Quick Thoughts: Colts 27, Redskins 24

Addai leaves the game injured in the third quarter. (Jonathan Ernst | Reuters)

The Colts limped into Sunday night’s match-up against the Washington Redskins needing a win to keep pace with the Houston Texans in the AFC South.  They were able to overcome numerous turnovers and Father Time’s persistence to get that win, and now enter the much needed bye week at 4-2.

The Colts should have won the game with a little more ease.  Four fumbles (three lost), two missed field goals, and a slew of missed tackles that brought back memories of 2006, gave the Redskins an opportunity to win the game at the end.  On top of their miscues, the Colts lost Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, and Pierre Garçon to injuries.  After the jump I’ll give my quick thoughts on the win…

Jerraud Powers had a great game, with 11 tackles (two for a loss), two defended passes, and an interception.  He was amazing in coverage all night, and his first quarter interception stopped a promising looking drive by the Redskins and set up the Colts’ opening score.  His play against the run is also impressive; he’s developed into an all-around great player.

Clint Session had a forgettable first three quarters, but was able to make up for them with two important plays in the final frame.  First, he came free on a blitz and sacked Donovan McNabb, forcing the Redskins into a field goal deep in Indy territory.  His second great play came on a third-and-three when he was able to break into the backfield on a Redskins’ toss play and bring down Ryan Torrain for a loss.  He’s been inconsistent these past two weeks, and the Colts will need him to get back to his 2009 form if they hope to go deep into January.

Pat Angerer had an up-and-down debut.  While he was able to record a sack in the first half, he was guilty of getting lost in coverage on occasion, and, like Session, took bad angles on numerous running plays.  It wasn’t all bad, however, as Angerer did have two pass defenses and a tackle for loss.  While he’ll get better with more playing time, the Colts will be happy to have Gary Brackett back after the bye week.

The Colts defensive line dominated their individual battles, but their inability to finish plays almost cost the team the win.  Defensive linemen had Washington running backs in their grasp in the backfield at least five times, but failed to complete the tackle.  In the passing game, Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney terrorized McNabb all night, but were unable to bring him to the ground.

Aaron Francisco hasn’t been stellar in his two games as the Colts starting strong safety, but he hasn’t been horrible, either, which is all the Colts can ask of a third-string player signed off the street two weeks ago.  If you missed the game, make sure you watched the highlights to see his amazing game-clinching interception.

Peyton Manning seemed eager to follow up last week’s statistically poor game with an actual poor game.  Manning threw three first-quarter passes right to Washington defenders, though the Redskins’ defensive backs graciously dropped all three.  From that point on, however, Manning was surgical, going 25 of 38 for 307 yards and two touchdowns.  And he may have had more if not for some shaky offensive line play and key drops by his receivers.

Joseph Addai was a beast up until he left the game with an injury.  He ran for 128 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.  He also continued to be stellar in pass blocking, helping limit the Redskins to only one sack.  His injury looked bad, and Andrea Kramer reported that he was dazed and woozy, and needed assistance even after he was in the locker room.  Hopefully he’s able to get healthy over the bye week, he’s vital to the Colts’ success.

A week after supplying a majority of the Colts scoring while going four-for-four on field goals, Adam Vinatieri was a big part of the Colts’ inability to shut the door on the Redskins, going two-for-four (misses from 38 and 48 yards) on the night.  The media loves to talk about Vinatieri’s “clutch kicking”, but he’s been far from elite in recent years, and you have to believe this will be his last year with the Colts.

Some of Jim Caldwell’s decision making was awkward, at best, on Sunday.  His decision to challenge an interception and fumble in the first two minutes of the game seemed especially bad given the recent emphasis placed on the “maintain possession of the ball while going to the ground” rule.  Then, at the end of the first half, he left seven seconds and a time out on the board and sent Vinatieri out for a 48-yard field goal, instead of letting the greatest quarterback in the history of the game an opportunity to pick up a few extra yards.  While Caldwell was put in charge of a talented team, the jury is still out on whether his coaching talent matches up with that of his team.

Pierre Garçon made an eye-popping catch in the first half, but combined it with a penalty, a dropped pass, and a bad route.  This is Pierre Garçon in a nutshell — he has all the talent in the world but is unable to play at a consistently high level.  Garçon also suffered an apparent finger injury during the game.  He came back, briefly, after suffering the injury, but had to leave after one series and did not return.

Ryan Diem.  These words will soon be filtered on the internet.  While he acquitted himself decently in the running game, he continued to be a turnstile in the passing game.  Diem gave up his second strip-sack in as many weeks, and continues to allow throw-altering pressure from the right side.  To his credit, Diem continues to battle, but with the bye week here you have to wonder if the Colts will consider making a change.

Injury-wise, the bye could not come at a better time.  Assuming the injury to Addai isn’t serious, the Colts should be able to come out of it with all of their starters, minus Bob Sanders, at 100 percent.  If that happens, they may be able to go on one of their long winning streaks, and a top playoff seed would not be out of the question.

You don’t get style points for pretty wins, so all-in-all, a great outcome for the Colts, who will have a chance to take sole possession of first place in the AFC South when they face the Texans after the bye.

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