pick up the big third down.
DZ: This one is for the "why does he let the clock run down?" crowd. The quick snap might have even been illegal because Addai came off the field, so the 49ers should have been given time to set. Note the "injured" player after the play. Indy went to quick snap again, and he just crumpled in front of the official as if someone had shot him. Bad, bad acting.
- 1-10-SF 22 (15:00) 29-J.Addai pass deep left to 87-R.Wayne for 22 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Handoff to J. Addai to the left side.
DS: Manning hands off to Addai who appears like he is running the stretch. In the stadium I thought he might have a big run going because he appeared to have the corner. Instead he pulls up and throws to a wide open Wayne. A play we’ll remember for a long time.
DZ: Incredible catch. Incredible call. We'll be referencing that for years.
- 3-12-IND 35 (11:49) (Shotgun) 11-A.Smith sacked at IND 43 for -8 yards (98-R.Mathis).
DS: Colts fake the blitz, but instead only send three. Mathis does a great spin move. Smith holds it too long and the result is a huge sack. Smith did well not to fumble.
DZ: Mathis continues to make plays. Anytime you get a sack from your DE on a three man rush, it's a huge play. It knocked the 49ers out of FG range.
- 2-7-IND 13 (10:48) 18-P.Manning pass deep right to 44-D.Clark to SF 47 for 40 yards (38-D.Goldson).
DS: This is one of the biggest plays of the game. The Colts are only up four points and are backed up deep. Play action to Addai. Manning does a great fake and drops way way back. Clark gets wide open from the TE position. He runs an awesome route to the corner that no one is going to be able to cover.
DZ: It didn't lead to a score, but it changed the field position at a time when yards mattered. Clark's route was an ankle breaker as he faked the cross and cut outside leaving his defender helpless.
- 3-10-SF 35 (6:14) (Shotgun) 11-A.Smith sacked at SF 30 for -5 yards (93-D.Freeney).
DS: Smith takes the snap out of the shot gun. Freeney stunts to the inside. Brock forces Smith back into Freeney. 93 cleans up the mess. Great coverage by the Colts on the play in the secondary. The sack streak lives on.
DZ: Freeney was not 100% in this game. This was one of the rare times where he benefited from his teammates' work. Foster and Mathis get some pressure, and Freeney who had a stunt inside cleans it up.
- 3-4-SF 36 (1:58) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short left to 44-D.Clark to SF 27 for 9 yards (38-D.Goldson).
DS: Didn’t have this play on tape, but it was brilliant.
DZ: Shades of 2006 as Manning forces a pass into Clark who snatches it to seal up a crushing drive that prevented the 49ers from seeing the ball again.
Yahoo.com picked up a Phil B Wilson report, and claimed that Anthony Gonzalez could have a torn PCL
The word is that the injured third-year pro was drafted in the first round from Ohio State is looking for a second opinion on a knee injury that won't go away, according to the Indianapolis Star. The word is that he's asking Dr. James Andrews, who is likely to confirm that he's got more than sprained PCL. The thought is that it is likely torn.
The actual article doesn't claim to have any information, but is merely an interpretation of what Wilson reported originally. I wrote Phil B to clarify if what he meant syncs with the Yahoo claim. This is his comment:
This is what is wrong with the Internet today. Caldwell said Gonzo was getting another opinion on the knee. That's the only comment we have on it. So somebody somewhere who isn't dealing with the team takes the statement and interprets it another way. Could be true. With the Colts history, wouldn't be surprised. But I don't know anything other than what Caldwell said. Wish I did.I hope the report is wrong, but sometimes, guys know stuff but can't "out" their sources, either.
My gut tells me Gonzo has had a setback. Hope I'm wrong, but he went from doing some work and running to needing another opinion.
Think about it. It is fishy. Caldwell said the past two weeks that Gonzo was improving, he was doing a lot of running, and then last week, he said he was going to get some practice in, now Gonzo needs a second opinion. I can see how someone outside would assume the worst. I hope he's wrong, but something inside tells me he might be right.
