Colts Edge Browns

In the Bizarro world we currently call the NFL, the Colts came into Sunday’s game looking to make the route to another AFC South crown one step closer and potentially achievable with a win and loss by Houston.  Well, the Colts edged out a tough game, 25-24, over the Brian Hoyer-led Cleveland Browns and no Johnny Manziel at all.  However, you wouldn’t have blamed the coaching staff if they had made the move.

As for the game, as I preluded to earlier, it was a strange game for the Colts.  The Browns came and pressured Luck and caused a horrible decision by Luck to try to make something out of nothing which resulted in fumbling the ball near the goal line which led to a Browns touchdown.  The Browns were now leading 7-0, but Luck was able to tie things up after a gutsy 11-yard scramble.  The Browns were able to answer with an Isaiah Crowell rushing touchdown to increase the lead to 14-7 going into halftime.

The Colts started the third quarter with the ball, but Luck threw a pick-6 to rookie Justin Gilbert.  Browns led 21-7.  The Colts answered with an Adam Vinatieri 51-yard field goal to close the gap, 21-10.   After the Browns failed to move the ball Luck hit his favorite target, T.Y. Hilton, for a 41 yard touchdown. Colts trailed 21-16 after a failed 2 point conversion.  Early in the fourth quarter Adam Vinatieri kicked a 33 yard field goal to trim the lead 21-19.  With a little over 8 minutes left in the game, Cleveland’s Billy Cundif kicked a field goal from 39 yards, which extended the Browns leads 24-19.  After some more inept football by both teams Luck was able to drive the Colts down the field and capped off a long drive with a T.Y. Hilton 1 yard touchdown pass, which gave the Colts a 25-24 lead after another failed 2 point conversion.  Cleveland got the ball back but was unable to move the ball down the field.  The game ended on a Josh Gordy interception.

Takeaways:

Luck had a horrible day and again was pressured  due to a shaky offensive line which lost starting center Jonathon Harrison and right guard Joe Reitz (filling in for injured Hugh Thorton) to injuries.  They were replaced by A Q. Shipley and Khaled Holmes, both of whom came in played better than their counterparts.

The aforementioned offensive line continued to struggle early on, but as noted, Holmes and Shipley came in and made the difference by opening up holes and protecting Luck.  I’ve made my feelings known about me preferring Shipley over Harrison, but Holmes played extremely well at right guard.   Will the coaching staff make the change permanent or return back to the status quo?

The Colts receivers: Hilton and Moncrief were impressive while Reggie continues to struggle.  I don’t know if father time has caught up with him or if he is just dealing with soreness from his repaired ACL or maybe just going through a bad stretch .  Either way, Wayne is clearly not an important part of the offense right now. Hakeem Nicks continues to disappoint with lackluster routes and a somewhat perceived indifference in the games. Clearly he looks like he won’t be returning next season.

Boom Herron was very instrumental in keeping the final drive alive by fighting his way through which led to the go-ahead score.  T-Rich played better, but Herron again demonstrated why he should be the starter.

The defense played well considering the offense and Luck spotted the Browns 14 points.

The game was closer than I anticipated but they won dirty and ugly, but still it’s a win.  The Browns came out and smacked the Colts around, but they showed up when it counted.  I still don’t see them in the upper tier but they did show their resilience and if they can play like the team at the end, they could change that notion easily.

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