Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Recap and Observations: Colts 17, Saints 23

The big third preseason game. Why is the third preseason game a big deal? Is it because it’s the most similar to regular season action in that the starters play the longest, or is it because we all yearn for a football game that actually means something?  Probably a little of both.

In starter versus starter action, the Colts struggled on defense and looked discombobulated at times on offense, but down 14-7 in the first quarter, they were within striking distance. The problem came when the Saints backups extended the lead to 20-7 against mostly starters for Indianapolis, eventually leading to a ho-hum 23-17 final score.

The loss matters in a sense, but only for player evaluation and preparation for the regular season.

There certainly are some concerns, but anyone ringing the alarm bells and predicting a 2014 season of doom is overreacting.   It’s one game, and not even a real one at that. In 2005, for example, Indianapolis lost the slightly-less-unimportant-than-the-rest third preseason game 24-37 (part of an 0-5 preseason) and went 14-2 when it mattered.  I could name past preseason losses all day, but the point is that while they give us some idea, they aren’t a true measuring stick for the regular season.

On to the scoring summary: The Saints got things started early with an efficient, 80-yard drive capped by a 3-yard touchdown from Drew Brees to Shayne Graham. After both teams punted once, the Colts answered with a quick drive ending in a 21-yard touchdown pass to Coby Fleener.

It didn’t stay tied for long, as Drew Brees took his team 80 yards in 7 plays and scored on a 13-yard pass to Shane Graham. The Saints pushed it to 20-7 with a pair of second quarter field goals.

After a dull third quarter, the Colts backups went 65-yards in two plays as Dan Herron ran for 43 yards, and wide receiver Josh Lenz caught a 22-yarder from Chandler Harnish in stride, making it 20-17.  It was one of Harnish’s better throws as a pro. (edited 8/24)

The Saints went on to tack on a field goal from Derek Dimke late in the fourth to make it 23-17, and Colts couldn’t convert in the closing seconds. In fact, Harnish was sacked twice by the prevent defense.  All in all, it was a preseason game.  Luck struggled early but had a nice touchdown drive, the backups looked like backups, and there were a few bright spots to think about as we move closer to the real thing.

 

Quick Observations

– The Saints were penalized 10 times for 84 yards, while Indy had just 3 accepted penalties (14 yards). The Colts also had 24 first downs to New Orleans’s 22.  It pays to make big plays.

– DT/NT Zach Kerr should make the final roster. He’s been an absolute monster. NT Josh Chapman has been playing better, despite the defense as a whole having a rough night against the Saints starters.

– Dan Herron ran 8 times for 68 yards and 8.5 ypc. He averaged 3.57 yards outside of his 43-yard gain in the second half, but the second year back certainly made a case for himself overall.  He hit the holes as though he were running from something awful.  It would be nice to see how he does against some starters.

– Coby Fleener could be such a great asset in the red zone. Here’s hoping he’ll get more looks inside the 20.

– The Saints are very good.  The Jets and Giants are not.  It felt as though execution, not talent, was keeping Indy’s starters out of the game early.

– Andrew Luck seemed to be off at times.  When your best player isn’t playing well, generally it’s not going to be pretty.

– The Saints QBs seemed to like picking on D’Qwell Jackson (though Jackson did knock down a pass).

– Mike Adams got plenty of time at safety with the starting unit. He finished with 6 tackles

– ILB Henoc Muamba didn’t see the field much, but he made the most of it with 2 tackles and a sack.

Now, can we just skip next week’s annual preseason loss to the Bengals and move on to the real thing?

 

Marcus Dugan

About Marcus Dugan

Marcus is a husband, dad, twitter geek, and all around average guy who covers news, game recaps, and additional material for The Colts Authority, while working even harder as an Indy area real estate broker. He's been known to overuse parentheses while editorializing (but who doesn't?)

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