The unthinkable happened last night.
I was forced to root against the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team for the first time in my life.
Now I love the Hoosiers, but considering that I spent 6 years of my life at Grace (I got my masters there as well), and many of my close friends work there, and the president's son is one my best friends, I had no choice to trade in my cream and crimson for black and red.
For about 18 minutes, it looked like I would forever be able to mock Demond as my beloved Lancers gave his Hoosiers everything they could handle. As Terry Hutchins said,
As Grace College was going toe-to-toe with Indiana throughout the first half and the game was still tied at 36-all with 90 seconds to play before the intermission, I have to admit my mind was beginning to wander. The thought I couldn't get out of my head was a simple one: "In five weeks, these guys are going to play Kentucky?''
Now, in IU's defense, these guys are really young and haven't really played together very much. They're still learning what to expect from each other. They're still learning Tom Crean's system. And sometimes when you try so hard you end up making more mistakes than if you were relaxed. This was what I thought IU fans saw over and over Wednesday night. A lot of point blank misses. A lot of chances to convert inside that were unsuccessful. Several defensive lapses where the Hoosiers got beat on back door cuts or pick-and-rolls with Grace's big kids.
To the national media he was a big question mark.
He's been silent almost all year despite giving a weekly press conference.
He's an after-thought when discussing reasons the Colts are 7-0.
His name only comes up when it's time for the obligatory, "Everything looks the same, what's different?" question to the players.
It's time to give him his due.
Jim Caldwell has been splendid this season. That may sound like an obvious statement given the Colts' early season success, but even if you take the wins off the board as the product of 18 and a superior roster, there is plenty of evidence that Caldwell is doing a fine job.
1. The Colts have shown no panic or regression in end of half/end of game scenarios.
You see it every week in the NFL. Teams screw up timeouts, two minute drills, two point conversion attempts (see Sparano against the Jets this week). Through seven games, the Colts have yet to make any mistakes in this area. They routinely fly up and down the field at the end of the half. They never waste a timeout they may otherwise need. These are the kind of details that have a lot to do with Manning, but also reflect on the head coach. The team is calm and collected in the pressure moments. There have been no wasted challenges (Caldwell is 2 for 2 this year). There's no signs of stagnation or laziness in the nitty gritty details of the game. That means you have the right guy wearing the headset. Those are the things that go to crap quickly in this league when the head coach isn't qualified. They are the difference between winning and losing games.
2. The veterans are playing harder than ever.
Reggie Wayne and Dwight Freeney are already legendary Colts. Their names will be remembered for years in Indianapolis, but despite all their accolades, they have shown up and played hurt in recent weeks. This means several things: yes, they are special men, real leaders, but also that they are properly motivated by their coaches. There was no thinking, "We'll we're 6-0, and the 49ers are weak, we'll take the week off". Instead, they went out and performed, and the Colts wouldn't have won the game with out them. Don't fool yourself into thinking that this kind of thing happens on every team. It doesn't. These guys respect their teammates and the coaching staff. For Caldwell to take over a veteran team with strong personalities and keep them playing at an unprecedented level is incredible. Does Manning look hungry? Does Wayne look hungry? Do you think they would seem that motivated if they didn't believe in their coach? This team believes it can win the Super Bowl. That means they believe in Caldwell. It's easy to say, "we expect that from everyone! They get paid a lot of money!" Getting paid a lot of money is what keeps some guys from putting their bodies on the line when they are dinged up. Vets in places like Oakland are not playing as hard as vets in Indy. They aren't taking the same chances with their bodies.
3. He's made the tough calls.
No coach will ever be as aggressive as I want, but I have almost no complaints about Caldwell's choices through seven weeks. He went for the big first down week one against the Jags. He called for (or at least approved since it was the first play of the fourth quarter) the half back pass on Sunday. He made the right call in going for it on fourth and inches this past Sunday. Most of the time when I list my 'worst call' of the week after the game, it's a 50/50 call that is highly debatable. He's shown me that he's not ultra-conservative and that's all I ask. I want to go into a game against Belichick knowing my coach will at least consider going for it on fourth and 1 from the 40.
