Despite a dominating offensive performance, four fumbles kept the game close. The offensive line, as a whole, had its best statistical game this year. Garçon had his best game of the year. Like last year, he has gone on stretches of poor games, only to bust out with a highlight reel performance in Washington. He did have a pair of inexplicable drops, but they were his only drops of the game. Austin Collie was superb, as has become the norm for him.
The mistakes in the passing game were fairly balanced. The receivers had a few drops, Manning had a few over/under-throws, and there were quite a few passes defended. While Manning didn’t get his 70% completion percentage, 65.8% is still good.
Defensively, linebacker Clint Session’s statistics are not representative of his overall play. Fellow outside linebacker Philip Wheeler’s performance in relation to his statistics is the opposite, as he had a solid game. Rookie middle linebacker Pat Angerer did an exceptional job even though the prime-time game was his NFL starting debut. More on those stories after the jump.
*Note: S = Superior, G = Good, A = Assist, F = Failed, M = Missed, T = Turned
Notes on the Offense
* Manning had an average number of attempts (38 vs. an average of 42) and had an average number of drops and overthrows (4 vs. an average of 5.3 and 4 vs. an average of 5.8). The statistical outlier against Washington was the number of defended passes. In the first 5 games Manning threw 11 passes that were knocked down by defenders. Against the Redskins he threw 5. The only time he had more was in Week 3 against Denver when he threw 7. Either Washington’s secondary was keyed in on Manning, or given that 3 of those defended passes were on the Colts second to last drive when Manning threw three straight passes into tight coverage on Wayne and Clark, it could be attributed to Manning forcing throws in an effort to kill time. Either way, the game was good overall for Manning, who had 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.
* The offensive line had a season best game today, but it got out to a rough start. Through the first half, both right tackle Ryan Diem and right guard Mike Pollak had over 20% bad blocks (25.6% for Pollak and 23.1% for Diem), and their miscues cost the Colts chances to extend drives. By the end of the half, Pollak had given up 2 pressures and a hit, had 8 failed blocks, and 2 missed blocking assignments. After Diem’s allowed strip sack on the second offensive snap in the second half, the duo shaped up — it was the last serious pressure or hit on Manning in the game. Pollak added only 2 failed blocks, and Diem got a lot better on the edge rushes, not allowing a turn for the rest of the game. They ended up with statistically good performances, but need to reduce their bad blocks.
* The only times left guard Kyle DeVan screwed up were obvious. On the play that stands out most, which happened as Manning was throwing a possible touchdown to Reggie Wayne, DeVan allowed the defender to spin inside. While he should have been able to make the block alone, center Jeff Saturday pushed off of a quick block and turned to the right to watch the defensive tackle run around the outside. Had Saturday not turned, he could have assisted DeVan. The second hit only occurred after Diem allowed Manning to be stripped, which forced Peyton into the path of DeVan’s lateral block. Overall though, DeVan was the best linemen in the game.
* With 3:02 remaining in the second quarter, Manning called “attack” to get a penalty on 3rd and 6 while Washington was attempting to substitute personnel. Joseph Addai ran for 5 yards as flags were flying. After he was tackled by London Fletcher, he got up and started walking back to Manning. Fletcher seemed to think he was “King of the World,” jumped up, and started running his mouth at Addai. DeVan was the lead blocker on the run and once he saw Fletcher getting after Addai, he pulled him away and seemed to say, “You want someone to talk big to? Come here instead of going after my running back.” Though it might be trivial, it was good to see the linemen protecting guys like Addai.
* Every receiver had better than 50% catch rates, and Manning really spread the ball around. Collie, Clark, and Wayne all had 9 targets and Garçon had 7. The only other game with this kind of parity was in Week 1 against Houston when Wayne had 10 targets, Clark and Collie had 11, and Garçon had 13.
* Addai had a great game, getting his first 100+ yard rushing game in nearly 2 years. He has been close to getting 100 yards in other games this year, but his career long rush of 46 yards put him over the top. Mike Hart also had a solid game, getting 43 yards to go along with his 50 yards from last week. Over the past two weeks Hart has 93 yards on 22 carries for a 4.23 yards per carry average. The rushing attack has become more effective. While one should not expect 150 yards rushing every week from the Colts, it is becoming more likely that they’ll move out of the cellar in rushing yards per game.
Notes on the defense
* Antonio Johnson became an equal member of the defensive tackle rotation, increasing his snaps from 11 the first two weeks to 31 this week. While he missed a couple of tackles, he provided pressure up the middle. He was not alone. Despite not putting up many tackles, Moala, Muir, and Mookie got pressure up the middle on passing plays, and helped clog the middle so the linebackers could take out rushers in the gaps. The defensive tackles were limited statistically because Washington passed on two out of three plays.
* Defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis put on another quarterback pressure show. They has 20 total hits and pressures between them, with Mathis adding one-and-a-half sacks. Keyunta Dawson and Eric Foster also generated pressure, contributing an the extra half sack and 3 more pressures. As with the defensive tackles, the lack of rushing plays limited the tackle totals for the defensive ends.
* Rookie middle linebacker Pat Angerer was exceptional. He was thrown to 7 times and allowed only 2 receptions for 17 yards with a pass defended. He didn’t whiff on any tackles, and directed a defense that looked solid overall. On one play, Angerer was in the process of making a tackle after a short dumpoff pass when Clint Session hit Angerer in the side, peeling him off the receiver, which ultimately to a Redskins first down and a gain of 12 yards. After taking Session’s hit, Angerer hopped up and took off after the receiver. He displayed toughness and effort — good reason to look forward to his future with the Colts.
* Session had a poor performance. On at least 6 running plays he failed to correctly hold his gap assignment. On these kinds of plays, the running back tries to get to the edge. The outside linebacker on that side of the field is supposed run with the back down the line of scrimmage to force him out of bounds or stop him for no gain. The cornerback and middle linebacker help solidify the edge and cutback lanes. Instead, Session drove straight into the backfield, leaving Angerer to sprint to the sideline. This gives the running back a huge lane down the sideline to pick up considerable yards before the middle linebacker or safety can make the tackle. This is the same breakdown that allowed Arian Foster to go crazy in Week 1.
* Philip Wheeler had a very good game. When he was on the field he was a factor in many plays, kept his gap assignments in check, and even though he didn’t have a lot of tackles, he was able to redirect many of the plays into the grasp of Pat Angerer. The biggest statistical difference between Wheeler and Session was in coverage. Many of Session’s tackles came in coverage, where he allowed 100% completions and gave up 79 yards on 10 throws. Wheeler was targeted only twice with one incomplete pass and one reception for a gain of 12 yards.
* It was more of the same from the secondary. Hayden was on-again, off-again. Powers was spectacular. Tryon filled in very well for Hayden, and spent most of the second half playing in nickel formations. Francisco has been keeping pace statistically with Bethea, which is what Bullitt did, so he is not hurting the secondary.