Defense Steps Up, Colts Win 14-12
It wasn’t a blow-out and it wasn’t pretty, but the Colts started 2009 on the right foot defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday by a final score of 14-12. Missed opportunities on offense and stellar defense mark the story of a game that could have been much, much worse for the visiting Jags.
Offensively the Colts, although a bit shaky, looked ready to go from the first whistle. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well for them.
Indy received the ball first, marched the field all the way inside the five yard and looked primed to score the games first points. But quarterback Peyton Manning threw a bad pass into double coverage, a fade intended for Reggie Wayne, that was intercepted. The Jags could not convert either, forcing the ball back to Indy. Once again Manning and crew were marching the field, but only this time Jospeh Addai coughed up the ball on a run play and Jacksonville recovered.
After a scorelss first quarter, Jacksonville took the early lead 3-0 on a field goal. Indy finally responded by re-taking the lead on short touchdown run by Joseph Addai, making it 7-3. Another field goal by the Jags made the half time score a very low 7-6.
With the run game struggling to some degree, Manning continually found Reggie Wayne, including hitting him for several big first downs and then connecting for a 35 yard score in the third quarter. The score was then 14-6 and would prove to be all the Colts would need, thanks to the stellar play of their defense and special teams. The defense would give up a touchdown run to Maurice Jones Drew in the 4th quarter to make it 14-12, but the D held on the 2pt conversion.
Repeatedly the Colts defensive unit shut down the Jags offense, forcing three and outs and giving the Indy offense more chances to widen the lead. Unfortunately, the Colts could not take advantage. There was a missed field goal, several very close passes that just missed big catches for first downs and a failed attempt on 4th down that could have helped seal the game.
Instead, punter Pat McAfee boomed an amazing punt inside the five yard line that Justin Snow acrobatically flipped out of the end zone and was downed at the one. Once again the Colts defense put pressure on Jags quarterback David Garrard and got a stop when they needed it the most. In stark contrast to last year, the lackluster offense was picked up by an extremely solid defensive effort.
Despite the outstanding defense, not all was good and gravy for the Colts. Wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez was hurt in the game and could miss 2-6 weeks with a strained knee ligament. A freak injury, Gonzo wasn’t even touched on the play, he just fell over after starting his route. Best of luck to Gonzalez on a quick recovery!
The run game still needs to improve. Joseph Addai showed some nice burst and actually provided some nice yardage on first downs and Donald Brown also showed he belongs in the NFL making some very nice runs for the Indy offense. Also, expect to see some changes in the wide receiver core. Basically, the young players will need to step up and make some plays. Expect to see some more of Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Jacob Tamme. With Gonzalez injured, I don’t think that going for Marvin Harrison is the right answer, but perhaps another veteran receiver could help. I think Collie and Tamme have the skills, and maybe even Garcon, but they are still a young group.
That’s it for this recap. More thoughts forth coming on every aspect of the game, from the special teams to Reggie Wayne’s big game to how the defense looked good in shutting down the Jacksonville offense. After the game, Manning even called it “An ugly win” but hey a win is a win, and we’ll take it.
GO COLTS !!!