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Recap Week Fourteen: Colts 35-Bengals 3

Colts defense imposed their will on the Bengals offense

Photo: AP

The line for this game already is Well, it was just the Bengals. Yes, the same Bengals that took the defending champs into overtime. The same Bengals who tied the Eagles (who, by the way, beat the defending champs in NY yesterday). Yes, the Bengals are bad this year, but I don't know how good one can expect a team to be with 20-plus players of that team on IR. I'm no fan of Marvin Lewis anymore, but what I do know is the Bengals defense has played well this year. If there is anything Cincy fans can hang their hat on for 2008, it is that their defense is getting good. So, when my team hangs 28 on a good defense, I feel good. And that is exactly what my team did Sunday.

Many of you were hoping and begging that the Colts would finally blow someone out. They've won several close games this season either on last second FGs or game-saving INTs. It seemed every week they play people wire-to-wire. It didn't matter if it was the Steelers in Pittsburgh or the Texans in The Lube, the games were anyone's to win in the fourth quarter. But now, FINALLY, the Colts are getting reasonably healthy, and the results are consistent, well-played football.

The kind of football we know and expect from this team.

First and foremost, the MVP race ended yesterday. It is Peyton Manning, no doubt; no debate. Kurt Warner was garbage against quality teams for weeks, then he got the St. Louis Rams. Typical Kurt, he lit them up and helped his team win his division. Yes, it is great. In all seriousness, congrats to the Cardinals. However, when Kurt Warner goes to Pittsburgh and drops 3 TDs on that defense like Peyton Manning did a month ago, you can call him an MVP. Since he won't do that, contest over. Peyton is MVP, and anyone who votes otherwise should have their vote stripped in the future. No exceptions.

After a bad game against the Browns, "P" bounced back and tore up the Bengals. The last three games, Peyton has completed over 72% of his passes. Also, once again, Peyton's running game is in hibernation (more on that in a bit). Yet, despite this, he stands tall in the pocket and delivers strikes to his receivers, who are finally catching the ball better. Peyton and Tom Moore made it a point this week to get the ball to the TEs more since Cincy decided to play two deep cover. On Sunday, the TEs caught 10 balls for 98 yards and a TD, with the immortal Gijon Robinson catching 6 of those for 69 yards. Peyton had nothing but great praise for Gijon after the game. People here have dogged Gijon much of the year, but it is pretty clear the team (especially Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning) love his play and his contributions.

And, once again, Marvin Harrison makes fools of people who said he was "done."

Yes, it is clear Marvin has not played well this year. What the reason is, I don't know. But what I do know is, at the age of 36, he has not lost a step. Anyone who says he has simply has not watched him play. On one quick slant play, he outran the entire Cincy defense for a 67 yard gain. Show me another 36-year-old WR that can do that. He also scored a TD on a 5 yard pass from Peyton.

On defense, the best DE tandem in football continues to kill opponents. Robert Mathis (Pro Bowl lock, or there shouldn't be a Pro Bowl) had 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Dwight Freeney (Pro Bowl lock, or there shouldn't be a Pro Bowl) had 1.5 sacks. That puts Freeney at 9.5 sacks and Mathis at 11.5. is not keeping track of their forced fumbles, but let's just say THEY'VE CAUSED A TON. The Colts were also getting some good rush from DTs Darrell Reid and Daniel Muir. Yes, there was a Daniel Muir sighting. This guy really needs to play more, especially at NT. Between him and Antonio Johnson, the Colts may have finally solidified their NT spot. Hopefully, we will see less of Eric Foster at NT and more of Eric Foster playing three technique. 

The Bengals were also held to just 82 yards rushing. A big reason for that was the return of Bob Sanders. Bob made 8 tackles did a lot of cleanup on running plays. Yes, Melvin Bullitt filed in admirably while Bob was out, but this team's intensity explodes when Bob plays. Bob must always play. When he does, our team dominates. When he doesn't, it's a crap shoot.

Kelvin Hayden did his best Super Bowl 41 impression, running an INT back 85 yards for a TD. This is the third straight year Kelvin has returned an INT for a TD. He had two INTs yesterday, and Dante Hughes had one as well. For those keeping track at home, the Colts have allowed 4 passing TDs all season and snatched 17 INTs.

Now, for the shaky stuff.

After two weeks of amazing play, the special teams looked off: Several missed tackles and sloppy play. Darrell Reid might need to hold some more meetings to get this cleaned up. The other concern is the running game. Yes, Joseph Addai got hurt (again). And yes, Jeff Saturday did not play. But only 57 yards on 20 carries is dreadful, I don't care who plays. 17 of those 57 came on one run, a TD by Dominic Rhodes in the first quarter. In order for this team to make some noise in the playoffs (if they get there), the Colts must run the ball effectively. Guys like OG Mike Pollak need to step up and start playing like they are supposed to. The passing game, run defense, pass defense, and special teams are all good and playing consistently. What is holding this team back now is the running game. They need to get it squared away FAST.

Overall, a dominating win for sure. Though the Colts are not the AFC South division winners, they are making a strong case for the best in the AFC. I'm sure some chippy Titans fans will not like me saying that, but I'll remind them that when our guys played theirs in Nashville (the Colts last loss, by the way) they did not have Joseph Addai or Bob Sanders playing in that game. They also did not have DT Antonio Johnson (a former Titan) or LT Tony Ugoh. And if the Titans do the stupid thing and play their starters in Week Seventeen, the Colts will remind them why they won five straight AFC South titles.That said, the Titans deserved the AFC South this year, and we applaud them, in particular Kerry Collins. Again, no surprise that the two best teams (arguably) in the AFC are in the AFC South.

With win number nine, the Colts have now won nine or more games for seven straight years. If they make the playoffs, they will have qualified for the post-season nine of eleven seasons dating back to 1998. Since 1999, the Colts are the winningest franchise in the NFL. Truly, we are witnessing one of the greatest runs in NFL history. Yes, there are morons and trolls who wil say All that winning and only one Super Bowl. Most of the schmucks who say this garbage either root for teams that have never won a Super Bowl, or they are Patriots fans (whose team won three Super Bowls but did so under a cloud of cheating). Sorry, but when your team cheats, it clouds their accomplishments. Don't get me wrong. the Pats are great, but since the Patriots are the only team in the modern cap era to win multiple Super Bowls (beating the Colts in playoffs during two of those Super Bowls), it tends to highlight the cheating end more so than the winning end of things.

The Colts, meanwhile, have won all these games while not cheating. Thus, their run is truly one for the ages.

The winning has spoiled us. At 3-4, many here were calling for Dungy to retire, and some said this franchise's run was over. Six wins in a row later, those people have crawled back under the rock from whence they came. The Colts haven't accomplished anything yet, but if you counted them out after the Green Bay or the Tennessee loses, you simply do not know the Colts, and you know even less about football.

Never, ever count out a Tony Dungy coached team. Ever. Go Colts!