Well, the Indianapolis Colts won yesterday, but it certainly wasn't easy. In the first half it seemed like the Colts were doing everything they could to keep the Jacksonville Jaguars in the game. They pulled away in the second half for what was one of the most unconvincing 20 point wins you'll ever see.
Of course, regardless of the outcome, I've got some awards to hand out. This will also be the first time I'll be handing out the awards after actually being at the game, so we'll see how this goes.
MVP - 4th Down Army
Special teams was a huge reason Jacksonville was never quite able to get anything going. Pat McAfee didn't allow any kick-off returns, and his punts were (again) fantastic. Whether it was a high booming kick, like his first, or pinning the Jaguars on the one (while getting hit) McAfee was phenomenal.
Of course, when his punts were returnable, the coverage unit was on point. Ace Sanders had two punt returns for an average of one yard. That's just incredible.
We also saw what can happen when the Colts have a real kick returner. Josh Cribbs showed that he still has something left in the tank, as he returned most of the kicks he fielded. Yes, he dropped one, and tripped on another, but hey he hasn't played in a while. And I'll have more on the punt return touchdown that wasn't a little later.
And finally, I have to give some love to Adam Vinatieri. Three more field goals, and another 100 point season for the legend. Vinatieri has been absolutely fantastic this season, and hopefully will be able to continue playing out of his mind all year.
Defensive MVP - Vontae Davis
Yes, LaRon Landry had a sack and a half, and a few tackles, but Davis still gets the nod here. His interception of Blake Bortles on the Jaguars second play was key. Indy had turned the ball over, and Jacksonville could have sucked the air out of the stadium. Instead a bad pass from Bortles was picked by Davis.
I'm still surprised that Davis didn't score on the play, though. He still gave the Colts new life (until the offense accumulated -6 yards on the ensuing series) and prevented Jacksonville from taking a huge early lead.
Bortles did look Davis' way a few more times, but without much success. Again Davis locked down his side of the field, which really helped the Colts defense, on a day when the offense was sub-par.
Movie Script Award - T.Y. Hilton
You knew I had to give some love to Hilton in this game. Before the game, Hilton became a dad, and promised to score a touchdown for his daughter.
He did just that, catching a very easy looking 73 yard score to essentially put the game away. He also tacked on a 15 yard run late in the game as well.
Oh, and he went over 1,000 yards on the season. It certainly must have been a great all around Sunday for Hilton.
Defender Award - Coby Fleener
I thought Fleener would have a much bigger impact on this game than he did. Two catches, 28 yards, and a drop (which was not the best throw from Andrew Luck) is not a great stat line.
As you could guess, Fleener isn't getting this award for his stats, though.
When Luck scrambled late in the game, he slid and had his head pushed into the turf by Sherrod Martin (I think it was him). Fleener immediately came running in to confront Martin and the other Jaguars in the area.
I LOVED this. As a player that is labeled (sometimes rightly so) as soft, it was great seeing the tight end come to the defense of his quarterback. Honestly, I thought he was going to get a penalty for doing so, but I wouldn't have been too upset. Good job, Fleener.
The Disappointment Award - Josh Cribbs' Punt Return
The Colts finally have a real return guy. How weird is that?
When Cribbs took a punt to the house, the stadium went crazy. Of course, as with almost any good punt return these days, it was called back.
I still have no idea what the penalty actually was, as Ed Hoculi only got the foul and Josh Gordy's number out before the boo-birds rained down on him. Regardless, it was a bit of a downer. But it should still give the Colts, and us fans, lots of optimism about the return game.
LVP - The Offensive Line
Holy cow. I don't know if I have ever watched a worse offensive line performance than I did in the first half. Luck was sacked five time (three by Chris Clemons), pressured and hit many more times, and had four fumbles through the entire game.
If the Colts had been playing anyone else in the league (except maybe Tampa Bay or Oakland) this would have resulted in at least a two touchdown deficit early in the game.
From the stands, it didn't look like Jacksonville was doing anything special other than blowing past the Colts line.
The play of Joe Reitz made me wish injured Gosder Cherilus was out there instead, because it couldn't have been much worse. On the sack-strip of Luck (the one back on the seven) it looked like it was either Hugh Thornton or Jonotthan Harrison who completely whiffed on a defender coming up the middle (again tough to tell from the stands).
I could go on and on about the offensive line (because there is plenty to be said), but I won't. The unit needs to improve, though, or the Colts will struggle to win games against any team better than the Jaguars are.
Next up for the Colts is the Washington Redskins. This means that we will see the top 3 picks from the 2012 draft all in action on Sunday. Too bad only one of them is a half-way decent player in the NFL.