I don't know what reader said this in the game thread comments on Sunday (apologies for not remembering UPDATE-- it was thebossuzzi), but it's worth noting because it was rather prophetic. The reader (thebossuzzi) declared that on October 10th, 2010 (10/10/10), the Colts would win by 10 points.
I think a lot of us would have bet against those odds, considering the Chiefs entered the game as the only unbeaten team left in the NFL. They looked good the previous three games they'd played, and coming off a bye week, KC had extra time to prepare for Indy. Giving game-planners like defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis two weeks to prep for Peyton Manning and company is never a fun prospect.
However, in a fashion that has become 'typical' around The Luke, the Colts gutted out a tough win against an unfamiliar opponent by doing all the little things needed in order to grind out such victories.
The heroes in this game were not the kinds of names you'd expect. Peyton Manning was 'average' by his standards. Dwight Freeney was, for much of the game, dominated. Dallas Clark was a non-factor.
The heroes instead were third-string running back Mike Hart, kicker Adam Vinatieri, and the interior linemen of the Colts defense. In a game that called upon the Colts to ante up, dig in, and make a stand, these players answered the call; especially in the second half.
Right now, we focus on the defense, which looked like its normal, useless self in the first half only to come alive and FINALLY show some fire in the second.
Here are some numbers that, for the most part, should give us optimism that the defense can indeed play at a high level:
- Chiefs were held to 1-10 on third down.
- Matt Cassell passed for only 156 yards.
- Chiefs held out of the endzone all game.
- KC running game had 84 yards in the first half, but only 30 on 10 carries in the second.
- Colts forced Chiefs into four three-and outs in the second half, including a big one to start the third quarter.
- Dexter McCluster: 2 rushes for 15 yards, 1 catch for 3 yards.
This is the kind of defense we all expected to see in Week One. This is the defense we knew we had. Yes, the Colts got some breaks in the form of Chiefs draft bust Dwayne Bowe, a player who would make the most spiteful of Pierre Garcon haters kiss the grinning Haitian on the cheek and praise God the Colts have him over Bowe. A key play in the game was, after a bad Manning interception in Colts territory, Bowe beat Jerraud Powers in the left corner of the endzone. Cassell launched a perfect 30-yard pass that landed in Bowe's hands. Easy touchdown.
Thank goodness Bowe sucks, and he dropped it.
Had the Chiefs scored that touchdown, the Colts would have lost the game. No doubt in my mind about that. Because the Chiefs didn't make the play and were forced to kick a field goal, the Colts had a chance.
For five weeks, people have been rightly asking why the Colts defense has played flat, uninspired, seemingly lazy football. Players like Daniel Muir took that criticism personally.
That’s what people talk about. Defense, what is wrong with us? One thing I fought myself on was paying attention to it. We can come out here and play with anybody. It’s a reminder for everybody. We have to come out and play.
While I like Muir and think his attitude is important for this defense to share, it would be criminal not to note that Muir's play, overall this year, has been teh suck. He was dominated last week against the Jaguars, as he was in Week One against the Texans. This week, facing former-Colts guard Ryan Lilja and a powerful KC offensive line, Muir played like a man on fire. His outstanding penetration into the backfield on third-and-one to start the third quarter was the kind of play we hardly ever see from the Colts interior line. Muir beat Lilja on that play, and stuffed Thomas Jones for -2 yards.
The Chiefs were held without a first down for the entire third quarter, and did not achieve a first until there was 3:07 left in the fourth, down by 10 points.
All off-season, Muir spoke about creating an attitude with this defense.
The goal is the same: Nobody runs on us. No way. That's it. No way.
On Sunday, the Colts and Muir took their first steps to finally backing up those words with action and results.
The final laurels of praise go to running back Mike Hart and kicker Adam Vinatieri. I'll start with Vinny because 1) I love the guy, and 2) Because it's nice to once again have a kicker who can make 45+ field goals. Vinatieri was 4-4 on FGs Sunday, bailing out a Colts offense that simply could not find its rhythm until their final drive of the game. On that drive, Mike Hart took over.
I don't want to take anything away from Joseph Addai who, prior to leaving in the third quarter with a shoulder injury, was having a helluva game. But, this kind of contest was tailor made for Mike Hart, and it would beneficial if the Colts finally started using him more often when opponents decide to throw a DB-heavy defensive alignment at them.
The fourth quarter drive that, essentially, won the game was one of those long, methodical, foot-on-the-throat-style drives that I love to see. Up 12-9, the Colts finally got their act together on offense and mounted a 12 play, 71 yard drive that started with 9:35 left in the fourth and ended with 4:02 and Indy up by 10. This beauty of an offensive series was capped by Hart's hard, all-effort, not-to-be-denied 11-yard touchdown run. It was the kind of run Hart was bred to make as a football player, and a major reason why the Colts (and many Colts fans) think so well of him.
After a win like this, I personally feel it's better to dwell on negatives in another article. Sure, I could breakdown how Kelvin Hayden has shockingly regressed; how Ryan Diem is now nothing more than a turnstile at right tackle; how Mike Pollak and Jamey Richard still suck; how Pierre Garcon takes seemingly routine pass catches and turns the into adventures; how utterly terrible Aaron Francisco is at playing strong safety, etc. Dwelling on this things here, right now, just doesn't seem right.
Right now, the Colts are 3-2, just like the defending champion New Orleans Saints, the Green Bay Packers, and every other team in the entire AFC South. The Colts are in good position right now, especially considering they haven't played their best football yet. Because of that, we keep this positive.
Special thanks again to the fans at Arrowhead Pride. The Chiefs are a good football team. We'll likely play again this season.