The Indianapolis Colts tonight wrapped up their preseason with a win, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 13-10 in the annual preseason finale matchup between the two teams.
The teams were scoreless at halftime, but the scoring picked up (kind of) in the second half. The Bengals hit a field goal to go up 3-0, and then two Adam Vinatieri field goals (from 46 and 38 yards) put the Colts up 6-0 midway through the fourth quarter. That lead held until just inside the two minute mark, as the Bengals scored on a Keith Wenning touchdown pass with 1:55 left in the game to go up 10-6. Stephen Morris once again showed his poise (it seems he’s done so every game) and led the Colts on a two-minute drive, hitting Tevaun Smith on a screen for a 25-yard score with 40 seconds left in the game - one final stamp on a very, very impressive preseason for Morris.
Though the starters didn’t play, it was a solid game overall for Indianapolis and there were plenty of standout performances from guys trying to make the roster. The final roster cutdown to 53 players is due by Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET, and there will be some key decisions to be made. Here are some notes from tonight’s game, with that focus in mind.
- Quarterbacks impress, again. Scott Tolzien had his best performance of the preseason tonight, as he completed 11 of 12 passes for 88 yards. He also made his best throw of the preseason, staying in the pocket despite pressure and delivering a very nice pass to Chase Coffman just before getting hit. To continue on the theme of the quarterbacks for a minute, Stephen Morris also had another very good game - but he had one big mistake, as he tried to force a pass in the red zone that was intercepted near the end of the first half. That play shouldn’t overshadow the rest of his game by any means, however, as he was once again very good and showed a lot of poise. He’s been great in late-game situations, and he should be commended for that regardless of the level of competition. Morris tonight completed 20 of 30 passes for 217 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
- T.Y. McGill closes out very strong preseason. There’s little doubt that the star of the preseason for the Indianapolis Colts was T.Y. McGill, and he just continued his impressive performance tonight. He dominated some offensive linemen, such as a first quarter play in which he blew the play up in the backfield right from the start. He got pressure on the quarterback, got some hits in, and was as disruptive as any defensive player - which has been the case all preseason, it seems.
- Linebackers really step up. I thought it was a very good performance overall for the Colts’ backup defenders, particularly at linebacker. Antonio Morrison really impressed at inside linebacker. Trevor Bates lined up both at outside and inside linebacker and also did a good job. Curt Maggitt was a disruptive player on the outside, as was Earl Okine. All four players made a case for being on the 53-man roster through final cuts, and it wouldn’t be a surprise whatsoever if any (or all) of them make it. As we’ve talked about extensively, however, a lot of it will come down to the health of the roster at other positions.
- Jon Harrison the starting left guard? The Colts’ starting left guard, Jack Mewhort, is out for a few weeks with a knee injury. Joe Haeg, the backup left guard, is week-to-week with an ankle injury. Hugh Thornton, who might otherwise have stepped in, hasn’t been on the field in weeks as he’s still week-to-week with an injury too. So the next man up is probably Jon Harrison, though the Colts haven’t given any definitive details yet. The strongest indication might have come tonight, though, as Harrison didn’t play at all. He’s not a “starter” and is not a key role player either, so there’s no reason to sit him in the preseason finale - unless you’re expecting him to start while Mewhort and Haeg are out. Harrison’s absence tonight seems to indicate that he’s the starting left guard for the time being.
- The Stevan Ridley experiment might be over soon. When the Colts signed Stevan Ridley last Sunday, we didn’t really know what he had to offer, but we did know that his role on the final 53-man roster wasn’t guaranteed. They wanted to give him a lot of work tonight, and they did just that. He didn’t impress, however, rushing nine times for 11 yards and dropping a pass when he was wide open in the flat. On the flip side, Jordan Todman really outplayed him in every way and also continued to contribute on special teams. After watching tonight’s game (meaning we actually got a chance to see Ridley play), I would guess Todman makes the roster as the number three back and Ridley is cut.
- Unfortunate night for Tevin Mitchel. Mitchel is a very intriguing player, but unfortunately he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. He had a very good training camp, but he then has dealt with injuries for most of the preseason. He was finally healthy enough to play tonight, but in the first half he went down with a hamstring injury and didn’t return. That’s a really rough break for Mitchel, who was looking to prove himself tonight, but it just puts his status on the roster even more in doubt than it already was.
- Chester Rogers with another nice game. In my opinion, Chester Rogers has been the best of the receivers competing for depth spots this preseason and camp, and he had another good game tonight. Rogers caught seven passes for 80 yards, and he has a very real shot at being the fourth receiver. Tevaun Smith also had a solid showing, catching four passes for 39 yards and a touchdown.
- Tight ends make plays in passing game. Both Erik Swoope and Chase Coffman had a good game as receivers. Swoope caught five passes for 47 yards, while Coffman caught two passes for 35 yards. It was interesting to me that Coffman saw more playing time than Swoope with the second team, while Swoope was playing in the second half, but I have to think Swoope is still the clear favorite to be the number three tight end.