Thirteen up, thirteen down in 2009, clinching the #1 seed in the AFC. However, this game against the Broncos had the feel of a blowout, changed to a game of frustration, but never really out of hand, to one of I knew they had one more drive in them. I'll dive into the reasons for this with the numbers, but first some history from the game:
- (Elias via ESPN) For the first time in the regular season, the Colts won a game where Peyton Manning threw 3 interceptions. He was 0-11 previously. Elias forgot to mention the Playoff win against the Chiefs in January of 2007, where he threw 3 INTs, and the Colts won 23-8.
- (Elias via ESPN):
The Colts-Broncos game featured a matchup of two of the most successful rookie head coaches in recent NFL history. Jim Caldwell (12-0 coming into the game) and Josh McDaniels (8-4) were only the second pair of first-year head coaches in the last 40 years to face each other both having a record at least four games above the .500 mark. The others were Bill Cowher of the Steelers (10-4) and Dennis Green of the Vikings (9-5) in 1992.
- (P-F-R): The Colts and Saints became the 6th and 7th teams in NFL history to start a season 13-0. It's the second time the Colts have done it in the past 5 seasons. Along with that, the Colts have 114 wins in the '00s, tops for any decade in NFL history.
- (P-F-R): Another game, another record for Peyton Manning. This time, he's tied Brett Favre and Dan Marino for most 4 TD games in NFL history, with 22.
- Speaking of the #22...I think you know where I'm going with that. NFL record for consecutive games won. What I really want now, is a 3 game winning streak in January/February.
Follow me after the jump for my explanation of why the game was never really out of hand, even though it certainly seemed that way...
Here are the stats from Week 14:
|Statistic||Offense||Rank||Defense||Rank||Off/Def Above||Off/Def Below||Record|
|Avg Start Pos||29.9||20||33.4||21||N||Y||9-2|
|3 and Outs||7||28||4||14||N||N||6-1|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.286||2||0.878||14||Y||N||8-3|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||41.60||9||41.50||22||N||N||3-2|
|Ranking - Week (32)||15||17||16|
|Ranking - Season (416)||233||170||199|
My thoughts on the game:
- On a macro-level, it was the most even game of the week, meaning a 12 point victory seems high for such a statistically equal game. But it was only equal because of how the Colts approached the game after going up 21-0:
The Broncos had all of 52 yards on 15 plays in their first 3 drives. After the Colts went up 3 TDs, the Colts defense went into the classic Tampa-2 mode: Keep everything in front of you, and don't give up the big play. Sure Marshall had all those catches, but it was because that is the way the Colts were defending him. BBS said it best:
Marshall caught 21 balls because the Colts kept tackling him after every catch. Down 21-0 after a little more than a quarter's worth of play, the Broncos had to use 28 total plays and well over 13 total minutes of clock time to score at total of 16 points on their three scoring drives. That is far to long, and far too many plays, when trying to overcome a 21-0 hole.
Again, vintage Tampa-2.
Consider this as well: How many offensive plays did the Broncos run where they could have tied/taken the lead in the game? Three, and they were on their first possession of the game. Even though it may have felt the game was out of hand, it wasn't.
- After the Colts scored 3 TDs on their first 4 possessions, they went 3 and out 6 of the next 7 drives. That's atrocious and should never happen with this offense. On the one drive they got a first down, Manning immediately threw an INT on the 4th play of the drive. I kept telling myself throughout the game that they only needed one more drive to put the dagger in them. It just took 2 full quarters before it came.
- Even with all those 3 and outs, the Colts still had a Drive Success Rate over 75%. The defense also held the Broncos below the league average (69%), which means winning at 91.5% this year.
- Also, for the first time this season, the Colts were below average in ANPY/A. It coincided with the Broncos being above average, which means, based on this season, the Broncos had a 95.1% chance of winning. That's why stats can never tell a perfect story.
- I mentioned in the game preview these defenses were prone to giving up long, time-consuming drives. The complete opposite happened, even though the Colts had 4 long drives, and 7 really short ones, which average to not a lot of time for each.
- I also said that 3rd/4th down Conversions and Red Zone efficiency would be key to winning. The Colts dominated in these 2 stats on offense, and were good defensively as well. These were, in fact, the keys to the game.
- Oh ya, and this:
Prediction? Colts 28, Broncos 16.
Season stats so far through Week 14:
|Avg Start Pos||28.4||24||Bears||27.9||9||Cowboys||96-28||0.774|
|3 and Outs||2.77||3||Cowboys||3.46||23||Jets||63-22||0.741|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.582||2||Dolphins||0.885||6||49ers||73-41||0.640|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||39.22||19||Raiders||42.44||30||Patriots||38-45||0.458|
A couple things here:
- Lots of single digit numbers on the offensive side, although they've been passed by the Saints for the best offense (not adjusted for defenses, that is). Honestly the ANPY/A number is surprisingly low, especially after the first few weeks of the season. Manning was on pace for a record season, but has cooled off after facing some better defenses.
- Defensively, I'd like the Drive Success Rate to be a little lower, as it is slightly below average. Just a little bit better would make a world of difference.
- Turnovers aren't nearly the telling stat as they have been in the past. Along with the Colts turning the ball over 3 times and winning, so did the Patriots and Dolphins, just this week.