Domination gets thrown around far too often when talking about football games, but what the Indianapolis Colts did yesterday fits the definition. The Bengals struggled to do anything productive on offense as the Colts pitched a shutout.
They haven’t had a no-no since 2008 and that hardly even counts as both the Colts and Titans rested starters in the regular season finale. Everything about yesterday’s win was far more impressive.
It is safe to say that this defense is legit after five straight weeks of great performances. This season, the Colts’ opponents have converted just 20-of-77 third down attempts. 12 of those conversions came in the first two weeks.
Yesterday, the Bengals were just 1-for-13 and didn’t convert on third down until the final 12 minutes of the game. The Colts managed to force 10 three-and-outs.
This is the type of defense that can win a Super Bowl. If you are looking at the best team’s in the AFC, the Colts are right up there with the Denver Mannings.
Here’s what stood out on Sunday:
- Forget the Pro Bowl, Vontae Davis is playing at an All-Pro Level. Of the seven passes thrown his way yesterday, Davis allowed just two receptions for 21 yards. Unlike last season, he is focused and dialed in every single game and rarely, if ever, giving up a big play.
- Giovani Bernard is going to hear Davis’ footsteps for awhile. It certainly didn’t help that Mike Adams lit Bernard up two plays later in the same fashion. He looked like a man who didn’t want to play anymore after that series. The Colts aren’t just playing tough defense, they are hammering opponents. Those two hits show that you can A) still play defense in NFL and B) were textbook examples of how to tackle someone without drawing a flag.
- T.Y. Hilton is apparently unguardable. He’s well on his way to his first All-Pro season (yes, that’s two Colts who should at this point be All-Pro’s). You would think after last week’s monster game against the Texans that the Bengals would maybe roll coverage over him, but that didn’t happen. 47 receptions and 711 for Hilton so far this season, and we have nine more game left to play.
- Another ho-hum game from Andrew Luck. Another 300-plus yard, multi-touchdown game for Mr. Luck. He’s passed for over 300 yards in six of the Colts seven games and leads the NFL with 2,333 yards (nearly 300 more than the next closest player). He’s also tied for touchdown passes with Peyton Manning at 19. Colts fans are a bit jaded about quarterback play after Manning, but what Luck is doing is easily on the same level as the last guy.
- The pass rush is for real. The Colts once again faced the best pass protection in the NFL and dominated it. Four sacks, all from different players, and nine QB hits from five players. Bjoern Werner has really come into his own after a rough start to the season and led the team in pressure. While its tough to lose Robert Mathis, is might be a blessing in disguise as it has forced other players to step up and the coaches to become more creative with the play calling. Both of which are somehow working out.
- We saw a run game with a big asterix. Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw, and even Dan Herron combined for 166 yards and a touchdown. It was the best day the Colts have had on the ground all season, but there was cause for concern. Bradshaw had a bad fumble after dancing around trying to gain an extra yard. On his next carry he made sure to get two hands on the ball as he was being tackled. We also saw Richardson receive a bad handoff from Luck that could have been credited to either player. Those two plays kept the game closer than it should have been, but the defense bailed the offense out.
- What happens when LaRon Landry returns from his suspension? Sergio Brown hasn’t been amazing in his three starts, but he certainly hasn’t hurt the team. Landry was awful before he was caught taking PEDs and doesn’t really fit a with the team as its currently constructed. Landry is an in-the-box safety in a league that doesn’t value that anymore. The old adage is that you can’t lose your job to injury (which is a lie) but does that apply to suspensions as well?
The Colts are 5-2 and currently second in the AFC, right behind the Broncos. The division is all but gift wrapped for the Colts and the playoffs might just be a given at this point.
Up next, the Colts will face the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road.