After a hiatus last week, good ol' vacation, the Monday After Awards return this week (I know you're all thrilled).
Even better, the Colts picked up a win in Miami yesterday, which always brightens the entire week. The win over the Dolphins kept the Colts playoff hopes alive (barely) and ended their three game skid. Now the Colts gear up to take on the Titans in what will probably be the final game of the season.
But let's talk about Sunday's game, and pass out some awards.
MVP - Pass Rush
This week I'll give this award out to the Colts pass rushers, primarily the front seven. In a game where the offense sputtered (again) in the second half, the defense stood tall, preserving the win in dramatic fashion.
All season, except for the Tampa Bay game, the Colts pass rush has been abysmal, a big reason for the defensive failures. Against Miami, they showed up in a big way.
The Colts recorded six sacks (Robert Mathis, Kendall Langford, and T.Y. McGill each had two) including one that sealed the game. We also saw McGill sack Ryan Tannehill for a safety in the first quarter! I'm not sure when the last time the Colts recorded a safety, but I think it's been a while.
Tannehill was harassed for a majority of the afternoon, especially inside the red zone. In goal to go situations, Tannehill was sacked once (to end the game) and threw a pick in the end zone to Vontae Davis. The interception was a direct result of pressure, I believe from D'Qwell Jackson.
Best Offensive Player - Frank Gore
In the first half, Gore ran wild on the Dolphins, scoring two touchdowns and rolling up over 70 yards.
Then, the Dolphins realized the Colts couldn't (and wouldn't) throw the ball with Charlie Whitehurst under center, and stacked the box. The result? A horrible second half for Gore.
Still, Gore had his best game in quite some time and his 37 yard score was vintage Gore. For the first time we saw the explosion and power running that I think we had all hoped we would see from Gore all season.
It did help that the Colts opened up with a lot of passes from Hasselbeck to soften up the defense. Still, this is probably the best game we saw Gore play in quite some time, and it was nice to see.
1960s Football Award - Colts Offense
Speaking of the Colts offense, it wasn't very good. Again. In the second half, the Colts continued to try and run the ball and stop the run.
And sure, the Colts did mostly stop the run, Miami running backs only had 54 total yards (Tannehill also had a 28 yard scramble). However, they allowed Tannehill to complete all but 12 of his passes for over 300 yards.
As we've seen time and time again this year, the Colts aren't playing modern football, and appear mired in the old ways, if you will. This issue came to the forefront this week with T.Y. Hilton complaining about the playcalling.
I know you lose a fraction of the playbook with Andrew Luck on the bench and a 40-year-old quarterback on the field, but the Colts really have gone mega-conservative in the last few weeks. That doesn't win in the NFL any more.
Warrior Award - Matt Hasselbeck
Can we just take a moment to recognize Hasselbeck.
The man is 40-years-old and going into the season, probably did not anticipate having to start half of the team's games. Still, he came out, got the snot beat out of him, and kept coming back for more.
We've probably seen the last of Hasselbeck, both as a Colt and as an NFL player. This season, Hasselbeck battled through food poisoning, a rib injury, jaw injury, back injury, and was finished with an AC sprain. Through this, Hasselbeck rolled up a record of 5-3 in his starts.
While the Colts looked bad doing it, they still got wins. If we had been told before the season that Hasselbeck would go 5-3 in place of Luck, we would all have taken it in a heart-beat.
So thank you, Matt Hasselbeck, for keeping the sinking ship that is this Colts team afloat as long as you could.
Happy Birthday Award - Adam Vinatieri
Today is Vinatieri's birthday! Yesterday, he got two early birthday gifts.
One being a Colts victory, and the other came in the form of his 500th made field goal. He became the third player to make 500+ field goals in his career, and trails only Morten and Gary Anderson in career made field goals.
It's also interesting to note that Vinatieri has now missed more extra points this season than field goals. But that's fine.
Confusion Award - Playoff Scenarios
After the Colts and Texans both were victorious, there was a lot of confusion over if the Colts were eliminated or not. And I'll admit, I was confused as well.
I think a part of this was because of a graphic that Fox put up after the Colts won. According to the graphic (I wish I had a picture of it), the Colts needed a win and a Texans loss next week, coupled with wins by Jacksonville and New England this week.
That implied to me (and I'm sure others) that if New England and/or Jacksonville did not win this week, the Colts were done. Of course, the Patriots proceeded to lose to the Jets about 10 minutes later.
However, the Colts aren't done, but might as well be, as they need almost every game next week (10 games actually) to fall a certain way.
LVP - Colts QB Situation
We could tell after Hasselbeck tried to throw a pass to Jack Doyle that he was done. When he angrily took himself out of the game, we knew it.
Enter Whitehurst who, naturally, proceeded to get injured as well. Fortunately for Colts fans everywhere, Whitehurst wasn't needed after tweaking what appeared to be his hamstring. He did return for the final kneel-down, but could barely walk after ending the game.
Had the Dolphins sent the game to overtime, or gone ahead, it is likely we would have seen Stephen Morris in the game. I don't think I need to elaborate on that.
If Luck can't go this week, and I see no reason why he should, it will be a question over who will start. Hasselbeck will, almost for sure, not play. Depending on how bad Whitehurst's hamstring is, he may not play.
It's very possible that Morris could start, and could be backed up by someone the Colts sign this week (Josh Freeman is working out today). Yes, it's possible that the Colts could roll with two active QBs who weren't on the roster two weeks ago. Yikes.
It was ugly, and it looked like the Colts would lose, but they pulled out a victory. For all the criticism that this team receives (most of it deserved) they continue to fight. And that, right there, is a testament to Chuck Pagano. This team hasn't quit just yet, despite seeing a season of promise crash down around them.
It's likely that Pagano will coach in his final game with the Colts this Sunday, and it could be the swan song for others in the front office, and on the roster. The season concludes with a home game against the Titans.
That is, unless the Colts are extremely lucky and manage to squeak into the playoffs.