What. A. Game.
Seriously, that was one of the most fun football games I've watched in a while, and it also was a huge win by the Colts. Huge.
One of (if not the) best teams in the NFL traveled to Indianapolis. The atmosphere at Lucas Oil Stadium was like that of a playoff game. And the Seahawks jumped out to a 12-0 lead by the middle of the first quarter. Russell Wilson, the Seahawks' tremendous second year quarterback, was better than advertised. He threw for 210 yards and 2 scores and ran for a career high 102 yards. He is going to be a great quarterback for years to come.
The thing is, the Colts also had a quarterback who was better than advertised. Andrew Luck threw for 229 yards and 2 touchdowns and rushed for 9 yards, but his stats don't even come close to showing the greatness of his game today.
He had four passes dropped, including three on third downs (the first three third downs of the game, actually). His protection fell apart often. The secondary he was facing was the league's best, with two pro bowl cornerbacks (including the best in the NFL in Richard Sherman). And he faced an early deficit and a back-and-forth game after that.
Yet through it all, he stayed poised and he got better as the game went on and the pressure mounted. That's typical Andrew Luck. He led his 9th game winning drive and 6th fourth quarter comeback of his career. The Colts advanced to 11-2 in one score games with Luck under center.
All things considered, it was perhaps the best game I've seen Luck play.
Another guy who had a phenomenal day? T.Y. Hilton. He caught 5 passes for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns. Being guarded by Richard Sherman - the best cornerback in the league, Hilton proved Luck's confidence well-placed by having a great game.
And there were others, too, like Jerrell Freeman, who had 13 tackles and made several big plays throughout the course of the game. There was Donald Brown, running well when he got a chance, and there was Trent Richardson, staying with it and getting better as the game went on. There was Chuck Pagano and the coaching staff, who kept the Colts focused and weathered the early storm to win a highly entertaining ball game.
The Colts are 4-1. They've beaten two of the best teams in the NFC in the last three weeks, and they beat one of the two best teams in the entire NFL in the Seahawks. And so that's where the biggest takeaway from this game comes: the Colts are for real.
Here are today's game notes from the huge win over the Seahawks:
- Much has been made of Trent Richardson's 3.1 yards per carry in this game. His first half was awful, carrying the ball 6 times for just 2 yards. He got no running lanes. But in the second half, his average jumped up to 4.5 yards per carry and he finished the day off running very well. I think he's the type of guy you have to just keep giving the football to and letting him chip away at the defense, wearing them out.
- Donald Brown continued to be very good when he's in the game. He carried the ball 6 times today for 37 yards and the go-ahead touchdown, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
- As already mentioned, Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton were both absolutely tremendous today. Just great.
- Reggie Wayne had a slow start (dropping two passes before he caught one), but especially late in the game he really picked it up and finished the game with 6 catches for 65 yards.
- Darrius Heyward-Bey was shut down all day by Brandon Browner. He finished the day with no catches, and the best opportunity for one that he had was an easy screen pass that he dropped. Not the best day for DHB.
- Not the best day for Anthony Castonzo, either, who was beat quite a bit and didn't look too good today. He was great the past few weeks but today he certainly came back to earth with a less-than-impressive performance.
- Robert Mathis continues to amaze me. He notched 6 tackles and 2 sacks today, brining his season total to 9.5 sacks and his career total to 101. Oh yeah, Robert Mathis got his 100TH SACK today. On the last play of the first half he had a strip sack of Wilson. He becomes the 30th player in NFL history to hit that milestone. And this year, he leads the NFL with 9.5 sacks through 5 games - on pace for 30.4 sacks. While some (including myself) doubted him without Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis has been better than ever. Great to see.
- The Colts' secondary wasn't great today but they really stepped up as the game went on. Vontae Davis and Darius Butler both had nice pass breakups in the game that I remember off the top of my head, and Darius Butler picked off Russell Wilson's pass to seal the win for the Colts.
- The Colts, by forcing three turnovers and turning the ball over twice, improve to +7 in the turnover margin this year. They're going to win a lot of games with that ratio, and one of the turnovers today was a bit of a fluke anyways. Erik Walden recovered Wilson's fumble at the end of the first half and went running with it and at the end of the play he fumbled it right back, officially ending the half.
- Special teams played a big role in this game. After getting out to a 10-0 lead early, the Seahawks forced the Colts into their third straight three and out. The Colts punted and it was blocked. Seattle couldn't control it in the end zone and got a safety, which put them up 12-0. A short while later, the Colts' Lawrence Guy blocked a Seahawks field goal try and Delano Howell took it back 61 yards for a touchdown. The Seahawks' kicker, Steven Hauschka, made 4/5 field goal tries and Adam Vinatieri made both of his, including from 49 yards out.
- Hey David Reed - please just take a knee each time, ok? Thanks. Seriously, though, don't be surprised if he's not on the team much longer. He doesn't look like the answer at kick returner. The Colts need to make room for LaVon Brazill this week, so that possibly could be the corresponding move.
- Delano Howell came back to earth a bit today after playing very well filling in for LaRon Landry the past two weeks. Today, he missed some plays and it was clear that Landry was missed. Howell is a good player and he will continue to get work, but it was clear today that he's not up to Landry's level yet.
- Speaking of Lawrence Guy also, he added a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage to his field goal block, as well as notching 3 tackles (1 for loss). He played well today.
- Lucas Oil Stadium was rocking today. The Colts were urging their fans to "bring the noise" all week, and they certainly did. The game had a playoff feel to it, and it wasn't just because two of the league's best teams were playing in a great game. The atmosphere at the stadium really contributed to it as well.
- Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck are clearly the two best and most impressive quarterbacks from the 2012 draft class. They're both great and really fun to watch. I wrote on Saturday how if they played more than once every four years this could be the NFL's next big rivalry, and after watching this game today I think everyone wants them to play more often. There's a real possibility that the next time these two quarterbacks meet will be in a Super Bowl sometime.
- The Colts are 4-1 with wins against the 49ers and Seahawks in the last three weeks and a 37-3 blowout win in between. This game shows that the Colts are for real and it really raises expectations for this team - um, like, beginning to talk about Super Bowl. Those kind. Seriously. They're better than anyone thought they would be at this point, and it is fun to watch.
- The next home game is October 20. That's the game where the Broncos come to town. Or, in other words, that's the game where Peyton Manning comes back. This game pales in comparison to that. I'll have plenty of coverage of that game during that week, but for now, don't overlook a good Chargers team next Monday night.
- Bottom line - huge, huge, huge win for the Colts today. Huge. And now they're 4-1, sitting alone at first place in the AFC South.