With the Colts final game of the regular season, it’s time to acknowledge the “Horseshoe Heroes” of Week 17 against the Tennessee Titans. These are players that went above and beyond their positional requirements and delivered an exceptional performance, in a rather convincing 27-10 divisional victory:
Dec 28, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) drops back to pass against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Luck: In just one half of action, Luck was 10 for 16 (62.5%) for 160 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Boasting a passer rating of 135.4, Luck was very sharp on the afternoon. It was a strong performance by the Colts young star quarterback, as he looks to keep the momentum going next weekend heading into the playoffs.
Coby Fleener: The most targeted Colts receiver of the afternoon, Fleener flashed the size and speed that often make him such a tough matchup in coverage for opposing defenses. He had 5 receptions for 56 receiving yards; however, most impressive were his 2 touchdowns on the afternoon.
Matt Hasselbeck: One could make a strong argument that Hasselbeck is the 2nd best quarterback in the AFC South as it stands. His performance against the Titans on Sunday had to feel pretty good, considering that it came against his old team. Released in March of 2013 by the Titans, Hasselbeck quickly signed with the Colts to be Andrew Luck’s highly paid backup.
The 16-year NFL veteran spent the 2011-12 seasons with the Titans, and on Sunday, he was able to dish out a little bit of payback. Hasselbeck was 13 for 19 (68.4%) for 155 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions, playing in the 2nd half as Luck’s relief.
Dec 28, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne (87) catches a pass and rushes to the one yard line against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Reggie Wayne: It was great to see the Colts beloved 14-year veteran wideout make a positive impact on Sunday. Wayne has mostly been a nonfactor since Week 11 against the New England Patriots. It was the 1st time he’s eclipsed 35 receiving yards in a game since that performance.
Most of his work came on a 2nd quarter, 80 yard long acrobatic sideline reception that saw Wayne tackled just short of the end zone on the 2-yard line. The reception was actually the longest of Wayne’s career, beating out a previous career long, 71 yard reception, that he had all the way back in 2004. However, Colts fans will have to keep their fingers crossed as Wayne injured his groin on the play and did not return.
Jonathan Newsome: It was a fitting end to what has been a very impressive rookie campaign for the Colts’ 5th round rookie. Newsome had 6 tackles (all solo), 2 sacks, and 6 QB hurries. According to ProFootballFocus, he had a +5.3 grade overall which is his best performance of the regular season, including a +3.9 grade in pass rush.
It’s clear that in Robert Mathis‘ absence, Newsome has become the Colts best natural pass rusher on the team. His 6.5 sacks as a rookie on the season are only 2nd to the St. Louis Rams’ Aaron Donald, who leads with 9.0 sacks.
D’Qwell Jackson: One of the veteran leaders of the Colts defense, Jackson was a tackling machine on Sunday. He already had 9 tackles at the end of the 1st half and could’ve had a lot more, had he not been pulled in the 2nd half with the rest of the defensive starters. Per ProFootballFocus, Jackson had a +1.2 grade overall, a fairly impressive mark.
Dec 28, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Zurlon Tipton (37) rushes against Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Quentin Groves (53) during the second half at LP Field. Colts defeated the Titans 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Running game: Colts running backs ran 25 times for just 67 total rushing yards. That’s still only a 2.68 ypc average, which won’t cut it against the more elite teams in the NFL.
Outside of Dan “Boom” Herron, who had 10 carries for 35 total rush yards (3.5 ypc), no Colts’ running back averaged more than 3.0 yards per carry on the afternoon. The Colts’ ground game has been a problem all season, and yesterday was no exception.
Dec 28, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson (34) carries the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports