Sorry I didn’t cover the second half, but here are my reflections on the game in general.
1. Eyes in the Backfield was pretty freaking accurate for these past two games. Rice got a sack (thanks to Mathis), but Josh Thomas made some plays. Ugoh being out continued to plague the offense, and TJ Rushing returned and was playing in the secondary. Also the thing about the turkeys. I just didn’t realize the Falcons would be dressing them all in uniforms.
2. Charlie Johnson is approaching Gilbert Gardner territory. Only his great play in the Super Bowl last year is saving him (that and he might be a perfectly serviceable guard). Was anyone surprised to see him on the sidelines in the second half? I have to go back and check the tape as to when he left the game, but it’s curious that the protection dramatically improved in the second quarter.
3. Tonight was a great game by Manning. The pick was a bad decision, as he had a man hanging on his leg which led him to underthow the pass, but in general, he was dealing while under duress. Clearly, they found a weakness in the middle of the field with the TEs and exploited it.
4. Maybe I was wrong about how much the receivers mattered. That is simply a different team with Anthony Gonzalez out there. Tonight was exciting, as he showed flashes of why they drafted him in the first round. I agree with Phil B, this team is undefeated if he had played the second half of the NE game and the SD game. Again, it’s not an excuse, but his play had to make everyone feel better.
5. Antoine Bethea. . . um, he’s pretty good. About the only bad play I’ve seen him make in a year in and half was giving up the deep ball to Moss after dropping a pick. He hits hard and makes big plays. The Colts secondary isn’t deep (tough night for the rookie Dante Hughes – but he’ll learn), but the top four are serious players. I’ll stack Bethea, Sanders, Jackson and Hayden against any team’s starting secondary.
6. So maybe I jumped the gun when I declared the game over when the Colts punted on 4th and 1. I just really hate punting in those situations. The Falcons proved that going for it on 4th and short generally works out ok. I suppose I should call Dungy a genius for planning that penalty. I’ll blame it on Demond not being around nor answering his phone all night. Normally, he’s the psycho roof jumper, and I have to be calm and positive. Without his need for me to be stable, I went a little nuts. It’s the holidays. Happens to everyone.
7. I was glad to hear the conversation about “Is Dungy a genius?”. Listen, he’s added more innovation to the game than Holmgren or Billick. His record is far superior. He’s one Super Bowl away from being mentioned with the greatest to ever coach the game. He definitely deserves as much credit for being a great coach as those two. Listen, he gets lots of love from the media, but always for being a great man. That’s wonderful, and ultimately the more important reason to be praised; I’m just saying that he deserves props for his ability as a coach. At the end of this season, we’ll update the numbers for his Hall of Fame credentials. This year has been one of his finest jobs. It’s easy to forget that this great defense he has installed is starting players who have almost exclusively only ever played for Indianapolis, and is featuring new starters at a boatload of positions.
8. I think we all can feel good heading into the Jacksonville game next week. Hopefully, we’ll have our tackles back, and the team will be nearly at full strength. As I noted earlier this week, it’s not quite a must win for the Colts as we’ll still have the AFC South lead even if we lose, but a win seals the deal. Let’s make this division a laugher by December 3.
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Demond should be back with this week’s picture and possibly 18 Plays tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’m going to spend the weekend going to the Heritage and Pike games on Friday and Saturday. Have a great weekend.