I was at a family Christmas party Sunday afternoon, so I didn't get to watch any of the Colts 27-23 victory over the Titans, but did get to hear the last 10 minutes or so on the car ride home, and did check the score at halftime, where I just said to myself, "I guess we'll be seeing another one of those comebacks today." The Colts did not disappoint.
The Colts are now 8-1 in games decided by 7 points or less, which is a pretty amazing stat (and one that tends to even out over time. Colts from 1999-2010 were an impressive 64-32 in such games). Andrew Luck and the Offense tends to get much of the praise for all the come-from-behind wins (five in all), but the other side of the ball has been equally as impressive when they've needed to be. From Derek Schultz of 1260AM here in Indianapolis:
I'm floored by this stat: in their five comeback wins when they've trailed at halftime, the Colts have allowed one touchdown in 29 drives.— Derek Schultz (@Schultz1260) December 10, 2012
I would have never expected that from the league's worst overall Defense (but getting much better, as you'll see). He also mentions the Colts have outscored those five opponents 91-25 in the second half. One improvement I'll be making to my stats in the offseason is the ability to see first/second half numbers, which I can't do right now. This team, all around, would be quite good in the second half.
Something else I really liked was the final drive, where a pass sealed the game. First, Vick Ballard had the huge run on 2nd down to get the initial first down, and had a huge whole to run through. After getting stopped on the next first down, and the Titans using their last timeout. It was a perfect time to try a pass, as doing it on second down would confuse the Defense (it definitely did), and with the two minute warning coming, as long as the Colts ran on one of those two final plays, they'd get it there. Brilliant play call, and great execution by Luck and the Offense. Far cry from some of those early games where they just ran into the line three times.
One more comeback-related stat, this one from Elias: Luck became just the second rookie in NFL history to lead his team to wins in back-to-back weeks when trailing by 12+ points in both. The other guy? Vince Young in 2006. We'll end the comparison right there.
After running some initial numbers Sunday, it looked like the Colts Offense, and Luck specifically, played his worst game as a Colt Sunday. Because I hadn't actually seen the game yet, I asked Twitter for its opinion, and several people thought it was more a function of the Offensive Line being awful than anything else. I got to watch the game last night, since the Texans wet themselves walking into Foxboro, and I'm going to pin it on a combination of three things: bad O-Line play, some poor throws from Luck, and bad play-calling, especially in the first half.
I didn't have time to count, but more often than not, the Titans brought more than four people, especially when they got pressure on Luck. It's why we saw Luck running for his life quite often, and getting sacked relatively quickly. But Bruce Arians kept calling plays that involved long-developing routes, and Luck kept getting hit. It wasn't until after halftime that we saw some quicker passes, and several draw plays to Vick Ballard, which pretty much all went for 5+ yards, and effectively neutered the Titans pass rush. Amazing how those two things go together, huh? I know the Offense is designed to get the ball down the field, but not every play has to go for a 20 yard gain. Play-action will help tremendously next week, but in order for it to help, they have to respect the run game.
Let's jump into the numbers to see how well the Colts played Sunday:
Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 14:
|Statistic||Offense||Rank||Defense||Rank||Off/Def Above||Off/Def Below||Record|
|Orange Zone Eff||81.0%||6||57.1%||11||N||N||7-1|
|Avg Start Pos||27.1||14||19.3||4||N||N||6-2|
|3 and Outs||3||13||4||10||Y||N||3-2|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.632||8||1.167||6||Y||N||6-1|
|Ranking - Week (32)||23||12||17|
|Ranking - Season (416)||225||176||197|
Adjusted Stats for Week 14:
|Statistic||Offense||Rank||Defense||Rank||Off/Def Above||Off/Def Below||Record|
|Orange Zone Eff||78.4%||8||58.8%||14||N||N||7-1|
|Avg Start Pos||24.9||27||21.5||10||N||N||6-2|
|3 and Outs||3.9||22||3.5||14||Y||N||3-2|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.711||13||1.205||5||Y||N||6-1|
|Ranking - Week (32)||26||20||29|
|Ranking - Season (416)||307||241||334|
- Overall, these numbers don't look like they came from a winning team. In fact, it would rank the 9th worst performance by any team in a win this season, just ahead of the Colts win over Minnesota, which is 8th. Just an ugly day by the numbers, especially when you consider the opponent.
- Drive Success Rate is interesting this week, as when we go by raw numbers, we see that the Colts were above average on both Offense and Defense, which leads to wins over 87% of the time (including a perfect 6-0 Sunday). However, when you adjust for opponent, both sides flip and it would have been the opposite, had the Colts just played an average opponent. It didn't feel like the Colts Offense was that good at moving the ball, but I'll trust what the numbers are telling me.
- All season we've been talking about how good the Colts are at moving the ball down the field consistently, but failing to capitalize with once they get into scoring range. Now, apparently, they've decided to completely flip the script on us, where they don't have nearly as many good drives, but when they do they cash them in for touchdowns. Top 10 this week in both Orange and Red Zone, while being 30th in Yards per Drive.
- While Luck gets that second interception on his official record, it really shouldn't count, as it was a hail mary on the last play of the half. That being said, the first one was terrible, replay ineptitude notwithstanding. Just take the sack. Your Defense is playing better. Live to fight another day. It was a bad day passing for Luck, ranking 31st for the week, and these played a part in that.
- The Colts Defense brought their total Turnover count up to 10 Sunday with a pair of interceptions, one in Titans territory that turned into an insurance FG, and the other a walk-in TD by Cassius Vaughn from a yard out. That's the third really easy INT TD for the Colts this season. Eventually the other team is going to fake that quick route that the CBs are sitting on, and they're going to get beat, although Vaughn had Safety help on this particular play. Something to watch for going forward, but I'll take any breaks Colts' opponents want to give them.
- The Defense didn't allow the big play to Chris Johnson, and did pretty well stopping the run in general, other than a few Locker runs. It's great the Defense is doing that, but I just don't want it at the expense of stopping the pass, something they were slightly below average at on Sunday (19th).
- Colts were once again good at getting their opposition off the field on 3rd down, around 36%. They did however give up some yards (36 Yards per Drive), and let the Titans control the clock (nearly three minutes per drive). At least they came to play when it counted.
Season Stats through Week 14 (Adjusted):
|Orange Zone Eff||51.1%||24||Saints||62.1%||31||Giants||80-19||0.808|
|Avg Start Pos||26.7||32||Giants||28.5||7||49ers||78-25||0.757|
|3 and Outs||3.30||9||Patriots||3.17||29||Cardinals||63-22||0.741|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.691||5||Falcons||1.222||1||Colts||61-34||0.642|
A couple things:
- Even though the Defense is still ranked last, they're much closer to the pack than they were three weeks ago, and I don't expect them to finish last on the season, even though they won't be playing a stand-out Offense the rest of the way.
- On Offense, it seems everything is moving towards league average, like we talked about before. The drive stats, which were quite good the first 10 weeks, have fallen off recently while the Orange/Red Zone stats, bad the first 10 weeks, have been nearly perfect the last three weeks. Still pretty good on 3rd/4th Downs too.
As you can see the Jets game was slightly worse for the Offense, but if you factor in that Sunday was at home, it may swing it the other way. I know people will make the point They won the game, but that's three straight weeks of sub-par play from the Offense, even though they've won all three. I'm starting to think teams found something in that New England game, and the Colts haven't countered it yet. If they Colts want to do anything other than just show up in the Playoffs, they'll need to get that fixed.