The Colts completely dominated the New York Giants for three quarters. I mean, they completely dominated them. The starting offensive and defensive units looked really impressive. The Giants didn't get their first score until the fourth quarter, but then they made it quite the competitive game and quite the finish. They scored with under a minute left to take the lead on the Colts 27-26. Remember, the Colts had a 26 POINT LEAD IN THE FOURTH QUARTER and lost. If it wasn't preseason, I'd be super pissed off or something right now.
But it's preseason. So what the heck - there were still a lot of positives tonight for the Colts.
Of course, there's only one real way to win or lose a preseason game, and it's dependent upon injuries. For the Colts, they won in that way tonight. The only injury happened to Cory Redding, but it wasn't serious at all. So unlike last week, the Cotls both won in terms of injuries.
There was plenty to like from the Colts tonight, and we'll talk about that much more in the coming days, but for now, here are my initial game notes:
- With both T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne out tonight, Hakeem Nicks really stepped up and was Andrew Luck's go-to-guy tonight against his former team. Nicks caught 5 passes for 53 yards and was all over the place. The one down point of the night for Nicks came on a 3rd down play that saw him catch a pass and run with it for 36 yards. On the play, however, the Giants were called for a flag, but Nicks was too, for taunting, and the penalties offset. On the replay of the down, Nicks again caught a pass for a first down. Chuck Pagano made sure to let Nicks hear it for the taunting penalty, but don't let that determine your view of Nicks tonight - he looked really good and was all over the field, showing that even without the team's top two wideouts the Colts still have a legitimate receiving threat.
- It was also good to see Grff Whalen get involved tonight. He quietly caught 5 passes, tying himself for the team-high tonight, for 32 yards and a touchdown (on a great quick slant throw from Andrew Luck). Griff had another good camp but had been quiet recently, so it was good to see a nice performance from him tonight.
- Andrew Luck looked good, as always, completing 12 of 18 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. The real problem with that is that he averaged just 4.9 yards per pass, which absolutely must improve, but Luck was good nonetheless.
- If you were hoping to see Trent Richardson move away from averaging 2.9 yards per carry this season, you saw that tonight. Instead of 2.9 yards per carry, Richardson averaged 2.3 yards per carry. Wrong direction, you say? I agree - it was not a good night for Richardson. He saw 9 carries for 21 yards and caught a pass for 4 yards. Toward the end of his time with the offense, Richardson made a couple of nice cuts and showed nice burst which was very encouraging, but overall it was a disappointing night from the back.
- On that note, I want to clarify this: if you're one of the many defending Richardson by saying there's no room to run behind that offensive line, then I don't think you really understand what we're looking for from Richardson right now. Sure, the line wasn't that great in run blocking tonight and there weren't many holes. But what we really want to see from Richardson is more decisiveness. More quickness. A better initial burst when hitting the hole. A sharp cut. Stuff like that - that's not really dependent upon the offensive line. Understand that right now we're not so much interested in production as we are interested in seeing an improved Richardson. And tonight, it was the same Richardson we saw last year.
- Speaking of the offensive line, while there weren't a ton of great holes for the running game, they did a great job of protecting Andrew Luck. Honestly, if they just block that way and give Luck that much time all year, then the quarterback and the offense are going to have a monster year.
- Specifically, I was watching two linemen closely tonight, and I can say that Jonotthan Harrison had a very impressive game while Lance Louis did not. Louis was getting pushed around a lot and looked bad while Harrison was very encouraging.
- Defensively, the Colts completely shut the Giants down. The first team defense played a little over a quarter, and in the first half the Colts held the Giants to just 48 total yards and 0 points. In the first half, the Giants averaged 1.8 yards per play and got five first downs - three of which were by penalty.
- Before we talk about the Colts defense, let's just establish that the Giants - particularly on offense - looked terrible. That new offense that was supposed to be really good for them didn't help at all tonight, and Eli Manning was just 1 of 7 for 6 yards all night, looking just as bad in doing so.
- The pass rush continued to impress for the Colts, including from Bjoern Werner. He again didn't get a sack, but he made a couple of nice pressures and even drew a holding flag too. He also had a play where he chased Eli out of the pocket, Eli threw a screen to a running back on the other side of the field, and Werner came all the way around to chase the back down for a minimal gain. It's really, really hard to not be impressed with Bjoern Werner so far this year.
