The last post was more of a thank you letter to Peyton Manning for being, you know, kind of a cool dude. Sure, fantasy football owners aren't pleased with him giving up a gimme TD late in the fourth quarter, but whatever. It's kind of nice to see good sportsmanship on display, especially in a place that pretty much defines thug football: Oakland Coliseum.
This game, just like the previous two, was a playoff game for both these teams. The Raiders, 5-0 in the AFC West, needed to win and have the Chiefs lose to keep hope alive for their fledgling playoff hopes. The Colts, who had just watched the Jaguars lose at home to the Redskins on an overtime field goal, needed a win to gain one game on the Jaguars.
As we saw at Tennessee against the Titans and last week at home against the Jags, the Colts and Peyton Manning know how to respond when pressure is on. With their 31-26 win today over the Raiders in Oakland, the Colts have a full game lead over the Jaguars for the AFC South crown. The win also gave the Chiefs the AFC West title and (with their loss earlier in the day to the Bengals) knocked the Chargers out of the playoffs.
For those of you stuck in doors, or in airports, as the East Coast is slammed with a nasty blizzard, consider this recap a nice, warm, fuzzy comfort blanket on this harsh winter's night.
Like last week, for me this game starts with the Colts' defense. We saw them shutdown the Jaguars at home in Week Fifteen, and then today they held the Raiders offense to 19 points (4 FGs, 1 garbage TD late). Oakland, with Darren McFadden, had the second best rushing offense in football (157 yards a game).
The Colts held them to 80 today.
On the flip side, for the second week in a row, the Colts rushing attack took it to the opponent. Indy had 191 yards on an inspiring 39 carries (4.9 a rush). The ground game was led by the two 'old' vets that, for so many years, have keyed the Colts to franchise-defining victories. I'm speaking of Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes. Addai returned this game after missing half the season with a shoulder injury. He had 12 rushes for 45 yards a TD. Rhodes, who once played for the Raiders and, recently, took some shots at former-teammate and Raiders first overall pick JaMarcus Russell, had 98 yards on 17 carries.
Hell, even Peyton had a long run.
Despite all the impressive rushing numbers, this wasn't a day where the Colts offense dominated. They were less than stellar on third down, and started the game with two short drives that resulted in punts. But, it was the Colts defense that set the tone, holding the Raiders to three consecutive three-and-outs on offense to start the game. The first score Oakland's offense got was on a 59-yard FG. If not for Jacoby Ford's opening game 99-yard kick return for a touchdown, the Colts likely blow out the Raiders.
Hats off to the defense and the offensive line this game. With all the injuries this team has sustained all season long, the two areas that needed to step up and be counted were the o-line and D. These last two games, they've done that.
Share you thoughts in the comments. One more win, and the Colts are in.