It was ugly. At times, it was downright disappointing. But at the end of the day, the Colts emerged from Sunday's division clash with the Titans with a win. And that's really all that matters.
Additionally, the win pulls the Colts into a four-way tie with the rest of the division as the Colts, Texans, Titans, and Jaguars all currently sit at 1-2. In fact, if the playoffs started today the Colts would be the division champion (best record within division).
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The Colts still have a losing record, but boy does winning make Monday a little bit brighter. Let's get to these awards.
MVP - Dwight Lowery
Through the first two games, we never really had much cause to mention the new Colts' safety. Sometimes he was out of place, but for the most part, Lowery was just...there. Not in week three.
In the second quarter, Lowery was in the right place at the right time to snag his first interception, which he turned into a 69 yard score. We also learned that Lowery has some speed. At the time, it seemed like the play that would turn the game into a Colts rout (obviously it didn't work that way).
Lowery's second interception, though, quite literally may have saved the season for the Colts. Down 27-21 with just over six minutes to go, the Colts defense needed a stop. Since Lowery's first pick, the defense had been steamrolled by Marcus Mariota and the Titans offense. On this drive, though, the Titans decided to throw early, and Mariota made a poor decision which Lowery capitalized on.
The Colts would score immediately after Lowery's pick, giving them the lead for good.
On the Fly Award - T.Y. Hilton and Phillip Dorsett
Hilton's 48 yard grab to set up the Colts first score, and Dorsett's touchdown catch late in the game were both spectacular plays from the receivers.
Hilton's grab came on a drive where the Colts moved the ball to midfield, but were beginning to stall out, much like their first drive, and faced a 3rd and 20. Andrew Luck proceeded to (in my opinion) force a pass down the field to Hilton. Despite a poor decision, and good coverage, Hilton made a great adjustment to snag the ball, setting up the Colts first touchdown.
Trailing in the fourth, Luck again looked to a speedy receiver for a big play. This time, it was the rookie Dorsett. Last week I complained about the receivers relying too much on their speed to get open, which wasn't working. Well, on this play it worked for Dorsett. The rookie easily left all of his defenders behind him. However, Luck under threw Dorsett in the endzone. The rookie, though, made a fantastic adjustment to come down with the ball with a defender right in his face. It was a great, and encouraging play, from the rookie.
Stampede Award - Frank Gore
After last week's debacle against the Jets, I and many others clamored for more balance to the offense. The team signed Gore, but seemed reluctant to utilize him.
This week, Gore actually carried the ball less (by one carry) than he did last week. The big difference? All of his long runs weren't called back by penalties (the long pass plays were called back instead this week). As a result, Gore put up numbers we only dreamed that Trent Richardson would. Fourteen carries, 86 yards, 6.1 yards per carry (SIX POINT ONE!!!!), and two scores. While the overall game for the offense was ugly, Gore did exactly what the Colts brought him in to do.
Run Away Award - Pat McAfee
I want to stay on the topic of running the ball. While it ended up not really working out (Luck would throw a pick later on the drive) McAfee's fake punt was a great play, and certainly looked to be a momentum changer at the time.
While fakes on special teams are always a surprise, McAfee almost always seems to have something up his sleeve. Whether it be the surprise onside kicks we saw last year, a beautiful (but dropped) pass on a fake punt last year, and now an 18 yard run, McAfee has shown a wide array of abilities to keep opposing teams on their toes.
Oh yea, he's a pretty good punter too.
Hakeem Nicks Award - Andre Johnson
The similarities are too striking. A big receiver, brought in to be a playmaking target for Luck, disappearing on game day.
Johnson was only targeted once, that I remember, and couldn't make the catch. He did have a long play later, but it was called back due to a hold. Still, it seems that Luck isn't even bothering to look for the veteran receiver anymore. Furthermore (I haven't rewatched the last drives) but I don't even recall Johnson being on the field for crunch time.
LVP - Hugh Thornton
Oh my. I probably don't need to type more than that, but I will. The Colts made some changes on the line this week, and things got worse. The primary culprit was Thornton. He got smoked on a few plays, but really crushed the team with his holding penalties.
While holding has been a HUGE problem for the Colts offensive line, the focus came to Thornton on Sunday. The lineman was called for holding three times, effectively killing each of those drives. When we saw the reply, it was clear Thornton held because he was getting burned.
It was bad.
Quote of the Game:
"It's a team game. You go ask the defensive guys and they'll give credit to the offense and special teams. You go ask a special teamer and Pat McAfee will give the credit to himself." - Andrew Luck.
Sure there were issues, sure there were problems, and sure I was trying to figure out what I would write when the Colts were staring 0-3 in the face when they were down 27-13. But they won. And that's what counts. On to Jacksonville.