2009 Game Recap – Week 4: Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts

To help pass time this off-season, I’ve reviewed the Colts’ regular season games from 2009. With this second look at how the team played, a few thoughts have occured to me which were not obvious during the initial viewing, and I thought it a good opportunity to rethink some of my previously held opinions of the team I love. So, with your kind indulgence, as I view a game at a time I’ll be sharing my impressions.

Personal Note: This is not, and was never intended to be, an objective, unbiased review of an NFL contest. It is instead a glimpse into the emotional ride experienced by the average Colt fan at game time. My Homerism switch is engaged and turned up to eleven. With that in mind, I invite you to join me as we re-live the highs and lows of the 2009 Indianapolis Colts season.

Today’s Game: Week 4 – Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts

Setting The Stage

  • The Colts come into today’s game unbeaten, and with a record of 3-0, leading the AFC South. Seneca Wallace replaces the injured Matt Hasselbeck to lead the Seahawks in the attempt to even their record at 2-2. Raheem Brock starts in place of Dwight Freeney, who injured a quad late in last week’s game against Arizona. Freeney does play, but in a limited role. Gary Brackett is still out as is Kelvin Hayden, so Freddie Keiaho and Tim Jennings start. Mike Pollak starts at right guard and, like last week, alternates series with Kyle DeVan. Coach Jim Caldwell paces the sideline (funny, but I don’t remember Tony Dungy ever pacing). Edgerrin James, who joined Seattle in 2009, makes his return to Indy and is greeted by applause from the crowd, and smiles and handshakes from former teammates. James, who was drafted by the Colts in 1999, still holds the franchise record in rushing yardage with 9226 (over Mitchell, Faulk, and Dickerson).
  • The Crowd: A sell out, of course, but they seem a bit more subdued than normal. They do give Edge a nice hand whenever he touches the ball and a standing ovation during a fourth-quarter tribute.
  • The Field: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana. The retractable roof is open, and banners hang proudly, with minimal shadows on a partly-cloudy, mid-fifties kind of day.

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  • The Network Coverage: Dick Stockton & Charles Davis on Fox Sports. They’re still talking about the Week 2 win over Miami. Davis calls Manning the Hannibal Lecter of the NFL because he gets into the heads of defenses and relates how the Seattle defense is so worried about Peyton Manning using their defensive calls against them that they’ll be calling defensive plays by number. Players will refer to wristbands, changing them throughout the game; it lasts about three series. At halftime, Stockton talks about the pace at which the Colts play and how more pronounced it is watching them in person as opposed to watching on film. Interesting point.

Key Plays

1st Qtr:

  • The Colts defense allows one first-down before forcing the game’s first punt. They look good getting pressure on Wallace and even better stopping the run. That’s very encouraging early on.
  • Pierre Garçon makes a nice leaping reception for 25 yards on the Colts’ first drive. This guy is developing into a real threat… I absolutely love his ability and desire to run through tackles.

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  • Touchdown, Donald Brown! The offense looks really good driving the length of the field on their first drive. Brown rips off three straight runs over right guard for the first Colts score; Mike Pollak and Jeff Saturday opening up big holes on the first two. Brown keeps his legs driving and follows the line into the end zone on the third. It’s nice to see the Colts able to do some power running. Colts score first and lead 7-0.
  • Pat McAfee forced to make the tackle after the Seattle returner finds a lane and reaches the thirty-six. Nice pink shoes, Pat. What’s up with that? Oh, they’re explaining that it’s Breast Awareness Month, so the players are wearing pink. I don’t really understand this. It never occurred to me that breasts would need a special month just so people would become aware of them. But if they want to raise awareness of what I consider to be a good cause, it’s OK with me.
  • Awesome defensive play! With Seattle driving, the defense delivers three great plays to push the Hawks backward. On the first, Eric Foster sheds his blocker and slices through to stop the RB three yards behind the line of scrimmage. On the second, Wallace completes a screen pass, and it appears the WR has the blocking he’ll need to make a big play. But the Colt D recovers so quickly, the WR can’t find a lane, and he’s forced to change direction. Just when it look like he might find some open space, Melvin Bullitt rushes in to stop him for a loss. The third is all about coverage. Wallace slides right and waits for someone to uncover. No one does, and Keiaho forces him out for a loss of five. Hawks punt. Man, I am loving this! They’re swarming everywhere and really hitting people.

