How dominant were the Colts last night?
Eli Manning threw for as many passing yards as I did. Eli did have a 6-yard completion which was later negated by a 6-yard loss on a sack.
Despite the 27-26 loss to the Giants last night, the Colts dominated every phase of the game when it mattered. On paper, the Colts lost. But anybody who watched the fourth quarter understands that it was one practice squad battling back from a 26-0 deficit to defeat another practice squad. Let’s just call it a glorified scrimmage.
We will pretend the fourth quarter never happened because most of those players will never see the field when it actually matters.
The Colts played a rough-and-tough style defense that made the Giants look like a middle school girl’s powder-puff team instead of a team that won a Super Bowl in this very stadium just three seasons ago. The Colts, on the other hand, looked quite impressive as they pitched a first-half shutout, 20-0.
Andrew Luck was nearly flawless in his 1 ½ quarters of action. Luck commanded the offense on four series which resulted in 13 points – highlighted by a 6-yard touchdown pass to Griff Whalen in the first quarter. Despite some inaccuracy issues yet again (when he misses a receiver, he is always high), he should be proud of his performance. Luck finished 12-18 for 87 yards and the touchdown.
Back-up quarterback Matt Hasselbeck also shined bright last night. He played just one series in the second quarter, but he got plenty of bang for his buck. Hasselbeck went 4-8 for 39 yards, but he racked up quite the highlight reel for himself. Hasselbeck proved the 38-year-old still has the wheels with a 9-yard scramble on third down to keep the drive alive which later culminated with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Da’Rick Rogers.
All was not peachy for the Colts last night. Against the Jets, the rushing attack appeared to take a step in the right directly. Last night, however, they took two steps back. The Colts as a team had 30 carries for 75 yards. Take away three long scrambles by Chandler Harnish (2) and Hasselbeck and they are left with 46 yards on 27 carries. Trent Richardson looked like the 2013 version with 21 yards on 9 carries; T-Rich had one impressive gain of 8 yards, but if you take that away he is left with 8 carries for 13 yards. Abysmal is putting it kindly.
Another negative I observed last night – and this may shock most people – was Hakeen Nicks. His stat line looked fantastic – 5 catches for 53 yards in less than two quarters – but his taunting penalty demonstrated his lack of maturity and selfishness, which could be a cancer in the locker room. I will give Nicks the benefit of the doubt considering he was playing against his former team and let his emotions get the best of him, but he needs to realize that this is possibly the most talented collection of wide receivers in the league and if he continues to act like a knucklehead he may find himself at the bottom of the depth chart.
I felt the special teams play of Adam Vinatieri and Cody Parkey, who combined to go 4-4 for FGs with Vinatieri nailing a 53-yarder in the first quarter, was impressive; especially after some inconsistencies in the first preseason game. Punter Pat McAfee attempted a 64-yarder to win the game with a handful of seconds remaining, but his kick – despite having the distance – sailed left. Another player who caught my eye was rookie CB Loucheiz Purifoy, who made several dazzling punt returns – including one in which he caught the ball just outside his own 5-yard yard, danced backwards toward the goal line, and then turned on the jets and returned the ball out near the 30-yard-line.
All in all, despite the final outcome, it was a dominant performance by the Colts. For the most part, they were able to move the ball at will against the Giants defense, but I was more captivated with the Colts defense, who smothered the Giants when it mattered. As long as their core players remain healthy, I can see this defensive being one of the best in the league.
Next up for the Colts will be a Super Bowl XLIV rematch against the New Orleans Saints on Saturday night (8pm) at Lucas Oil Stadium.