The Colts traveled to Jacksonville on a short week and came out on top with a 27-10 win over the AFC South rival Jaguars. The game was a solid team effort and was the most complete game played by the Colts this year.
Impressive. That’s what tonight’s win over the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars was. Going on the road with a young team on a short week – and winning convincingly? That’s impressive.
Yeah, we saw tonight how bad Jacksonville is. But remember, this is the team that beat the Colts in week 3. Beating a division opponent who was going for the sweep? Impressive.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the game tonight, however, is that it was the best these Colts have played as a team. Luck was good – 18/26 for 227 yards, a pick and 2 rushing touchdowns. Once again, he had a few drops as well. The fact that this game was considered to be just an "ok" game from the rookie quarterback should scare the crap out of the rest of the league. This guy, playing in just his 9th game, rushed for 2 scores, commanded the offense, threw for 227 yards and still it was just an average game. Watch out, NFL.
But tonight, for maybe the first time this year, this game was about much, much more than Luck. The Colts rushed for 138 yards on 37 carries, an average of 3.7 yards per carry. In fact, this was only the second time this year in which the Colts have run the ball more than they have thrown it. It was also only the second time this year that Luck had less than 30 attempts in a game (they were the same two games in which there were more runs than passes).
defense held the Jaguars to just 10 points, notched 4 sacks, 2 picks, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown. Darius Butler accounted for all three takeaways, and of the four sacks, three of them came from defensive backs.
The special teams played very well also. Adam Vinatieri was a perfect 2/2 on field goals, including a 41-yarder. Pat McAfee punted very well tonight, averaging 45 yards per punt and pinning two of his three punts inside the 20 yard line.
Bruce Arians was a perfect 2/2 on challenges, and while I questioned some of the play calls (I will mention it a little later), the job he and the rest of the staff has done week in and week out has been very impressive. To have this team ready for this game that could easily have become a "trap game" is to be commended.
Bottom line is that the Colts put together two complete halves tonight, something they have struggled to do this season. Sure, the Jaguars are really bad, but remember – they beat the Colts earlier this year. And the Colts need to beat the teams that they are supposed to beat. If they can just do that, they will walk into the playoffs. They don’t need to pull any upsets, they just need to win the games they are supposed to (I wouldn’t be against pulling an upset or two, though). If they do that, they are in. And tonight, they did just that. They have now won four in a row and five out of the last six, on their way to a 6-3 record.
Below are some notes from the first primetime game of the Andrew Luck era:
During the previous three games of the winning streak, the Colts had converted 56% of their third downs. Tonight, they were just 3/11 (27.3%). Two of those three conversions came on Delone Carter 3rd and 2 runs where he plowed ahead. Also, the Colts were 1/1 on 4th down tonight, an Andrew Luck sneak from the half-yard line, which he scored on.
The red zone woes continue. The Colts need to turn their drives into touchdowns. They only did twice, the same number of times they committed turnovers in the red zone. Their success rate inside the 20 simply must get better.
Reggie Wayne got open early and often. It continues to amaze me that he can get open so consistently. Teams would be smart to key in on him more – but even then, I don’t know how effective that would be. He’s having a remarkable year.
Moise Fokou played well tonight. He was another good pickup by Ryan Grigson this year, who should be the executive of the year, in my opinion.
Luck made a bad throw on an interception deep to T.Y. Hilton which was taken away due to a roughing the passer penalty. Bad decision. The interception that counted came later, where Luck was pressured and threw over the middle a bad throw and it was picked easily in the red zone. Luck has to realize that a field goal there is ok. It comes with more experience – remember, this guy has played nine games.
I don’t want to see Luck tackling, by the way. Not only because I don’t want to see turnovers, but I don’t want him risking his body like that. He’s an incredibly tough player but no need to take risks like lowering his head and making that tackle.
I have a little different take on Jerry Hughes – I think he would be considered much better if he was a role playing backup and someone who isn’t all the pass rush the Colts have. If Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney could both play and play well, Hughes could fill in quite nicely. The problem is, Mathis has had trouble playing and Freeney has had a ton of trouble playing well. Which places a lot of the load on Hughes, and he can’t possibly bear that load.
Cassius Vaughn did not play well tonight. If I’m Tom Brady, I’m doing whatever it takes to go after Vaughn.
Josh Gordy, on the other hand, actually played well. While he didn’t start, he got decent playing time and even notched a sack.
The Colts doubled their turnover total for the year tonight. Yes, doubled. Coming into the game, they had forced three (two interceptions – one for a touchdown - and one fumble recovery). Tonight, they did the same. They recovered a fumble and picked off two passes, taking one back for a score. Darius Butler, starting at corner tonight, had all three of the turnovers. He played well tonight also, although it sure helped getting those turnovers.
Cecil Shorts elevates his play when he faces the Colts. He is now on the list of "Colt killers", joining Maurice Jones-Drew (who was inactive tonight) and Josh Scobee (who was ½ tonight – yes, he actually missed one against the Colts!) as the Jaguars on the list.
Jeff Linkenbach at right tackle was not a good move, and I knew it before the game started too. He has played really well at guard this year, but tonight the Colts did some shuffling and moved him to tackle. I would much rather him backup the line at guard than start at tackle.
Two cool things came of Andrew Luck sliding late in the fourth quarter and being hit in the head: 1) Laron Landry (the one who hit Luck) came over and shook the quarterback’s hand and aksed if he was ok during the ensuing timeout; and 2) Luck’s teammates started coming to his defense but Luck called them off and settled them down – a move showing leadership.
Umm, I don’t know if Bill Polian would be interested in the Jacksonville GM job (he probably would like to get back at Indy), but that spot will be open soon if he wants it.
The Colts will get some rest and hopefully heal up before traveling to New England to play on November 18. The game is at 4:25 eastern time and it will be Tom Brady versus Andrew Luck, round one. The Colts will need to play better than tonight, but the good thing is – they very realistically can.