2nd Qtr:

  • Edgerrin James takes the field for the first time today and notches his 3000th career rush attempt; a gain of five. The crowd stands and applauds. Thanks for everything, Edge!

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  • Fumble, Brown… Ugh! Donald takes the hand-off, slides right behind a Diem block, and accelerates for the first down. When he’s hit, the ball comes lose and is recovered, out-of-bounds, by Seattle. Colts retain possession at the spot the ball left the field of play. That was close. Wayne proves a nice down-field block. And isn’t that just like Peyton? He hands off to Brown on the very next play; no gain, but I like the way he shows confidence in the rookie.
  • And it’s the Zebra Show! The next three minutes of precious air time are spent watching the referees discuss the previous play, announce a penalty against Seattle for twelve men on the field, spot the ball, explain the situation to the Seattle sideline, huddle once again, then announce that there will, indeed, be no penalty against Seattle and that they are warning the Colts against substituting but not allowing Seattle to substitute as well; all this followed by the two-minute explanation to the Indy sideline. Everybody got that? Good.
  • 35-yard completion to Garçon! On a critical third-and-three, near mid-field, Peyton stands in the pocket until the last possible second before releasing a floater to the left. Piere takes it, in stride, for a huge first down.
  • Touchdown, Wayne! Reggie displaying great hands to collect a pass at his knees and dive into the end zone. The O-line starts by giving Peyton good protection against the three-man rush, but Charlie Johnson eventually loses containment, and Manning is hit as he throws. Colts lead, 14-0.

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  • Jacob Tamme with a nice play on the resulting kick-off. Tamme was the first Colt down-field. He engaged, and then muscled out of the block to tackle the runner at the 22.
  • With Seattle driving, late in the quarter, Marlin Jackson and Jerraud Powers with great tackles on two consecutive plays. Jackson reacts to the quick screen and takes down the WR for a loss, then Powers with a quick recovery, on the slant, to hold the WR to a short gain.
  • On a Seattle second-and-goal at the Colts’ nine, Coach Jim Caldwell with an impressive 15-yard sprint down the sideline to get a time out called. I KNOW I’ve never seen Dungy do that! Hawks threatening.
  • Sack! Freeney’s spin move to the inside beats double-coverage and forces Wallace out of the pocket. Raheem Brock stunts from left DT, following Freeney and containing Wallace while giving Robert Mathis time to rush outside and back in. Brock and Mathis share the sack. A ballet of muscle and timing… beautiful to behold. Seattle settles for the field goal. Colts lead 14-3 with 1:26 remaining in the half.
  • Colts run the hurry up, with 78 yards ahead of them. A completion to Clark for 13, another to Wayne for seven, eight more to Collie, twelve to Garçon, and a huge screen to Wayne at the Hawks’ 37 on second-and-twenty for a key first down. Two defenders come free, but Manning’s quick release makes the completion possible. Great down field blocking by Collie, CJ, Diem, and Saturday.
  • Touchdown, Austin Collie! After a rare Delay of Game penalty pushes the Colts back to the 21, Collie stretches to haul in a perfectly-placed pass in the corner to complete the 9 play, 78 yard drive in 1:19. Pretty play! The TD pass is Manning’s 342th and ties him with Fran Tarkenton for third on the list of career TD passes. Colts, looking really good, extend their lead to 21-3.

