What a game. The Indianapolis Colts haven't looked that dominant in a long, long, long time. In fact, the last time the Colts shut out and opponent was the season finale in 2008 when Jim Sorgi led the Colts in passing, and the Titans trotted out starter Kerry Collins and back-ups Vince Young and Chris Simms.
The time before that was in Week 16 of the 1997 campaign where the Colts routed the Dolphins 41-0. Needless to say, the Colts don't blank teams a lot.
You can be sure that with a performance like that, I've got plenty of awards to hand out.
MVP/Defensive MVP - The Colts Defense
Wow. Just wow. The defense gave up eight first downs, and held the Bengals to 1-13 on third down and totaling 135 yards. Just think about that for a second. That's about as good as it gets.
Andy Dalton had 125 yards passing. The person I sat next to at the bar where I watched the game made the comment that any NFL QB should be able to throw for that in the first quarter. A big part of this was that the Colts got real pressure on Dalton. I know everyone was concerned about the front seven (I was too) after the first two games. They have really turned it on, though. Erik Walden looked great (until he got thrown out) and Bjoern Werner (among others) got plenty of pressure.
Another testament to the defense was that the Colts were -2 in the turnover category. Minus 2 and they still pitched the shutout. Great performance.
Yes, A.J. Green was on the bench with injury. But that's no excuse for the Bengals. They hung 37 on the Carolina Panthers last week. Plus (although this is a bit of apples to oranges) the Lions dropped the Saints without the services of Calvin Johnson. Did the lack of Green help the Colts defense? Of course. Was it the reason the Bengals could do nothing on offense? No, give that credit to the Colts.
Offensive MVP - Trent Richardson
I always hoped this day would come, but I never thought it would. Richardson finally looked like a real NFL running back. He had 14 carries for 77 yards, plus another 41 yards on four catches.
Did he look like the game-breaker which made the Browns take him third overall? No. Did he look like someone I would actually be comfortable with running the ball? At last he finally did.
Yes, he and Andrew Luck had the hand-off snafu which led to a fumble, but when that is the only bad thing I can say about Richardson's day, that's a good thing. Sure his day was cut short with hamstring problem, but it doesn't sound to be serious, and I would wager it's more precautionary.
Heart Attack Moment Award - Reggie Wayne
Yes, this award is back, and this time it goes to Wayne. In the first half he went down badly on his elbow and immediately came out of the game.
It looked bad (to me) on the replay, and I was fairly certain that arm was broken or dislocated. This is why I was a journalism major and work in college admissions, I am no doctor.
Wayne returned to the game, but wasn't the same. Two drops, and no real impact plays. It seemed like Wayne was used mostly as a decoy at that point, but he wasn't needed to be an impact player yesterday afternoon.
Still, I expect him to get some time off this week, but I see no reason why he can't be ready to roll against the Pittsburgh Steelers next week.
Maybe They're Linebackers Award - Andrew Luck and Pat McAfee
Guys, the Colts have some players who are very physical at positions where you don't see that.
Example 1: Andrew Luck vs. Vontaze Burfict. First of all, Luck really needs to learn how to slide. Anyway, Luck went right at Burfict (which is terrifying for us fans) and was brought down. When a QB tries to truck a linebacker, it isn't unusual for one of the two to get hurt. Normally, though, it isn't the linebacker who stays down. Yes, Burfict got hurt going up against Luck.
McAfee also gets some love here. On the one of three returns Adam Jones broke through the initial wave of Colts special teamers. Enter McAfee. No, this wasn't like when he lit up Trindon Holliday, but it was good. McAfee made a great form tackle, and it looked to me like we was trying to strip the ball. Punters aren't supposed to do that!
Welcome Back Award - Jim Irsay
This week the Colts welcomed Irsay back from his suspension, and did so in a great way. Did Irsay's return really have that much to do with the win? Maybe, maybe not. But the team certainly looked excited (to say the least) in the locker room videos the Colts pumped out onto TGIF (Twitter, Google, Instagram, and Facebook).
While the owner doesn't play a down, it is important if the players actually like the owner. It's clear this team loves Irsay, and I'm sure are ecstatic to have him back in the fold.
LVP - Third Down Offenses
I can't hand this one to the announcers, but that's because I didn't have sound for the game. I'll admit that was kind of nice.
Anyway. Both teams on third down were absolutely terrible. At one point, the Colts and Bengals were a combined 0-15. Sure we can give credit to the defenses, but the Bengals defense gave up over 500 yards...they weren't that great.
For whatever reason both teams struggled on third down. Of course, it was a good game for the Colts to do so, since they dominated all the way through.
As always, let me know if you think there are awards that should have been handed out, or if you think others deserved something. I've got a feeling some of you will disagree with Richardson - oh well.