Ahhhhhh, the sweet smell of victory in the air, the site of blood in the water. Welcome to this week's edition of the Devil's Take. This week, our Colts collided with the upstart Texans in a rematch from the Week 1 debacle. Ironically, the outcome would do a flip-flop, with the Colts winning at home 30-17. The score is not indicative of the game, as the Texans were pretty much out of this game at halftime.
This game was all about who would step up for the Colts. Injuries, both short term and season ending, have hammered the Colts at key positions. Could these injury ridden Colts do what the 2007 Colts could not? Yes, they did. In a very big way. As I stated in my Devil's Take - Colts will be fine w/o Clark, this week's game would be about the next man up. While I can in no way say that this win shows I was right, it does show that this team CAN move forward with a positive look on the rest of the year.
Colts grade for Week 8: A+
Yes, you are reading that right. I gave this week's Colts the best grade I've given them all year. Now I know many of you in reading BigBlueShoe's Quick Recap, felt like this game was more survival than domination. You would be wrong. The Colts rode a wave of emotion and determination at home to a convincing win over a team who essentially punked us in Week 1. Don't agree with my opinion? Let me drop some cold hard facts for you...
#3 RB gets his first career start
#3 TE gets his first career start
Despite just those tidbits, the Colts dominated the game in all the major aspects (TOP, turnovers, and points).
Mike Hart - I mean seriously, who else could you put in here? Manning? Even my love for the GOAT is tempered by the "Hart" our MJD clone has shown on the field. 12 rush, 84 yards - 3 catches, 19 yards - 103 yards total offense. Whenever he's been called upon, the guy has shown up. He's proven himself not just to the fans, but also to this team.
Clint Session - Yes, you read that right. The guy who many on this site have decided to trash as of late, is a co-MVP in last night's game. Crazy? Nope. 8 solo tackes, 1 pass defense, 1 sack, and his pressure on Schaub early in the game forced Schaub into throwing an interception to Hayden that was returned for a TD. In my mind, he not only redeemed himself for Week 1, but he actually played pretty much a complete game.
- Peyton Manning - the man, the myth, the legend. I swear, you could give this guy HS players and he would make guys in the NFL look stupid. Despite rather average stats in the game (26 of 45, 268 yds, 2 TDs) Manning looked like Houdini on the field. Whenever it seemed like the Colts were in a corner, Manning was able to work some magic. Oh, and to add to his already absurd legend, his stats for the season despite the injury carnage: 15 TDs, 2 INTs, 2184 yds, and only 7 sacks...
- Jacob Tamme - Was that Dallas Clark on the field last night? I kid, I kid, but the guy showed some moves that definitely looks like he's been taking notes from the leagues best TE. Again, as I stated earlier this week in another fanpost, Tamme was a reason why the Colts had plenty of optimism moving forward. On Monday night, he showed us all exactly why. 6 catches, 64 yards, 1 TD. Not exactly ground breaking, but 5 of his 6 catches went for 1st downs...
- Anthony Gonzalez - Welcome back to the NFL. Playing in only his 3rd game in basically 2 years, he came through on a couple of big catches. 4 catches, 55 yards, and a dagger late in the 3rd quarter allowing the Colts to get in position for a FG.
- Jeremy Kapinos - A punter in my shout outs? I must be drunk! Seriously, this guy came into a difficult situation, ailing back, and performed well above expectations. 4 punts, averaging roughly 45 yards a punt. He also did fairly well on kickoffs, all things considered. I hope the guy lands another job in the NFL, at the very least, someone buy this guy a round or two...
- Colts Defense - Yes, they gave up 100+ yards rushing. Yes, they gave up 2 late TD's. They still repeatedly smacked, sacked, and hurried Matt Schaub into bad throws. They played some of their best football defensively all year despite missing what amounts to 5 starters on defense. They did this despite some guys on the defense not even seeing playing time for half of the year. It wasn't always pretty, and the Texans made the Colts work, but I cannot say enough about how well the Colts defense played last night. It would have been easy to slack off because of injuries. It would have been easy to say that we just couldn't match up well. They did NONE of that. Much better tackling than Week 1, much better in being the first guy at contact bringing the player down. Outside of 2 or 3 plays, the Colts defense really controlled this game. 2 Turnovers, 1 Pick Six, and 3 sacks.
- ***BONUS*** Pierre Garcon - It's officially time for everyone to jump off his back. The kid has continually been targeted by Manning on the deep route, on the short route, and he's responded by showing up on the field. Yes, he still frustrates us all with the occassional drop, but Gonzo, Wayne, and Clark are actually a bigger contributor to dropped passes this season.
Yet again, I have to save this place for the atrocious refereeing that we saw in last nights game. I have spent about half of these this year already on the refs. First, they miss a blatant facemask on Hart on our second drive. Guy almost loses his helmet, spins around, and no call. As usual, the refs continue to allow linemen to hold our defensive line. On the Texans final punt, the 3rd down prior, you can clearly see 2 Texans HOLDING. If I am at home seeing this, how do the morons on the field miss it? You can read my latest rambling about this here.
The one caveat that I was glad to see them not call was the hit on Gonzo late in the game. The defender was in the process of tackling him prior to Gonzo going out of bounds. The play while ugly, was not vicious or malicious.
****Dishonorable Mention 2****
Ryan Diem - This is now the 3rd week in a row you have been abused, used, and re-used by an opposing team. You have cost this team potential scoring opportunities with your inability to do your job. It is time that someone in the front office grew a pair and put you were you belong: playing guard or on the bench. For all of you who have doubted Linkenbach, he played pretty damn good against a Broncos team that knew we couldn't run the ball. And, he played Manning's blindside, filling in for Johnson. He's not ready for that full time, but he'd make an excellent right tackle and he has the size (6'4", 311lbs). I think it's time the Colts start looking at that....
- Manning/Saturday set the NFL record for most consecutive starts between QB/Center in the NFL.
- Manning/Wayne are now in second place in the all time on the NFL's QB/WR yardage list
- Manning/Wayne moved into 2nd place all time on the Colts QB/WR touchdown record list
- Manning/Wayne moved into 5th place all time on the NFL's QB/WR touchdown record list
Ironically, Manning and Wayne passed the same guys in each list, passing Unitas and Moore (63 TDs) with their 64th TD. Manning now accounts for 176 TDs to two WR's in the top 5 QB/WR tandem..... which is more than Jerry Rice/Steve Young/Joe Montana are combined.
The Colts have endured a game that would have derailed a lesser team. The Colts showed the ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome their obstacles despite the issues they faced. Bottom line: These guys just went out there and sucked it up and kicked some ass....
Next week we play the Eagles, who are on their bye week right now. Despite that, the Colts now have an additional week to get guys like Tamme, Eldridge, Hart, Brown, Gonzalez, and White more reps on offense that they still desperately need. As bad as this will sound, the Eagles are the perfect team to face after the Texans, as they have injury issues of their own. The Colts should be able to take this weeks game and learn from it moving forward.
To end this, I wanted to say I was very happy to see the Colts going for it on 4th down and to see Manning pushing the issue. I really feel like the Colts could be far more dangerous if they would go for this a bit more often. As I've said in the past, I'd rather lose the game on Manning's arm than lose it without a chance at all....
As always, thanks for any and all comments....