Freeney and Wayne are active today. So is Eric Foster. That’s great news for the Horse.
- The 49ers start the game with the ball. Two runs set up third and short. Smith hit Vernon Davis who lazily doesn’t get both feet down. The 49ers punt, which Silva (subbing for an injured Rushing) muffs. He atones by recovering the punt inside the 20. Indy ball.
- On first down, Demond calls to complain that the open roof and the wind and sun lead to a bomb to Garcon falling incomplete. The Colts’ first drive ends as Clark puts the ball on the turf short of the first down. He was clearly down by contact and Caldwell rightly challenged the play. The fumble is overturned. Indy punts and McAfee drills it. Wheeler makes a great play, and the 49ers are back inside the 30. Unfortunately, the great punt/tackle is for nought as a flag forces the Colts to rekick. The second time leads to a 60 yard punt. The kid is drilling the ball today.
- Worst case scenario. The 49ers run a little draw up the middle, and Frank Gore busts it for a 65 yard TD. Sloppy tackling turned what should have been a short gain into a long TD. Powers and Bethea collide in the secondary to allow the back breaker. Awful. 7-0 49ers.
- The Colts second drive is another three and out as Manning throws a terrible pass on third and 3. The 49ers jump the route, and Manning is lucky to not have a pick 6. The Colts are running the ball effectively, but Manning seems to be throwing too quickly, too short. Abysmal start by the Colts.
- Smith does the Colts a favor by tripping on first down. They blow up a draw on second and Freeney/Mathis forces an incomplete pass. That’s two three and outs and one stupid TD for the D.
- Manning hits Wayne on a bubble screen on third and long which busts for 32 yards. He then hits Collie on third down for a huge first down thanks to a big blitz pick up by Addai. Garcon picks up yet another penalty on the ensuing first down. Manning hits Clark for a big gain to set up a third and two, but the line gets no push and Addai goes nowhere. Stover drills the figgie, and Indy is down 7-3. Manning looks out of sync early.
- The 49ers start deep in their own territory thanks to a blowup hit by Silva. The 49ers get a couple of first downs. I literally spend most of the drive vomiting because of nerves. The Zombie calms my stomach by picking off a tipped pass and taking it to the 49ers 35.
- The Colts are driving and have a third and four to end the quarter. The first quarter went as badly as possible for Indy. SF leads 7-3
- Clark loses a ball in the sun in the endzone on third and four begging the question: why is the roof open? The answer: because there is one. Which begs the question: why is there a retractable roof? Stover just slides the short FG inside the upright. 7-6 ‘Frisco.
- Indy blitzes on third down forcing Smith to throw short. Hayden makes a sure tackle and the 49ers are three and out (again). Frank Gore has 1 run for 64 yards and 6 runs for 12 yards. That’s the definition of boom and bust. Indy ball around the 25.
- Three and out for Indy as Wayne is hit for no gain on third and two. Manning isn’t reading the defense correctly early on. McAfee hits another huge punt, which is fumbled out of bounds.
- The defense is taking over this game. With the exception of the one bad play, they’ve owned the 49ers both running and passing. Incomplete pass, holding call, short run, scramble on 3rd and a million, punt. Eventually Manning will figure out the 49ers and the Colts will explode.
- Another drive, another quick punt. Manning takes a sack on second down and Hank Baskett drops a pass on third down. The Colts are having fits figuring out the 49ers scheme today.
- Third and long again for the 49ers, and Crabtree comes back too far to the ball. Punt.
- The Colts have a chance for the “two for none” to end the half as they get the ball to start the second half. The chance goes by the board, however, as Manning underthrows Clark on first down, and that sets the tone for the ‘drive’. Frenchy does pick up a first down on third and long, but on the next third down, Peyton rifles it through Wayne’s hands. The defense needs to hold one more time this half. The 49ers will take over at the 11, so Indy still has a chance to score if they can force a punt.
- Instead, they allow Smith to slice right through them. Session picks up a “Brady” personal foul, and with ease, the 49ers march 89 yards for a touchdown. Horrible. Unspeakably horrible. The D generated no pressure at all and gave up the most gutless drive I’ve seen in a long time.
- Thanks to a penalty, the 49ers kick from the 15, and Simpson takes it to the 39 with :26 left in the half. The Colts had all their timeouts, but don’t need them all. Manning drives them down to the 12 with :06 seconds left, and Caldwell opts for the field goal attempt. It’s a debatable decision, but it gets the points on the board. 14-9 at the half.
