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Recap Week Ten: Colts 17-Bills 16

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Ok, I got what I wanted out of this game... sort of.

I wanted to see the Colts defense bash a mediocre Buffalo Bills team into the turf, and they did just that. The Colts allowed only 162 total yards. They held Buffalo's runners to 3.4 yards a rush. They only gave up 9 points (the only TD allowed was on a fumble return). Buffalo's offense passed for only 51 net yards. J.P. Losman was sacked 4 times. They limited Buffalo to 5-14 on third down. All-in-all, they dominated the Bills. This should have been a blow out if not for some dumb turnovers and BAD special teams play by the Colts. More on that in a bit.

If you looked around the NFL this Sunday, several good teams lost very close games to supposedly "inferior" teams. The Patriots, Falcons, Chiefs, Jaguars, and Saints all lost to teams they should have beaten. Good teams find ways to win, and this past Sunday the Colts leaned on their defense.

The good thing about all this is the defense played well without Bob Sanders, Gary Brackett, and Montae Reagor. Those are three very, very key players that the Colts must get back 100% in time for the playoffs. When those guys all come back, this defense will get scary good. For now, the Colts have to patch things together and grind out wins. Some quick observations:

  • Special teams. Ok, I am now officially tired of this. Russ Purnell, the special teams coach for the Colts, has zero excuses. If I see another ST performance like this one, I want Purnell's head on a stick.
    Russ Purnell... if he doesn't fix the special teams soon!

    I am sick and tired of bad teams getting back in games against the Colts because of BAD special teams coverage. Adam Vinatieri and Hunter Smith are booming kicks. They are doing their job. It's up to the rest to make plays and friggin TACKLE THE GUY. I realize the Colts have lost some good special teams players. However, they also took away some players because they wanted them to start. Robert Mathis was a stud ST player, but was moved into the starting line-up, and removed from ST play because of fatigue. If the ST continue to play this poorly, Dungy should consider moving Mathis back to ST, and using him as a situational pass rusher like last season. The Colts simply cannot afford to give up big returns.

  • The turnovers are killing me. HANG ON TO THE FOOTBALL! I can't stand it when teams strip the football out. Ben Utecht has played well this season overall, as has Dom Rhodes (despite what some fans think), but my God guys--hold onto the damn ball! This should have been a 24-6 blowout if not for those two stupid fumbles. There were some fumbles in the New England game (that thankfully weren't recovered) that bothered me as well. Hang onto the football, for the love of God.
  • With all that ranting, you'd think the team lost. However, once again Manning and the offense bail out the Colts special teams. Joseph Addai in the fourth quarter was great. He's averaging 4.8 yards a rush this season. The Bills took the opposite approach to Pittsburgh and employed the old New England "drop 8 into coverage all the time" routine. It took away the deep throws. Manning simply dinked and dunked all over the field, and played efficient football. The fade to Wayne was money. Dylan Gandy has played extremely well at OG in place of Ryan Lilja, who lost his job in training camp. Heck, even Jake Scott played well. The o-line has played spectacular these last three games.

I'd also like to give props to Rob "The Funneler" Morris. He played very well at MLB against Buffalo. I think the presence of McFarland (who got his first sack as a Colt) helps the MLBer. Keiaho looked good at MLB last week. When Brackett and Sanders get back 100%, I will feel much better about the run defense. When Reagor gets back, I will expect them to dominate even great running teams.

The Colts are 9-0... again. This is an NFL record folks. The Colts are the first team to start consecutive season 9-0. That is an amazing accomplishment, and a testament to the greatness of Tony Dungy and Bill Polian.