The Indianapolis Colts defeated the San Diego Chargers 26-22 on Sunday to improve to 1-2 on the year, avoiding what Chuck Pagano described as a "doomsday" 0-3 start.
It was a team effort, as the defense did a very good job in limiting the effectiveness of the Chargers offense, while the Colts offense got going with Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, and Frank Gore. It wasn't pretty, but it was a win - and that's what the Colts desperately needed.
To take a further look at Indy's win, let's examine the snap counts from Sunday's game. And just as a disclaimer, I believe the percentages on the NFL's snap counts might be off slightly for the Colts from Sunday's game. I've corrected the tables for the offensive and defensive players who played all the snaps (the NFL's snap counts say they played 99%, but they played 100%), but not for any others. Because of this, I think the percentages might be off by one or two percentage points (I think they're basing it off of one more play than the Colts actually ran), but you still get a very good sense of how much each player actually played.
- In his first career NFL start, Joe Haeg played every snap on offense and did so while playing both right guard and right tackle, a rather difficult in-game switch to make (particularly for a rookie). He did a solid job and did everything you could have expected from a rookie in his first start, so I think there's plenty to be encouraged by.
- Jack Mewhort missed one play due to injury (Austin Blythe entered the game at left guard for that play), while Joe Reitz missed the entire second half with a back injury.
- With Donte Moncrief out, the Colts only used three wide receivers on offense on Sunday. T.Y. Hilton and Phillip Dorsett were clearly the top two wideouts and they played the majority of the game, while Chester Rogers got in on 31 snaps. Neither Dorsett (three catches for 27 yards) nor Rogers (no catches) did much at all in the passing game, but Hilton had a tremendous performance (eight catches for 174 yards and a touchdown). On another note, I don't think anyone still needed confirmation of this but I think Sunday's game shows us once again that Quan Bray is on this team only as a return man. With only four wide receivers dressed (the recently-signed Devin Street wasn't ready to play yet) since Moncrief was out, Bray didn't even play a single snap on offense! It was all Chester Rogers as the third wideout, and it will be interesting to see how quickly Street passes Bray on the wide receiver depth chart too.
- Along the same lines, with Moncrief out the Colts went to a two tight end offense quite a bit on Sunday, with both Dwayne Allen (59 snaps) and Jack Doyle (53 snaps) playing over 70% of the plays. They both were more productive than any pass-catcher not named T.Y. Hilton, as Doyle caught six passes for 65 yards while Allen caught three passes for 35 yards. The duo of Allen and Doyle has already proven to be a very capable tandem this year.
- Frank Gore had his most productive day rushing yet this year, as he carried the football 21 times for 82 yards and a touchdown (3.9 yards per carry) on 43 snaps. He was definitely on pace for his first 100-yard game with the Colts in the first half, but in the second half he wasn't anywhere near as effective. Speaking of the running backs, Robert Turbin scored a rushing touchdown for the second straight game.
- The return of Vontae Davis didn't show up on the stat sheet, but he played most of the snaps and did a good job. I thought that he was going to be a bit rusty coming back from injury and that the Colts might work him back in slowly, but instead he was thrust right back into the mix as a full-time starter and did a very good job, helping bolster a secondary that had a good day.
- The same can be said about the return of Henry Anderson, as he was better than expected as well. He only played 18 snaps and was clearly being brought along slowly in his first game back from a torn ACL last year, but he was effective in those snaps. According to Pro Football Focus, Anderson generated three quarterback pressures, two hurries, and a quarterback hit. On a crucial play late in the game, Anderson notched that quarterback hit that proved crucial as he disrupted a pass. It was a really nice return overall for Anderson.
- Another player who had a good game was Clayton Geathers (who played 40 snaps), as he recorded six tackles, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble. Geathers had a clear presence in the game and did a good job at safety as the Colts moved him around some.
- Erik Walden had a great game on Sunday as well. He played 44 snaps (72%) and recorded three tackles, two sacks, a quarterback hit, a tackle for loss, and two forced fumbles. Walden is far and away the team's leader in sacks this year (he has three and everyone else has one combined), and on Sunday he came up with some huge games.
- I like the combination of Antonio Cromartie and Vontae Davis at cornerback, and we saw both of them play over 90% of the snaps on Sunday. I think that both of them do a good job in coverage and could be the starting combination moving forward.
- Matthias Farley didn't get in the game on the defensive side of the football, but he led the team in special teams snaps, proving to still be able to contribute in some way.