To help pass time this off-season, I've reviewed the Colts' regular season games from 2009. With this second look at how the team played, a few thoughts have occured to me which were not obvious during the initial viewing, and I thought it a good opportunity to rethink some of my previously held opinions of the team I love. So, with your kind indulgence, as I view a game at a time I'll be sharing my impressions.
Personal Note: This is not, and was never intended to be, an objective, unbiased review of an NFL contest. It is instead a glimpse into the emotional ride experienced by the average Colt fan at game time. My Homerism switch is engaged and turned up to eleven. With that in mind, I invite you to join me as we re-live the highs and lows of the 2009 Indianapolis Colts season.
Today's Game: Week 13: Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
Setting The Stage
- Indianapolis comes into Week 13 at 11-0 and boasting the number one passing offense in the league. Quarterback Peyton Manning is having an MVP year throwing for a career high 70.4% completion rate. Vince Young and Chris Johnson lead the Titans who started the season 0-6 but have won their last five games. Tennessee was the last team to beat the Colts, back in October of 2008. Injuries for the Colts include Donald Brown - chest, Keyunta Dawson - knee, Charlie Johnson - foot, Adam Vinatieri - knee, and Anthony Gonzalez - knee. Tony Ugoh gets the start at left tackle, Mike Hart is brought up from the practice squad to replace Brown, and Kelvin Hayden returns after missing two games.
- The Field: Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. The roof is closed.
- The Crowd: Relatively quiet, to be honest. Several Titan fans must have made the trip because there's more cheering for the visiting team than during most Colt games. I suppose their volume kinda mirrors my emotions during the game; the Colts are playing so well, and I'm so confident they'll win, that there's really no reason to get excited. It's interesting; I remember when the Titans were a hated rival. Now? Not so much.
More, after the jump!
- The Network Coverage: Ian Eagle and Rich Gannon on CBS. Gannon recounts how he visited the Colt Friday practice just prior to this game and how it was 'clearly the best Friday practice I've seen all year. The precision, the execution... very impressive.' Talk of an undefeated season has started. Eagle doesn't think going undefeated is a priority for this team, and especially Coach Jim Caldwell. I notice that replays of key downs are limited; not much slo-mo work, and I find myself wishing they'd replay a few key plays. But the replays never come. I assume this is a B game this week and doesn't have the camera crew and equipment we've come to expect.
- Garçon for 27! Indy gets a bit of luck on their first offensive play. Manning targets Austin Collie, but the pass skips off Austin's hands and right to Pierre who adds 18 YAC. Colts need one play to reach Tennessee territory. Then, Garçon for 36! Manning's pass is perfect, hitting Pierre on the crossing route. Garçon beats man coverage (by Nick Harper, by the way), and the Colts have a first-and-goal at the eight.
- Touchdown, Addai! Joe follows great blocking by Ryan Diem and Kyle DeVan for the Colts' first score. The drive covers 75 yards in five plays and takes 1:58 off the clock. Colts starting strong!
- Great defensive stop! Titans drive 69 yards and have a first-and-goal at the nine. Two key stops on Chris Johnson running plays and an incomplete pass, and Tennessee settles for the field goal. Colts lead 7-3. On the resulting kickoff, the kick return squad provides a nice lane, and Chad Simpson scoots through to the Colt 35! Awesome.
- Colts go three-and-out. On the punt, Tim Jennings and Freddie Keiaho with great coverage. Freddie with the tackle for no gain. I find myself really rooting for the special teams guys... anything... anything they do well makes me smile.
- Freeney sack! Tennessee is moving the ball pretty well but face a third-and-nine at mid-field. Dwight simply man handles the left tackle and wraps up Vince Young for the sack. Titans punt.
- Addai, Addai, Addai! Diem and DeVan with nice trap blocks to spring Joe off right tackle. Joe jukes to avoid a blocker and drives through another blocker for the first down. Joe's running hard, and the Colts have a first down at the Titans 12. Then, on third-and-eight, Joe releases, takes the pass at the six, and fights through two tackles for the first down. Many other backs would have been stopped short of the first. Nice work, Joe! Colts with a first-and-goal at the one.
- Touchdown, Addai! Cody Glenn lines up at fullback and leads to the left. But Joe runs over right tackle for the score. Diem and DeVan trap block, and Gijon Robinson and Dallas Clark hold containment allowing Joe to scoot between defenders. It's nicely blocked; Gijon and Diem especially working hard to open up the hole, and Tony Ugoh pulls to push (yes, push) Addai into the end zone. A Matt Stover extra point makes it 14-3, Colts. They're starting strong today. All three squads look good.
