WEEK 12 REPORT CARD: COLTS AT CARDINALS

You would’ve thought that the 38-8 loss at home against the St. Louis Rams was going to be the Colts’ worst game of the season.

Guess what. Week 12 was just as bad. This time, the opponent was another NFC West team, the Arizona Cardinals (6-4).

After the jump we evaluate the Colts’ offense, defense and special teams after their second humiliation in three weeks, while also choosing the best player on both offense and defense.  

OFFENSE:

The Colts’ early struggles continue. Their first possession ended in a three & out.

After a blocked field goal, the Colts started inside Arizona’s red zone but only got three points from it to make it 7-3.

Their problem to move the ball didn’t end there as their next drive ended in another three & out. Bad start and it only got worse. T.Y. Hilton looked banged up after trying to catch a deep pass by Luck.

On the Colts’ fourth series of the game, Luck was about to get sacked in second down. To avoid the sack, he forced a desperate throw trying to find Coby Fleener. The TE was well covered by Dansby who easily intercepted the pass and took it to the end zone. The pick-six made it 24-3.

Their next three drives right before the half all ended without points, including two more three & outs.

To start the third quarter, Luck and co. actually had a decent drive. They faced a fourth down at Arizona’s 36-yard line. They decided to go for it but couldn’t convert. At this point, all hope of making a miraculous comeback (if there was any left) was pretty much lost.

The next drive ended in a three & out again (sixth of the game). Weslye Saunders had the chance to make a big play after a long throw by Luck but couldn’t hang on to it.

Their next possession started with a lucky play. Trent Richardson lost the football but the refs blew the whistle just before the ball was stripped from his hands. After driving the ball 67 yards, Luck threw a perfect 17-yard TD pass to Coby Fleener to make it 34-11. Luck would also convert the two-point conversion with a pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey. This was by far their best drive of the game (84 yards on 11 plays). Sadly, it took them more than three quarters to finally do something right on offense.  

Facing a fourth & one in their next drive, the Colts gave the ball to Richardson to get that yard. He couldn’t even do that. The line didn’t help but Trent is supposed to be able to get those tough yards.

The Colts got the ball one more time but other than a 22-yard run by “Boom” Herron, they couldn’t do anything with it.

It was another miserable day for the offense. Luck didn not play well but it’s hard to blame him after getting little to no help from his teammates or coaching staff. His interception was a terrible decision, but that’s what happens when a player realizes his team isn’t helping and thinks he has to do it all. He looked really frustrated all game long.  

The o-line needs to protect Luck a lot better or Jim Irsay might start demanding things on twitter again.

Other than T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener, Luck’s targets (DHB, Reed, Brazill) are not even decent. Luck might want to start throwing the ball and try to catch it himself. It also makes you wonder why Pagano isn’t giving a chance to Da’Rick Rogers. At this point, I would rather see the Colts trying to use a new player instead of waiting for DHB to miraculously learn how to consistently catch the football.

The running game was mediocre. The Colts’ leading rusher was Herron, who finished with 33 yards on four attempts. Richardson only got 15 yards on seven carries and Brown was even worse with just one yard on two carries. Richardson was given a carry on fourth & one and he actually lost a yard on the play.  His best play of the game was an eight-yard carry. T-Rich is that bad.

Just as the game against the Rams, this was an embarrassing performance. At least it can’t get any worse than that, right?

Grade: F

Offensive player of the game: Coby Fleener

Fleener finished the game with four catches for 55 yards and the Colts’ only TD of the entire game.

 

DEFENSE:

The slow starts do not apply to Indy’s offense only. On the game’s opening drive, the Cardinals drove the ball 80 yards in 10 plays to score the game’s first TD on a Larry Fitzgerald 4-yard reception.  

It looked like Arizona was about to score again on their next drive, but the defense managed to force a FG attempt. The kick was blocked, and the score remained 7-0.

Unfortunately, the Colts’ defense allowed another long TD drive. Arizona only needed 5 plays to move the ball 80 yards. Michael Floyd beat Vontae Davis for a 29-yd reception and on the very next play, Carson Palmer threw his second TD of the game: a 26-yd pass to Fitzgerald. On this play, it was Cassius Vaughn the one that got beat by the WR.

It was still early, but the Cardinals looked unstoppable at this point.

On their next drive, Arizona scored again. With the aid of a personal foul by Darius Butler, the Cards were soon inside Colts territory. Robert Mathis had a strip sack in the drive but the defense failed to recover. Still, that play was enough to hold the Cardinals again to just three points. 17-3.

With the game 24-3, the Colts’ defense showed some improvement. Ricky Jean-Francois’ sack (including a ridiculous celebration) and a great tackle on third & one by Mathis were enough to force Arizona’s first punt of the game.

Right before the half, Arizona scored another FG to extend their lead to 24 points.

Fortunately for the defense, the Cardinals weren’t as intense in the second half.

They still managed to score a TD in their first drive of the third quarter, with a 5-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall. The Cardinals got to the five-yard line after a questionable pass interference penalty called against Vontae Davis.

In the fourth quarter, Arizona scored two more FGs to make it 40-11.

Overall, it was a poor effort by the Colts’ defense. They forced two punts only in the entire game and once again couldn’t force any turnovers.  

Whether it was Fitzgerald or Floyd through the air or Mendenhall on the ground, the Colts just couldn’t stop the Cardinals. Watching Vaughn trying to cover Fitzgerald was just painful and Rashard Mendenhall looked like an actual good RB at times. That’s how bad this defense is.

The best play by the defense was Mathis’ strip sack in the first half. That’s his 14.5 sack of the season.

To be fair, the defense could use some help from the offense. That doesn’t justify the D’s poor game but they won’t win you any games on their own.

Grade: D

Defensive player of the game: Ricky Jean-Francois

RJF finished the game with five tackles and two sacks. He just needs to learn there are times where you just can’t celebrate those sacks. Still, it was a solid game for the DE.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Early in the game, Sergio Brown blocked a FG attempt by the Cardinals. Great play, but unfortunately the STs weren’t able to do a lot more to help the team.

David Reed is still a frustrating player. He’s taking the touchback a bit more often now but still. The coaching staff still likes him for some reason.  

Vinatieri finished the game with one FG only.

Grade: B

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