4. He hasn't engaged in any power struggles.
He didn't come and try to 'put his stamp' on the team by changing things that didn't need changing. You don't see him talking trash with Channing Crowder. He hasn't 'called out Manning' in the press to show he's in charge. He's been utterly ego-less in his management of this team. He's not getting a lot of credit, but you get the feeling like he doesn't need it. This is the key...he's already part of the system. He helped build this. He's been here through it all. He doesn't need to rebuild the foundation, because he helped lay it. I'm sure he takes great pride in everything Indy has done since 2002, because he was here for every day of it. He may not have been chief architect, but he was hammering away for the past seven years.
5. The team has had comebacks and blowouts
Indy now has two fourth quarter comebacks (Miami and SF) and has managed a tricky schedule (back to back prime time road games) and aced two chances to have 'trap games'. Perhaps the one lone test Caldwell has to pass is the 'big game'. That's coming soon enough (two weeks). The team has been well prepared each week to deal with all situations they've faced. That's all you can ask of a coach.
Hey, it has to count for something.
Ultimately, this season will be judged by what happens in January. Caldwell still has a lot of hurdles in front of him. You can color me a believer, however. The 2009 Colts still have some question marks (especially up front on offense).
Head Coach is no longer one of them. I'm don't think it ever was.
(don't you love the way I sneak that Hangover link in every week? For the record, I contributed on the Indy, Baltimore, St. Louis, and Tennessee games)
The Colts scored 11 points below their season average on Sunday, but their offensive output was essentially the same as in other weeks. Indy put up 410 yards (the third highest total of the year), and the passing and rushing yards were both within norms for the season. The Colts yards per play was a little down, as was the number of first downs, but the real reason we perceive the Horse to have struggled on Sunday is the fact that they only put up 18 points despite not turning the ball over.
Essentially, these problems can be traced to five drives. A sixth drive ended deep in 49ers territory at the end of the game, but doesn't merit discussion because Indy ran out the clock with it. Five times the Colts had chances to post touchdowns, but had to settle for three or zero points. Analyzing what happened to the Horse inside the 45 yard line should tell us what the problem was on Sunday.
The Colts convert two key third third downs to get inside the 49er 30 in the first quarter.1-10-SF 28 (5:21) 29-J.Addai right end pushed ob at SF 25 for 3 yards (32-M.Lewis). PENALTY on IND-85-P.Garcon, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at SF 28 - No Play.
- FRENCHY! I know everyone loves him, but the penalties HAVE TO STOP. He's had what, 7 now? In 7 games? I love that he's physical, but he can't be grabbing people every week. This put the Colts in a serious hole.
1-20-SF 38 (4:50) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete deep left to 87-R.Wayne (36-S.Spencer).
- Deep ball to Wayne. Great play by the corner. Maybe a touch under-thrown?
2-20-SF 38 (4:43) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short left to 44-D.Clark to SF 20 for 18 yards (38-D.Goldson).
- Manning looks long again, and finds Clark for a big gain.
3-2-SF 20 (4:09) 29-J.Addai right tackle to SF 20 for no gain (96-K.Balmer).
- Massive fail by the whole line. It looks like Addai is supposed to go wide over Diem, but he doesn't create a hole, so Addai cuts up inside and is crushed as Charlie Johnson is driven back by his man. Saturday doesn't get his man blocked either. There is no hole anywhere on the right side.
Drive # 2:
Bob Sanders sets the Colts up at the 34, but they can only manage a field goal1-10-SF 21 (:42) 29-J.Addai left tackle to SF 21 for no gain (92-A.Franklin).
