Yes, that happened. And it's a great day to be a Colts fan.
If you had told me before today that the Colts would need to play a great game to beat San Francisco, I’d believe you. If you’d told me that the Colts run game might struggle against the heavily favored 49ers, I believe I’d be on board with that too.
However, had anyone wished to inform me that the Colts defense, especially their secondary, would play a masterpiece of a game against a very talented 49ers team, I might have had my doubts – even as a fan. Had anyone predicted Indianapolis would roll up 179 rushing yards while blowing the doors of the 49ers, well, we know where this is going. In fact, all the ingredients were in place for a blowout, just not the kind we saw today.
The experts predicted a big loss. The Colts had other plans, and they made it known from the start with a beautiful touchdown drive on their first possession, moving 80 yards in 7 plays, featuring two big first downs by Darrius Heyward-Bey, a pass interference penalty, and a one-yard endzone plunge by newly acquired running back Trent Richardson.
Indianapolis frustrated QB Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers on their first drive, forcing a three and out after Kavell Conner and Jerrell Freeman, both of whom had marvelous games, stopped San Francisco running back Kendall Hunter for a two-yard gain.
San Francisco would eventually answer back with a touchdown drive that may have made fans worry that Frank Gore might average 15 yards per carry on the day (he did finish with 11 carries for 82 yds). San Francisco would cap it off with a 13-yard scamper around the left tackle by Hunter to tie things up.
They would never score again. Read that again, and enjoy it. Indianapolis would go on to force 7 punts, 3 sacks, and two turnovers, as the stunned Bay area crowd looked on helplessly.
The Colts would take the lead for good, as it turned out, with an Adam Vinatieri field goal in the second quarter, making the halftime score a tenuous 10-7 lead. San Francisco’s first half stats: 139 yards, 1-5 on 3rd down, and Kaepernick was 2-8 for 37 yards and a 46.9 QB rating. Most of their yards came on their lone touchdown drive, but the Colts didn’t look much better: 152 yards, 1-6 on 3rd down, and Andrew Luck only had 87 yards (albeit with a respectable 83.9 QB rating).
As the second half approached, it was time to see if the Colts coaching staff had improved at making offensive adjustments. Indianapolis struggled badly in the second halves of their first two games, having scored just seven in week one and three in week two.
That would not be the case today, as the Colts came out with poise and purpose, appearing to be ahead of whatever defensive adjustments the flummoxed Jim Harbaugh and his staff may have implemented.
After a huge 3rd down stop on which safety Antoine Bethea, seeing that Kaepernick had committed to the run, came up and brought him down for a one-yard gain, the Colts took over for their first drive of the second half. Bethea, as the defense did most of the day, opted for a solid, fundamental wrap-up tackle, instead of going for the big hit (which leads to missed tackles). It was a thing of beauty.
On the next series, Andrew Luck scrambled for 15 yards early and hit Reggie Wayne for 14 yards, setting up another Vinatieri field goal to make it 13-7, Colts.
The defense kept working. A running back flattened by nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, a 3rd down tackle by Darius Butler, a 3rd down sack by Robert Mathis and Corey Redding, Jerrell Freeman’s sack-fumble recovered by Kavell Conner (again, very good games from these guys), and, of course, as San Francisco’s hopes were all but dashed, Cory Redding’s deflection of Kaepernick's pass…off his facemask, high into the air to Cassius Vaughn, who stepped under it for a game-sealing interception.
While their defense demoralized the 49ers (delighted to type that), the Colts offense put together a two-touchdown fourth quarter. So much for second half struggles.
The first of those scores came on a beauty of a drive, with two big penalties against the San Francisco secondary (It’s nice to see an officiating crew that enforces the rules of the game), capped off by what appeared to be a designed running play by Andrew Luck.
Luck faked a handoff to Ahmad Bradshaw, who was definitely a threat on the day, tucked the ball immediately, and chugged into the endzone for a…wait for it…20-7 lead.
After the sack-fumble-recovery by Freeman/Conner, Ahmad Bradshaw finished off the scoring with a one-yard plunge for a well-deserved touchdown. 27-7, Colts. And, just when everyone thought the 49ers were going to make things look closer with a garbage time touchdown, came Redding’s well-timed – and somewhat comical – facemask deflection (what a game from the big man) and Vaughn’s heads up interception.
Ah, victory formation. This was a huge win for a team that appeared to be reeling from injuries and the home loss to Miami. Ladies and gentlemen, the Colts are 2-1, and this win was no fluke. This was a complete dismantling of a very good team. Something tells me they’re going to have a fun plane ride back to the Circle City.
-Bradshaw finished with 19 carries for 95 yards, talk about running angry. Pagano wasn't kidding around about him.
-The Colts ran well with the lead, even though Trent Richards, who just joined the team, struggled with just 2.7 ypc.
-Andrew Luck didn’t have as many yards, but he threw some of the tightest spirals I’ve ever seen en route to the, well, the rout.
-Darrius Heyward-Bey caught all 5 of his targets. He is a clear upgrade at the number two receiver position.
-Reggie Wayne is still awesome and led the team with 63 receiving yards.
-The Colts avoided making the 49ers’ reserve tight ends look like Pro Bowlers in Vernon Davis’s absence. That is big considering their struggles against tight ends.
-Indy allowed just 254 yards on the day, 67 on the 49ers’ final drive, a.k.a. garbage time.
-This was a great win. The Colts will prepare for the Jaguars now, and a good chance to be 3-1. The rest of us can enjoy this for a while. 27-7 over the 49ers. Yeah, we’ll take that.