INDIANAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 19: Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants and Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts embrace following the Colts 38-14 win at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 19 2010 in Indianapolis Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Journey back in time with me, if you will.
Back to 2007, the year after the Colts won the Super Bowl. In a Week Four content against the then-Mike Shanahan coached Broncos, the Colts offense was forced to reckon with a rather oddly aligned Denver defense. For whatever reason, the Broncos decided that they were going to junk their base defense, which featured mammoth-sized defensive tackles like Sam Adams, and instead deploy a front featuring four defensive ends.
This look was designed to stop the Colts from throwing the ball and, for all intents and purposes, daring them to run it. The Colts responded by taking the Broncos up on their dare, rushing for 226 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-20 domination of the Donkeys.
Flash forward to today, my little Marty McFlys.
After watching game film of the Colts against the Texans last week, which saw Peyton Manning throw the ball 57 times, the Giants decided that the Colts running game was not a threat. Thus, they deployed a four defensive end front and ran a base nickel defense. The nickel defense was so base it was the players NBC announced during their 'Let's meet the defense' segment during their broadcast of the game.
Take a guess as to how the Colts responded to Tom Coughlin and Perry Fewel's rather puzzling defensive game plan. Go ahead. Take a wild guess.
After a week of writing about nothing but injuries, injuries, and more injuries, I finally get the chance to discuss something the Colts did right. It really seemed like forever since the team had won a ball game. After losing the Super Bowl, going winless in pre-season, and opening the regular season with a dud in Houston, I was getting pretty depressed.
Then, Tom Coughlin and Perry Fewel served up a laffer of a game plan, which fed right into the hands of the Colts.
To start, the Giants won the coin toss and elected to kick to the Colts. I can only assume this was a mistake, because if it wasn't I'd like to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to the yutz who thought kicking the ball to the Colts to start the game was a good idea. Peyton Manning took the football on the opening drive and marched 80 yards in 12 plays. The drive was capped off by a seven yard Donald Brown touchdown run, which was fitting. The Colts ran the ball for seven of those twelve plays, and it was a precursor of things to come for the Giants.
Once the Colts jumped out to a 7-0 lead, they never looked back. They simply rolled up their sleeves, pinned their ears back, and slapped around Eli Manning and the G-Men for the next three-and-a-half quarters.
The Colts ran the ball 43 times against the Giants. The 23 first-half rushes by the team were the most in a first half since 1991. The last time the Colts ran the ball this well against an opponent was that Week Four Broncos game back in 2007.
With a running game in place and a defense feeding him turnovers, Peyton Manning only needed 23 competitions to dissect New York's defense. He also tossed three touchdowns and, for the second week in a row, had no turnovers. Leading the way on defense for the Colts were Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Both had a pair of sacks, and both forced Eli Manning into a combined three fumbles. Eli also threw an interception. The Colts scored 17 points off Giants turnovers, including a fumble recovery in the endzone by defensive tackle Fili Moala.
From start to finish, this was a romp. Lots of highlights. We start with the good:
- By far, this was the best game I've ever seen Mike Pollak play. Whatever Pete Metzelaars told him, or didn't tell him, prior to this game seemed to work. Pollak didn't just look good blocking against NY's four defensive end front. When the Giants switched back to their basic 4-3 in the second half, with two DTs, Pollak was blowing them off the line as well. On one run (highlighted by NBC's Cris Collinsworth) Pollak pancaked Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield.
- Amazing what Joseph Addai and Donald Brown can do when given blocking. Both averaged over 4 yards a carry, and both consistently moved piles to gain extra yardage.
- Pierre Garcon, outside of one holding penalty during garbage time, blocked well all night.
- Brody Eldridge does indeed add a new dimension to the Colts offense. What Vontae Leach did last week to the Colts defense, Eldridge did this week to the Giants.
- It's frustrating to know that had Dwight Freeney been healthy, the Colts would have crushed the Saints in Super Bowl 44. The man is, quite simply, unblockable. David Diehl is an outstanding left tackle, folks. But, for Dwight Freeney, he's just another skull on the pile.
- Don't freak out about the Giants 120 rushing yards. Much of that was in garbage time. Down 24-7, and eventually 31-7, the Giants decided the best way to get back into the game was... running the ball? Again, terrible game plan and game management by the Giants coaches. When you are down 24-7, or 31-7 in the second half, you throw. If you don't, why even bother playing? Concede the game right then and there, and everyone can go home early.
- This team does not need Bob Sanders. The Giants have one of the best offenses in football, and the Colts stoned them. Melvin Bullitt should remain the starter even if, by some stupid miracle, bob returns this season. Melvin's earned it. He played very well last night, as did Antoine Bethea.
OK, now the bad:
- I'm tired of seeing Jacob Lacey get beat BADLY for long touchdowns.
- Too many penalties. This is starting to become a trend. Colts secondary is getting flagged way to much for interference. I'm thinking this is a by-product of them playing man-to-man too much.
- Up 31-7 in the fourth quarter, WTF are Peyton Manning and Dwight Freeney doing still in the game? It's over. Get them the hell outta there. Remember, Freeney injured his foot during garbage time of the AFC Championship Game last season. How'd that work out for us?
It's been seven months since we saw the Colts win a ball game of any kind. For us, that's an eternity. While a big reason for this win is the fact that the Giants game plan was pretty much a loser from the start, part of being an elite team is taking advantage of an opponents weaknesses and capitalizing on them. The Colts did that Sunday night.
With the Titans imploding (again) against the Steelers Sunday afternoon, and the Jaguars getting waxed by the Chargers, the Colts are knotted up with much of the rest of the division at 1-1. Only the Texans are 2-0, and next Sunday they will face a Cowboys team (0-2) who will be fighting for their season. The Colts needed a game like this to boost confidence and to get things back on track. Next up are the Denver Broncos. I wonder if they will deploy a four defensive end front next week.