Sunday, November 16, 2008

Second half shootout at Big Oil

Well, I'll tell you what...this was just one of those games you knew the Colts would find a way to win. They were moving the ball at will on the Texans but couldn't get it into the endzone in the first half. In the second half, they put on a veritable scoring bonanza, putting 24 points up on the board. The offense looked crisp, the Colts found a running game, Marvin Harrison made more than a cameo appearance, and the defense did just enough to get the "W."

Gotta tell you, when you're up by six points with less than two minutes left in the game and Sage Rosenfels is the other team's quarterback, you have to pretty much concede it's a done deal. There was no way Rosenfels was going to lead the Texans to a touchdown. If they'd needed a field goal, maybe he could do that. But not a touchdown.

I think the announcers said it time and time again...the Texans would be a formidable opponent if they could get good quarterback play. And as much as they've struggled from many standpoints, they've never had "the guy" under center to lead the way. They've got some terrific skill position players like Steve Slayton, Ahman Green, Owen Daniels, Andre Johnson, and Kevin Walter. Their line did a nice job, too. But they don't have "the guy" to lead them. I mean...did anyone seriously think Rosenfels would do anything on that last drive other than throw an interception? Really?

From a Colts standpoint, the offense looked a lot more like the offense I've watched over the last few seasons. the second half, at least. The first half was typical of the Colts' season so far...too many drops and that sense of "almost" when it comes to making the big play. In the second half, the Colts took over, getting effective running from Joseph Addai (who finally looked like a duel-threat this week in the running and passing game) and Dominic Rhodes. The line was able to move the Texans off the ball and create some running room. Pass protection was very good, for the most part. And Marvin Harrison was very involved in the game, coming up with nine grabs for 77 yards and a really high-effort touchdown.

A lot of people have been on Harrison's case this year...and last week's performance against the Steelers did not speak well for #88. He just seemed out of it...disinterested. This week was a different story. It seemed like Marv had a little swagger to him. When he made a reception, the crowd cheered and it seemed to fire him up.

Addai has also garnered a lot of criticism lately. He's been ineffective overall in the running game. It also seems like he's been getting hurt a lot. In the first half, he dropped a couple of crucial passes. One of them was a drive killer. But he rebounded this week with a nice game, rushing for more than a hundred yards, reeling in four passes for 48 yards, and scoring two touchdowns. It was the same Addai who electrified the Colts during his rookie season. Of all the things the Colts did during this game, that was the one that excited me the most. Being able to open some running lanes and get the backs involved in the passing game makes the offense a lot more dangerous.

Of course, not everything the Colts did was terrific. The third down play before their final field goal was a disaster. The Texans also had moments where they able to run and run and run again on the Colts. The big play from Slayton was an exercise in poor positioning and the inability to get off a block. Slayton had a lot of running room for most of the game.

Then there was Tony Ugoh, who had one of the worst two-minute drills in the history of football. A holding penalty, a tripping penalty, and a false start nullified some big plays and cost the Colts some precious time. He had a hard time with Mario Williams...certainly one of the league's best. As a Colts fan, I guess that's how other teams feel when Dwight Freeney is on his game. Like Freeney, Williams can be unstoppable. He's fast, strong, and has a lot of good moves. It must get in an offensive lineman's head.

Still, when it came down to it...the Colts made the plays when they needed to, securing the win and continuing their dominance of the Texans. Manning passed for more than 300 yards, Addai and Rhodes both found some running room (they averaged about 4.5 yards/carry), and the Colts' receivers had plenty of opportunities to make plays. Heck, even a coach's challenge went their way for once. While they didn't score a touchdown on their final meaningful offensive possession, challenging a terrible spot on Marvin Harrison's catch allowed the Colts to keep the clock churning. I also have to mention that Melvin Bullitt came up with a game-sealing interception for the second week in a row. Gotta say...I love that guy!

The Colts stand 6-4, have won three straight (Manning has seven TDs and zero interceptions in that span), and are in the thick of the playoff hunt. They'll need to continue their stellar play if they hope to earn a Wild Card spot.

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