A win is a win.
Keep that in mind as you read about the Colts game today. It doesn't matter how you win, all that truly matters is what the final score is. And with this Colts team, no win will come easy this year. So I preface this article by celebrating the first win of 2012 and the first win of the Andrew Luck era.
The way the Colts got the win, however, was quite crazy.
It all started following that long drive to start the second half. After being given new life multiple times by the Vikings on a drive that took 7:54, Adam Vinatieri made a 45-yard field goal to put the Colts ahead 20-6. Following that, the Colts went into ultra-conservative mode. Over their next four drives, the Colts ran a combined 15 plays for -2 yards. They ran the ball on eight of those fifteen plays, and the other seven they dropped back. On one of those Luck was sacked for a loss of 22 yards (his only really bad mistake today), and on the six pass attempts the Colts still played it safe.
Bruce Arians was calling the plays not to lose instead of calling the plays to win, and when coaches do that, they lose most of the time. At least, they deserve to.
But Bruce Arians has this quarterback who is pretty good. I don't know if you've heard about him, but his name is Andrew Luck. And Arians got really lucky that he had Luck as his quarterback today (sorry, couldn't resist), because if the Colts had lost today, Arians would be taking a lot of heat for his conservative coaching.
After the Vikings tied it up on a ball that was tipped multiple times on 4th down, Andrew Luck came onto the field with 0:31 left in regulation. The first play was a 20 yard completion to Donnie Avery(who had a big day as well - 9 catches for 111 yards). The Colts then took their second timeout of the half. They had the ballat their own 40 yard line, with 24 seconds left.
Then, the next play, Luck hit Reggie Waynefor 20 more yards (Wayne also had a good day - 6 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown). The Colts then used their final timeout with 18 seconds left at the Minnesota 40 yard line.
The Colts then ran a slant for 7 yards to the right to Avery and were planning on spiking the ball, but the Vikings players seemed to be covering the ball up. Offsides was called previously, however, and the Colts accepted the 5-yard penalty. That put the ball at the Vikings'35 yard line with 13 seconds. The clock would not start, though, as it was a defensive penalty. That caused someconfusion with Luck, and the next play Luck spiked the ball to stop the clock.
So out came Adam Vinatieri, the 39-year old veteran who has made so many big kicks in his career. Vinatieri had made his first two kicks on the day after missing his only try last week in Chicago. It would be a 53-yard attempt. Could the old kicker make another huge kick?
The answer, quite simply, was yes.
We were reminded yet again today that, when the game is on the line, Vinatieri's range is pretty much unlimited. No matter his age, the greatest clutch kicker the league has ever known just keeps making the clutch kicks.
The coaching staff, and in particular Bruce Arians, were bailed out by the 23-year old Luck (his birthday was this past Wednesday!) and the 39-year old Vinatieri.
This team is one of the youngest in the league. That group of young players is led by the rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. He was spectacular today. He avoided a ton of pressure (pretty much every play). He made the throws. He made some nice runs. He led a game winning drive in his second NFL game. He got his first NFL win. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns without a pick. He rushed 4 times for 21 yards, the second leading rusher for Indianapolis today. And all I will say about the offensive line is that they flat out stunk today. They were awful. Much more to come on the line later this week (and season), but they just stunk. Andrew Luck did a great job of bailing them out (aside from that 22 yard loss). I'm continually amazed at his pocket presence and mobility. That may be his best ability, and if not his best, it is certainly the most useful this year.
But even with a young team like this, the Colts needed the help of an old, reliable veteran. They put the game on the leg of a kicker who has won two super bowls with the same leg.
This 23-year old rookie teamed up with the 39-year old veteran for the win. And they bailed out some conservative coaching.
There is a lot of work to be done. The defense played well for the first three quarters, but in the fourth they looked pretty bad. The offensive line... well, they looked the worst. The coaching staff needs to improve. To win in today's NFL takes aggressive play calling. I hope they learn from this.
Bottom line, however, is that a win is a win. And, considering that this is only the Colts' third win since theyear 2010, it is something to celebrate. But with this kid at quarterback, and this veteran at kicker, there figures to be more wins to come soon. Maybe even next week.