- Another nice special teams play. Good kickoff coverage, and Cody Glenn makes a strong tackle at the 21. It is so good to see special teams playing well.
- Fumble, Session! A great play by Clint Session to rip the ball from the running back. Recovered by Eric Foster, and the Colts have the ball near mid-field. Awesome! Colts can't sustain the drive, though, and they punt.
- Interception, Lacey! Dwight Freeney with good penetration forcing Vince Young out of the pocket. Young scrambles to the sideline, waiting for a receiver to uncover. Just as he throws, Lacey steals position and comes up with the takeaway. Great play by the rookie. Colts' ball on the Titans' 42.
- Hart for 13! Colts driving with a first-and-ten at the Titans' 30. With Donald Brown inactive, Mike lines up as the sole back, slips upfield, turns, and takes the Manning pass for five. He then puts a great move on Titans' linebacker David Thornton (former Colt) and runs for another seven. First down on Mike's first reception of the season. Hart adds four more on a run over left guard. Lilja with good blocking to open up the hole.
- Touchdown, Collie! Hart helps move Indy into the red zone, then Garçon with a nice reception on the slant to give the Colts a first-and-goal from the four. Collie is the third read on the TD play, and Austin makes a really nice catch at the back of the end zone. With this TD, Manning becomes the first player in NFL history with 25 touchdown passes in twelve straight seasons. Amazing. Colts up big, 21-3.
- Nice! Clint Session just slammed into Chris Johnson for no gain. Johnson has gotten a lot of carries, but the Colts' D has done a good job preventing the big play. You could hear this hit clearly, and the crowd Ooos its approval. Awesome.
- Titans driving with under two minutes remaining in the half. Young looks good hitting several passes and scrambling for a first. A 24 yard completion moves them into the red zone. Bullitt comes THIS close to the INT, but Tennessee eventually scores on a six yard completion on third-and-one. Colts' lead cut to 21-10.
- FG Stover! 63 yards away and 20 seconds remaining? No problem. Gijon Robinson takes the short kickoff to the Colt 37. Manning to Garçon for 18, an unsportsman penalty on Tennessee, and a five yard run by Addai sets up the 43 yard FG. Colts extend their lead to 24-10. End of the half, and the Colts are looking really good.
- Ouch! Jamie Silva is in and participated in a rare safety blitz. The running back steps up to block him, and Jamie attempts to leap over him. The result is an aerial summersault and a rather awkward landing on his head. That had to hurt. Combined with Clint Session's pressure on Vince Young, the result of the play is a groan from the crowd, a rushed pass, and an incompletion.
- Well, Stover misses a 52 yard FG attempt. On third-and-really-really-long, Peyton hits Hart out of the backfield. Mike jukes two tacklers and gains 14 before going down. Nice run by Mike, and it moves Indy close enough to put Stover in. The kick is long enough but wide right. He didn't miss it by much, but the score remains 24-10.
- Oh geez... Dan Muir comes THIS close to sacking Young. Muir comes free up the middle on the five man blitz. He gets his hands on Young, but Raheem Brock leaps to grab Young and ends up knocking Muir to the ground. Young circles, out runs Antonio Johnson and Muir to the sideline searching for an open receiver. He ends up throwing it away, but that was really close.
- The Defense holds! Titans with a first-and-goal at the Colts' one. A fumble, a holding penalty, a two yard completion (great stop by Session and Lacey), and a Young scramble for seven gives Tennessee a fourth-and-goal at the Colts' two. Young floats one to the post. Jerraud Powers with great coverage. The catch is made, but out of bounds. Colts' ball! Nice!
- And Manning scrambles. This, you don't see very often. Pinned against their own goal line, with a third-and-eleven, Peyton fakes the handoff and sets up in the pocket. Ugoh and Clark aren't able to contain the RDE, and Manning has to scramble. He shows pretty darned good quickness (I'd never call Manning fast) to circle away from the pressure, head toward the sideline, and find Wayne open on a comeback. Completed for ten. It's short of the first, but it gives Pat McAfee room to punt. That was actually a really nice play, and the third quarter ends.
- Sack by Foster! Eric lines up at right end. Vince Young mis-handles the snap, and Foster peels out of his block to run down Young from behind. I like this kid! Since being signed as a free agent in '08, Eric has become a major contributor and an exciting player to watch.
