Colts Week 3 Game Notes: A Devastating Loss

Tonight was a devastating loss. In part because we, save for our coaching, were the far superior team. We outplayed them in almost every facet of the game. What's more devastating was we had a chance to turn our season around and deal a huge blow to Pittsburgh's at the same time. We failed to do either and fell to 0-3 for the first time in over a decade. Goodbye record number 10 win season. 

To commemorate the gut-wrenching pain, I thought I'd try a new series out tonight and share some of the notes I took during the game. I am rather sarcastic and have a tendency to be a bit dramatic in my comments (which I adjust the following morning) but nevertheless I hope there are a few good nuggets in there and that some of what is written can properly convey the pain we Colts fans are going through.

Before the game started I thought it'd be close for two reasons. First, the Colts have too many good players with too much pride not to come out on national TV and make a statement. This team doesn't quit and this team doesn't roll over. Say what you want but we are a team that plays with a lot of heart (except week 1's against Houston). Secondly, Ben Roethlisberger loves football. Ben Roethlisberger loves the football. So much so that you worry.... oh right, he's married now....

Seriously though, for as many plays as he makes with his feet, he also gives up an equal number of sacks or throw-aways. Anytime Freeney or Mathis go up against someone who holds the ball that long, you know they are going to have a big game and when they do, they can single handedly impact the outcome (as evidenced by tonight). Big Ben is a good quarterback, but I strongly challenge the notion he is an elite one. He takes WAY to many sacks and makes WAY to many dumb decisions. He's an above average quarterback who rode the coattails of a power-running game and the league's perennial top defense. 

Anyway, enough with the Big Ben rant. To the notes:

* To make it easier for readers to follow along, I've borrowed the ESPN play-by-play (in italics) when referring to the action on the field.

Steelers first possession... Steelers 0 - Colts 0 (still tied!)

1st and 10 at Pitt 20: B.Roethlisberger pass deep right to M.Wallace to PIT 39 for 19 yards (D.Caldwell).

Our corners suck. Seriously, Powers, WTF. Where were you? He wasn't even on the screen.

2nd and 10 at Pitt 39: B.Roethlisberger pass short left to M.Wallace pushed ob at IND 32 for 29yards (P.Angerer).

Thank God for Bethea. Once again, our corners are so bad it's unreal. Why is Tryon in the dog house? If there is any correlation between play on the field and being in the dog house, Powers and Lacey should have been there long ago. Or they should just be cut. 

3rd and 8 at Indy 30: (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass incomplete deep middle to E.Sanders (A.Bethea).

Dogged a bullet there... wow. 

Colts first possession... Steelers 3 - Colts 0

I like how Al Michaels described Kerry Collins as 'well traveled' as he takes the field. That is a polite way of saying "he's really old and a journeyman qb...yep Colts are screwed."

Colts first possession results in 4 runs and 2 passes. That is not going to get it done. We need to pound the football! (Am I really suggesting we run the football against the Steelers? Yes, yes I am. Addai and our run-blocking is good enough. Just watch).

3rd and 10 at PIT 36 (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass deep middle to A.Brown to IND 43 for 21 yards (P.Angerer; A.Bethea).

8:32 - Our corners are absolutely miserable. We might as well see what kind of talent they have on Warren Central. 

Colts second possession... Steelers 3 - Colts 0 

2nd and 8 at IND 12 (No Huddle, Shotgun) K.Collins pass incomplete short left to R.Wayne.

It's not that Collins needs time to adjust. He's just terrible. He grossly under threw Wayne on an extremely easy pass. 

3rd and 2 at IND 49 (No Huddle, Shotgun) K.Collins pass incomplete short right to D.Clark (T.Polamalu).

We don't have Peyton Manning and yet our pass-run balance is 5:1. We are punting... go figure. RUN THE DAMNED BALL.

Thoughts on the possession:

-Jeff Saturday is still awesome and has totally owned Casey Hampton so far.

- Even on his 21 yard completion to Garcon, Collins looked uncomfortable. 

Steelers third possession...Steelers 3 - Colts 0

1st and 10 at PIT 14 (Run formation) R.Mendenhall right end to PIT 19 for 5 yards (P.Wheeler; P.Angerer).

Angerer is playing with incredible passion and energy. Wheeler too. I Feel like Angerer already has at least 5 tackles  (he had 6). 

2nd and 5 at PIT 19 (Run formation) B.Roethlisberger pass deep right to M.Wallace for 81 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Our corners are devastatingly bad. Our secondary is in total shambles and overall sans Tryon is such a joke. Our coaches should be fired. Lacey, Powers should be cut. Might as well start the Free Tryon campaign. 

Thoughts on the possession: 

- Notes pretty much covered it. Really though, there have been five Steelers receptions where the Colts' defender assigned to the receiver wasn't even in the picture when he caught the ball. How does that happen in Cover 2?!?!?

