Colts LBer Clint Session (#55) forces a fumble.
It is easy to dismiss a now 0-14 team and simply say that this should have been an easy game that the Colts win blindfolded. The score should have been 28-0 at halftime, and Jim Sorgi should have been warming up mid-third quarter. But that is not how the NFL is, even though a lot of people still think this is 1988 and not 2008. Despite being 0-14, the Detroit Lions have some very good players, and as a team they play their hearts out. I can't say that about a team like the Washington Redskins, who have essentially quit on their season. The Lions are playing with desperate abandonment, the way all teams should play when they are fighting and scraping for some late-season dignity. And because of how they fought, it forced the Colts to fight back themselves.
The Lions battled back down 21-10 to tie the game in the third quarter on well-executed 2-point conversion. One of the reasons they battled back is there were some very curious (i.e. DUMB!) decisions made by Tony Dungy. Starting Josh Thomas at DT despite having the services of Daniel Muir, Darrell Reid, and Raheem Brock made absolutely no sense. Thomas had never started at DT, and the result was Detroit running for 4.1 a carry and a TD. It also resulted in absolutely ZERO PASS RUSH on QB Dan Orlovky, who looked like Dan Marino out there. If you had doubts as to what is more important (stopping the run or pressuring the QB), look now further than this game. Without pressure, Dan Orlovsky was 23-34 for 233 yards and a TD.
Why not start Thomas at DE and move Brock to DT... like we've done for the past, uh, five years or so!
And then there was the odd benching of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Do you recall seeing them play? I don't. Go to the box score and they did not log a single stat. Instead, you saw rookie DE Marcus Howard in there. No offense, but when Tony Dungy talks about how he respects the opponent, he is not backing that up by essentially sitting all his key players on defense for no reason whatsoever. Keep in mind, Bob Sanders was healthy enough to play, but they scratched him anyway. Freeney and Mathis were not on the injury reports. Yet, they barely saw the field. The results were a lackluster performance on defense.
Why did all these players sit?
Well, the Colts do have a short week this week, traveling to Jacksonville to play the Jaguars Thursday night. Maybe Dungy was resting his key defensive players anticipating that game. This kind of goes against the whole "one game at a time" mantra, and I don't like it. These are professionals. They can rest after the Jaguars game when they will have a 10 day period between games. Right now, if they are healthy I expect them to play. Hoosiers paid good money to watch Dwight Freeney play yesterday. Sitting him for no damn reason is a slap in their collective face. Football is a spectator sport. I wish some of these supposed football people realized that and started respecting the spectator more.
For the offense, Peyton Manning continues to solidify his status as league MVP. The race is essentially over, but it seems voters are reluctant to vote for Manning even though he is clearly the best player in football. The Colts offense is the most efficient in football. I don't care what FO says. The key stat of any offense is red zone efficiency, and the Colts are monsters in the red zone. When they get there, they score a TD nearly 75% of the time. Against Detroit, they scored with every trip in the red zone, and planted 4 TDs in 5 trips on the scoreboard. After Detroit's 2 point conversion, Peyton responded by going 7-7 on the next drive, including a 38-yarder to Reggie Wayne that placed the ball on Detroit's one yard line. The Colts punched it in, and essentially iced the game. Indy's offense dominated the fourth quarter, taking nearly 9 minutes off the clock and scoring 10 points.
Again, Peyton Manning is the MVP. It is so obvious, it might as well be growing hair and flashing lights. I want to see more "journalists" writing the obvious. Sadly, I'm not. I'm seeing wannabe ESPN "bloggers" ball wash Kurt Warner, who stunk it up again this Sunday against a quality opponent at home.
The truly bad were he special teams returners. Keiwan Ratliff fumbling punts and Najeh Davenport giving us nothing on kick returns were a big reason this game was close. The Colts have got to get this squared away. Why isn't Pierre Garcon out there? Didn't Indy draft him for this?
The win gives Indy 10 for the season. This is the 7th year in a row Indy has won 10 games. They've won 10 games 9 of the last 10 years. This is also the 5th year in a row (I believe) that Indy has had a 7 game winning streak going. Again, we are witnessing one of the most dominant franchises in the modern NFL era flex their muscles. The only other franchise with this kind of track record is New England, and, if you recall, they cheated to get it. Should the Colts win out at get 12 wins, it will be the 6th year in a row the Colts have won 12 games. The only other team to do that within the last 20-something years is the San Francisco 49ers, and back then the league was a lot different (no salary cap, uneven competition, etc.)
In a league built for teams to rise and fail, the Colts have risen and stay up there.
At 10-4, the Colts still control their own destiny. a win against the Jags this coming Thursday puts them in. It won't be easy, but this team has the moxy to win tough games. Once again, our hearts go out to SeanYuille at the Lions fans at Pride of Detroit. I will be pulling for them to win a game these next 2 weeks. They play tough and do not quit. Teams like Washington (who just lost to the Bengals) could take a cue from Detroit.