I’m still flying high from the win last night. I can’t remember a game that I thought the Colts had less chance to win, only to see them pull it out. Honestly, it’s probably been 10 years since they had a win quite like that one. Here are my observations about yesterday:
- It was nice to get some breaks. There were tipped balls that fell just right yesterday, but the Colts have been on the wrong side fumble/everything else luck all year. The Colts didn’t deserve to win this game because of the bounce of the ball? Fine. Give us back the Jacksonville game and we’ll call it even.
- The season is officially saved, because as Phil B pointed out, if you can go into Pittsburgh and win, you can win anywhere in the AFC. This team won’t win the division, but you have to feel good about another 10 (11!) win season and a playoff berth.
- This team played really well for the first time since Baltimore. We were all pessimistic last week because only one thing worked against the Pats (#18). Yesterday, the run game was useful. Bare in mind that the Steelers have the best defense in football. The numbers are going to be down against a team like that. The key is if there were useful plays. The Colts ran well on third and short. They had plays in the passing game, and if anything, it felt like they underachieved there. On Defense, there was pressure from Freeney, turnovers, and solid run stopping. When Hayden comes back, the pass D will get that much better. This was the first game this year that I doubt the 2006 or 2007 Colts would have fared dramatically better.
- Tim Jennings. That pick he made was a legitmate NFL caliber play. This wasn’t Joe Flacco airmailing a ball down 40. This was Ben Roethlisberger trying to pick up a first down to all but ice the game. Jennings was draped on the reciever and ripped the ball from his hands. We’ve begrudgingly admitted ever so slightly that Jennings has been improving. There is now no question about it. Mr. Jennings, I apologize. You’ve worked hard and can now be considered a viable NFL corner. As long as you don’t pick up any more delay of game calls, I’m officially off your back.
- Can we officially call off the dogs on Tony Dungy? This team has played one true ‘stinker’ this season. Since then, Dungy’s boys have taken Tennessee to the fourth quarter tied, beaten NE and Pittsburgh. Whatever problems the Colts have had and continue to have are injury related, not coaching related. Three huge comeback wins (and should have been a fourth against Jville) aren’t possible if a team quits. Dungy has his guys hanging on until the end. By the way, check out Kravitz’s GREAT line under the coaching section of his report card. Calling the Jags “a dumpster fire” cracked me up. I can’t believe I just said nice things about Tim Jennings and Bob Kravitz on the same day. That’s what happens when you win in Pittsburgh for the first time in 40 years.
- It was great to see the Colts throw to the running backs. Once that reappeared, the offense started to click. I truly believe that’s a function of improved line play. There was also a lot more play action. This offense is very close to being 100%. Remember that I didn’t say that after the Baltimore game. That was a lot more about hitting a few freaky big plays. The Colts offense is right when it can run and move effectively AND hit huge plays.
- God bless Rutgers
- The debate on Marvin is really starting to rage, and I understand his defenders. I know that on some of those balls, it looks like Peyton might be the one not hitting him. I’m not buying it. Marvin is a shadow of his former self. Manning has played absolutely great football in multiple games this year. Marvin hasn’t. His catch rate is awful, and even when Peyton does find him, he drops the deep ball (more than once this year). I love Marvin Harrison. I’m obviously a HUGE fan. I think he’s done. I want to be wrong about this. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rack up 100 yards this weekend. That won’t change my mind. The old Marvin caught 65-70% of passes thrown his way. He caught short and deep balls. He was rock solid money all the time. I miss that Marvin. If he has three or four really good games from here to the end of the year, I’ll back off saying he’s done. At some point the numbers don’t lie anymore. His are in the toliet.
- The line has really rebounded. At first glance, I saw Ugoh get beat on a couple of plays (including a sack). Pollack got knocked back 5 yards to kill a run, but mostly Peyton had time to operate. Pittsburgh thrives on getting pressure. They couldn’t yesterday. One of the sacks was on Manning for not unloading the ball. Pittsburgh had amazing coverage yesterday, but the line gave Manning time to find guys. Great job all around.
- I’m not sure what to make of the play of the Gonzo. He is devestating in so many ways, but he has to cut out the drops. I know he got killed on that third down pass, but that’s fourth big third down he’s flat dropped this year. He’s got to hang onto the ball.
- My internet connection rules. At one point, I was watching the slingbox, chatting, and talking on a Vonage phone with no breakdown in service on any of them. All this to say: 18 Plays: The Podcast will be returning this week.
FO audibles the game. Sounds like an Any Given Sunday is coming our way
Stat of the day: Through 9 games, Peyton Manning has faced 5 of the top 11 defenses in terms of defensive passer rating. In his last 7 games, he’ll face 5 of the 10 worst defenses in terms of passer rating. My prediction: Manning throws for 35 TDs, posts an aggrate 110 rating for his last 7 games, and makes a serious run at MVP. Ironically, the health of the team will only be part of the reason for the revival. The schedule will just simply get easier. The Colts have only one bad weather game left (at Cleveland). The offense is about to get healthy real quick.