Beating the Panthers in Carolina coming off a short week while Panthers are coming off their bye is real adversity.
You've got to hand it to Carolina: They've got a solid team. If they had some consistent QB play, they'd be a Super Bowl team. Even with a healthy Jake Delhomme, this team would still have struggled against the Colts. That shouldn't take away from how prepared they were. The first quarter, the Panthers came out and did some things they never do. They marched right down the field, converting 5-5 on third down, and scored a TD. You could tell they were pumped and the Colts, especially their offense, were not clicking. Their body language told you they were tired and lost.
Still despite Peyton Manning going 2-9 in the first half, the defense in particular Antoine Bethea, played like animals. They were the reason the Colts ground out this win.
- Reggie Wayne is a stud. But, you know that. His 32 yard catch that eventually led to a Joseph Addai TD was the turning point in the game. In a game that was supposed to feature Marvin Harrison (who sat out) and Steve Smith (who calls Marvin his idol), Reggie Wayne was the receiver that shined the brightest. Speaking of Mr. Steve Smith...
- The Colts secondary controlled Smith all game. Marlin Jackson had a neck injury, which he got applying a vicious hit to TE Jeff King. Despite this, he and the others (Hayden, Jennings, and Hughes) all played excellent football. Steve Smith had 2 catches for 18 yards. That's it. Smith is an amazing player folks. 2 catches, 18 yards. That's how the Colts handle great receivers. The Panthers dinked and dunked all game long. After their first drive, it netted them zero points. Colts pass defense was excellent.
- Staying on the defense, they held DeAngelo Williams to 14 yards on 5 carries. Foster gained 62 yards on 19 carries. The Colts held Carolina's rushing attack (which is pretty good) to 3.3 a carry. This was done without Freddie Keiaho. Again, this defense continues to dominate in impressive fashion.
Some important things happened in this game: Peyton passed Johnny Unitas for the franchise record for pass attempts and TDs. Tony Dungy passed Teddy Marchibroda and Don Shula for the most wins by a head coach in franchise history. That's impressive company, but these are impressive, humble, classy men. It was only a matter of time.
So, now that this game is done, and we've seen that this Colts team is an impressive, resilient brunch, you can now mention they name of the team Indy will face next week: The New England Patriots. Talk away.