The Indianapolis Colts defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 16-13 in overtime on Sunday. What did we learn from the game? Here are three takeaways (and we're using the team "learn" loosely):
Old, but not done yet
The Indianapolis Colts have the two oldest players in the NFL in kicker Adam Vinatieri (42 years old) and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (40). Sunday was the first time in NFL history that a team started two different players of 40+ years old at the quarterback and kicker positions. And the two old players were two of the biggest factors in the Colts' win. Matt Hasselbeck completed 30 of 47 passes (63.8%) for 282 yards (6 yards per attempt) and a touchdown without turning the football over. He did everything you could have asked the backup quarterback to do, and he helped the Colts to a win - ugly, yes, but a win nonetheless. Vinatieri topped him, however, both in age and in performance. He hit all three of his field goal attempts - from 54, 32, and 27 yards out - and his only extra point attempt, scoring ten points on the day. To top it off, he drilled the game-winner in overtime. Vinatieri was the team's MVP on the day, and together with Hasselbeck, the Colts were led by two "old" players and got a win to improve to 2-2 on the year.
Some receivers step up
The Colts' receiving corps has had their ups and downs this year, and that was true again on Sunday. Andre Johnson didn't catch a pass on the day on only two targets, while Phillip Dorsett caught two passes for seven yards (Griff Whalen outgained the two of them combined with one catch for 15 yards). But a few other players really stepped up in the receiving game. Donte Moncrief continued his fantastic start to the season, catching six passes for 75 yards. Through four games, he is on pace to catch 92 passes for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns in his sophomore season, emerging as a legitimate playmaker and very reliable weapon. He caught four passes for 59 yards on third down (converting all of them), proving to step up when it was most important. T.Y. Hilton also had a good day, catching seven passes for 67 yards. Hilton is on pace for a 88 catch, 1,176 yard season this year. And then Coby Fleener really stepped up on Sunday, leading the Colts in catches, yards, and touchdowns. Fleener caught a career-high nine catches (on a career-high 12 targets) for 83 yards and a touchdown, proving to be a valuable security blanket for Matt Hasselbeck. With Dwayne Allen and the Colts playing without their starting quarterback, Fleener really stepped up.
The AFC South is terrible
I don't want to take anything away from guys like Matt Hasselbeck, Adam Vinatieri, Donte Moncrief, Coby Fleener, Pat McAfee, and others, but let's face it: the Colts didn't look that good on Sunday. And it wasn't like the first three games, where the Colts just made a bunch of stupid mistakes and turned the football over a lot - on Sunday, it was just flat out ugly all around. It looked a lot like a preseason game. The Colts are not a very good team besides for Andrew Luck, and he wasn't playing on Sunday. The Colts scored 13 points in regulation and 16 for the game. The Colts were without one of their starting cornerbacks, Greg Toler, and his replacement, Jalil Brown, was injured and left the game - while then Darius Butler was burned quite a bit. Outside of Robert Mathis, the Colts didn't get any consistent pass rush. The Colts were without their starting inside linebacker, Jerrell Freeman, for much of the game. The Colts' running backs fumbled twice. The Colts had to punt six times. The Colts averaged just 2.5 yards per rush. And yet the Jaguars couldn't win the game. This is a team that seemed to be heading in the right direction (if ever so slowly), but if you can't beat a Colts team without Andrew Luck, you're probably not very good. At all. So I think one of the biggest things we learned on Sunday is this: the AFC South is terrible. We already knew that, yes, but on Sunday the division reached a new low. The Texans fell behind 42-0 at one point before losing 48-21 to the Falcons, while the Colts didn't look that good and still managed to beat the Jaguars in overtime. The Colts improved to 2-2 on the season - and are now leading their division. The Colts extended their winning streak to 15 games against their division, tying the longest such streak of all-time. I don't mean to pile on the Jaguars in their loss, but seriously: they lost to an Andrew Luck-less team that scored 16 points (their lowest point total in a win since week one of the 2009 season). If the Colts still can beat an AFC South opponent when they don't play well overall and don't have Andrew Luck, it's no wonder why they have completely dominated the division in recent years.