- Colts run left this time, but DeVan gets ridden across the field and Franklin buries Joe right as he's about to get through the hole. So there's why we haven't seen DeVan full time. Awful job considering they were running away from him.
- Quick toss (play clock at 15 for those who care) to Wayne. This is basically a surrogate run play. Gains 6.
- Clark looked to get open, but lost track of the ball in the sun. If you see a replay of this toss, you'll see a weird light/shadow/light pattern in the endzone. This is why we griped about the roof.
Drive # 3:
Indy goes on a quick drive to the end the half, and kicks a field goal with 6 seconds left1-10-SF 38 (:20) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short left to 44-D.Clark to SF 29 for 9 yards (32-M.Lewis). FUMBLES (32-M.Lewis), ball out of bounds at SF 29.
2-1-SF 29 (:14) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short right to 17-A.Collie to SF 13 for 16 yards (26-M.Roman).
1-10-SF 13 (:06) 3-M.Stover 31 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-48-J.Snow, Holder-1-P.McAfee.
The Colts quickly move into scoring position at the start of the second half.1-10-SF 21 (10:35) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete deep left to 87-R.Wayne [99-M.Lawson].
- Play action, Manning has Wayne deep, but rushes the toss because he's hit from behind just after he throws the ball. Clark is in to block, and gets RUN OVER by Lawson. If Clark can hold his ground even a little, this is a TD.
- Quick screen. Another "pass as run". Effective.
- Pollack is swallowed alive. Good Lord. Awful, awful, awful. Watch the play through the link. Not good.
Indy takes over at the 42 after a huge fumble forced by the defense, but can't move the ball an inch.1-10-SF 42 (5:10) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete deep right to 85-P.Garcon.
- Play action, Garcon beats his man deep, but runs a sloppy route. Should have been a touch down. This play perfectly illustrates his potential and his 'greeness'. He's going to be good someday. He isn't good yet.
- Tough to see what happened here. Either Manning just sailed the pass out of bounds, or it was deflected at the line. For the sake of argument, we'll say it got away from Peyton. He looked like he could have held the ball longer.
- Manning pumps, but the safety doesn't bite. He tries to hit Garcon up the sideline, but the throw (or the route) is too close to the boundary and Garcon gets whacked by the safety. It's the old Marvin route (think the pick early in LXI), but it didn't develop.
We have a problem at right guard. That's not news to anyone. Pierre Garcon is a work in progress. That's not news either. There was no 'one thing' that sank these drives other than systemic weaknesses (the line) combining with flukey crap like the roof being open in November. Manning might have been off on a couple of throws, but not enough to notice. If anything, it would be easy to fault him for looking deep so much. He seemed to want to stick the ball in endzone with every throw, going just 3 for 8 on passes over 10 yards. The Colts inability to run the ball in this part of the field really showed, Manning had to use screens and outs to generate 'running' type yardage. It's possible Manning was looking deep so often because of all the DBs the 49ers were using. The deep part of the field was an easier read, so he sought out man coverage and launched. It didn't work.
Stats for these 5 drives:
First thoughts from the aftermath of Sunday's 18-14 win over the 49ers. As always, all opinions and identifications are temporary until I watch the tape later this week.
Reasons to Smile:
- 7 and 0. Combined with the Broncos' loss, Indy now has a one game lead on the rest of the conference.
- The run defense, with one notable exception, played very well. Aside from the one run (more on that later), the SF backs carried 16 times for just 39 yards.
- Joe Addai played a whale of a game. The Colts had to leave him in to block on virtually every pass play, and he did so valiantly. There was almost no running room all day long, but Joe did a little bit of everything. If I'm giving out game balls, he'd get mine.
- Reggie Wayne continues to prove just how good he is. That was an incredible game winning TD catch.
- Two forced turnovers. Ataboy, Zomibe.
- Mathis and Freeney. Every time you need them, they show up. If Mathis doesn't also make the Ring of Honor, they should take it down. He's made more game winning/saving plays than any defender in Colts' history not named Freeney. He's incredible. His sack came on a three man rush.
