(Great photo from Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. But Eli doesn't look quite as enthused as Luck. This needs a caption, people)
Well, it wasn’t pretty end the end, but it was a good preseason performance by most of the guys we’ll see on the field during the regular season and a few who are fighting to make the team.
As I type this, the Giants just keep on scoring. I began with 26-0, then 26-7, 26-14, 26-21 and now 26—wait, the Giants won? 26-27, after Pat McAfee missed a 64-yard field goal. (moves back down the page to edit scoring summary)
After exchanging three and outs with the New York starters, the Colts offense started off the scoring with a 9-play, 51-yard drive capped off by Andrew Luck’s TD throw on a quick slant to Griff Whalen. Had Luck waited even a quarter of a second, Whalen would’ve been double teamed by the time the ball arrived, but it was yet another play that showed what Indy has in Luck. He’s intelligent, decisive, and has the athleticism to make those quick decisions pay off on the field.
On the ensuing kickoff, Colts backup safety Mike Adams forced a fumble, recovered by rookie kicker Cody Parkey, but Indianapolis had to settle for a 53-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri.
They made up for it by moving the ball 66 yards on the following possession, which ended in another Vinatieri field goal. After just over 20 minutes with the starters on the field, the Colts had a 13-0 lead and had forced four straight punts and a fumble.
Matt threw a 14-yard touchdown on a fade pattern to Da’Rick Rogers to cap off a 10-play 71-yard drive and extend the Colts’ lead to 20-0. The Giants looked surprised by Indianapolis’s choice of a fade that far from the endzone and actually held Rogers on the play. The young receiver was too strong, though and never broke his stride or his concentration on the ball.
The offense slowed considerable after Chandler Harnish took over late in the third quarter. Harnish showed some great athleticism but had trouble hitting receivers downfield. Parkey hit a 45-yard field goal in the third quarter and a 31-yarder to extend the lead to 26-0 to start the fourth.
If you went to bed after that, you missed a practice squad comeback as the Giants rattled off 27 unanswered points in the final quarter (obviously, a few guys may have made the NYG roster tonight). There was even a TD by Curtis Painter. The final score was 27-26, but the players we’ll see on the field from September to January looked downright dominant at times, and that’s what you want to see in the preseason.
Standouts – Good and Bad
There were so, so many of them. 26 accepted penalties, 13 on each team, for a total of 209 yards (81 yards for the Colts), resulting in a preseason game that lasted over three hours. By the end of the evening, commentator Don Fischer chuckled every time a yellow flag flew. It grew annoying for sure, but it’s refreshing to see the NFL cracking down on their existing rules for pass defense.
Andrew Luck and the first unit offense looked sharp overall, despite a couple of hiccups. The protection was good, Luck was Luck, and the receivers overwhelmed the Giants secondary.
Hakeem Nicks played particularly well and looked right at home against his old teammates. He finished with 5 catches for 53 yards but had a long gain negated by a cheap penalty.
Luck finished 12/18 for 89 yards, a touchdown, and a 96.8 QB rating. 4.9 yards per pass play isn’t anything to write home about, but overall, it’s difficult to find reason to complain about his 20 minutes or so of playing time.
The run game ran like a Geo Metro with a flat tire, but as far as protecting the quarterback, the lineup of Anthony Castonzo, Hugh Thornton, Jonatthan-with-two-t’s Harrison, Lance Louis (in for the injured Jack Mewhort), and Gosder Cherilus was effective. Some might even say it was a solid performance. We’ll go to the film before we make that call, though.
Jackson finished with 4 tackles, a sack, and a QB hit. He may not have had the best PFF score last year with the Browns, but when he was playing, you couldn’t help but to notice #52 in the vicinity when good things were happening for the defense.
I don’t know what to say. He had a couple of nice runs before checking out for the night, but he needs more than that to prove his doubters wrong.
Defensive Starters and Second Unit
For most of the game, it was ugly – the good kind of ugly. Leading up to that weird fourth quarter, the Indianapolis defense had forced 7 three and outs and 9 punts. The Giants didn’t cross midfield for three quarters. Before Curtis Painter’s penalty-aided touchdown drive, the Colts’ first, second, and third string defenders had allowed 58 total yards and 1.7 yards per play.
Maybe the Giants are just awful. Maybe Eli Manning had the flu or double vision or ate his pregame meal at the Indiana State Fair – thus throwing himself into a greasy, deep-fried stupor (I know the feeling). Let’s not miss the important part, though: In the event this Giants team turns out to be jaw-dropping-ly awful, Indianapolis did exactly what they should’ve done against them. If this was the Colts D versus a bad team, even a regression to the mean should be a legit defense. These guys have the potential to be a big part of some wins in 2014.