Areas like the defense and special teams did not play especially well during the Colts 27-24 win over the Redskins, which is why many people are cheering on the 'engine' that makes this team run: The Offense.
68 plays. 469 yards of offense. 27 points.
This was against a pretty decent Redskins defense allowing less that 20 points per game coming in. But the points and highlight reel catches made by the Colts wide receivers were not the reasons why this team won Sunday night. They won because, for the first time in over two years, we saw our club's offensive line dominate another team's defensive line.
Now, who knows how this game would have done if Albert Haynesworth had played. He was healthy and ready to play, supposedly. Having him not play suggests the Redskins are going to trade him today or tomorrow, prior to the NFL's trading deadline. Without him in the middle for the Redskins new 3-4 defense, the Colts gashed huge holes in the Skins' front, rushing for a jaw-dropping 170 yards, 1 TD, and averaging almost 6 yards a rush!
I'm going to quote reader DevilsReject because he wrote pretty much what I was thinking in his recap:
The media, the GM, and even us, the fans, have given you grief all year long. Tonight you guys came out and really played very well. Sure, there was a few breakdowns, but overall you guys performed up to expectations. Despite giving up 1 sack, there was holes for the running game all night. Addai had the longest run of his career and the best running game totals for a Colts RB in 2 years. The insertion of DeVan back into the lineup once again gave the line a huge boost, as most of the successful running all night came on the left side.
Just like last year, Kyle DeVan gets inserted into the starting lineup, and presto! The line starts looking better.
I'm not in the mood to bash Jim Caldwell this morning, but I will say that if he had not made the mistake of handing Mike Pollak or Jamey Richard the starting guard spots, the Colts might have an extra win under their belt. Both are terrible offensive linemen, and as we all saw last night, Kyle DeVan is better than both. No one 'won' a job over him, I don't care what Bill Polian says. DeVan always deserved to start over either one of these scrubs the Colts have thrown out there. Take one look at Joseph Addai's 46-yard run (which was the longest of his career), that was to the left side. Kyle DeVan's side.
Addai's touchdown run, a tough 13-yard run, was also behind DeVan, who had an outstanding block on that play.
Starting DeVan over Jamey Richard was a move long overdue. Richard had done nothing to warrant a starting spot, and it's somewhat amazing it took the coaching staff six whole weeks to do something about this.
But, whatever. Bashing Caldwell isn't what I woke up this morning to do. I'm just glad he finally did something about the putrid play of the offensive line. The change seemed to ignite something in the team. The next step is getting rid of Mike Pollak. So tired of seeing him get blown up nearly every play of every week.
- Staying with the o-line, as many of you have pointed out, Ryan Diem seems 'done.' For me, that's sad. He's been a turnstile at right tackle all season long. Brian Orakpo's sack fumble on Peyton Manning was a direct result of Diem whiffing on a block. He did run block well last night though, and he's a great leader. So, for me, Diem gets a bit of a pass. I don't view him the same way I view Pollak and Richard.
- Another day at the offense for Mike Hart: 11 rushes, 43 yards. At what point does he leap-frog Donald Brown on the depth chart? Hart has quite consistently outplayed Brown, especially in the pass blocking department.
- Last year this time, the hot topic on this site wasn't former readers bashing me or Pat McAfee freaking out over a Tweet. It was Joseph Addai, apparently, sucking as a running back. Addai was 'terrible', and that was why the run game in 2008 was bad, and why the Colts drafted Donald Brown, blah, blah, blah, blah. Last night, 17 rushes, 128 yards, 1 TD. Addai is the most underrated running back in football.
- During the bye week, it is my humble suggestion that Larry Coyer re-teach this defense the art of TACKLING! Ryan Torain (who?) had 20 rushes for 100 yards and 2 TDs. Most of his runs were the direct result of players whiffing on tackles. Case in point, Torain's first touchdown. Aaron Francisco had a clean shot at him. He whiffed, and Torain walked into the endzone.
- Jerraud Powers had himself a game. That INT in the first quarter was all him. Nice job.
- Kelvin Hayden continues to struggle.
- Did you all get goose bumps seeing Peyton Manning freeze the linebackers with his play fake to Addai before tossing his TD pass to Austin Collie? Been a long time since defenders bit on the play fake. Collie was so wide open in the endzone he could have read War and Peace.
- I have mixed reviews for Pat Angerer's first start at MIKE, but for a rookie 'mixed reviews' are good ones.
- Pierre Garcon needed a breakout game in a big way. The kid seems to come alive in these national televised games. That one-handed grab that will make all the highlight reels was positively Harrisonian.
- Despite sealing the win with an acrobatic INT by Aaron Francisco, I'm frustrated with the defense because the game should have ended much sooner. After going up 27-17 in the fourth, the Colts defense needed to step up and shutdown Donovan McNabb and the Redskins offense. One stop, and it's likely over. Instead, the defense allows a 12 play, 92 yard touchdown drive in 5:55. Have to tighten up in those situations.
- Clock management by Manning late in the fourth was awful. The Colts had 170 rushing yards. So, to run out clock and seal the win, Manning calls three straight passing plays? Poor play management by both Manning and Clyde Christensen.
- Manning and center Jeff Saturday started their 160th game together, which ties the NFL record for a quarterback-center combination. Bravo gentlemen. Both of you are Hall of Fame-caliber players.
The win in Washington for the Colts was the first one in 43 years. This used to be a great rivalry in the DC area, back when the Colts were in Baltimore. Last night, it wasn't a rivalry, but it was an entertaining game. As much as I dislike Mike Shanahan and feel he is a very overrated coach, he does seem to have the Redskins going in the right direction. Hats off to them for playing a great game, especially left tackle Trent Williams. He seemed to dominate Dwight Freeney last night. I don't think Freeney recorded a single tackle all game long. That's impressive for a rookie. Well done.
The Colts are 4-2 heading into their bye week. Tomorrow is the NFL trading deadline. Will the Colts look to get more help along their o-line? Who knows. For today, the team vibe overall is much better. Still some glaring weaknesses. Still searching for an 'identity.' But, 4-2 is pretty good right now.