Between college and the NFL I cheer for exactly three teams: two in college and (obviously) the Colts. After enduring this game in the morning, and this game at night, Saturday had gone down as one of the worst days as a fan that I can remember.
For about 59 game minutes on Sunday, it looked like I was going to have a three-peat of football misery over the weekend.
Then Andrew Luck did what we have seen him do oh so many times. He took the Colts down for the game winning score with seconds left on the clock. This prompted one of my buddies to text me: "How do the Colts always find a way to win with seconds left?"
I don't have a good answer for that. I know I wish they could take care of business and not nearly cause me a heart attack with these games. But a win is a win, and I like it when the Colts win.
MVP - T.Y. Hilton
I feel like every week I either have Luck or Hilton down as my MVP of the game. And why not?
After getting shut down by Joe Haden in the first half (Hilton only had one catch) the receiver got free in the final 30 minutes. It helped that, for whatever reason, Haden was moved to cover Reggie Wayne for a bulk of the half.
Even so, Hilton was able to separate himself from everyone who was covering him late in the game. Yes, Hilton was most responsible for the Jim Leonhard pick late (which I thought was a killer), but I'll look past that.
Hilton made some beautiful catches, none better than his first touchdown catch, as he began to bring the Colts back. Fittingly, after he dropped the go-ahead score earlier in the drive, Luck went back to Hilton (as he has done so many times) for the win.
Defensive MVP - Jerrell Freeman
Not a flashy choice at all, but I thought Freeman did a great job yesterday. He led the team in tackles, had some nice pressure on Brian Hoyer, and only got burned once (that I remember) by Jordan Cameron.
Freeman also anchored a run defense that played quite well. The Browns, between Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West, totaled only 108 yards on 29 carries. With two 225 pound backs, I was worried that the Colts would get run over by Cleveland, but that didn't happen.
Plenty of others played well yesterday afternoon as well. Josh Gordy played a surprisingly well-rounded game, Greg Toler came through as the top corner, even though he got burned a couple times (more on that later), Erik Walden again provided good pressure, and Mike Adams again played well from the safety spot.
Overall, it was a surprisingly good day from the Colts defense, even without stand-out Vontae Davis.
Butterfinger Awards - Colts Pass Skill Players
I'm going across the board here. The receivers had a bad case of the drops yesterday. It has been well documented that Wayne had a dreadful day catching the ball, but he wasn't alone. Hilton had a few drops (including one in the end-zone), I remember Dwayne Allen missing one over the middle, and Donte Moncrief missed a very catchable ball by the sideline.
However, even once the Colts' players had the ball, it seemed a task to hold onto it. Luck fumbled once (trying to stupidly throw the ball away) which resulted in a Cleveland touchdown. Hilton fumbled over the middle of the field. And Josh Cribbs, who had a terrible game, coughed up the rock twice.
Through the last three games the Colts are averaging just under five fumbles a game. That's terrible.
Solid Wall Award - A.Q. Shipley and Khaled Holmes
The Colts' line characteristically started off dreadful yet again. Luck was pressured multiple times, and was the recipient of hard hits courtesy of the blocking (or lack thereof) from Gosder Cherilus and Jonotthan Harrison.
Then Harrison went out with a burner. I'm guessing this was a lot like the phantom injury that Kerry Collins suffered in 2011. The "you're playing terrible and we need to take you out" injury. Anyway, this got Shipley into the game at center.
Then Joe Reitz went down, and I'll admit I was concerned. But Holmes stepped in and did a fantastic job, in my opinion. Yes, Luck still got some pressure, but a lot of that had to do with abysmal blocking from Trent Richardson and Daniel Herron.
The combination of Shipley and Holmes coming in seemed to stabilize the line, at least for the remainder of the game. Of course, this probably means that they will both be benched next week.
Not What They Thought Award - Trent Richardson and Josh Cribbs
Two former Browns, coming back to Cleveland for the first time.
Both Richardson and Cribbs said they would jump into the Dawg Pound if they scored. Cribbs proceeded to play his worst game as a Colt, and Richardson had seven carries for 30 yards (which for him is somehow an improvement). Neither sniffed the end-zone. In fact, the only time I remember Richardson in the game in the second half was him missing a block and letting Luck get killed.
As a side note, I was watching the game from a British TV network, and the commentator said that "If Trent Richardson thinks he is helping this offense, he is mad." It was about as perfect of a quote you could ask for.
A Game of Inches Award - Boom Herron
Oh my goodness. First of all, I still believe Herron got the first down on his plunge on third down at the goal line, but it doesn't matter what I think.
When Herron ran into his own guy, I think it was Anthony Castonzo, two yards in the backfield, I thought the game was over. Then he somehow twisted, spun, and lunged his was across the first down marker.
On a day when Herron didn't have great success running the ball (statistically) he came through huge in the clutch. That is the reason he was in the game at that point. Is there anyone who honestly thinks Richardson would have gotten that yard? No? Thought so.
Shout-out Award - Browns Defense
I have to at least mention this Cleveland defense. We knew they were a good unit, but they played a fantastic game. The Colts couldn't muster anything in the first half. The Browns defense had four takeaways, and two touchdowns in the game, which is incredible.
They gave the Colts fits for most of the game. If this until stays together, it could be a scary-good defense in one or two years.
LVP - Brian Hoyer
I hate to pile on, because I really like Hoyer as a QB. The man is 10-6 as a starter on the Cleveland Browns. That has to count for something.
Even so, Hoyer had plenty of missed opportunities in the game. He made a horrible choice to throw into double coverage in the end-zone, resulting in a crushing pick by Mike Adams.
But the most egregious were Hoyer's two over-thrown passes. These were touchdowns. No doubt. NFL caliber QBs absolutely must be able to make those throws. Johnny Manziel seemed to think he could have made those passes.
Plus this loss all but eliminates Cleveland from the crowded AFC playoff picture (probably). I think we may have seen Hoyer's last start in a Browns uniform.
It was quite the game, but the Colts somehow found a way to win. Now they are presented with an opportunity to wrap up the division at home next week against the Houston
J.J. Watts Texans.