- 64.5% passing and 347 yards has become a bad day.
- Pat McAfee. Wow. With one exception, he had a huge day.
- Amazing effort by Dawson to try and run down Gore on the long run.
- :26 Three time outs. Three points.
- 5:45. Two time outs. They never saw the ball.
Reasons to Frown:
- More mistakes by Garcon. I know he made a huge first down catch, but his route on a bomb late was horrid. He also picked up another penalty. At some point, he has to stop making big mistakes.
- Hank Baskett. Get well soon, Gonzo. If he makes either of his very makeable plays, perhaps this game isn't even close. Terrible.
- Bethea has to catch that pick. Shades of 2007 where Brady hit him in the navel with a pass that would have iced the game. I guess that's why he's a safety.
- Powers/Bethea's double whiff on Gore. That one play is what most people will take away from that game nationally. People will assume the 49ers controlled the ball and the clock. They didn't. Not even close. There was just sloppy tackling. Did anyone see who got pancaked on that play?
- The "Brady" rule call on Session. I hate that rule. Hate it.
- Pollack giving up two sacks. I don't see that he's getting better. The protection was spotty all day. More on this later.
- No holes in the run game. Against three dudes milling around in a standing position before the snap, you should be able to hit for big run gains. Addai was running hard directly at the holes. He did no dancing. There were no holes. This line can't run block even a little.
- 4 field goals. Turn even one into a touchdown, and this game is a walk.
- The dives by the 49ers defenders. That one linebacker saw they couldn't make their substitutions so he dropped like he was shot. When is the league going fine/penalize teams for this nonsense?
- The roof. It's not the elements. That's fine. It's that it creates a weird in and out of the shadows effect. I agree with Demond. Leave the roof closed for 1 PM games.
- Going for it on fourth and inches. The only way to lose that game is to get a FG blocked, or to have a kickoff run back. Good call going for it.
- :06 left, ball at the 12. There's time for one more play. It's nit picky, I know, but if you lose by a score, going straight for the FG there will keep you up all week.
Reasons I'm Flyin':
- The defense won this game. Tremendous effort. The Colts now lead the NFL in fewest points allowed. This D is legit. Zero second half points. 3 turnovers, 4 sacks. One bad play and one bad drive are no big deal. Shutting down a team when trailing in the second half...very big deal.
- The final drive was the kind of drive we have to have to win playoff games. If you get the ball back with the lead and less than 6 minutes to play in the game, you have to ensure the other offense never sees the field.
- This team has some serious leadership. Wayne. Freeney. These guys are banged up, and they went out made huge plays.
- The Colts won against a gritty opponent on a day they didn't play their best.
- Gonzo should be back soon. That will help.
- Half back pass trailing in the fourth quarter? Our coach has stones. Good on you, Jim.
Reasons I'm Dyin':
- The deep ball wasn't there all day. Some readers speculated that Manning's knee was acting up. It did look eerily like last year. He did get Friday off, which raised eyebrows at the time. The deep ball wasn't there all year last year, and when it came back this year, the difference was striking.
- Hayden got hurt again. The young corners really held up remarkably, but I'm beginning to wonder when this secondary will ever get healthy. Houston, New England and Baltimore are up next. We need all our corners.
- Houston is really playing well. A loss is coming for the Colts. It's just a matter of when. That's ok, it's the NFL, they are going to drop a couple of games. I'd sleep better if next Sunday isn't one of them.
- The O-line. It's just not right. Indy should have been able to run the ball against that meandering front. The fact that they couldn't worries me. Deeply.
