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2011 NFL Preseason Final: Packers 24 - Colts 21

Despite choking in the final two minutes, this was a good game for the Colts and their very fragile psyche entering the third and 'most important' game of preseason. Unlike other preseason games, where the Colts just don't seem to care, the coaches game-planned for the opponent and used rotations they will likely go with during the regular season.

To start, the offensive line featured LT Anthony Costanzo, LG Joe Reitz, OC Jeff Saturday, RG Ryan Diem, and RT Jeff Linkenbach. For most of the night, this line played well together, especially when it came to running the ball. Indy had 112 rushing yards for the game.

On the other side, the Colts d-line played as well as I've seen them play in a long time. They limited Green Bay to 45 rushing yards for the game, and they sacked the Pack's QBs five time, three on Aaron Rodgers.

As always, here are my notes for the game. If you agree, disagree, or saw something you'd like to add, please comment.

  • On the second play from scrimmage, Linkenbach made an excellent seal block while Diem did a solid job knocking Clay Matthews back. The whole right side of line pushed the Packers off the line-of-scrimmage. Pierre Garcon had some great blocking downfield. Joseph Addai scampered for 17 yards. Impressive work up front by right side of line.
  • Second run after that was the same thing. Right side, Link and Diem pushed Pack off the line. Excellent run blocking.
  • The Colts used a d-line of Tyler Brayton, Antonio Johnson, Fili Moala, and Jamaal Anderson on run downs. On passing downs, line was Jerry Hughes, Eric Foster, Tommie Harris, and Dwight Freeney. Robert Mathis did not play because of a hamstring. I really like the idea of a run line and a pass line. Freeney, Hughes, and Mathis simply aren't that good against the run whereas Anderson and Brayton were quite stout.
  • First defensive series for the Colts forced a three-and-out. Great run defense on first down.
  • Curtis Painter did not complete pass until a cheap third-and-13 on the second drive. it was a screen, and it was also only pass Painter completed in first quarter. He had a total of two passing yards.when the quarter ended.
  • On the next Packers drive, a 2nd and 8 screen play got broken up by Tommie Harris. Total veteran play. Harris better make this team. He brings something to the d-line the Colts rarely have, ability and experience. 
  • I'm not gonna kill Pat Angerer for the coverage on the Jermichael Finley touchdown. It was just a great call and a superb throw by Rodgers.
  • All night, the Colts punt coverage was very good.
  • Later in the first quarter, Rodgers tried to fake out Jamaal Anderson on a boot leg right. Anderson did not bite, and the result was Rodgers throwing an incompletion. This was foreshadowing for Jerry Hughes later in the game.
  • I'm getting really sick of Larry Coyer doing this 'fake blitz' crap. It's dumb. When the Colts send everyone up on the line as if they will blitz, the QB can still see Colts are not playing man coverage. The coverage tells everything, unless you disguise it. The Colts don't do that. Thus, Rodgers has no fear of the blitz. He knows it's bogus. At the snap, the Colts back off and rush only four. Rodgers makes an easy completion because Jacob Lacey, who was terrible all night, gave up too much cushion.
  • My father-in-law is a Packers fan and knows nothing of the Colts. He called me this morning and said, 'Who's Lacey? That guy isn't very good.' All year long, I get the sinking feeling that Lacey will be the starter, and he will continue to get picked on. Whenever Rodgers needed to make a key throw, he targeted Lacey.
  • Chad Clifton's holds all night were ridiculous. They have two refs back there in the backfield, and they both couldn't see this guy blatantly choking John Chick. Chick, who was killing Clifton all night (as was Freeney) would have sacked Rodgers on a 2nd and 5. Instead, Rodgers completed pass to Jordy Nelson covered by, you guessed it, Jacob Lacey.
  • The Packers went for it on a 4th and 8th. Why? Well, it's pretty clear they didn't respect Colts defense. Rodgers completed over middle to Donald Driver.
  • At the 13:32 mark in the second quarter, the Pack had 131 passing yards. The Colts had two.
  • On third down, same drive, Freeney kills Clifton on a bullrush and sacks Rodgers. I believe Rodgers had a running lane for endzone on the play. He scores a TD if Freeney does not sack him. Pack kick a FG.
  • In the second quarter, Painter started to find a rhythm, and that rhythm was getting ball to Reggie Wayne on nearly every pass play. In fact, all night Painter was staring down his first read, which was usually Wayne.
  • On a first down play action for the Colts in quarter two, Donald Brown made a good block to give painter extra time. Brown did not run well last night, but I noticed that block.
  • Reggie Wayne abused Sam Shields all night.
