It's the NFL playoffs, and that's when big time players step up and make plays. That's exactly what Colts' quarterback Andrew Luck did, playing his best game of the season as the Colts defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 26-10 at Lucas Oil Stadium in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
In the first half especially, the Colts did a lot to beat themselves. Penalties, dropped passes, and turnovers all combined to limit the Colts' effectiveness, but as the game went on Andrew Luck continued to play great, the team started doing the same, and the Colts defense looked a lot like they did against the Bengals earlier in the season. All together, it was a very encouraging game from the Colts. The Colts weren't perfect, but after the struggles that they had recently it was good to see.
Now, the Colts will travel to Denver for the Divisional round of the playoffs to face a certain quarterback and the Broncos. And no, I'm not meaning Brock Osweiler. The Colts will face Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs for the right to go to the AFC Championship game. Storylines will abound, and though they won't be favored, it's absolutely a game the Colts could win.
But for now, let's focus on the Colts' win today over the Bengals, one that should be a pretty encouraging one for this Colts team and their fans. Here are some notes from the game:
- Andrew Luck was absolutely phenomenal today. He did a tremendous job overall. He completed 31 of 44 passes (70.4%) for 376 yards (8.5 yards per attempt) and a touchdown without a turnover while adding 18 yards rushing - and that's all despite the drops and penalties negating other plays. It was his best game of the season, and it came at a great time.
- This throw that Andrew Luck made was ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. One of the best throws that he's made. He's special, alright. <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Andrew Luck, this throw was ABSURD. <a href="https://t.co/UgOYUjWjHY">https://t.co/UgOYUjWjHY</a></p>— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) <a href="https://twitter.com/SInow/status/551833099659902976">January 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
- The offensive line looked much, much better today. Granted, they were playing against a Bengals' pass rush that ranked last in the league this year, but their eleventh different starting offensive line combination of the season looked great today. They gave Luck enough time to throw and made plenty of lanes in the run game. It was an encouraging sight to see.
- Boom Herron had a big game today, gaining 141 yards and a touchdown total. He rushed 12 times for 56 yards and a touchdown and caught 10 passes for 85 yards. He did fumble twice, however, losing one of them, and that's the big negative with him. But he looked great today. <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Dan Herron has more yards from scrimmage today than any other Colts running back has had in a game in the last 3 seasons</p>— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/551836435134042112">January 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
- Adam Vinatieri is absolute money. He was four-for-four today on field goals, including one from 53-yards out, and he played a huge role in in today's game.
- T.Y. Hilton had a rough day, dropping four passes. He did catch six passes for 103 yards, however, but overall it was a struggle with the drops.
- The Colts defense did a good job overall. There were some miscues in the run game, but they really began hitting their stride in the third quarter - not allowing a single first down in the entire quarter-plus. They really took the game over in the second half after a solid first half, which was great to see.
- Trent Richardson didn't play much in this game. Entering this week we knew that the Colts would likely continue to diminish his role, and then on Friday he had an illness and was listed as questionable. Earlier in the year, Richardson was questionable to play against the Steelers and, though he was active, didn't play, as he was only active for a reserve role. That seems like what was the case again today, but at the same time the Colts were also likely going to have diminished his snaps anyway.
- Zurlon Tipton, playing as the Colts' number two back today, looked pretty good.
- Jerrell Freeman had a down season but played his best game of the year today, as he made a number of big plays and had a big impact. He had one heck of a football game today.
- The Colts will play Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos next Sunday at 4:40 in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. I wonder what we'll talk about this week...