Fellow Colts fans, I think we can all agree that going into this game we did not have the best feelings about winning it. In fact, if you comb the Colts fans message boards, you will find many a post lamenting the assured loss to the "new bullies" on the block: the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Colts were without certain key players that have often helped destroy the Jags. Corey Simon and Bob Sanders, arguably two of the best defenders on the defense, were out. Adam Vinatieri, the Pimp Master His-Self, was nursing his groin. The Colts had a castoff from New England's training camp kicking field goals, a man known more for his dumb celebrations than his ability to make kicks. Brandon Stokley was out... again. Dwight Freeney had an injured butt. The injury list included 21 players. Blood was in the water, and the Jags smelled it. We Colts fans saw it. It did not look good. After the first quarter of the game, the blood in the water was free flowing from the corpse that was the Colts run defense. Jacksonville took the opening drive right down Indy's throat and had a 7-0 lead. They ran the ball at will. The Colts defense looked more like a tumbling circus act than the force we saw last year. It was awful.
Then, something happened.
The ultimate equalizer appeared and showed, once again, that football is equal parts offense, defense and SPECIAL TEAMS. Here's my recap:
- That sound you hear in the background is me tooting my own horn. In my preview, I said this:
If you win on ST, you have a very good chance of winning the game.
Yes, I know. It's hard to be this good. Of course, I also said this:
If Vinatieri can kick off and hit FGs, the Colts can win the special teams battle.
Alright, so I wasn't 100% right, but I was right about ST being the difference. The play that broke Jacksonville's back was not Dallas Clark's wide open 30 yard TD reception, Mike Doss's third quarter hit, or Peyton Manning's one yard TD bootleg. It was Terrence Wilkins' 82 yard punt return for a TD. Prior to that play, the Jags were rolling. They'd gained over 140 yards on the ground. They were up 7-0. They were jawing, hitting, and crowing like they owned the place. When Terrence ran back that punt, you saw the entire Jaguars team deflate. The play didn't even give Indy the lead, but it won the game. The Jaguars never recovered from that play, and once again they left the RCA Dome shaking their heads and wondering.
- Like all great sports, football is as much mental as it is physical. Just because your team is bigger, faster, stronger, and more talented doesn't mean it is better. The New England Patriots showed that for many years. They weren't necessarily more talented than Indy, Pittsburgh, Philly, or Oakland in the playoffs. They were, however, more mentally tough. Mental toughness has always been a weakness of the Jaguars, and typical of the moron pundit media, NO ONE talked about it until today. Check out game review after game review, and all the pundits are saying, "The Jags lost their poise." Folks, the Jags ALWAYS lose their poise. I even said that their poise would be THE deciding factor in my interview four days before the game with Chris over at Big Cat Country:
Probably the main reason the Colts will win, and it's a reason that the moron pundit media never addresses, is the Colts are more composed than the Jags.
The Schwam (ESPN's Chris Berman) can make my check out to the following address:
Mr. Shoe, Grand Soothesayer of all things Football
1818 Touchdown Way
Indianapolis, IN 26280
Amazing how we folks at SB Nation seem to know more about football than the moron pundits at places like ESPN. Now, I do not include Berman in that mix, but resident idiots like Merrill Hoge were talking all week about how tough the Jags were and how soft the Colts play. Hoge wouldn't know tough if it climbed up from his shower drain and smacked his wet behind. Toughness comes from being mentally focused, not from being bigger than stronger than the other guy. If you knew ANYTHING about this match-up (and clearly, Hoge didn't) you knew that if the Jags were going to win they needed to cut down on the mental mistakes and stop playing stupid football. Even in their MNF win over Pittsburgh last week, the Jags still committed a bunch of dumb penalties and made mental errors. Now, against the Steelers (who are a shell of their former selves), you can get away with that. Not so against the Colts.
- Fatty McButterpants delivers again. Jags QB Byron Leftwich was terrible, per usual. Despite a dominant running game and a defense that limited the Colts offense to only 14 points, Leftwich barely managed only 107 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs. Those 107 yards and that 1 TD are misleading because most came when the Colts were up 21-7 with less than 8 minutes left in the game.
- As bad as the Colts rush defense looked in the first half, they were that great in the second half. In the second half, the Jags managed only 34 yards rushing, and Byron Leftwich was rendered ineffective. The Colts defense managed to pressure Leftwich, and their tackling improved. The Jags were killing the Colts with draws, misdirection, and cut-back runs in the first half. In the second, the Colts adjusted and dominated the Spotted Kitties. Big praise for safety Mike Doss. I've often criticized Doss, and Doss has warranted that criticism. However, the game he played Sunday was the game of his life. I've never seen him play that well. He and rookie Antoine Bethea were lights out. The Colts secondary was amazing, and has played great football these first three weeks.
This was truly an amazing and improbable win. The Jags had all the momentum. They had the edge. They were healthier, and they really, really wanted this game. However, the Colts ended up being better. They were tougher. Perhaps guys like Merrill Hoge should watch tape of this game. This way, his opinion can look more informed and he won't look like the pathetic Steelers homer we all know him to be.
The only set back to the Colts win is seeing Chris at Big Cat Country lose. Chris is blogging up a storm over there. He knows his team is good (and they are) but he also knows they have to overcome themselves before they can get their "respect." Chris did a great job with posts leading up to the game, and his cross-blogging during the game was excellent as well. Chris is the best Jaguars blogger on the Net, no question. Heck, he's probably the best Jags writer on the Net. Maybe Jaguars.com should consider paying Chris to write for them as opposed to their resident idiot there: Vic Ketchum. BTW Vic: How'd that bulletin board material help the Jags on Sunday?