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 16: New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Setting The Stage
- The Colts come into today's game undefeated, flirting with perfection, and assured of homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning leads the league in completion percentage (68.6%), yards (4213), and is tied for the most touchdown passes on the season (33). Sitting out for the Colts are Charlie Johnson (turf toe), Robert Mathis (quad) and Pierre Garçon (hand). Donald Brown returns after missing three games with a chest injury, and Dwight Freeney plays limited snaps. The New York Jets are quarterbacked by rookie Mark Sanchez, lead the league in rushing yards, and boast the number one overall defense.
- The Field: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. It's snowing outside, and the roof is closed.
- The Crowd: Supportive and well-mannered... for two and one-half quarters, that is. Then it gets ugly.
More, after the jump!
- The Network Coverage: Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf for CBS. Unknown to their coach, the Jets' playoff hopes are still alive, and a win today and another next week would assure them an appearance in post-season play. They mention that Jets' corner back Darelle Revis says that Reggie Wayne will be the best route runner he'll face all season. At the beginning of the second half, while discussing how long the Indy starters will play, Dierdorf says 'If you're in for a dime, you're in for a dollar'. I not really sure what that means, but it makes him sound smart.
- Heard on the sideline: 'So how is it we're still in the playoff hunt? Seven wins, six spots, carry the one...'
- Haha... what a great way to start the game. Colts get the ball first and try a bit of trickery to get things moving. Austin Collie with the wide receiver reverse tries to leap over a defender and ends up on his head. Glad you're OK, Austin. You might want to rethink that sort of move in the future.
- You don't see this every day; Peyton Manning on the naked bootleg. The pressure wasn't anything excessive, so it appears to have been planned. Peyton holds the ball until the last second, then hits Dallas Clark for a first down. Two snaps, two trick plays. Interesting start to what becomes a very interesting day.
- Jennings with a great special teams play. Dallas Clark mishandles a pass, and Pat McAfee comes on to punt. The ball hits at the two and takes a backwards bounce to the five where it's caught and downed by Tim Jennings. Good hustle and sure hands on the leaping grab by Tim.
- Collie with a crisp route to get open at the sticks. But the pretty part comes after the catch. He twists out of a tackle and head-butts a defender, driving for an extra seven yards. Nice, Austin.
- Touchdown, Addai! On second-and-ten, just outside of the red zone, Peyton hands off to Joe Addai. Jeff Saturday and Ryan Lilja provide a nice crease, and Joe scoots the distance for the score. Peyton caught the defense with their safeties way back, and Joe made the Jets' first string defense look bad. Indy scores first, but the Adam Vinatieri extra point is blocked, and Indy leads 6-0.
- Awesome defense! Phillip Wheeler with a takedown for a loss of 14 yards. The Jets run the double reverse. Ervin Baldwin sniffs it out and forces the ball carrier to retreat giving Eric Foster and Wheeler time to recover and make the stop. Jests going backward on a terrible play. As an aside, the wide receiver's name is Clowney. No, really, and yes I am immature.
- Collie! Austin picks up 29 on a deep crossing pattern. Collie leads all NFL rookies this season with 55 receptions and seven touchdowns. Haha... Now, Peyton calls the Hurry, Hurry and catches NY with too many men on the field. Indy with 108 yards thus far, NY has 34, and I'm liking the way this game is starting.
- Colts' field goal. Dallas Clark with a really nice catch and run to move Indy to the Jets' four. Reggie Wayne with nice downfield blocking to give Dallas extra yardage. But two successive Addai runs for no gain and an incompletion bring Vinatieri onto the field. Colts up their lead to 9-0.
- New York runs a Wildcat formation on their first offensive play of the second quarter. Gary Brackett and Ramon Humber sniff out the reverse handoff to running back Shonn Greene and make the tackle for no gain. Jets forced to punt.
- Collie for 22! Excellent protection by the O-Line allows Manning to wait in the pocket for Austin to get open, step up cleanly, and fire downfield for the completion.