Colts third possession....Steelers 10 - Colts 0

2nd and 10 at IND 25 (No Huddle) D.Carter left tackle to IND 24 for -1 yards (J.Harrison).

Are the Colts really planning on sticking with the Clark trying to block James Harrison because that's not working so well...

Thoughts on possession:

Another 3 and out and two more Kerry Collins passes. Shoot me now. I don't care if it's the vaunted Pittsburgh D or a freaking cement wall, RUN THE DAMNED BALL. 

Steelers fourth possession....Steelers 10 - Colts 0

 

1st and 10 at PIT 19 (Run formation) B.Roethlisberger pass short middle to D.Johnson to PIT 22 for 3 yards (P.Angerer; P.Wheeler).  

2nd and 7 at PIT 22 (Run formation) R.Mendenhall up the middle to PIT 22 for no gain (P.Angerer).

 

Seriously, Pat Angerer is playing out of his mind. Our whole front seven are as well, but Angerer especially is on his way to a career night. Great effort up front so far from Nevis too. Steal of a pick. On that note, could Polian have nailed the draft? Could he have gone 4-4? So far Castonzo, Carter and Nevis are making a strong case...

3rd and 7 at PIT 22 (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass short middle to H.Miller to PIT 34 for 12 yards (J.Powers)

This is really unbelievable. Our secondary cannot be this bad. They all played football in college right? Cut Lacey.

Second quarter.... Steelers 10 - Colts 0

Thoughts on the quarter:

- I am a pretty positive guy, but there is no way that Lacey should be on this team.... With Powers it's borderline. It's painful to watch them play, that is when they get in the screen. Where the hell is Tryon? Free Tryon!

- Our offense is equally painful to watch (we won't win 2 games with Collins) but our running game and our run defense have been phenomenal so far. 

3rd and 7 at PIT 37 (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass deep middle to A.Brown to IND 46 for 17 yards (P.Angerer). 

#^@$#%*@#*&~ Cut Powers and fire Coyer. This is too much.

11:58 - 3rd and 11 at IND 47 (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger sacked at PIT 48 for -5 yards (R.Mathis). FUMBLES (R.Mathis) [R.Mathis], RECOVERED by IND-R.Mathis at 50. R.Mathis to 50 for no gain 

WE GOT ONE!!!!!!!! I love Robert Mathis. His 33 sack/fumbles are the most in the NFL since 2003. Congrats to a player every team passed on for being too small. You've proved them all wrong!

Thoughts on the possession:

- Besides the Mathis sack it was unpleasant at best. Even Collinsworth mentioned that the Colts are still looking for the right combination. Apparently the Colts finally took Lacey out of the game (I hope he never returns). Free Tryon! 

- Disheartening point of the night. Big Ben threw for a career high 171 yards in one quarter in the first quarter. Astoundingly terrible. What has happened to our cover 2? Isn't the entire defensive philosophy of Cover 2 based upon keeping everything in front of the defense? Because if the answer is yes and I am pretty sure it is...fire Coyer and free Tryon (ok, ok I will stop, but after covering the Arab Spring I have a soft spot for achieving freedoms).

11:58 Colts fourth possession....Steelers 10 - Colts 0

2nd and 9 at PIT 49 (Run formation) K.Collins pass incomplete deep middle to P.Garcon.

Garcon, CATCH THE EFFING BALL!!!!!!! Al Michaels calls Garcon a good receiver who has a tendency to drop the ball. That's like saying he's a good waiter (French speakers will appreciate the reference ;) who has a tendency of dropping plates! Collinsworth goes on to call Garcon a 'tremendous talent' before Michaels compares his dropsies to those of Wes Welker, who leads the league in drops. Welker has 543 career catches, Garcon has 124 (looked it up after). There is absolutely NO excuse for Garcon being second in the league in drops, only trailing Welker if Welker has 419 more receptions. That is a really bad ratio for Garcon.  

1st and 10 at PIT 38 (Shotgun) K.Collins pass incomplete short left to R.Wayne.

- Reggie was SOOOOOO open! Peyton doesn't miss that throw. Collins is NOT the answer. 

2nd and 10 at PIT 38 (Shotgun) K.Collins pass short left to R.Wayne to PIT 27 for 11 yards (T.Polamalu).

- The only significance of note on this play was Reggie Wayne reached another milestone with his 800th catch. Congratulations Reggie on a great career. He is definitely one of the top 10 receivers this decade. 

- 4 of first 5 plays are throws. Kill me now. 

1st and 10 at PIT 27 J.Addai left end to PIT 16 for 11 yards (L.Woodley).

Apparently the Colts are playing keep-away from the running backs, but when Addai sees it he's looking great. Fantastic run blocking too. Rare shout-out to Mike Pollack. 

3rd and 3 at PIT 3 (Shotgun) K.Collins pass incomplete short right to D.Clark (T.Polamalu).