The Bottom Line:
This was a good week for a wake-up call. The road gets tough from here on out, and it's good for the team to have faced a challenge. The Vikings are pretty good, and they needed a hail mary to beat these 49ers at home. We are still up three in the loss column on the Texans, and now one over Denver and two over Pittsburgh and the Pats. I've said all year that I thought the D had a chance to be special, and I saw nothing today that would dissuade me from that position. Peyton Manning played one of the best 'bad' games you'll ever see. It's a good win. A little 2008 for my tastes, but we'll take it. This team can still get better but if you want to sleep at night, ask yourself this question: is this team better than the Steelers were last year? They were the best team I saw all last year. I think this Colts' team is better. It's not flawless. But it's still the best team I've seen in the AFC at least, if not the NFL.
Sixteen wins in a row. It boggles the mind. Too bad it means nothing other than we have one incredible football team in Naptown.
The retractable roof should never be open again during a Colts game. The open roof hurt the home team on at least three plays this afternoon. Each play took place early in the game while the sun was shining directly on the field.
1. Silva is back deep to recieve the punt. He is forced to shield his eyes from the incredibly bright sun. He takes his eye off the ball and muffs the punt before recovering his own mistake.
2. The very next play Manning drops back and fires a bomb into the sunlight and light wind. The pass is off-target and Garcon fails to make the adjustment. The sun and wind made the play tougher for both Manning and Garcon. It should have been an easy touchdown.
3. Later in the game Manning throws for Clark in the endzone. Clark loses the ball in the sunlight. He looks utterly confused as to where the ball could be, and can't make the adjustment.
I'm a little confused, too. The Colts played in the RCA Dome for over 20 years. Opposing fans mocked us for playing in a vacuum-sealed 72 degrees and alway-sunny environment. Colts fans ignored the criticism because the team won an overwhelming majority of its home games. Manning thrived in the controlled conditions, and that's all that mattered. Then it came time to build the new stadium. Someone, I don't know who, thought it would be neat if the buiding featured a $100 million retractable roof. I think this was a huge mistake.
Look, the roof is cool. I'll be the first to admit it. But the city and state couldn't afford it. And more important, to me at least, are the difficult playing conditions it creates. Today there was a decent wind, as evidenced by the championship banners blowing constantly to the north. The sunlight was only on the field for about a quarter and a half, but in that short time it made an impact. Keep in mind that it isn't a natural light the Colts are dealing with. It isn't as if the entire field is bathed in light. The shadow/light effect has always had a negative effect on athletic competition. Today it was as if the endless fires of hell were located directly above the ten yard line on the north end of the stadium. The rest of the field was in shadow. Unacceptable.
Here's the deal: If Polian, Caldwell, and Manning are fine with the open roof then so be it. I strongly doubt they are. I want to know who is making the "open or closed" call. It smacks of politics, to me. We spent a ton of money on the roof. What if word got out that the Colts wanted it closed each week? Imagine the firestorm from the public. 10% unemployment and we just wasted $100 million on a roof we don't even want? Well, I'm sorry. It nearly cost them the game today.
And it wasn't just today. I thought the roof was a clear factor in the Jacksonville game, as well. Clark lost a deep ball in the sun, and Manning seemed to be struggling with it at times. After today, it is time to start asking pointed questions. If the Colts agree that the sunlight is having an impact then we need to close the damn roof and keep it closed.
Freeney and Wayne are active today. So is Eric Foster. That's great news for the Horse.
- The 49ers start the game with the ball. Two runs set up third and short. Smith hit Vernon Davis who lazily doesn't get both feet down. The 49ers punt, which Silva (subbing for an injured Rushing) muffs. He atones by recovering the punt inside the 20. Indy ball.
- On first down, Demond calls to complain that the open roof and the wind and sun lead to a bomb to Garcon falling incomplete. The Colts' first drive ends as Clark puts the ball on the turf short of the first down. He was clearly down by contact and Caldwell rightly challenged the play. The fumble is overturned. Indy punts and McAfee drills it. Wheeler makes a great play, and the 49ers are back inside the 30. Unfortunately, the great punt/tackle is for nought as a flag forces the Colts to rekick. The second time leads to a 60 yard punt. The kid is drilling the ball today.
