The Colts got another big win in Jacksonville on Thursday night, giving them a two game cushion in the race for a wildcard spot. As usual, the Colts had some great individual performances, as well as some let downs.
In 3 Up, 3 Down, we'll be taking a look at the top and bottom three performers for both the offense and defense. We start with the good news: Who powered the win over the hapless Jacksonville team, besides the Jaguars themselves?
The second-year left tackle has had an inconsistent year, but Thursday's performance was a dominant one at left tackle. Castonzo did give up a QB hit and one hurry, but the total of 2 pressures ties for the lowest he's allowed all season. He was once again the Colts' best run blocker, as he has been all season, and (on a day when Jeff Linkenbach manned the other tackle spot) was the team's best pass protector as well. He finished with PFF's highest grade for the offense, and the 5th highest grade for all NFL tackles for Week 10.
Allen finished with just two catches for 31 yards, but the rookie tight end's positive performance in all areas of the game are why he gets on this list this week. Allen continues to show his ability to do all things well at the tight end position, blocking well in run and pass, as well as being a receiving weapon. Allen's 27-yard reception in the third quarter was the second-longest play of the day for the Colts.
What else can we say about the rookie? He's quickly becoming beloved in Indianapolis, with his ability to escape pressure, make any throw, and seemingly convert any third down. He threw an interception on a poor decision under pressure, but outside of that he was the top 10 quarterback we've gotten used to seeing over the last three weeks. His deep ball continues to improve, which is a scary prospect for any NFL defense.
Honorable Mention: Reggie Wayne (8 rec., 86 yards, great run blocking, but two dropped passes)
I have to start out with Butler after getting three turnovers, doubling the Colts' season total all by himself. Of course, he only forced one of those turnovers (recovering a fumble and being the beneficiary of a ball tipped by multiple Colts), but nevertheless you have to give him credit. Butler will likely be the starter now with Jerraud Powers out for the season. He's not an ideal starter, but he should be better than the alternative (Cassius Vaughn). If he can continue his aggressive play by creating turnovers, the Colts will have a much improved team.
Fokou got overshadowed by Butler by most of the media after Thursday's win, but Fokou was just as impressive, if not more, with his overall performance. Not only did Fokou force the fumble recovered by Butler, but he was fantastic in coverage all night. Fokou was in coverage on 29 snaps, but was only targeted once, a pass that he knocked down. He finished with just 3 tackles (one stop), but that was largely because he banketed his man in coverage throughout the game. His solid play may be a factor in Pat Angerer's limited playing time (just four snaps).
The veteran safety has raised the bar over the last few weeks, playing extremely well after an inconsistent start to the season. Bethea finished the game with seven tackles, leading the team, and three defensive stops. Bethea also got his first career sack (he had a half-sack in 2010) to go along with a quarterback hurry. Bethea's coverage grade was behind only Butler and Fokou for the day, as he allowed just three targets (one completion for 12 yards) in 57 snaps.
Honorable Mention: Antonio Johnson (+1.4 grade by PFF highest of the year, two stops, a QB hurry, but only 18 snaps) and Josh Gordy (Three stops on his three tackles, a sack, and solid coverage all day, but a poor penalty)