Welcome to a very down and frustrated Devil's Take. The Colts, despite fighting through injuries that would sideline most teams, lost 24-26 to the Philadelphia Eagles. The below picture pretty much sums up this game for the Colts.
As most of you know, Austin Collie was injured during the loss to the Eagles. After coming down with a critical catch, he was struck with a helmet to helmet shot by Kurt Coleman. For those of you did not see the hit, it was not a pretty sight. Collie was struck helmet to helmet as he was trying to cover the ball up as he was being tackled by Eagles Safety Quintin Mikell. As Collie was still on his feet, Coleman came in and lowered his head, striking Collie on the helmet. You can see the before collision picture here.
Mark my words, this hit will be the story line for basically the next week, as the league's new helmet to helmet policy was created because of hits like this. During the game, we had to listen to several comments about the hit, and to me, most of the comments were a joke.
As you can clearly see in the picture in the link I added, the defensive player made zero attempt to tackle the guy. He lowered his helmet and his shoulders in an attempt to stonewall the guy (aka Sanders style) and the end result was Collie on the ground, motionless. Let me make it clear, I don't believe the guy was trying to go for a knockout blow. However, these are the very types of hits the league wants cleaned up. If the guy had been trying to "tackle" Collie, you would see his arms extended out. Instead, you see the Eagles player trying to lower his shoulder and ducked his head in to "blow up" the receiver.
By definition of the new rule that was implemented by the league, that is an absolute must throw the flag play. The refs, in one of their few "shining moments", actually made the right call. I do not care if you like the rule, I do not care if you think it was a bad call. This was a call made to the letter of the rule.
Colts grade for Week 9: B-
The Colts went into this game with 5 key players who did not even make the trip to Philly, including both the #1 and #2 RB's. They also went into this game having lost Anthony Gonzalez for the season with a knee injury. I saw that come across yesterday and just threw my phone in disgust.
The Colts offense was hit or miss much of the night. Whenever the Colts would try running a hurry up offense, things seemed to click well enough that they had success moving the ball. The running game was especially erratic, as on some plays Brown made great reads and got positive yardage. The downside here was that for every positive effort, there was a negative one. As much as many of you love to bash on Brown, the fact of the matter is that the guy is the victim of really bad line blocking on a lot of his runs. I could count at least 10 rushes where the Eagles defense literally hit him as he made an attempt towards the line of scrimmage in possession of the ball. I don't care if your name is Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, that simply will not yield positive results on a regular basis.
The Colts defense, much like the offense, was hit or miss as well. Great red zone defense, horrible containment and coverage for much of the night. To be fair, you are playing against arguably the best running back to play QB in this league. The guy is a dual threat, but the mistakes on defense were mistakes that should not have been made. Add to that litany of mistakes at least 3 passes that hit Colts defenders in the hands, interceptions that were outright dropped, and you can see why the Colts struggled at times. The run defense ironically enough was the best part of the night.
The Colts special teams was pretty good, despite the new faces on the squad. The winds obviously played a part during the evening for both teams, but the Colts managed to keep it decent on both ends.
Ultimately, it's very hard for me to complain about these guys because of the injury issues and the fact they continued to go out there playing.
Normally, I would get into my points of the game at this moment, but I've decided to address another issue first. For the past 4 weeks, I have been very vocal about complaining about the inadequate officiating by the NFL. They will get one play call right, and either miss or blow another 3 or 4 calls. This week's game was not even close to being called consistently.
- On the Eagles second drive, the Colts were able to pin them at the 1 yard line on a great punt. On what would be 3rd down, the Colts rushed 4 players against Vick and dropped 7 into coverage. During the play, Colts defender #95 or 96 (was hard to tell by the video) was clearly being held by an Eagles lineman. The Eagles player grabbed the jersey of the Colts DT and actually turned him, preventing him from moving forward to tackle/disrupt/sack Vick. This allowed Vick to get out of the pocket and throw a 56 yard pass to Jackson. Why is this a big deal? Vick was in the endzone and had the ref thrown a flag, which I was expecting, the Colts would have been awarded a safety and the ball. At this point, the Colts were down 7-0. Instead, the Eagles would go on to kick a FG on this drive. HUGE miss by the officials. We, the Colts fans, have been screaming about how bad the Colts DE's get screwed by holding. Here's a clear example of it...
- With roughly a minute left to go in the game, Eagles defensive player #27, tackles Garcon by the back of his pads. As we all know, this is now the "horse-collar" tackle rule and was missed. Even the commentators mentioned this. That would have resulted in an additional 15 yards.
- During the second quarter, there was a pass interference call on Eagles defensive player #55. This was a very questionable call and I personally did not agree with the call. Yes, I'm defending the wrong team here. In this instance, the Eagles player was behind the WR, and was not looking at the play. However, the reason I disagree with the call is because the ball was not even remotely catchable by the WR. There was a second Eagles player who was able to cut off the pass and I believe bat it down. I understand why the penalty was thrown, but in this instance, thought it was a bad call.