- Worst case scenario. The 49ers run a little draw up the middle, and Frank Gore busts it for a 65 yard TD. Sloppy tackling turned what should have been a short gain into a long TD. Powers and Bethea collide in the secondary to allow the back breaker. Awful. 7-0 49ers.
- The Colts second drive is another three and out as Manning throws a terrible pass on third and 3. The 49ers jump the route, and Manning is lucky to not have a pick 6. The Colts are running the ball effectively, but Manning seems to be throwing too quickly, too short. Abysmal start by the Colts.
- Smith does the Colts a favor by tripping on first down. They blow up a draw on second and Freeney/Mathis forces an incomplete pass. That's two three and outs and one stupid TD for the D.
- Manning hits Wayne on a bubble screen on third and long which busts for 32 yards. He then hits Collie on third down for a huge first down thanks to a big blitz pick up by Addai. Garcon picks up yet another penalty on the ensuing first down. Manning hits Clark for a big gain to set up a third and two, but the line gets no push and Addai goes nowhere. Stover drills the figgie, and Indy is down 7-3. Manning looks out of sync early.
- The 49ers start deep in their own territory thanks to a blowup hit by Silva. The 49ers get a couple of first downs. I literally spend most of the drive vomiting because of nerves. The Zombie calms my stomach by picking off a tipped pass and taking it to the 49ers 35.
- The Colts are driving and have a third and four to end the quarter. The first quarter went as badly as possible for Indy. SF leads 7-3
- Clark loses a ball in the sun in the endzone on third and four begging the question: why is the roof open? The answer: because there is one. Which begs the question: why is there a retractable roof? Stover just slides the short FG inside the upright. 7-6 'Frisco.
- Indy blitzes on third down forcing Smith to throw short. Hayden makes a sure tackle and the 49ers are three and out (again). Frank Gore has 1 run for 64 yards and 6 runs for 12 yards. That's the definition of boom and bust. Indy ball around the 25.
- Three and out for Indy as Wayne is hit for no gain on third and two. Manning isn't reading the defense correctly early on. McAfee hits another huge punt, which is fumbled out of bounds.
- The defense is taking over this game. With the exception of the one bad play, they've owned the 49ers both running and passing. Incomplete pass, holding call, short run, scramble on 3rd and a million, punt. Eventually Manning will figure out the 49ers and the Colts will explode.
- Another drive, another quick punt. Manning takes a sack on second down and Hank Baskett drops a pass on third down. The Colts are having fits figuring out the 49ers scheme today.
- Third and long again for the 49ers, and Crabtree comes back too far to the ball. Punt.
- The Colts have a chance for the "two for none" to end the half as they get the ball to start the second half. The chance goes by the board, however, as Manning underthrows Clark on first down, and that sets the tone for the 'drive'. Frenchy does pick up a first down on third and long, but on the next third down, Peyton rifles it through Wayne's hands. The defense needs to hold one more time this half. The 49ers will take over at the 11, so Indy still has a chance to score if they can force a punt.
- Instead, they allow Smith to slice right through them. Session picks up a "Brady" personal foul, and with ease, the 49ers march 89 yards for a touchdown. Horrible. Unspeakably horrible. The D generated no pressure at all and gave up the most gutless drive I've seen in a long time.
- Thanks to a penalty, the 49ers kick from the 15, and Simpson takes it to the 39 with :26 left in the half. The Colts had all their timeouts, but don't need them all. Manning drives them down to the 12 with :06 seconds left, and Caldwell opts for the field goal attempt. It's a debatable decision, but it gets the points on the board. 14-9 at the half.
For the offense it's been a nightmare. For the defense, it's been mostly positive with critical lapses. The Colts start the second half with the ball. It's time to get some touchdowns. The bottom line is that the Oline has been awful. The 49ers are rushing from a standing position, which should be a signal to run the ball. Unfortunately, Addai is getting pummeled in the backfield. Meanwhile, they aren't identifying where the rush is coming from and Manning looks harried. He's 15 for 24 for 175. Note: Jimmy Johnson just claimed that the 49ers are keeping the ball away from Manning. They aren't. Indy has the ToP advantage. I swear he doesn't even watch the games.