The holding penalty on Reitz - which wasn't actually a penalty -  killed us. First and 3 from the 3 becomes first and goal from the 9. Why Collins is going after Polamalu on 3rd and 3? Beats me. That's like a 5 foot point guard continually trying to drive the lane on Tim Duncan... Probably Caldwell's fault. Fire him.

- Vinatieri kicks a field goal to cut the lead to 7.

Thoughts on the possession:

Once again, another wasted red zone opportunity. Otherwise it was a nice drive. We look like a different team running and run blocking. It's freaking me out.

Steelers fifth possession....Steelers 10 - Colts 3

Glad we have McAfee for kickoffs. 

1st and 10 at PIT 20 R.Mendenhall up the middle to PIT 24 for 4 yards (K.Conner; P.Angerer).

Angerer is playing out of his mind. He is phenomenal. I think that is only 7 runs for 7 yards for the Steelers? Is that for real? Are we for real? Those are usually our numbers!

2nd and 6 at PIT 24 B.Roethlisberger pass deep right to A.Brown ran ob at PIT 42 for 18 yards.

Our corners are truly heinous (I am running out of negative adjectives to describe it). We really need to cut Lacey. I can't even tell who was covering Brown (partly because no corner was in the picture) but it doesn't matter. Even if he didn't blow the assignment (highly unlikely), he needs to get off the field. 

4:23 left in the half. If we can get the ball back and score, we win. Yep, I said it.

3:30 - 2nd and 10 at IND 42 B.Roethlisberger sacked at IND 48 for -6 yards (D.Freeney). FUMBLES (D.Freeney) [

D.Freeney], RECOVERED by IND-J.Anderson at PIT 47. J.Anderson for 47 yards, TOUCHDOWN. IND - Freeney credited with 11 sack yards.

YEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Thoughts on the possession:

- Doesn't need any explanation. Big Ben loves the football and... oh, forget it... and Dwight Freeney is an absolute monster. 

Steelers six possession....Steelers 10 - Colts 10

1st and 10 at PIT 20 (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass deep left intended for E.Sanders INTERCEPTED by

J.Lefeged at 50. J.Lefeged to PIT 25 for 25 yards (J.Scott). PENALTY on PIT-A.Brown, Low Block, 13 yards, enforced at PIT 25.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! What is going on?!?!??!?!?! I can't take all this excitment.

Thoughts on the possession:

- That is why Big Ben is not an elite quarterback. 

- Sanders was an idiot in that he for some reason purposely tried to avoid Lefeged who was possessing the ball but not down by contact. Instead Lefeged gets up and runs 30 yards the other way. What was going through Sander's head that he wanted to avoid touching Lefeged?? Doesn't matter, we'll take it. 

Colts fifth possession...Steelers 10 - Colts 10

2nd and 12 at PIT 14 (Run formation) J.Addai up the middle to PIT 7 for 7 yards (L.Foote; R.Clark).

Another great run by Addai, but once again 2 passes 1 rush. Colts forced to kick a field goal. 

Thoughts on the possession: 

Forget what I said earlier are not going to win if we can't find a way to score an offensive touchdown. 2 trips to the red zone with 0 touchdowns is simply not good enough. 

HALF - Colts 13- Steelers 10

Overall it was a good half for the Colts but perhaps the strangest half of football that we fans have witnessed from the team. Simply put, it wasn't Colts football. 

It looked more like we were the 2001 Ravens (although I'd take Dilfer right now the way Collins looks). Our strengths were running the football and stopping the run. We gave up HUGE chunks of yards through the air and were constantly beaten over the top. How again can this happen when we were playing a Cover 2??? Sigh. We were also utterly incapable inside the red zone (which has now become a troubling trend).  You're 2011 Peytonless Indianapolis Colts everybody! (shaking my head dolefully) 

Compared to the last 10 years, that is completely the opposite from what we are used to seeing (aside from Mathis and Freeney). 

Other positives however were Pat Angerer. He has close to a dozen tackles in the first half and was all over the field. He keeps this up and he will win a Defensive Player of the Year award at some point (I said it here first). Which reminds me, we might as well draft the entire Iowa football program....

The negatives: Kerry Collins. He is not the answer. He looks stiffer than a Michelangelo sculpture out there and can't make a single on-time throw. We might as well call him United, for always being late. 

That being said, we are leading the AFC champions at the half so you have to be pleased...

SECOND HALF reflections coming tomorrow. Any plays or decisions that stick out in your minds? Please comment. 

*For the record, like I said at the beginning, my notes can be over emotional. I don't think Caldwell deserves to be canned just yet (the same cannot be said for Jacob Lacey), although my confidence in him is dropping steadily as he seems more and more over his head. That being said, the Colts played with a lot of passion and heart tonight and bounced back nicely after two lackluster performances.

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