- Ah geez. Ryan Diem just got schooled by a Jets defensive end; a right cross sends Ryan flying, and the defender is free to tackle Donald Brown in the backfield. That was a nasty hit. Then, Manning misses Clark by inches on what could have been a TD. Frustrating... just inches from a TD, and the Colts punt.
- Second string defensive players are starting to trickle in on the next Jets possession. Ramon Humber, Aaron Francisco, and John Gill make their first appearances. Jets driving on a good mix of running and pass plays.
- Sack, Dwight Freeney! 93 comes unblocked and catches Sanchez completely unprepared. Loss of eight on Freeney's 83rd career sack. Jets settle for a field goal, their first points on the day. Colts lead 9-3.
- Chad Simpson! The kick returner with another nice return, picking his way among his blockers to bring the ball out to the 36 where he's tackled by the kicker. Jamie Silva and Hank Baskett with key blocks.
- One hundred six yards. That's the official number. One. Zero. Six. That's how far the Jets kickoff returner had to run (practically untouched, by the way) in order to put NY in the lead. Twelve seconds. That's how long it took him to put a dagger in my heart. After steady improvement in special teams play over the past several games, it all came crashing down in twelve seconds and one hundred six yards. Somebody better check the crowd because it sounds like a morgue in here.
- After the resulting kickoff, the Colts start at their 19. Hmmm... that sounds familiar.
- Reggie for eleven! With a sweet Manning to Wayne completion, the two super stars tie Jim Kelly and Andre Reed for pass completions by a duo with 663. So who holds the number one spot with 953?
- Ok, watching the Colts drive the length of the field (we're starting at the 19? Pffffft... we've seen worse.) has me feeling a bit better. Wayne for 11, Clark for seven (after an awesome juke, by the way), Collie for 24 (tip-toeing the sideline), Clark for 19 (awesome blitz pickup by Brown), and Donald Brown with positive runs sprinkled throughout puts the Colts in the red zone. Things are looking up, and the crowd has awoken from its stuper.
- Touchdown, Donald Brown! On second-and-goal from the one, Brown is stopped up the middle, bounces to the outside, is stopped, and bounces further outside. Colts retake the lead on the nine play, 81 yard drive. Two point conversion attempt fails, and the score is 15-10.
- Freeney sack! For the second time, Dwight is unblocked and takes down Sanchez hard. Jets punt, down five, with 5:36 remaining in the third quarter.
- Oh, this is interesting. Peyton is staying on the sideline, and the rookie sixth round pick Curtis Painter is heading out onto the field. Hope he does well. He completes his first NFL pass to Hank Baskett for nine yards, and is off to a good start. Baskett is a sure-handed receiver and fan favorite recently acquired from Philadelphia. Curtis sure picked the right guy to team up with on his first NFL pass. On third-and-one from the Colts' 20, Brown is stopped for a loss, and McAfee comes on to punt.
- Colts D stops NY and gets the ball back at the 20. Curtis Painter returns to the field, along with several second string players, to a (partial) standing ovation. Way to be classy, Colt fans. Let's give the rookie our support.
- No! Touchdown, Jets. Tom Santi, lined up to the left of the line, can't contain the right defensive end, and Painter is hit on his blind side as he's attempting to throw. Santi sees the ball and attempts to catch it, but it ends up in the end zone in the hands of a Jets player. I find it interesting that Tony Ugoh is looking for someone to block, and Santi is expected to take on the Jets' first-string defensive end. Looks like a missed assignment to me. Coach Caldwell challenges, but the play is upheld. Are those boos I hear? NY completes the two point conversion and takes the lead, 17-15. This isn't good.
- Painters' second series is played behind the first string O-Line and consists of a Brown run for no gain, a dropped pass by Gijon Robinson, and a pass tipped at the line that falls incomplete. Colts punt, and NY takes over at the Colt 45.
- The Jets are playing against first string defensive players, for the most part. They move the ball, but can't convert and settle for another field goal. Jets lead 21-15.
- As Painter plays, crowd reaction has been mixed; there are several cheers when the offense makes a play and several boos when they fail to convert and have to leave the field. There are even some boos when he retakes the field for the next series. Jets send the all out blitz, and Curtis is driven from the pocket. He does good to turn a sure loss into a gain of three.
