I'll be honest, when news broke that a sick Matt Hasselbeck would be starting against Houston, I was worried.
The Colts looked like a disaster against Jacksonville, despite winning. A QB at less than 100% against the fierce line of the Texans seemed like a bad mix.
I'm so, so, so happy that my fears were put to rest. If you had told me that the Colts would roll up 27 points and keep Hasselbeck mostly clean, I wouldn't have believed you.
But enough about that, let's get to some awards!
MVP - Matt Hasselbeck - I didn't think I thought this would be something I would write any time outside of the pre-season. And yet here we are. Last night, Hasselbeck was a warrior. Coming into the game with a bacterial infection, the back-up played lights out.
He finished 18-29 for 217 yards and two scores to Andre Johnson. More importantly, for the second straight week, Hasselbeck didn't turn the football over. Hasselbeck did exactly what the Colts signed him to do; not lose games if Andrew Luck is hurt. That's exactly what Hasselbeck has been doing.
I wrote last week as well that in the pre-season there was definitely cause for concern about Hasselbeck as he looked terrible. In the regular season, he looks like a different QB (for the better). While I hope we don't need to see him on the field again this year, we know the team is in good hands with Hasselbeck under center.
Brick Wall Award - Colts O-Line - Facing J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, it was almost a given that Hasselbeck would darn near get killed last night. And yet, he didn't.
The Colts O-Line didn't give up any sacks the entire game. This is one of the better defensive lines in the league with Watt, Clowney, and Vince Wilfork, and the Colts O-Line shut them down. For one game at least, the line performed like we all hoped they would. Hopefully this stays the same moving forward as well.
Madden Award - Pep Hamilton - Conventional wisdom dictates that when your running back has 98 yards (4.45 yards per carry), you give him the ball on a third and one to win the game. You don't have your 40 year-old back-up QB throw a bomb to T.Y. Hilton.
Yet, that's exactly what the Colts did. I absolutely loved the decision. As I've alluded to many times in the past, my arm-chair coaching (and Madden play-calling) tends to lean on the more aggressive side. In fact, I probably wouldn't last too long in a real job because I'd take way too many chances.
Everyone in the building and watching the game (myself included) expected Gore to get the ball. That's what made the play-call so perfect. You know Hilton is getting single coverage on that play, and you know he can out run anyone on that defense. Hamilton deserves a ton of credit for calling that play, but also for the last two games in general. He has adapted the offense to fit Hasselbeck, and isn't trying to run the offense that Luck can run.
Oh So Close Award - Frank Gore - I mentioned Gore in the last award. The running back had 4.45 yards per carry, totaling 98 yards. The Colts haven't had a 100 yard rusher since Vick Ballard did it in 2012 against Houston.
Gore was so close in this game, and his play was a huge factor in the Colts winning the game. One of these games Gore will hit that 100 threshold, and it will be a great day.
Home Sweet Home Award - Andre Johnson - Before the game, I tweeted that Johnson should have been in a familiar situation going into the game.
He was playing in Houston with an iffy QB throwing him the ball. That's basically defined Johnson's career. Sure enough, he came out with his best game as a Colt.
Six catches for 77 yards and two scores is exactly what we were all hoping for when Johnson was signed. It shouldn't have been a surprise that the Colts would try to feed Johnson in his return to Houston, and yet the Texans didn't seem to account for him.
If Johnson can continue to be involved in the offense, we might finally see a unit resembling the one we all dreamed about in the off-season.
LVP - Pass Defense - Guys, the pass defense isn't very good. Yes, they came through when it counted last night, but as a whole it was ugly.
DeAndre Hopkins had his way with the defense (mainly Greg Toler) to the tune of 11 catches for 169 yards. Both of Jaelen Strong's touchdowns were horrible as well. And this was all done by Brian Hoyer (and a little bit from Ryan Mallett).
So far the Colts have faced Mallett, Hoyer, Blake Bortles, Marcus Mariota, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Tyrod Taylor as opposing QBs and most (OK...everyone but Bortles) has had a lot of success against the Colts secondary. And they aren't exactly the top of the line QBs.
Next week Tom Brady comes to town and the Colts get their first taste of an elite QB this season. Oh and Brady might be a bit mad about that whole Deflategate thing. The secondary is going to need to step up big time in 10 days.
There's a lot more I could include here. The defense held Arian Foster to 41 yards, which is just incredible. Mike Adams making plays at safety yet again. And the fact that the Colts best players last night are all on their last NFL legs. And let's not forget Mallett looking more upset than anything else when his team scored.
Sure there are some holes, and the team still isn't great, but I feel pretty darn good about that win last night.