- Defense holds again! The Titans with a second consecutive drive into the red zone, and on both drives, the Colts' D holds them scoreless. Session with a great reaction to stop Johnson for a short gain, Fili Moala (is this the first time I've mentioned him all season?) with excellent penetration to force an errant pass, Brock with good speed to drop Johnson short of the first down, and a rare six man blitz forces Young to throw incomplete! Awesome!
- Wayne for 23! Reggie with the reception on the slant, and Reggie adds 18 YAC. A nice pick by Clark, a perfectly placed pass by Manning, and a couple nice moves by Reggie for a big play on third-and-five to move into Titan territory. Colts driving with 7:50 remaining.
- FG, Stover! Joe Addai is key in this drive. Several nice runs to keep the ball moving. Wayne also came up big with a couple huge third down conversions. The drive stalls on the 17, and Stover hits the 36 yard kick. Colts up their lead to 27-10 on a 15 play, 70 yard drive which consumes 7:23 off the clock. Colt's kick with 3:14 remaining.
- Ah, geez. Kickoff coverage breaks down, and the Titans return the ball all the way to the Indy 46. Tim Jennings with good speed to run the returner down from behind.
- Oh wow. Great hands by Antoine Bethea on the interception attempt. He caught it, leaping backward, of all things, but came down out of bounds. Great effort by Antoine.
- Titans score. Young with good protection and a well placed pass for the consolation score. Colts' lead cut to 27-17. The teams line up for the onside kick. NOooooo! Clark muffs the onside kick, and Tennessee recovers. Ugh. Titans' ball at their 34 with 1:23 remaining.
- Whew! Four straight incompletions, and the Colts' D force their third turnover on downs. Good pressure by the four man line forces a throw-away on first down, Freeney pressure forces a quick throw and incompletion on second down, a poor throw by Young on third down, and another misfire after Young escapes the pocket and can't hit an open receiver down-field. Colts take over with :57 remaining. Manning kneels, and Colts win.
- The Offense: Three TDs on three red zone possessions in the first half. That's impressive and puts the Colts in control of the game. Peyton looked sharp, Pierre was on fire, protection was good for the most part, and Joe Addai had a monster game in every aspect. The Colts are built to have the lead, and they proved it today. Tennessee moved the ball well but went 0-3 on fourth down attempts and couldn't score when they needed it.
- The Defense: Tennessee's first four possessions went FG, punt, fumble, INT. Combine that with containing Chris Johnson well all day, and this was a good outing for the defensive unit. Johnson was held to 113 yards; Young to 16, and Tennesse only scored on two of five forays into the red zone.
- Special Teams: This was one of their better games. Good coverage on kickoff and punt returns generally resulted in poor field position for the Titans; that's something that has plagued the Colts all season, but was much better today. Conversely, the all elusive 'lane' finally materialized in several Colt runbacks. It was a thing of beauty and makes me hungry for more in 2010.
- At 12-0, Indy secures their division with this win. The second best record in the AFC is Cincinnati at 9-3, and the Colts are showing how much better they are than everyone else. Tennessee didn't play well today; there wasn't much emotion, and that tends to play right into the Colts' hands. Indy operates on precision and execution, and they defintely executed today.
- Joe Addai is the perfect back for this team. Forget for a moment that he only accumulated 79 rushing yards today and instead focus on the 3.8 yards per carry average and the way the team relied on him to sustain drives. He played huge. Do not... do not hate Addai! The man earned his money today.
- Tony Ugoh filled in admirably today for Charlie Johnson. He handled the Titans' right defensive end well, and Peyton had good protection all game long. As is typical for offensive line play, we know Tony played well because he wasn't mentioned much. As I've watched this game again, I've noticed that he played with a bit more attitude than I remember seeing previously from him. This is encouraging going into 2010.
- Robert Mathis was selected the AFC defensive player of the month for November, 2009. Congrats, Mr. Mathis! 15 tackles and 4.5 sacks on the month? The award is well earned.
- Oh look! Pittsburg lost. Baltimore and New England too! Yeah, this was pretty much a perfect week for Indy fans.
Colts win 27-17 to stay undefeated at 12-0.
Total Run Yards:
Total Passing Yards:
Manning: 24 of 37, 270 yds, 1 TD
Garçon: 6 rec, 136 yds
Wayne: 4 rec, 48 yds
Collie: 4 rec, 18 yds, 1 TD
Addai (rushing): 21 carries, 79 yds, 2 TDs
Hart: 4 carries, 11 yds