I'm still in shock.
Like, really wow!
As Josh wrote about yesterday, and as I tweeted out immediately following the game, the star of the Colts' 27-7 domination of the 49ers in Candlestick Park wasn't Andrew Luck, Ahmad Bradshaw, or Reggie Wayne.
It was Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.
For months and months, the former Ravens defensive coordinator who battled cancer last year spoke of "building a monster." Cynics like me were openly wondering what the hell coach meant by this, and if he had the players and the coaching pedigree to bring said monster to life.
Yesterday, Frankenstein woke up, and he strangled the life out of Jim Harbaugh and his reeling Bay Area squad.
As poor a job as Pagano seemed to do in Indianapolis' first two games, this win over San Fran was a gem. Prior to Sunday, Pagano had a losing record (3-4) and no signature victories as a head coach. All the big victories last season happened under Bruce Arians's watchful guidance, filling in for Pagano for 12 games and going 9-3 during that span. It was Arians who won 2012 NFL Coach of the Year, and Arians used that to parlay a head coaching gig of his own in Arizona.
For 2013, Chuck Pagano had to prove he was valuable to the Colts franchise. They'd won 9 games without him last season, and the defense that he was building along with coordinator Greg Manusky was as bad as the 2011 squad under then-coordinator Larry Coyer.
This win over the 49ers was what Pagano needed.
He needed to show everyone that his defense, his running game, his style of football could win big games. Very few clubs walk into Candlestick and slap around a defensive front like the 49ers. Indianapolis was so physical that they even knocked all-world linebacker Patrick Willis from the contest in the fourth quarter.
Just finished watching Colts game...That's the ass kicking I've been waiting 20 games for.— Matt Grecco (@mgrex03) September 23, 2013
While there are still some things to be concerned about (5-12 on third down; only 164 passing yards; two catches for T.Y. Hilton), those concerns take a back seat today. I've watched Colts football for nearly 20 years, and I have never, EVER seen them physically dominate a quality opponent like they did the 49ers on Sunday.
The closest comparison I can think of is the 2007 AFC Divisional Round playoff win over the Baltimore Ravens, but even that pales to just how dominate Indianapolis played against San Francisco.
Equal credit for the win should go to offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, a guy who some of you wanted fired after just two games. He called a masterful second half, including Andrew Luck's 6-yard quarterback bootleg for a score, which effectively ended the game with 4:27 left.
This was the monster we've all been waiting for, and if Indianapolis can play like this for the rest of the season, they can beat anyone. Anywhere. Anytime.
Maybe now we can see why Jim Irsay and general manager Ryan Grigson view this club as championship-caliber, because they sure as hell looked like it on Sunday.