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3rd Qtr:

  • T.J. Rushing takes the kickoff and chooses to kneel in the end zone. We’re told that Chad Simpson has ‘an abdominal problem’.
  • Colts looking very good moving the ball down the field on their first possession of the half. Several short passes, mixed with a few runs, and each of them crisp and precise. Collie with a timely catch and run on second-and-fifteen. Clark provides the clear-out that allows Austin room on an inside slant. Add ten yards after the catch, and the Colts have a third-and-one at the Seattle twelve.
  • Addai up the middle for the TD! Manning audibles to avoid the blitz (Charlie Buffalo! Charlie Buffalo!) then Joe takes the hand-off and weaves up the middle for 12 yards giving the Colts the 28-3 lead. Great blocking by Lilja as he shoves his man backwards then moves up field to contain the CB.

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  • With a rather nondescript, 5-yard completion to Collie, Manning surpasses 300 yards for the fourth consecutive game. That’s the first time Peyton has accomplished it in his career. Yeah, I was surprised too.
  • I love the shovel pass. Not sure why, really, but it’s fun to watch… when it’s executed well, that is. And the Colts execute it well. Manning sprints left, faking the stretch play and pulling the LBs out of the middle. Then, he pivots and palms the ball to Clark, who’s been hiding in the weeds. Gain of only five, but it gains a first-down on a key third-and-two. Anything that converts a third-down is good in my book.
  • Interception! Ugh… Peyton calls the Hurry! Hurry! when he sees the Seahawks milling around. I assume the idea is to find Reggie wide open… yeah, not so much. The CB recovers and ends up with the easy pick.
  • Edge with a nice juke to avoid Clint Session and gain the first-down. Clint doesn’t miss many tackles, and it seems weird to celebrate this one, but a big part of me… way down deep… really enjoyed seeing Edgerrin make one more awesome move.
  • Colts ball! A forced fumble by Mathis, the 32nd of his career, gives the ball to the Colts at the Hawks’ 34. Freeney causes Wallace to vacate the pocket while Mathis circles from the rear, lunges, and bats the ball from Wallace’s hand.

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4th Qtr:

  • The crowd stands and cheers while a video highlight of Edge James’ career plays on the big screen. ‘See you soon in the Ring of Honor’. Nicely played, Mr. Irsay. And I must admit to getting a bit teary-eyed.

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  • Sack, Freeney! Dwight gets the fourth Colts’ sack of the game when he spins to the inside and bulls his way past the LT to take down Wallace. The LT had no help on the play… not sure it would have mattered. Wait! Didn’t they say this guy has a bad quad?

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  • Jacob Lacey breaks up a key third-and-sixteen pass that would have resulted in a first-down. Nice tight coverage by the rookie, and Seattle is forced to punt.
  • T.J. Rushing with an awesome punt return! The Seahawks punt from their own 20, and I’m expecting the normal fair catch. But then something unexpected happens; when the camera angle changes to show Rushing making the catch… right there… right there on the screen… I see three blue players, one white player, and all of this green space. And then it gets really weird; T.J. starts running with the ball, and I find myself thinking ‘Is he allowed to do that?’ Twenty-two yards later, with the crowd and me screaming as-one, I realize I’ve just seen something we Colts’ fans have been longing for; an opening on a punt return. This may be my Play of the Game. Way to go, guys! Way to run, T.J.!

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  • A screen to Clark, an eighteen yard catch and run to Wayne, and an eight yard toss to Clark put the Colts in field goal range. Adam Vinatieri with the 37 yard kick, and the Colts lead 31-3.
  • With the Colts up by four touchdowns, quite a few backups enter the game on both sides of the ball. Jordan Senn with nice penetration on the delayed blitz, and Keyunta Dawson almost comes up with the INT.
  • Mathis forced fumble! On third-and-seven at his 23, Wallace steps back to throw. Mathis, lined up at right defensive end, blows by the left tackle and strips the ball from Wallace. Raheem Brock picks it up at the fourteen and returns it to the five. Colts’ ball in the Seattle red zone with 8:15 remaining. Dance, Robert. Dance!

