Week 9: Colts Horseshoe Heroes


With the Colts’ 6th win of the season, it’s time to acknowledge the “Horseshoe Heroes” of Week 9 against the New York Giants. These are players that went above and beyond their positional requirements and delivered an exceptional performance in what was a dominant 40-24 Colts’ victory:

Nov 3, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) attempts to pass before a hit by New York Giants defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

QB Andrew Luck: Despite being roughened up like a human piñata by the Giants’ pass rush, QB Andrew Luck was nothing short of brilliant last night. He finished the evening 25 for 46 with 354 passing yards and 4 touchdowns, giving him an overall quarterback rating of 108.4.

Luck wasn’t just hit, he was hit an awful lot. The official statistics have him as being hit 11 times with 1 sack. Even without a clean pocket for most of the night, #12 delivered. He made several key throws, particularly when his offense needed them the most in crucial moments of the game.

Luck played at an elite level last night, and quite frankly, he has all season. It’s even more remarkable when you consider that Luck is the 1st quarterback in NFL history to throw for 350+ passing yards in each of 5 straight road games.

In some games, your best players simply take over, and this was one of them. 

WR T.Y. Hilton: The Colts’ explosive young wideout didn’t blow up the box score quite like he did in Week 6 against the Houston Texans. However, his 31-yard touchdown catch with 11:50 left in the 3rd quarter ignited the Colts’ 2nd half rout.

It was a thing of beauty, as the 5’9″, 178 lbs, Hilton stole the ball from the Giants’ Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a jumpball mid-air and landed in paydirt. Hilton finished the evening with 3 receptions for 71 receiving yards, but none were bigger than his aforementioned spectacular 3rd quarter touchdown reception.

He’s been playing at an elite level the past couple of weeks, and there’s no question he’s the bonafide #1 receiver of this offense. His 3rd season in the NFL has been truly a breakout one for T.Y. Hilton.

Nov 3, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle (82) is unable to reach the ball as he is covered by Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis (21) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

CB Vontae Davis: His basic box score isn’t all that impressive with 4 tackles and 2 pass deflections. However, Vontae Davis shut down whichever Giants’ wide receiver was unfortunate enough to line up on his side of their offensive formation.

According to ProFootballFocus, Davis was targeted 12 times last night by Eli Manning, and only surrendered 4 receptions for 49 yards and an opposing quarterback rating of 46.9.

Think the Colts didn’t miss Vontae last weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers? He’s the secondary’s best player and has played like a shutdown cornerback all season.

OLB Jonathan NewsomeNewsome might be the defense’s best natural pass rusher with Robert Mathis out of the lineup. It’s a pretty high compliment for a rookie 5th round pick out of Ball State University.

The Colts’ platooned Andy Studebaker and Jonathan Newsome at the OLB spot usually held by Erik Walden, who was out with a hip injury. As a result, Studebaker would play situationally against the run, while Newsome was utilized as a pass rusher on passing downs. It worked like a charm, as Newsome finished with 7 tackles and 2 sacks, including a strip-sack with 5:31 left in the 3rd quarter that the Colts’ defense recovered. Somewhere, I like to think Robert Mathis is smiling. 

RB Ahmad BradshawBradshaw didn’t find the end zone in this one; however, he had a strong performance against his former team. It had to have been a bit bittersweet for the Colts’ 8-year veteran running back, but Bradshaw got the best of his ex-teammates. He finished the evening with 50 rush yards on 7 carries for an impressive 7.1 ypc average, also adding 29 receiving yards on 3 receptions to his night. It also didn’t hurt that his team won in a blow-out. 

PK Adam VinatieriAdam must be short for automatic because that’s exactly what Vinatieri has been this season. He was 4 for 4 last night and is 20 for 20 on the season. I’m not a mathmetician, but that means perfecto. If Vinatieri is 41 years old, the future Hall of Famer sure hasn’t played like it.

Offensive Line: The Colts offensive line is lucky that their star young quarterback is 6’4″, 240 lbs, and built like an ox, because he took way too many shots last night. Colts’ fans know that Luck can take the hits, but that doesn’t mean he needs to. At a certain point those hits are going to start adding up or he’s going to take a really bad one (*knock on wood*). As mentioned, Luck was hit 11 times and sacked once officially. However, some of the advanced stats depict an even worse picture:

Nov 3, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) attempts to pass before being hit by New York Giants defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Advanced statistics like the above simply cannot happen. The Colts benched their usual starting right guard Hugh Thornton for veteran Lance Louis because of disciplinary reasons last night. However, even that shouldn’t cause as big of an issue as we saw last night. Robert Ayers is a nice rushing OLB/DE for the New York Giants, but the Colts’ offensive line allowed him to play like J.J. Watt last night. He wasn’t the only Giants’ pass rusher who got some shots on Luck either.

1st Half Offensive Play-Calling: While the Colts were up 16-3 in the first half, it was one of those games where they very easily could’ve been up a lot more. Credit to offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton for making some serious 2nd half adjustments, but how can you justify only running the ball 4 times total in the first half?

In the National Football League, you have to stay balanced, and the Colts became too one-dimensional in the 1st half of his one, as they lost sight of their running game. Fortunately, the coaching staff made the proper adjustments, and the offense exploded in the 2nd half with a few more added runs in the mix.

Nov 3, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) is wrapped up by New York Giants outside linebacker Jacquian Williams (57) and defensive end Damontre Moore (98) at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O