The Indianapolis Colts dispatched the depleted Cincinnati Bengals Sunday afternoon. The Colts led from start to finish
Andrew Luck put on a masterful performance. If his receivers could have held onto the ball (five drops) Luck had a three-plus touchdown game. The TD to Donte Moncrief was gorgeous and he had a few other passes that were beyond perfect.
There is the very real possibility that Luck will get hot and propel this team further into the playoffs. He didn’t play particularly well in the season opener against the Broncos, but after Sunday’s game against the Bengals another fantastic performance seems likely.
Here’s what stood out from the playoff win:
- Booming. Dan Herron had an outstanding game Sunday. The dump off passes (something we’ve wanted to see all season) are just an extension of the running game and Herron made the most of every opportunity. His lost fumble is regrettable but easily fixed by either switching which hand the ball was in (he didn’t have a chance to do so) or covering it up with both arms. He also took a fist to a sensitive area which caused him to momentarily lose focus.
- Lock Down. While the receiving corps for Cincy was lacking on Sunday, the performance of the Colts secondary was outstanding. Greg Toler defended three passes while Vontae Davis broke up two more. Overall, the defense has seven passes defended and a 69.1 passer rating for Andy Dalton.
- Weekend of Linebackers. There was some outstanding play by middle linebackers across the NFL this weekend. Adding to this trend was the play of Jerrell Freeman. He graded well in all phases of the game and played at a level the coaches and fans have dreamed about. Two sacks to go along with seven stops is impressive and he added the icing on the cake with his strip of Dalton late in the game.
- The Opening Drive. This drive was exhibit number one as to why Pep Hamilton is being interviewed for head coaching jobs in the NFL. A 10 play drive that was perfectly executed and featured a nice mix of run and pass plays. Over half of the plays went Herron’s way and he did not disappoint one bit with 58 of the drive’s 71 yards. The play calling and game plan (i.e. giving Luck an effective check down option) set this team up for their first hot start of the season.
- Drops. This has been a problem all season long and showed up again on Sunday. T.Y. Hilton had three bad ones yesterday to add to his season total of seven. The Colts led the NFL with 40 drops this year as well and its not going to suddenly get better in one week.
- Self-Inflicted. The Colts committed nine penalties for 66 yards. Most of which were easily avoidable things like false starts (which are inexcusable at home). Dwayne Allen was clearly rusty and graded poorly based on penalties alone (at least his hands worked, caught all three passes thrown his way). A lack of attention to detail on offense kills drives very quickly.
- Center Woes. Khaled Holmes did not have a very good game. Ryan Grigson said he played well on the radio, but that’s a flat out lie. Pro Football Focus gave him an appalling -7.0 grade. Five carries up the middle netted just 17 yards and Holmes gave up a sack to a horrible Bengals pass rush. While continuity is key with any line, it sounds like we could see more musical chairs across Luck’s protection this week.