  • That missed FG is a chip shot that Adam Vinatieri must hit. Yes, it is a chip shot. In a dome stadium, anything under 50 should be automatic. No excuses.
  • The Colts defense in second quarter was quite good. Pass rush improved. Drake Nevis and Freeney gave Packers fits on left side.
  • The 56 yard TD from Painter to Wayne was hilarious. All night, Painter was eyeing his primary target. On the throw, he eyed Brooks and three Packers DBs reacted. However, instead of throwing to his primary, Painter looked off and saw Wayne streaking down sideline with no one on him.
  • Ugh. On the next series for the Packers, Lacey totally whiffed on a sideline tackle. Jordy Nelson scampers for 30-plus yards.
  • Lots of missed tackles all night by David Caldwell. Why was he playing over Joe Lefeged? Beats me.
  • On the Rodgers TD pass in the second quarter, the refs FINALLY called Clifton for holding. The reason Clifton was arm-choking the DE was because, once again, John Chick had beaten him. The TD was negated. I can't believe Clifton is a Pro Bowler. He was terrible last night as was Derek Sherrod, the lineman from Mississippi State that many thought the Colts would take in the first round of this year's NFL Draft.
  • The Tommie Harris sack was excellent. He split a double-team and zeroed in on Rodgers. Colts rarely get that kind of rush from DT spot. Big sack on third down. The Pack missed a FG to end the drive.
  • All night, no one ever called Anthony Castonzo's name. In fact, I've rewatched the game, and not once did I see Painter pressured from his blindside. Castonzo looked damn good playing against a Packers team that blitzed like crazy. Looks like, if things go well, this team finally has a legit left tackle.
  • I really liked how David Gilreath and Joe Lefeged handled kick and punt return duties, respectively. Gilreath had a really nice return in the fourth quarter. I think these two guys solidified the return game jobs.
  • Delone Carter is not just a good short yardage back. He's a good back, period. He should be ahead of Donald Brown on the depth chart. In fact, Javarris James has outplayed Brown all preseason as well. James and Carter ran very well last night, and James made a great special teams tackle in the second half. If Donald Brown wasn't a first round pick, he'd be cut. Right now, three guys should be ahead of him.
  • I won't write much on the Chip Vaughn penalties in the fourth quarter. Clearly, he's frustrated, and he took it out on the Packers. He'll be cut on Tuesday.
  • I'm been impressed with Philip Wheeler all preseason, and last night I was even more pleased. The Colts used him as a stand-up rusher on the outside in a hybrid 3-4. He got consistent pressure on Graham Harrell, the fourth quarter Packers QB, and even got a sack. The Colts should consider using Hughes this way too. And speaking of ole Jerry...
  • OK, so remember the foreshadowing regarding Jamaal Anderson and Aaron Rodgers from earlier? Well, almost the exact same play happened in the fourth quarter. This time, it involved Pack QB Graham Harrell and Colts DE Jerry Hughes. On the play that to cut the Colts lead to two with roughly 35 second left, Graham Harrell ran left, looking for an open receiver. Hughes was barring down on him. Harrell took a step to his right and shook Hughes so badly he lost his footing and fell down. The move made Hughes look like a bumbling fool. Harrell then completed the pass for a TD. If Hughes makes that sack, that's the ballgame.If he does what Anderson did to Rodgers earlier, it's probably the ballgame.
  • After watching three preseason games, it's obvious Jamaal Anderson, John Chick, and Tyler Brayton are all better than Hughes. Like with Donald Brown, if Hughes weren't a first rounder, he should be cut. He's just a bad football player, and he will be a wasted roster spot this year.
  • There simply is no excuse for Jim Caldwell on the onside kick. It was obvious the Packers were going to do that after they tied the game, and Caldwell didn't even have his hands team out there. None of the Colts were expecting the play. You'd think that after Super Bowl XLIV, Caldwell would have learned. Clearly, he hasn't. I lost a lot of respect for him in 2010 with some of the boneheaded decisions he made. Last night did not renew anything. Just bad, bad, BAD coaching. Caldwell and others can blame Chip Vaughn all they want, but if the hands team is out there and the Colts recover, they are near FG range and can end the game quickly. Instead, the Pack went for the win (as they should have), and Caldwell is yet again made to look foolish.

So, overall, despite some major screw-ups, lots of positives to take from this game. The last two minutes was a choke job collectively by the team and highlighted by the idiocy of Chip Vaughn and Jim Caldwell. It really left a bad taste in everyone's mouth after a pretty solid game. Afterwards, I listened to Bill Polian on 1070 The Fan, and he said the starters will indeed play against the Bengals next week so that Kerry Collins could get some reps with them before Week One.

Thoughts? Observations? Please comment.