This performance was exactly what the Colts needed following last week's game: a very impressive showing in a dominant road win on national television. The Colts beat the New York Giants in dominating fashion, 40-24, in a game that was made closer than it really was by a few late scores by the Giants on the Colts' second string defense.
The defense got back on the right track. The offense kept up their phenomenal performance. The special teams continued to be a weapon. And the Colts rolled the New York Giants to improve to 6-3 entering their bye week. It was a great performance and a much-needed one. Let's take a look at some of the notes from the game.
- Andrew Luck tonight: 25/46 for 354 yards and 4 touchdowns without a pick. He became just the fourth player in NFL history to throw for 3,000+ yards in his team's first nine games of the season, joining only Tom Brady, Drew Brees (2X), and Peyton Manning. Luck extended his franchise record with his seventh consecutive 300+ yard passing game, his 8th 300+ yard performance in 9 games this year. Luck's seven consecutive such games is tied with Peyton Manning and behind just Drew Brees (nine straight, done twice) in history. Luck became just the third quarterback in NFL history to throw 40+ passes in six straight games. Luck is on pace to throw for 5,484 yards this season - Peyton Manning's NFL record is 5,477 yards (so Luck is now on pace to break the record). Luck is also on pace to throw for 46 touchdowns, which would tie for the fifth best mark all-time. Tonight, Luck also set a career high for most touchdown passes in a season (26, eclipsing the mark of 23 that he reached in each of his first two seasons) - and it's only the ninth game of the year. Luck has also thrown for 350 or more yards in five straight road games, becoming the first player in NFL history to ever do that.
- Adam Vinatieri had a fantastic night in continuation of a fantastic season. He was 4-for-4 on field goals tonight, hitting from 48, 31, 48, and 43 yards. He remains a perfect 20-for-20 on the year and has hit 26 straight field goals, a career best for the veteran kicker. He's 41 years old, but you'd never know it. He's incredible.
- Pat McAfee continued his strong season, as did the rest of the special teams units. The third and often forgotten aspect of the game has become a huge weapon for the team.
- My biggest question tonight: why didn't Hugh Thornton play? In a completely surprising move, the Colts benched Thornton for Lance Louis at right guard. And why was that? We have no idea, but what is clear is that Louis did not play well tonight at all. Jonotthan Harrison had a rough game too, and while I'm not about to backtrack on what I think will turn out to be a good decision for the Colts (to start Harrison), there have been two moves along the line this year that haven't been due to injury (at least that's what it seems with Thornton), and they were the weak links of the line tonight. That's not great, Chuck Pagano. I'll be very interested to hear what's up with Thornton. The Indy Star's Stephen Holder says he believes it's a disciplinary thing, but we'll see. Regardless, it's very strange, and Louis did not play well tonight in place of Thornton.
- The Colts really didn't run it much at all tonight. It was a very, very different offensive approach than the last time the Colts played on Monday Night Football, and this one worked out much better for the team. But with three minutes remaining in the third quarter (at which point the game was essentially put away and the Colts began to run the ball more), the Colts had thrown 44 passes and run the ball only 10 times.
- The defense looked much better than a week ago, and that's what myself and many others were saying all week - last week's showing was more of an aberration. The defense today returned to look much more like the unit we saw during their win streak. They were good on third downs, were able to get some pressure on Eli Manning, and had terrific coverage in the secondary. The defensive line played well tonight too, which was great to see.
- We saw the impact of Vontae Davis quite a bit tonight. He's so important to this defense and a fantastic player. It was great to have him back out there for the Colts defense.
- Jonathan Newsome, the rookie who saw more reps tonight with Erik Walden out, was impressive. He had 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, a quarterback hit, and a forced fumble. For him to contribute this early and look this good is a very encouraging and positive sign for the defense.
- T.Y. Hilton made a fantastic catch. It's hard to put into words - Luck threw a jump ball that looked like it was picked off, but Hilton wrestled the ball away for a 31-yard touchdown catch. Hilton didn't have as big of a day as we're used to this year, but he still had a good performance, catching 3 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown.
- The return of Reggie Wayne was also a very nice addition to the offense, as he caught 4 passes for 70 yards and a score - the touchdown being a 40-yard catch and run. He extended his NFL record of consecutive games with 3+ receptions and he also moved into 8th place all-time in receiving yards. Next up on the list? Marvin Harrison with 14,580. Reggie still has a little ways to go to get there, though.
- In their returns to New York to play their former team, Ahmad Bradshaw rushed 7 times for 50 yards and caught 3 passes for 29 yards. Hakeem Nicks caught 2 passes for 44 yards.
- The Colts were determined to get their tight ends involved, and they did just that. Coby Fleener had his best game of the season, leading the Colts in receiving yards with 77 yards and a touchdown on 4 catches. Dwayne Allen caught 4 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. For Allen, that's his seventh score of the year and he has a touchdown in six of the last seven games now.
- After the Giants scored a couple of touchdowns on some Colts' second string defenders, I loved Chuck Pagano putting his first team back out there for the final drive, and then challenging the spot to get a turnover on downs. The second team showed a lack of effort and didn't look good, so I like Pagano saying that enough is enough and going back to his starters to finish the game. I'm all for giving guys rest, which the Colts did - but I like the mentality to finish it as well.
- The Colts enter their bye on a high note, and they're 6-3 on the year. In two weeks? A huge Sunday night matchup against the Patriots. For now, however, it's about enjoying this one entering the bye.