The Colts week 5 game was supposed to be about their Head Coach. It was supposed to be about the emotions of the sad, unexpected, depressing situation. It was supposed to be about the Green Bay Packers showing the world they’re still the best team in the NFL.
Instead, as the Colts (2-2) fought back from a 21-3 halftime deficit to win 30-27, we found that today was all about them.
It was about this group of young players learning to control their emotions, not be controlled by them. It was about these players learning to overcome officiating that seemed desperate to help the Packers win. It was about coming together as a team, learning that when they play together, within the system, to the best of their abilities, they can play with any team in the league, including the mighty Green Bay Packers.
It was about QB Andrew Luck, overcoming poor OL play and some early poor decisions to lead this team with a strong performance in the second half. Luck continued to show a poise and pocket awareness well beyond his years as he navigated a fierce Green Bay pass rush. And while he continues to remain somewhat inconsistent on deep throws – a total reasonable characteristic for a rookie – he once again made several throws with the kind of zip that shows he can make any NFL throw required of him.
The game was also about Donald Brown, who continued to prove doubters wrong, as he consistently turned negative plays into positives. He once again failed to hit 100 yards (and he may fail to hit that mark all season), but his 4.9 YPC average, given the patchwork offensive line in front of him, is amazing. If Brown stays with the Colts past this year, and the Colts can upgrade their OL, Brown will continue to show people that he is a special player.
The game was about Reggie Wayne, this group’s wily vet, showing that not only does he still have some gas in the tank, but that he may still be one of the top-5 best receivers in all of football. Wayne seems to work himself open on a vast majority of plays, and when he doesn’t, he decides to make jaw-dropping, highlight reel catches instead. You could question some of the Colts off-season decisions, but after what may be the greatest performance by an Indianapolis Colts WR, you’re reminded that the decision to re-sign Wayne was brilliant.
And this was a game about the defense. Much maligned after coming up short against the Jaguars and facing the prospect of dealing with Aaron Rodgers and friends down their #2 and #3 CBs, the Colts defense, after helping the team fall behind 21-3, put up a dominating second half performance. They played with a speed, toughness, and physical edge that we had not yet seen from them this season. They disguised their coverages, they brought multiple pressure looks from their front-7, and they attacked Aaron Rodgers relentlessly.
It was also about DE/OLB Dwight Freeney. The forgotten man on the Colts roster this season, Freeney returned to the lineup after missing 2 games with an ankle injury suffered in the Colts regular season opener. Despite questions surrounding his desire to perform in the 3-4, Freeney showed that he can still be the straw that stirs the defense’s drink, as his presence helped alter the way the Packers offense operated. If Freeney can continue to perform as he did against the Packers, and if Mathis can overcome an apparent knee injury, the Colts defense may be able to turn a corner and surprise a few teams by the end of the year.
Finally, this game was about Chuck Pagano’s monster. Yes, the coach is laying in a hospital bed fighting for his life, but one has to imagine that today, despite the sadness and pain he must be feeling, a pretty large smile crept across his face at 4:43pm ET, as Mason Crosby’s field goal sailed wide left. This is his team, and today was the first major step taken on their journey to being competitive.
In the second half his team played like The Monster: they attacked the Packers on offense and defense with speed, determination, effort, and, most importantly, belief. And now that his Monster has slayed the Packers, it’s time for Pagano to fight Leukemia with that same speed, determination, effort, and belief.
Quick Thoughts, The Beautiful:
– What an amazing win. Everyone, you’re beautiful. ALL OF YOU! Everyone gets an A! Participation ribbons for everyone! Enjoy your Tuesday off, boys, you earned it. The only thing I ask: go out and perform against the Jets, and every subsequent opponent, with the level of effort you put forth in today’s second half for an entire game. If you do that, you’ll stand toe-to-toe with everyone.
Quick Thoughts, The Bad:
– Yea, right.
Quick Thoughts, The Ugly:
– The Colts won, so I don’t want to be too hard on anyone, but… the refs were downright atrocious today, especially in the first half. That the Colts were able to overcome them speaks volumes for how mentally tough this team is (a trait they likely copy from Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, and, yes, Andrew Luck), but it should not excuse the pitiful performance by the officiating crew. Had today’s effort been put forth by a replacement crew, the outcry would have been deafening. That’s wrong. Continue to hold these refs to the same exacting standards you tried to hold the replacements to on EVERY PLAY. Better yet, hold these refs to an even higher standard.