The Indianapolis Colts overcame unforgivable lapses and poor coaching to get a much needed win on Sunday afternoon.
The Colts managed to find a win despite their best efforts to give it away. There are still horrible, fundamental flaws with the team (namely coaching and construction) but for now they can take solace in the fact that they didn’t completely blow a double digit lead. Again.
Thankfully the players know this wasn’t really a good win and that they made the game more difficult than it had to be. Maybe that changes things, but don’t hold your breath.
Here’s what stood out from Sunday’s win.
- Andrew Luck. Luck was throwing fire on Sunday. He had a few passes that were beyond perfect, like the touchdown to T.Y. Hilton (who was also fire Sunday). Luck had a phenomenal game and that was with five drops from his receivers. This has been an issue all season (and cost them the Jacksonville game) but he was able to overcome those problems and lead yet another fourth quarter comeback. Chuck Pagano is incredibly lucky that he has a QB who can overcome his terrible coaching, otherwise he wouldn’t have a job.
- The Ghost. Hilton needed to show up and be a dominant number one receiver if the Colts were going to win and he did just that. For some reason, the Titans chose not to double team Hilton all afternoon and force one of the undrafted rookies to beat them. It did not end well for Tennessee. The Colts are going to have a stretch where they need Hilton to dominate as the other starting receivers get healthy. But with the Chiefs and Marcus Peters coming to town this week, that could be an issue.
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- Jack Doyle. Count me among those who said that Doyle was a serviceable tight end who was a good blocker and could now and then give you a few yards. Oh how wrong I was. He has been the biggest surprise this season and had a great game when the Colts were basically left with just two primary options downfield. So far, he’s outplayed Dwayne Allen and become an integral part of the Colts passing attack. His catch off the bounce while getting speared in the back was incredible, and proved he’s one of the toughest guys on the team.
- The GOAT. Adam Vinatieri is the greatest kicker in NFL history. He should be a first ballot Hall of Famer (but that might be a problem since he’s a kicker). Fans are celebrating his record breaking kick twice as hard since it was former liquored-up Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt who held it before him. You might remember Vanderjagt as the guy who missed an easy FG try in the 2005 playoffs that would have sent the game into overtime. That was also his last kick as a Colt and the same time the Pats let Vinatieri walk for some reason.
- Third downs. The Colts were beyond bad when it mattered most Sunday. The Colts were just 4-for-10 on third down offensively and allowed the Titans to convert 9-of-15 third down tries. Twice in one drive the Colts surrendered a 3rd down conversion when the Titans needed 15 or more yards (more on that drive in a moment). The lack of a pass rush has killed the Colts this season, and nowhere is that more evident than on third down. Offensively, the Colts had execution issues at times and for some reason love to line up in shotgun on third and short. Despite these failings, they still managed to score 27 points offensively on the road, which is fantastic.
- Coaching. There is so much to dissect with Chuck Pagano’s decision making and logic. One minute he’s taking a surprise onside kick and the next he’s punting on fourth-and-one from inside the 50-yard line. If you are going to be aggressive, be aggressive. You can’t half-ass that decision. That fourth down punt was turned into a touchdown by the Titans, showing again that Pagano has far too much faith in his defense. We can also look at penalties as a sign of undisciplined play as the Colts were hit 12 times for 131 yards. Considering third down, the penalties, and drops it is a shock that the Colts actually won.
- Josh McNary. The Colts cut Sio Moore for less than what McNary did in one single drive. The hit he laid on tight end Delanie Walker, that cost the Colts the ball after an interception, was illegal is so many ways. For one, it would have been pass interference if the ball had been going to Walker but more importantly it was a nasty hit against a defenseless receiver, the kind the NFL is trying to outlaw. At the end of the drive, McNary played the outside at the goal line when Walker was clearly running a fake. Couple that with the Colts having two defenders on the outside and it is understandable that he was benched on the next drive. In case you needed more evidence the Colts should have kept Jerrell Freeman, McNary gave you plenty.
- The announcing. Generally you can tune out the announcers and move on but CBS’ crew on Sunday was awful. Solomon Wilcots was atrocious on Sunday. He clearly hadn’t done his homework (or did a cursory glance at film and called it a day) and misstated what was happening on the field over and over. He blamed Luck for drops by his receivers and carried water for Marcus Mariota who was terrible on the most basics of quarterbacking. That kind of announcing makes you long for Phil Simms or Jon Gruden (or a sharp object to poke out your ears).
The Colts get to return home this week to host the Kansas City Chiefs. Hopefully they’ll get some good news on the injury front in the next few days.