After facing inferior opponents for the past two weeks, the Indianapolis Colts finally beat a team with a pulse. In a sloppy, defensive mess of a game the Colts managed to defeat the Baltimore Ravens, 20-13.
Were it not for poor offensive execution and turnovers, the Colts would have blown out the Ravens Sunday. To say Indy struggled in the red zone would be an understatement. It was mostly a matter of poor execution as opposed to bad play calling, but some decision before the game (like benching A.Q. Shipley) were baffling.
The win puts the Colts back atop the AFC South after the Texans lost in overtime to the Cowboys. This week, the Colts have just three days before they battle in Houston for complete control of the division.
Here’s what stood out from Sunday’s win:
- Andrew Luck has to play better. He’s at a point in his career where the expectations are greatness every week. If he’s going to be in the MVP conversation, he can’t play like hot garbage after hosting back-to-back passing clinics. He made some bad decisions and had more than a couple awful passes. Luck does get credit for his fourth quarter drive that made it a two score game. He was three-for-three for 74 yards and the 13-yard rushing touchdown on that drive following an interception.
- This was the best defensive game plan and play calling in Chuck Pagano’s tenure. We’ve criticized the coaches for not being able to put together a quality defense, or even a half decent one, but the they carried the team yesterday. Greg Manusky dialed up the blitz at the right time and everything fell into place perfectly for the Indy defense.
- Dare I say that the Colts actually have a pass rush? Four sacks against a team that had allowed just three all season. The Colts are managing to generate pressure without Robert Mathis on the field. Bjoern Werner finally had the big game that he’s been pressing for and nearly played the closer that Mathis (and Dwight Freeney) was for years. Also, someone needs to teach Jonathan Newsome (who was pretty solid overall) how to finish his sacks.
- The secondary was outstanding. Sergio Brown made more plays in one game than LaRon Landry has made all season. He was deadly off the blitz and generally made plays in one-on-one coverage situations. Vontae Davis continues to live up to his contract (although that interception was completely on Joe Flacco). Greg Toler continues to get picked on and picked up a pass interference by reputation alone (on a very late flag). Toler made up for his inconsistent play with the game winning pass breakup on a fourth-and-three play on an underthrown ball.
- I don’t know why Jonotthan Harrison started at center, but I do know it almost cost the team the game. He had two horrible snaps, forgot the snap count twice (at home, with no crowd noise), and looked lost when came to blocking on screens. Harrison admittedly played well when blocking, but he struggled with stuff that shouldn’t be an issue. He might be the center of the future, but he’s struggling with the little things right now. He had trouble in the preseason with the snap count and it doesn’t look any better now. He might be a liability on the road with a short week to prepare.
- The tandem up Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton is becoming dangerous. The one-two combination is something we haven’t seen in Indy since Wayne was lining up with Marvin Harrison (that might seem blasphemous). Wayne has 30 receptions for 384 yards and Hilton has 31 for 381 yards. At some point, the touchdowns will come for both players (only Wayne has one) but this type of distribution puts all sorts of pressure on opposing defenses, its why the running backs and tight ends are thriving in the passing attack.
- The officiating on Sunday was horrible. The officials flat out missed a number of calls and couldn’t spot the ball properly to save their lives. I still have no idea what pass interference is, but I assumed that a defensive back planting his arms in a receivers back and pushing him down qualified as PI. The call that took away Hilton’s touchdown was completely wrong. He was wide open by the time Wayne collided with the defender. There were two plays where forward progress wasn’t executed properly (Ahmad Bradshaw‘s fourth down run and Griff Whalen‘s fumble). Overall, it was a mess and Walt Anderson and his crew had a horrible day. The NFL needs to hold officials to a higher standard (maybe make them year round employees) and have more transparency with the grading process.