Thomas J. Russo-US PRESSWIRE
Luck drops the hammer on the Phins, Defense shines in the second half
Welcome to the Devil's Take!!! Wow, just wow! The performance that Luck put on today was out of this world. To not only see this man grow before us, but for the Colts to win the game, it's been a great day here in Indy. Hell, even the sun was out shining today. Could you ask for a better outcome from the kind of performance we got today? Short of asking for no injuries, I don't see how.
The Colts would put on the best aerial attack I've seen since Manning's 2004 season, and would shred the previously #2 defense in the NFL on 3rd down all day. Despite not being able to run the ball well all day, they continued to pound it, making the Miami defense at the very least, respect the run. In doing so, it left the door wide open for something us Colts fans have become all to familiar with, the good old play action fake. Only, this time, there was a very new twist: Andrew Luck. With Luck, the Colts could run a bootleg style play fake, which allowed him to buy extra time on every throw. This not only allowed the offensive line a bit of a breather, but it also made for some great check down throws.
To be honest, if you told me before the game that the Colts would generate 500+ yards of total offense, I'd have requested a drug test. I can honestly say that no one, not even an insane over the top diehard fan, saw this kind of output coming. We know Luck is the real deal, but this kind of day against the Dolphins, no one could have pictured it.
- The performance by Andrew Luck is memorable for a variety of reasons. He tied Peyton Manning's NFL record for most 300 yard games in a rookie season at 4 with 8 games to play. He also broke Cam Newton's freshly set record of 432 yards passing from last year with 433 yards passing. Unlike Newton however, Luck did this against a top 5 defense.
- As of the end of the Colts game, Luck is now the 3rd ranked QB in terms of yardage in the NFL with 2404 yards. The number 4 QB? Peyton Manning with 2404 yards. Broncos? 5-3. Colts? 5-3. I don't see how it gets any better than that!!!!!
- The Colts offense faced a top 5 defense this week, and it was the #2 ranked 3rd down defense coming into the game. Luck would carve them up to the tune of converting 13 of 19 3rd downs. To add insult to injury, they would convert 6 of those 13 3rd downs for over 10 yards or more. This was the best play calling I've seen by Arians all year, and he put it together beautifully. To be blunt, I think that it may have been the finest play calling I've seen the man do, period.
- While the run game struggled most of the day, when the defense was kept out of the backfield, the run game routinely generated positive yards. The stats for the day aren't pretty, but they get the job done. Sometimes to win, you have to win ugly. While I don't consider the win an ugly win, the job the RBs did today wasn't pretty. It didn't need to be. It just had to be done, and they got it done.
- This is now the second time this season, that the Colts have beaten an opponent who beat up a team that the Colts were beaten down by. The Bears and Jets both trounced the Colts in double digit wins. Ironically, the Packers and Dolphins would then do the same to the Bears and Jets. Both the Packers and the Dolphins would lose by 3pts to the underdog Colts.
- The NFL this week was honoring veterans around the world for Veterans Day with it's Salute to Service week. For every point scored during the NFL's 32 designated Salute to Service games, the league will donate $100 to each of its three core, military non-profit partners -- Pat Tillman Foundation, USO and the Wounded Warrior Project. As of this moment, that's roughly $59,000 dollars for each of those charities. If you're a veteran, whether it be past or present, thank you very much for your service. Many of my family, including myself, have been a part of the armed forces. What you do for your country cannot be explained in just words, but your sacrifice and your honor are very much respected by me. May all of you in the war zones come home safe, and may your scars fade quickly.
Now, for the past two weeks, I've been very critical of the defense. Most of this criticism has been directed at the lack of effort and play calling. Yes, I called for the firing of Manusky in my article last week, and I still feel he's done no matter how the season plays out at the end of the year. However, I have to tip my cap to the job done today by the defense. Today, they really showed A TON of heart, and to see them take the haymaker thrown by the Dolphins early on and rebound, was a thing of beauty.
Through much of the first quarter and into the second quarter, you saw the Colts and Dolphins trade long drives that ended with scoring or scoring attempts. After the Dolphins Reggie Bush scored on a video game style run, the Colts defense would rally the troops, and finally start putting the screws down on the Phins offense. From that point forward, the Colts would limit the Dolphins to only 3 points. They would prevent a Dolphins rush attack from breaking 100 yards rushing. They would keep the Dolphins to only 4 of 11 on third downs.
To see that kind of effort, despite losses of Mathis and Powers in this game, was a thing of beauty. This was the kind of effort I had been looking for. This is why I had been so critical on the past two games, because I felt like it wasn't being seen on the field. If we can continue this kind of intensity, we've got a great shot of playing spoiler the rest of the year.
- The Colts next opponent, is the Jaguars. They will be without MJD for this game. This actually will offset the loss potentially of Mathis for the defense. Still, this is a game the Colts need to win. Winning this game would go a LONG way towards building the monster.
- Chuck Pagano was in the house today. It's only fitting that his return to the team, even if only as a bystander, would result in this record setting day.
- Through 8 games as a QB in the NFL, Luck already has 4-300 yard passing games and 1-400 yard passing game. He has 2404 yards passing, 148 yards rushing, and 15 total TDs. Pretty damn good for a rookie QB.
- Donnie Avery is turning into what may be really the steal of the year for the Colts. Sure, he's dropped a few balls, but he's becoming the go to guy for Luck on anything over 20 yards. He led the Colts in receiving for a second time this year.
- As a possible second steal, Dwayne Allen is playing lights out football. The kid had 6 receptions for 75 yards. 2 of those were for big yardage on back to back plays.
- The return of Mathis forced the Dolphins to pay attention to someone other than Freeney. End results was a sack for Mathis and a sack for Freeney. As long as this Colts defense can get pressure on the QB, they are fully capable of hanging with any team they play.
There's a lot of negativity I could say about the penalties and to some extent, some of the defensive play. However, today, all I can do is applaud the effort of this team. We left 6 points out on the field today with missed FG's. The defense routinely seemed to be giving up 10-14 yard passes. However, whenever the Colts had the ball, it never felt like we weren't going to score. In many of the past Colts games, the Colts would always give us one good half, one bad half. Today sure didn't feel that way. What we saw today was a Colts offense that routinely marched up and down the field for positive yardage in a consistent fashion. We saw a defense early on give up some points but who would settle down and start laying the lumber. We saw a rookie QB take a sharpie out and mark out the word rookie in front of his name.
The new Cardiac Colts are now 5-3. Yes, you read it right, I said Cardiac Colts. Luck is such a throwback to those Harbaugh led Colts, teams that weren't supposed to be in the middle of it, and a team you couldn't ever really count out. Well, this team, is truly embracing that mantra right now.
Before the season began, I said this was a team that should go 7-9. Looks like I'm going to be wrong. This is a team that should and very well could be 11-5 going into the final game of the year. Too early to get ahead of ourselves, but only New England and Houston are really games the Colts shouldn't be favorites or at least even going into it.
As always, thanks for reading and I appreciate the comments! Follow me on Twitter @DevilsReject97