Photo: AP, Darron Cummings
I'd like to give a particular shout out to the Indy defense, which has played brilliant football all season long despite numerous injuries. If you'd had told me in pre-season that by Week Eleven both Dwight Freeney and Anthony McFarland would be done for the season, I'd have thrown up my hands and given up. It's a good thing I'm a fan and not someone with decision-making power in the Colts front office.
This Colts defense is better than the 1995 defense that got the Colts within one bad Kordell Stewart-called TD from the Super Bowl. That defense in 1995 was spectacular. This one is better. Even with Freeney gone, this defense is better than the '95 one. Ron Meeks and Tony Dungy have done a fabulous job getting these guys ready to play. It doesn't matter if they are established players (Bob Sanders, Gary Brackett, etc.), new players (Simeon Rice), or rookies (Ed Johnson, Keyunta Dawson, Clint Session) Dungy and Meeks get them ready. Here's some recap notes:
- Colts defense held yet another opponent under 100 yards. Yes, I know Larry Johnson was out. Eat me. I don't want to hear about injuries. This defense used to allow the Ron Dayne's of this league to get over 100 yards. Now, they are holding everyone. I'm dancing a jig.
- Chiefs dominated the first half, but only had 3 points to show for it. Colts defense held them to 234 total yards and forced two huge TOs.
- Pass rush was inconsistent. Chiefs QB Brody Croyle was hurried on some plays, and on others he had way too much time. DE Simeon Rice made a nice play on a screen pass, but other than that didn't do much. Robert Mathis is a total stud, and will likely get his first Pro Bowl nod.
- The injuries on offense have really weakened their strike ability. Are injuries an excuse to lose? No. Are they a reason why execution can be off? Yes. Guys who normally don't practice are now playing live games. Manning has no timing with his receivers, and when he does they are dropping balls. He's also getting killed in the pocket. The Colts need Marvin Harrison and Tony Ugoh back ASAP.
Getting healthy and getting ready to play our Atlanta on only 4 days prep is now top priority. Maybe Ugoh and Harrison will return for that game. Despite all these damn injuries, the team is 8-2. I'll take it.