- The second half starts off exactly like the first. A short run, a penalty, a sack (Pollack gives it up), but on third and 20 Manning guns a HUGE completion to Frenchy. Manning hits more passes, but the drive stalls as Pollack gives up ANOTHER sack on third and 4. Again, Stover hits the kick, and the Colts trail 14-12. The line play has been disastrous.
- The D does a lot of things well, but stopping third and shorts isn't one of those things. The 49ers pick up consecutive short yardage plays. Fortunately, one of things the D does do is tackle on short passes. Crabtree catches a flanker screen, but is swarmed under and Powers makes a huge play by stripping him. It's ruled a fumble recovered by the Colts on the field, and 49ers lose their challenge. Indy ball. Huge play.
- Despite getting the ball at 42, Manning sprays three straight passes (although in fairness, the first was an awful route by Garcon who got open but then angled to the middle of the field instead of the sideline). McAfee makes his first real mistake punt, and SF starts at the 21. The D has done their part today. The offense is not contributing.
- The Indy D continues to play at an insane level. Two runs, pass pressure, punt. That's a winning formula. Outside of the one long run, SF has 14 carries for 24 yards. That's getting it done.
- The half ends with the Colts slamming it down near the 49ers 20. Manning has been deft on this drive, and Indy has a chance to jump out in front. The Colts won the third quarter, but desperately need to convert this drive into seven points.
- GREATEST PLAY EVER! KID JOE THROWS A TD TO WAYNE! They ran the same play against Denver in 2006, and it was almost picked off. This time he hits a wide open Reggie Wayne for 6. Wayne makes an incredible diving catch. The point conversion fails as Manning sails one over his man in the back corner. Indy leads for the first time today, 18-14. It's up to the D now.
- The problem with taking the lead is that it means that Alex Smith gets to work against a Colts' secondary that no longer has Kelvin Hayden to lean on (he's out with a knee). The 49ers rip right through Indy, getting three straight first downs without so much as facing a third. Finally, after a huge delay of game on third down, Robert Mathis saves the day as he has so many times. The Colts get the sack only rushing three men, and Smith is knocked out of field goal range. The Colts get the ball at the 10 yard line hoping to change field position at the very least. Now is the time for a 'championship drive'.
- Manning hits Clark on a HUGE play for 40 yards. It helps to change the field position, but Manning sails the throw to Collie. Indy punts on 4th and 3. It pays off as the 49ers field the ball inside the 5 and will start 95 yards from the endzone. The D needs one more big stand here.
- Freeney jumps offsides to kickstart the drive for the 49ers. Smith makes some nice throws for first downs, but Bethea helped by dropping an easy pick. Finally, Freeney kept his streak alive by taking down Smith on third and 10. It's incredible, but Freeney and Mathis are easily the most clutch DEs I've ever seen.
- Manning deftly takes the clock to double zeros, doing what they couldn't do week one against the Jags. Manning twice converts third down throws to Dallas Clark, and Joe Addai finishes off his yeoman's day of blocking, passing, and grinding with 19 yards on the final drive, including picking up 4th and inches at gun.. Indy took over with 5:45 on the clock up by four points, and didn't give the ball back to the 49ers. That's beautiful football.
END OF GAME SUMMARY:
Great day by the defense. The offense struggled mightily all day (Manning posted a rating of 86), and the line was suspect, but at the end of the day the incredible performance of the defense carried the day. Four sacks, two huge turnovers, and they didn't even give up 100 yards to Frank Gore, despite his big run. Ultimately, this is the kind of gritty win a team has to have during the season. Had the Colts been able to convert even one of the 4 field goals into a touchdown, things would have felt much more comfortable. Ultimately, this will be remembered as the day that Joe Addai threw a game winning touchdown pass. Wow.