- Shortly before the Collie injury, there was a penalty thrown on Eagles DB Patterson for contact after 5 yards. Now, I disagreed with this penalty because A) the receiver ran straight into the DB, which the DB had the right of way, and B) because the penalty should have been on the other side of the field where Collie was literally decked before having any kind of chance to catch a pass. This would have resulted in more yardage, and it was not flagged. Watch the replays and you can see what I'm talking about.
- Late in the game, Eagles RB McCoy was tackled by Jacob Lacey. During that tackle, there was a facemask by Foster that should have resulted in a first down. They missed it. It wasn't exactly blatant, McCoy was already being tackled and on the way to the ground. In fact, it looked like Foster tried to dive over him and just caught his hand on the top of the helmet.. Still, another missed call.
- Many Eagles fans will be screaming about the "joke" of a call on striking the QB's helmet gifted to Manning late in the 4th quarter. The problem with this call, is that they missed one from like 3 plays earlier that was far more "severe".
The problem I have with the officiating is that I saw all of this on TV at home. Most of the views of the penalties I saw had referees in the area who could have seen it. In fact, at least 3 of these plays took place in FRONT of officials. I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but it's become so damn ridiculous. Understand, none of these calls called right, remotely guarantee us a win. If nothing, it could have resulted in a big win for Philly. Still, I would just appreciate some better officiating.
Peyton Manning - his worst game of the year, and I'm still happy with it. Tonight's game resulted in INT's 3 and 4 of the season. If I had bet you at the start of the year, that by week 9 he would only have 4 ints, most people would have taken that bet. 294 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT for this game, despite missing most of his offensive weapons (Collie, Gonzo, Clark, Addai, and Hart). Seriously, you name me a QB that could put up these kinds of numbers to hacks off the practice squad, I'll bet it would be a very, very short list. Adding to that, NONE of Manning's drives were short fields because of turnovers.
- Javarris James - yes, we had a sighting of the James, and I thought he ran very well. To be honest, I love what I saw of the kid running the ball. 2 TDs, 4 carries for 12 yards. I'd like to see more of him, as I don't think the Colts should rush Addai back on the field.
- Colts Defense - played well in the Red Zone today, despite the injuries and inconsistency. Loved the effort on the goal line, but the uneven play between the 20's is what really doomed this team. I was not happy watching the Eagles continually convert on 2nd and 20 or 1st and 15. If the Colts defenders had held on to at least ONE dropped pass, it could have turned this game in our favor. Instead, we lost.
- Injured players - I saw some of you commenting about Jacob Lacey in a few threads. The thing I'd like to remind most of you is he's coming off a foot injury. I don't even believe he's 100%. I've had my ankle crushed, and it took me 9 months to be able to run pain free. I've also had a high ankle sprain, of which took me 2 months to get over. The point I'm making is that its highly possible he was able to play because the pain level was finally low enough that it wouldn't be unbearable. Still, he could just be rusty. In either event, the fact is the guy could have easily said screw it and not played. I'm just glad he was out there.
- Unnamed players - It's real easy to focus on the guys who the Colts are missing, but I think a lot could be said of the guys who played this week and made solid contributions. Pat Angerer, Blair White, Jacob Tamme, Javarris James, and several guys on special teams like Tyjuan Hagler. Sure, the game still wasn't pretty and some of these guys had their fair share of mistakes. Still, these are guys who are 2nd and 3rd string guys. Hell, James is our 5th string RB, Tamme our 3rd string TE. Those guys getting this kind of experience will only make this team stronger moving forward. I hate that we lost, but these guys stepping up now is huge for us later.
- *****BONUS***** Why didn't the Colts run the 2 minute offense more in this game? I understand that injuries played a part in that, but the Colts offense has moved the ball well despite those very injuries when they've used that hurry up offense. I really felt like had the Colts done this more often, the outcome could have worked more favorably for them. I routinely saw players able to make plays and gain yardage when the Colts went to that style. It was usually when they would semi-huddle or play the O-line game that the Colts offense seemed to struggle. Sure, the penalties bailed them out in some instances, but a lot of the offenses struggles could easily be blamed on them giving the Eagles too much time to press the issue.
The Colts lost this game for a myriad of reasons, injuries amongst the biggest ones. Still, this was a game they could have won, and in my opinion, let it slip through their fingers. I know the Colts will be able to regroup once they get home and we will be at home for the Bengals next week. While I always hate to get a head of myself, the Colts will be looking for some redemption and should be looking at 6-3 heading into the Clash of the Titans game with the Patriots.
To the Austin Collie family, our prayers and wishes are going out to you tonight. Thankfully, Austin was reported to be fully alert and moving all of his extremities. I know we will be without him for several weeks, but I'm just glad to know that he was not severely injured. Concussions are still dangerous enough injuries, but in this case, the injury looked far worse than it could have been.
To all the Eagles fans who might read this, your team won. Congratulations. I hate the fact that this game was decided more by penalties and injuries than our two teams on the field. Nonetheless, your team came to play and won a hard fought game.
In closing, as always, thanks for any and all comments. If you like what you read, don't forget to show a little love!