Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Revenge of the Defense, Indeed!

Sometimes, you just don't realize how fortunate you are. I mean, I remember back-to-back 3-13 seasons (Jim Harbaugh's final, injury-plagued season with Indy & Peyton Manning's rookie year) and the frustration of losing almost every week and considering the "bye" a win because, well, the team didn't lose.

But what the Colts pulled off last night was truly impressive. Out-manned at home, they were literally scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the roster. On offense, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, and Austin Collie sat out. Defensively, Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey missed the game. The Colts had to start Justin Tryon at cornerback, and he played well. In fact, though the "D" was depleted, the Colts put on a blockbuster performance:

Looks like I need to remove Jerraud Powers from the poster and add Justin Tryon, Kelvin Hayden, or Deshea Townsend.

The Colts often tout the philosophy of "Next Man Up," but last night, you could tell they believe it. Big-time contributions came from guys who usually play special teams or see extended action during preseason games. I'm looking at you, Jacob Tamme, Blair White, and Mike Hart. And you, too, Justin Tryon, Deshea Townsend, and Aaron Francisco. Good to see Kelvin Hayden make a big play, too.
They're not the Three Amigos, but this trio played big last night.

The defense forced two turnovers, and both were game-changers. Hayden's pick six gave the Colts the two-touchdown lead that plays perfectly into their hands. The game ended on a sack-fumble forced by Dwight Freeney and recovered by Eric Foster.
The game wasn't over after this, except it basically was.

The sack-and-strip has gotten to the ridiculous point now that when it doesn't happen, you're shocked.

No, Mr. Freeney, WE salute YOU!

Clint Session can hit. Matt Schaub is still feeling this one this morning.

I can't say enough about Mike Hart. The guy's a little wrecking ball, running over guys who are a whole lot bigger than he is; kind of a Maurice Jones-Drew without the extra gear. But it doesn't seem to matter to him. He'll make that second and third effort to get the half-yard needed for the first down. He's also got some lightning-fast lateral moves and jukes that broke a couple ankles last night.

This is what Mike Hart does. Joe Addai ends up inches short of the first down here. Donald Brown probably ends up just short, too. Hart turns it into a first down.

Yes, there's plenty to applaud about last night's win.

Okay, so the picture is a little too literal.

The Texans embarrassed the Colts in the first game of the season, but when the games really start to count, Houston can't get it done. The season is far from over, but the Colts have positioned themselves remarkably well. They'll still lose some games this season--even with the subs playing great, missing key top talent will eventually hurt--but here they are, sitting alone atop the AFC South.

And how are they doing it?

Great downfield block by that receiver or lineman, right?

Holy crap, it's Peyton!

I'm not saying Peyton's block on that broken pass to Garcon is the reason the Colts won the game last night.

It's not.

But the mentality behind that block--when the multi-million-dollar quarterback is taking a defender out of a play--is a reason the Colts won last night. Heck, Peyton even ran for a freaking first down, something that almost falls into the Never Happens Zone.

I think we all know who the real sheriff is.

There can be only one explanation for this: Jon Gruden is trying to get out of his TV contract so he can go and coach the Cowboys.

It wasn't all wine and roses. The Colts committed nine penalties. We saw everything from offensive pass interference to holding, false starts, and even an illegal snap. Ryan Diem had a particular forgettable night...
Three times is shady!

The Texans committed their share of penalties, too. The hard count caused them to go offside in some key situations, and at one point in the game it looked like they were going to cross the line of scrimmage whenever Manning opened his mouth.

Round two goes to Indy.

Final score: 30-17.

Most important numbers: Colts 5-2, Texans 4-3.

The Colts now face a short week and must travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. It never does get any easier.

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