More on short yardage: Failing when it counts?

So we saw how over the last three seasons the Colts short yardage running game wasn't actually a major issue, despite failing in two high profile plays in the last two playoff losses, but what about the counter that they have a problem because they failed when it really mattered?

I can't argue that they didn't fail on those plays, or that they weren't absolutely pivotal plays, but where they the only short yardage plays that really mattered?

In the Super Bowl the Colts faced just two "power situations" (3rd/4th and 2 or less, or any goal-to-go down from the 2 yardline or closer) the 3rd and 1 from the shadow of their own endzone in which Mike Hart failed to convert that everyone remembers, but also a 3rd and 1 at midfield which Addai broke for 26 yards setting up the first Touchdown of the game.

So one failure and one great success in the Super Bowl, but a sample size of two doesn't really tell you anything. How about the 2008 San Diego playoff game?

Here we get a much better sample. 8 power situations. The Colts chose to pass in three of them. One being the infamous 3rd and 2 sack backed up near their own goal line, another an incompletion to Gijon Robsinson on 4th and 1 following the most well remembered 3rd and short run of the game, the last (actually the first) a 13 yard completion to Anthony Gonzalez in the Colts opening drive. The most memorable of the 5 runs came early in the 3rd quarter on the edge of field goal range. Addai was stopped for no gain on 3rd and 1 (and a 4th and 1 incompletion kept points off the board). How about the other 4 run attempts though?

The first two came on back to back plays. With 2nd and goal on the 2 the Colts ran Addai up the middle twice, gaining a yard each time, making for our other failure and a touchdown. The Colts faced 3rd and 1 on the edge of fieldgoal range in the 2nd quarter too, but who remembers that play thinking about short yardage in the playoffs, even though it was converted with an end around by Dallas Clark leading to a field goal?

The last power situation came, again at midfield, this one in the 4th quarter with the Colts trying to make it a two score game late. On 3rd and 2 Dom Rhodes picked up 3 (only for the Colts to end up back on the wrong side of midfield thanks to a holding penalty on Ugoh 2 plays later).

So the Colts were 3 for 5 running on short yardage there. Not bad at all, especially given that the Chargers were a top 10 D against short yardage runs that year, allowing 61% conversion.

7 still isn't much of a sample, but it's far more than just the 2 that everyone remembers and paints a much different picture. Could it be argued that not all of the 7 were "when it really mattered", probably, but to me that seems like cherry picking out a tiny sample from which to draw your True Scotsmen.

The Colts have issues in the run game, no doubt, and the Colts have added a couple big linemen and a better blocking TE to address them. Short yardage running though, is clearly a secondary concern among the running game issues, far behind getting better at running in general, keeping defenders out of the backfield in particular. In fact the Colts had better success in the playoffs power running than "power passing", 4/7 vs 1/3.

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