For the offense it’s been a nightmare. For the defense, it’s been mostly positive with critical lapses. The Colts start the second half with the ball. It’s time to get some touchdowns. The bottom line is that the Oline has been awful. The 49ers are rushing from a standing position, which should be a signal to run the ball. Unfortunately, Addai is getting pummeled in the backfield. Meanwhile, they aren’t identifying where the rush is coming from and Manning looks harried. He’s 15 for 24 for 175. Note: Jimmy Johnson just claimed that the 49ers are keeping the ball away from Manning. They aren’t. Indy has the ToP advantage. I swear he doesn’t even watch the games.
- The second half starts off exactly like the first. A short run, a penalty, a sack (Pollack gives it up), but on third and 20 Manning guns a HUGE completion to Frenchy. Manning hits more passes, but the drive stalls as Pollack gives up ANOTHER sack on third and 4. Again, Stover hits the kick, and the Colts trail 14-12. The line play has been disastrous.
- The D does a lot of things well, but stopping third and shorts isn’t one of those things. The 49ers pick up consecutive short yardage plays. Fortunately, one of things the D does do is tackle on short passes. Crabtree catches a flanker screen, but is swarmed under and Powers makes a huge play by stripping him. It’s ruled a fumble recovered by the Colts on the field, and 49ers lose their challenge. Indy ball. Huge play.
- Despite getting the ball at 42, Manning sprays three straight passes (although in fairness, the first was an awful route by Garcon who got open but then angled to the middle of the field instead of the sideline). McAfee makes his first real mistake punt, and SF starts at the 21. The D has done their part today. The offense is not contributing.
- The Indy D continues to play at an insane level. Two runs, pass pressure, punt. That’s a winning formula. Outside of the one long run, SF has 14 carries for 24 yards. That’s getting it done.
- The half ends with the Colts slamming it down near the 49ers 20. Manning has been deft on this drive, and Indy has a chance to jump out in front. The Colts won the third quarter, but desperately need to convert this drive into seven points.
- GREATEST PLAY EVER! KID JOE THROWS A TD TO WAYNE! They ran the same play against Denver in 2006, and it was almost picked off. This time he hits a wide open Reggie Wayne for 6. Wayne makes an incredible diving catch. The point conversion fails as Manning sails one over his man in the back corner. Indy leads for the first time today, 18-14. It’s up to the D now.
- The problem with taking the lead is that it means that Alex Smith gets to work against a Colts’ secondary that no longer has Kelvin Hayden to lean on (he’s out with a knee). The 49ers rip right through Indy, getting three straight first downs without so much as facing a third. Finally, after a huge delay of game on third down, Robert Mathis saves the day as he has so many times. The Colts get the sack only rushing three men, and Smith is knocked out of field goal range. The Colts get the ball at the 10 yard line hoping to change field position at the very least. Now is the time for a ‘championship drive’.
- Manning hits Clark on a HUGE play for 40 yards. It helps to change the field position, but Manning sails the throw to Collie. Indy punts on 4th and 3. It pays off as the 49ers field the ball inside the 5 and will start 95 yards from the endzone. The D needs one more big stand here.
- Freeney jumps offsides to kickstart the drive for the 49ers. Smith makes some nice throws for first downs, but Bethea helped by dropping an easy pick. Finally, Freeney kept his streak alive by taking down Smith on third and 10. It’s incredible, but Freeney and Mathis are easily the most clutch DEs I’ve ever seen.
- Manning deftly takes the clock to double zeros, doing what they couldn’t do week one against the Jags. Manning twice converts third down throws to Dallas Clark, and Joe Addai finishes off his yeoman’s day of blocking, passing, and grinding with 19 yards on the final drive, including picking up 4th and inches at gun.. Indy took over with 5:45 on the clock up by four points, and didn’t give the ball back to the 49ers. That’s beautiful football.
END OF GAME SUMMARY:
Great day by the defense. The offense struggled mightily all day (Manning posted a rating of 86), and the line was suspect, but at the end of the day the incredible performance of the defense carried the day. Four sacks, two huge turnovers, and they didn’t even give up 100 yards to Frank Gore, despite his big run. Ultimately, this is the kind of gritty win a team has to have during the season. Had the Colts been able to convert even one of the 4 field goals into a touchdown, things would have felt much more comfortable. Ultimately, this will be remembered as the day that Joe Addai threw a game winning touchdown pass. Wow.