A Look Back at 2010: Week 1 – Colts at Texans

As we continue to wait for the NFL and NFLPA to resolve their differences, Coltzilla will be spending the next few weeks looking back at 2010. This will allow fans to relive the season — and think about what could have happened — and gives me the opportunity to complete another revision of ‘Game Stats.’ This will allow me to include information like air yards, yards after the catch, broken tackles by offensive players, yards after first hit, opposing defensive formations, running back blocking statistics, time the QB held the ball, number of blitzers, etc.

This revision of Game Stats has produced some very interesting results that I didn’t notice the first time through. To get access these new observations, though, you’ll have to read on past the jump. Unlike my game stat reviews of the games, the game results statistics will be left for the statistics page.

Without further ado, let’s go back to opening day at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Do you remember how hopeful the season seemed as the game started? Do you remember those pie-in-the-sky thoughts? If you do, you probably remember how short lived they were.

The Colts got the ball first but did not impress. Devin Moore returned the kickoff to the 20-yard line from inside the end zone. The Colts went 3-and-out following an Addai 1-yard run, a Clark 8-yard reception for 8, and a drop by Clark on 3rd-and-1. After a punt that was returned deep into Indy territory the defense was facing a short field, and a hyped up offense led by a top tier QB/WR combo and an unheralded RB who would prove to be demonic. The Colts defense held the Texans to 8 plays, covering 25 yards, capped by 3 downs inside the Colts 10 — which forced the Texans to kick a field goal.

When the Colts took over, the offense clicked a little bit better. Collie and Wayne both got first downs. But after 7 plays, the Colts had to punt following a pair of drops by Garcon and Wayne on second and third and five. With only 2 offensive series gone in the new season, it still felt like things were just in a start up phase. After another punt by Pat McAfee, held to no yards on the return, the Texans went on a 4-play drive which featured Kelvin Hayden acquiescing 53-yards to the Texans. A sack by Dwight Freeney, a short pass by Texans QB Matt Schaub, and a well-defended pass thrown towards Justin Tryon, held the Texans short of the end zone for another 3 points — making it 6-0 with time ticking away in the first quarter.

On their third possession, the Colts went on an 8 play drive where 3 of the plays were penalties, and 5 of the non-penalty plays resulted in a gain of 2 yards or less. Gonzo had finally made his appearance on the field in place of Garcon, but was only targeted twice — one of which was simply Manning throwing the ball away in Gonzo’s general direction. With a Wayne 22-yard reception, plus 15 additional yards for drawing an unsportsmanlike hit, making up the bulk of the Colts offensive movement in this series, Manning targeted Gonzalez on 2nd and 13 and 3rd and 13 for a total of 59 air yards. The first throw was well above and away from Gonzo but the second hit him in the numbers 28 yards down field along the right sideline. Apparently it was a little too close to the sideline as the referee ruled that his heel was down out of bounds — even though it looked like of Gonzalez was on the balls of his feet in bounds at the time of the catch, before rocked backward and out of bounds. Coach Jim Caldwell challenged the call but was unsuccessful.

The following Texans drive ended the first quarter, and while the final plays of the first totaled only 12 yards, the subsequent 4 plays to start the second quarter gained 67 yards and culminated in a touchdown — extending the Texans lead to 13-0. Indy responded with a short series featuring Garcon dropping another pass, this time on third-and-short, the Colts handed the ball to the Texans at the Houston 16-yard line. Two plays and 17 yards later, Melvin Bullitt scooped up the Colts first take away of the season and delivered a short field to Manning & Co. The offense used this extra opportunity to get on track, taking the ball 35 yards down field to the endzone — where Wayne was targeted for 15-yard back-shoulder stop and grab touchdown reception — bringing the Colts within 6.

A three-and-out by Houston gave Indianapolis the ball to end the half. Manning marched the Colts down the field from their own 35 to the Texans 3 yard line. Another Garcon 3rd down drop necessitated a field goal to bring the score to 10-13 in favor of the home town Texans. When Houston took the ball to start the second half, a change in philosophy was quickly apparent. The Texans decided that all they had to do was ram the ball down the throat of the Colts defensive unit to take control of the game. With a 15-play drive, including 13 run plays, the Texans recovered their 2 possession lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Arian Foster.

The Colts, down 10-20, responded with a 12-play drive that resulted in no points and Manning getting hit all over the field. The Texans failed to capitalize on their ensuing possession and ushered in the 4th quarter by gaining no points and giving the ball back after a 7-play drive. Indy’s luck was still non-existent. 6 plays into the drive — which featured Mario Williams showing the world that LT Charlie Johnson is not his equal — Manning faced a 3rd and 5 and threw a long pass up the middle into triple coverage. Manning’s pass hit Austin Collie who made a great catch and retained possession of the ball only to get demolished from three sides. When Collie lost the ball, the Colts’ fate was essentially sealed.

The next 4 defensive plays featured 3 missed tackles and one broken tackle by Session, Bullitt and Bethea — allowing the Texans to run 91 yards for another touchdown. Even though the used their next possession to add a touchdown, the Texans had too much momentum and scored another touchdown themselves — on a 7-play drive entirely on the ground.

Even though time was nearly gone — and the Colts were out of timeouts — Manning wanted to narrow the final score a little more. On the second play of Indy’s final offensive drive drive, Manning sent a 32-yard air ball down the middle to Austin Collie for a 73-yard touchdown.

After a couple of victory formations, the Texans ran out the clock for 24-34 win.

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