PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 19: Griff Whalen #84 of the Indianapolis Colts makes a catch against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on August 19, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
In a game that initially featured it's fair share of disappointment, the Colts managed to keep their chins up and showed something that many fans were craving after a long, heartbreaking 2-14 season: resilience when confronted with adversity.
Despite losing Austin Collie to possibly another concussion (I still feel sick about this), T.Y. Hilton dropping a would-be touchdown that turned into an interception, and Andrew Luck throwing a classic rookie pick six, these young Colts fought back and showed incredible leadership across the board. The game may be marked as a loss, but there were a lot of goodies to munch on from this outing. After all, this is the preseason, and this is where you work out all of the kinks.
Here are a few of my thoughts from the game, featuring the good, the bad, and the fugly:
Austin Collie might have suffered his fourth concussion in less than two years.
When I saw a defender plunge into the side of Collie's neck/head, I cringed. When I saw him stumble to get back up, I felt my heart drop. This guy is the poster boy of what you never want your son to go through if he picks up a football. Collie has all of the talent in the world, but when it comes to health, some things just aren't worth the compromise. Football, unfortunately, is one of those things. Collie is a young family man and if he has indeed suffered his fourth concussion, it might be in his best interest to hang up his cleats. For good. If not, the Colts should consider parting ways with the sure-handed receiver. I know Collie has balls of steel, but those balls won't do him any good if his brain is scrambled eggs.
I hope with all of my heart that Collie hasn't seen his last football game, maybe out of my own selfishness as a huge Collie fan. However, I like the guy too much to not logically think that it might be best for him to step away from the game, fourth concussion or not.
Griff Whalen could be a monster in the slot.
Seeing Collie struggle to gather himself was incredibly upsetting, but somewhere in the darkness was an illuminated and energized Griff Whalen. Whalen showed a lot against the Steelers (reserves or not). His routes were crisp, his bursts were quick, and he looked like a guy that could step in for Collie and work the slot without a hiccup.
Very impressive outing from the former Stanford wide out.
Surprise, surprise: Andrew Luck is legit.
His effort tonight wasn't quite the near-flawless masterpiece that his preseason debut was, but Luck still impressed. After staring at Reggie Wayne for an hour and gift-wrapping a pick six for the veteran cornerback Ike Taylor, Luck shook it off, said my bad, and would finish the night like a polished veteran. As a quarterback in the NFL, you must have a built-in memory swipe available at all times. In true Men in Black fashion, Luck forgot about an ugly pick six and lead his team to three straight scoring drives (two touchdowns). This was a thing of beauty, and maturity.
His throws were money—scratch the back shoulder fade to the ultra-smurf that is T.Y. Hilton—and he didn't let the Pittsburgh defense permanently get in his ear. Your new franchise quarterback was on full display for the entire nation to see, and he damn sure made me proud to be a Colts fan.
One more thing: Peyton Manning would have never of let the Steelers challenge the dropped Collie catch. Another rookie mistake. It happens.
Mario Addison provides some much-needed pressure.
Addison is low-risk, high-reward waiver claim that will likely be paying dividends well into the season. He was consistently providing pressure and walked away with one sack. Mike Adams (one of my Buckeyes) looked awful and Addison only exacerbated the tough night for Adams.
Keep it up, Mario.
Vick Ballard looks like the perfect compliment to a Donald Brown-powered backfield.
I wasn't too sure about Ballard coming out of the draft, but he opened my eyes with some very impressive runs. Not only is he quick, but his vision is something that Brown could learn from. Like Brown, once Ballard gets to the outside, he's an animal. If it wasn't for the replacement officials proving their worth (which is very little, if anything), Ballard would have had himself a nice, hard-fought touchdown to top off the night.
We want the real referees back, NFL.
I hate to beat a dead horse here, but this dead horse needs some more clubbing: The replacement referees are in over their head. Period.
After missing two incredibly easy PI calls, the replacements felt like they should make Colts fans around the country punch their televisions a few more times. While attempting to reach the endzone on multiple carries, Ballard finally seemed to punch it in. The game is tied, right? Nope. After an official review, the touchdown was overturned on evidence that was inconclusive, at best. I can excuse this mistake, I guess. However, what I cannot excuse is spotting the ball on the friggin' one. Forget punching. I wanted to jump through my television.
Retain the right men for the job or the game will suffer undoubtedly. It's pretty simple.
Reggie Wayne in motion makes me happy.
Wayne was set in motion multiple times and it ultimately resulted in six catches for 74 yards. This was fun to watch.
All in all, this was another solid outing for Bruce Arians and the Colts offense. Whether it was a touchdown or not, I loved the triple option call. The Colts defense is questionable at times and will likely face its prolonged struggles, but I like the direction of Chuck Pagano and Greg Manusky. Jerraud Powers' coverage was mostly superb, along with Antoine Bethea.
That's all I got, friends.
Next up? The Redskins and RG3.