- I also love what we've seen from the Colts in creating pressure - they're being very aggressive. D'Qwell Jackson, who did a nice job rushing the passer last week, had a sack tonight, and a big reason for that Jackson sack was because of a cornerback blitz from Darius Butler. Safety Colt Anderson had one of the best hits of the night in forcing an incomplete pass on a safety blitz. The thing that has really been noticeable is that the Colts are sending blitzes from all over, whether it be from a linebacker, a corner, or a safety. They've been incredibly aggressive so far in the preseason, and I love it.
- Josh Chapman had another good outing tonight, continuing a very impressive training camp and preseason.
- Oh, Kelvin Sheppard. Two illegal contact penalties to wipe out big plays for the defense, one of which was a Darius Butler interception. I'll just leave it at that... for now.
- Another illegal contact penalty, this one on Greg Toler, wiped out a Colts fumble recovery (by Mike Adams).
- Colts rookie kicker Cody Parkey hit his first two career NFL field goals, from 45 and 31 yards out, respectively. Also, he recovered a fumble (forced by Mike Adams) on a kickoff. Yeah, I don't think many kickers have both made a field goal and recovered a fumble in one game.
- Adam Vinatieri, the Colts true kicker, nailed a 53-yarder. So in other words, nothing new from the all-time great.
- Here's something that I've noticed tonight but also all throughout the preseason too: TOO. MANY. FREAKING. PENALTIES.
- Cornerback Marcus Burley had a very good game tonight, building on a very impressive training camp. He's making a very strong push for a roster spot with two preseason games remaining.
- One of the most impressive players for the Colts tonight was cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy. He made a couple of nice punt returns, a nice special teams stop, a couple of tackles (one for loss), and strong coverage on several plays. He also had a great camp and has been very impressive. Because so many have asked (and obviously didn't read my article earlier this week...), in my most recent roster prediction, I had Purifoy making the team. He's not guaranteed of the spot, but his position keeps getting more and more secure.
- Da'Rick Rogers made a phenomenal play to score a touchdown tonight. He fought off the press coverage and the jam at the line of scrimmage and created separation to get behind the defense and catch a score from Matt Hasselbeck. It was a very nice play by Rogers.
- Matt Hasselbeck showed some wheels! Despite being 38-years old, Hasselbeck took off running on a 3rd down and ran up the sideline for a very nice 9 yard gain and a first down.
- Jonathan Newsome almost blocked a punt. And I mean he came incredibly close.
- Pat McAfee had a perfect punt tonight (on a good night punting overall) and he pinned the Giants deep. And we saw the golf swing celebration from McAfee!
- Zach Kerr made a great play, pushing a Giants lineman back into the quarterback before then grabbing Curtis Painter and bringing him down. It was a coverage sack, but it was still a nice play by Kerr, who is trying to earn a spot on the team.
- Phillip Tanner fumbled near the Colts goal line, which the Giants recovered for a touchdown. Not too good for the running back trying to earn a spot.
- Also not an impressive showing from a safety trying to earn a spot, David Sims. He had poor coverage and positioning on a Giants touchdown pass and then the very next play, on the kickoff, he got called for holding, negating a nice return. It was because of that holding that the Colts were backed up near their goal line, resulting in Tanner's fumble.
- Did I mention that these penalties are ridiculous?
- Jonathan Newsome made a big sack with just a couple of minutes left as the Giants were starting to drive. Zach Kerr also got to the quarterback on the play.
- Qua Cox had a terrible night. He was called for a pass interference to give the Giants first and goal from the 4 with less than a minute left, then the next play was burned for a touchdown catch.
- PAT MCAFEE FINALLY GOT A FIELD GOAL TRY! The Colts gave him the chance to win the game with a 64-yard field goal try, and while it looked like he had the leg, it was wide left. What a bummer. Colts Nation was getting really pumped to see him kick that. I'm still glad they let him try.
- One last time - THE COLTS GAVE UP A FREAKING 26-POINT LEAD IN THE FOURTH QUARTER. But it's preseason. I'm not losing any sleep over it. But some of these bubble players who gave the game away might. And should. Their spots aren't anywhere near secure.