- The Colts pull a few more defensive starters on the next Jet possession, and NY is having success on the ground. After gaining only nine yards rushing in the first quarter, NY has accumulated 138 since. Add 29 to that as Thomas Jones almost scores from the 30. After two rushes for no gain, Jones punches it in off right tackle. The two point conversion is successful, and the Jets lead grows to 29-15.
- Painter with good patience and the O-Line with great protection against the all out blitz. Curtis completes the pass to Santi for 22 yards, and the Colts are at mid-field. On the next play, Curtis is flushed from the pocket but shows good poise in completing a sideline toss to Baskett. It's good to hear cheering again from the stands.
- Ugh. Interception. Painter was targeting Jacob Tamme but threw into double coverage. That was pretty ugly, and the crowd sits in stunned silence. 4:46 remaining, Colts down 14, and I find myself wishing they'd just get it over with. Undefeated seems a distant memory now.
- NY drives to the Colt 33 and is unsuccessful on fourth-and-two. Painter gets 63 seconds and manages to add three incompletions and a sack to his stats. What started out mediocre turned bad and then downright ugly. At this point, I'm just glad it's over.
- The Offense: Peyton's passes were off a bit off today. He throws to Wayne's wrong shoulder in the end zone, he overthrows Wayne on a fly pattern, he leads Dallas just a tad too much in the second. He was just inches off, but it made the difference between touchdowns and incompletions. The Colts are the only team in the NFL with a third down conversion percentage of over 50% (52.6%). Today didn't help. The first Painter sack breaks the Colts' NFL leading streak of 146 pass plays without a sack.
- The Defense: The first string defense looked good in holding the Jets to three punts on their first three possessions; including two three-and-outs. As more and more starters are pulled, the numbers get worse. New York really starts rolling in the third, and it becomes hard to watch.
- Special Teams: One. Hundred. Six. Yards.
- With a beautiful sideline completion to Austin Collie, Peyton Manning becomes only the fourth QB in NFL history to compile 50,000 career passing yards. Peyton is the fastest and youngest to accomplish the feat (191 games, two fewer than Dan Marino, 19 fewer than Brett Favre, and 38 fewer than John Elway). Congrats, Mr. Manning. Well done, sir. If only we could keep this guy on the field. *cough*
- It had been so long since the Colts lost a game (23 consecutive regular season wins) that I'd forgotten how painful it is. I find myself wondering if watching from the sidelines, feeling helpless, helps the players understand a bit better what we fans go through week after week. I certainly felt helpless watching it slip away. All the dreams... all the talk of an undefeated season...
- With all the hype that Jets' corner back Darrelle Revis gets, Reggie just plain outplayed him. I can point to two key plays where Reggie Wayne had beaten Revis badly that never made the stats; one was an incompletion in the end zone on third-and-goal in the first, and the other was a fly pattern midway through the second quarter. Both Manning throws were just off, otherwise Reggie has two touchdowns, and Revis Island becomes just another potted plant.
- This game generated much talk about rest vs. rust for months following. Several of us had very strong feelings about what took place today. Much of it centered on feeling cheated by the team we support and love. I find myself wondering if this is how Baltimore Colts fans have felt since that fateful day 20-some years ago. Are the situations so different? Doesn't seem like it. Have the expectations held by us fans, in terms of what the team owes us for our allegence, changed that much? I don't think so. Shouldn't we have a bit more understanding and sympathy for Baltimore fans who wear their anger so proudly? Ok, let's not get carried away. Idiots.
Colts lose 29-15 and drop to 14-1.
Total Run Yards:
Total Passing Yards:
Manning: 14 of 21, 192 yds
Painter: 4 of 11, 44 yds, 1 INT
Collie: 6 rec, 94 yds
Clark: 4 rec, 57 yds
Wayne: 3 rec, 33 yds
Santi: 1 rec, 22 yds
Baskett: 2 rec, 16 yds
Addai (rushing): 6 carries, 41 yds, 1 TD
Brown: 6 carries, 22 yds, 1 TD