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  • Colts replace several starters and try two straight runs, the post route to Clark fails, and the Colts settle for the field goal. Colts up 34-3 with 6:58 remaining.
  • Seattle drives the length of the field and scores on Wallace’s seven yard scamper. Colts lead is cut to 34-10, and the teams line up for the on-side kick. The Colts are expecting it, but can’t recover the ball even though Brown and Rushing both have a shot at it. Sorgi was warming up and I thought the game was over, but the Hawks end up with the ball at their 46 with 2:59 remaining.
  • With several defensive starters on the sideline, Seattle drives to yet another score to bring them to a more respectable 34-17. Sorgi never makes it to the field as Peyton is sent out to take a knee and run out the clock.

Overall Impressions:

  • The Offense: Looked VERY good for most of the game, with a good mix of run and pass. Joe Addai was very active, and Clark, Wayne, Garçon, and Collie all have big games. I’d call this a break-out game for Collie. The squad scores TDs on four of their first five possessions and has several drives of 80+ yards. Manning seems especially happy in celebrating Collie’s first NFL touchdown at the end of the first-half. I also find it interesting that the Colts’ first offensive play of the second-half goes to… you guessed it… Collie. The O-line protects Peyton well; no sacks, and the run game is effect when needed.
  • The Defense: An amazing day for the defense, and a major rebound for a squad that struggled mightily in Miami. They looked good on their first series giving up 1 first down before forcing a punt. Dawson, Jennings, and Muir with notable plays. They allow the Hawks into their territory on Seattle’s second possession but three great defensive plays in a row force a punt (loss of 3, loss of 4, loss of 5). The D ends up with 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles while giving up 17 points (14 in garbage time) and allowing Seattle to convert only six of fifteen third-down conversions. It was an excellent day for Mathis with two and one-half sacks and four quarterback hits.
  • Special Teams: I’m still jazzed about the T.J. Rushing punt return, and I’m happy to celebrate the accomplishment with them. Nice job, guys!

Random Thoughts:

  • Ok, I’m probably the last person to realize this, but it’s finally dawned on me that Tim Jennings’ real value is in containment. He uses his speed to obstruct the ball carrier’s path which gives other defenders time to converge. It seems that many tackles credited to other defenders, and the gang tackling the Colts are famous for, are often the direct result of Jennings forcing the runner to stop or change direction. Thanks for all you did for this team, Tim.
  • I hear a lot about how Robert Mathis isn’t really as good as everyone thinks; that Freeney makes him the player he is. Maybe, but he looked pretty darned good on a day that Freeney didn’t play that much; especially that last forced fumble where he totally out-classed the left tackle and slamming the QB to the ground.
  • Brown seemed to get most of the goal line carries today. Could we be seeing a trend?
  • Bullitt made some huge hits today and went out late in the game, after a particularily nasty hit on a WR. He was replaced with Jamie Silva. Is it my imagination, or does Bullitt, more than any other Colts player, show the ill affects of the hard hits he delivers? I often see him lingering after the play, hunched over, head down and quiet, as if absorbing the aftershocks takes all of his concentration. Then, he simply pushes himself up and hits someone else. It makes me wonder if he hits harder than most or plays hurt more. Maybe both?
  • This seemed to be a real developmental game for Collie. He played with confidence and was active in sideline conversations. That tight hug from 18, after 17’s TD, might have spoken more than anything else to his growing value on this team.
  • Just for the record, I think it’s very cool that the NFL participates in the fight against breast cancer. The fact that NFL football players, man’s men that they are, will wear pink to show their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month kinda tugs at my heart. Read more about how each NFL team has gotten involved… Breast Cancer Awareness and the NFL

Peace!

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Colts win 34-17 to go 4-0 on the season.

Total Run Yds
Colts: 49
Hawks: 78

Total Passing Yds
Colts: 353
Hawks: 230

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Manning: 31-41, 353 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Addai: 12 car, 46 yds
Brown: 9 car, 33 yds
Clark: 8 rec, 80 yds
Wayne: 6 rec, 74 yds, 1 TD
Collie: 6 rec, 65 yds, 1 TD


Other games in the series:

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