Recap Week Eight: Titans 31-Colts 21

Pierre Garcon kindly tells this Titans player to get out of his face.
Photo:
Yahoo

The only thing consistent about this team is its inconsistency. It seems for every area they get fixed another area (usually pretty reliable) gets broken. Though, strangely, I come out of this lose with a renewed sense of optimism about the team. Yes, they are 3-4 and that is never good, but the positive is that most of the AFC is 3-4, and the teams that are 4-3 or 5-2 are very beatable. As shake n bake said:

The Colts are one game back from the AFC Wildcard and they have a head to head tiebreaker over one team ahead of them (Ravens). All the Colts have to do is gain one game on the Ravens and Jets over their remaining 9.

Contrary to popular belief, and the silly narrative that is getting written, the Colts still have a viable chance to win their division. Nine weeks of football leave a lot of room to makeup ground. But, last night, the Colts were not able to take advantage of an anemic Titans offense, which was completely shut down by a Colts defense that was supposed to "not be very good."

Before I get to the observations, I gotta say that I really hate being right. For years, we've said Vince Young is garbage and the Titans would be much better with Kerry Collins at QB. Titans fans railed against this. One even called me a racist for suggesting Vince get benched for Collins (his comment was deleted). Now, with Collins as their starting QB, they are 7-0 and in the driver's seat. Last night, Collins' steady play was a big factor in them winning. If Vince Young had started last night's game, Indy would have destroyed them. Gotta say again, Man! I hate being right.

  • Turnovers killed the Colts. Once again, like in the Bears game, WRs can't seem to do the most basic function they are paid millions of dollars to do: Catch the friggin' ball. Both Manning INTs, which both resulted in Titans TDs, were the result of receivers letting the ball bounce off their stone hands and into the mittens of Titans defenders. On the road against a good opponent, one cannot have two big turnovers. That was the difference.
  • Colts defense dominated Tennessee's offense, and the Colts o-line pushed Tennessee's d-line around... for the most part. Indy ran for 4.3 yards a carry against a d-line that is #1 in football. Yet, on fourth and 1 at the 50, they decided to run power against a defense that was blitzing the run. Huh? Horrible call. Play fake those dudes and short pass for a first down. Other than that, Jeff Saturday contained Albert Haynesworth (who was out of breath most of the game) to 4 tackles, no sacks, no pressures. Can't ask for much more than that. As for the Colts defense, they held Tennessee to 284 total yards, 2.8 yards rushing, and 4.1 yards per offensive play. The reason Tennessee scored 31 was because the Colts offense (2 turnovers, 1 TO on downs at the 50) gave the Titans a short field.
  • I love Dallas Clark. He caught two TDs and was killing the Titans LBers all night. But catch the ball, brother! That whiff resulted in an INT, and killed the game for Indy.
  • Dominic Rhodes and Gary Brackett are two of my favorite players. They play with such energy, such enthusiasm.
  • I'm questioning why Manning keeps zeroing in on Wayne and Harrison when Gonzo was getting open pretty consistently.
  • The Colts o-line was  extremely good last night, except for Mike Pollak. Pollak looked like a rookie. It was nice to see Tony Ugoh back at LT. Manning was not sacked last night, and when Ugoh plays the running game is usually much better. Charlie Johnson is better suited for guard. He was getting push and opening holes.
  • Special teams continue to impress. Pierre Garcon started shaky but found himself. He made some good returns. Coverage units have been solid all year, sometimes spectacular. Hunter Smith has improved in his ability to hang punts, allowing his coverage to down the punts deep.
  • The two phantom calls (illegal contact by Marlin and pass interference by Bullitt) were utter garbage. But, hey, the game was in Tennessee. Home cooking. Next time, hopefully, they don't get those calls.
  • Clint, baby, when an INT falls into your hands... CATCH IT! I thought Gary Brackett was going to take his head off after he dropped that gift.
  • We finally got our first look at NT Daniel Muir, and he played quite well. This is now the third game in a row the Colts have held their opponent to under 4 yards a rush. They are 1-2 in that stretch, and the reason for the two loses has not been the defense. The offense has 4 turnovers, and I believe all of them have resulted in TDs. The one area that bugs me about the defense: They have generated ZERO turnovers in those two games. They've caused multiple fumbles (one last night that was missed by the crappy refs) but not recovered them. They've had INTs fall into their hands but not caught them. Getting turnovers is very important, as we saw last night.
  • The Colts no longer have a DT problem. Anyone makes that excuse and I will ignore it. Raheem Brock, Eric Foster, Daniel Muir, and Keyunta Dawson are good enough to get the job done. They pushed around a very good Tennessee o-line last night, and were able to get consistent penetration into Tennessee's backfield.

Capt

Photo via d.yimg.com

So, without Bob Sanders, Joseph Addai, Ryan Lilja, and Kelvin Hayden, the Colts went toe-to-toe with, supposedly, the best team in the NFL and nearly beat them. For whatever reason, the Colts just haven't played consistent football. Certain areas have been corrected, and that is very encouraging. But, the main focus now is getting Bob back and eliminating these annoying and game-killing turnovers.

I'll say again, as with all pre-scripted nonsense about the NFL, the AFC South is not "locked up." Just because a bunch of dumb-asses say it doesn't make it true. The Titans could very well lose 3 or 4 in a row, and the Colts could win 3 or 4 in a row. And then, they are back in it. The main thing I took from last night was the Titans do not scare me. Their main offensive weapon (Chris Johnson) was smacked around hard most of the game. If he wasn't fumbling, he had alligator arms out of the backfield. LenDale White was held to 13 yards on 10 carries. The Colts also moved the ball wells against the #1 defense, and ran for 4.3 a carry. All this was done without Bob Sanders, Joseph Addai, Kelvin Hayden, and Ryan Lilja.

And all four of those guys are expected back soon. Bob especially. Though the team is 3-4, keep the faith Colts fans. As ColtsFanNChiTown wrote in the FanShot, Tony Dungy has started 3-4 before and coached his team to great things despite that start. We will still get there.

Go Colts!

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