Following the win, shouts of contenders reigned down from the NFL pundits. The Colts started off a rough stretch with an unbelievably impressive win against one of the best teams in the NFL.
The win improved the Colts to 4-1 and put them firmly in first place in the AFC South. The Colts have a game lead over the Titans, a two game lead over the Texans, and no one has to worry about the Jaguars.
Here’s our thoughts on Sunday’s win:
- Unreal. That was the word I used to describe so many of Andrew Luck’s throws on Sunday. He made at least five passes that only a few quarterbacks in the NFL can make. Couple that with his ability to escape a collapsing pocket and Luck appears unbeatable. Luck started out slow, but once he found his rhythm it was impossible for Seattle to throw him off his game. His development has been the biggest x-factor for this teams success and its clear that he has made a big leap in his second year.
- TY Hilton was amazing. His ability to hang onto the ball while being shoved out of bounds on the 29-yard touchdown was incredible. But not as impressive as his reception across his body early in the fourth quarter. Moving to his right, Hilton snagged a pass to his left for a first down, all while Richard Sherman was covering him. Hilton is a dangerous down field threat, which begs the question: why isn’t he on the field more often? Darrius Heyward-Bey had 11 more plays than Hilton. DHB is used as a blocking receiver primarily, but you know what also works well on run plays? Having your burner WR run a streak route down field, taking the corner and safety with him. Its all how they design the plays and Hilton should be more involved in the offense.
- The defense was great, when it had to be. While Russell Wilson was dominant on the ground, but the Colts played lockdown defense downfield. Wilson completed less than 50-percent of his passes, had under seven yards per attempt, and threw a pick on his final drive. It will be interesting to see how this defense responds to pure pocket passer (like Phillip Rivers and, gulp, Peyton Manning). Every QB the Colts have played, save Blaine “I’ll just sack myself” Gabbert, has been a duel threat. The Colts held Seattle to three field goals
- The Colts (read: Robert Mathis) generated two sacks. Mathis currently leads the NFL with 9.5 sacks, meaning he is on pace for 30 sacks this season. The record for most sacks in a season is currently 22, set by Michael Strahan in 2001. Mathis is having an unreal season, but at some point he will slow down. Teams will aggressively take him out of the game with double teams and chip blocks. The Colts have to find someone else to help generate pressure. It might have been Bjoern Werner, but he’s out at least another three weeks. Someone on the defensive line, or in the linebacking corps has to step up and give Mathis some help.
- Jerrell Freeman’s big plays. Freeman had two really big plays. The first was on third and two, where Freeman made a huge tackle of Wilson for a loss. It was an excellent form tackle and he made a perfect play. The second was the monster hit he delivered to Wilson on the interception to end the game. The hit, which could have maybe been flagged, kept Wilson from following through on the pass leading to it being under thrown for Darius Butler to pick off.
- Game plans? For the second time in three weeks, a team abandoned its dominant rushing attack. It happened in San Francisco and again against the Seahawks. Marshawn Lynch, who had 102 off 17 carries, had just six run plays in the second half of the game. Why? He was dominating the Colts defense, but Pete Carroll was content to cut his carries in half. Its a perplexing trend as the Colts really are not all that effective against the run. What they are good at is stopping the pass, which is counter to the rhetoric that Chuck Pagano is spewing. Funny thing is, when the Colts are passing the ball well and stopping the pass, they’re winning games.
- Game Management. Pagano still seems to be missing on the little things during a game. The Colts had a three point lead just before the final two-minute warning and a chance to ice the game. The Colts ended up opting for the field goal to go up by six. I’m torn on this, going for it on fourth down and getting it end the game. Taking the field goal forces Seattle to score a touchdown. What I really didn’t like was running a give up play on third and nine (a short 4-yard run by Donald Brown). I think the Colts should have tried to convert on third down, or at least run a play that sets up and easier fourth down attempt. In the end it didn’t matter, but I think at some point the game management is going to cost Pagano.
The Colts have vaulted themselves into the top of the AFC with this win and into the Super Bowl discussion. If the playoffs started today, the Colts would be the No. 2 seed behind the Broncos. Interesting since the Broncos come to Indianapolis in two weeks.
Up next for the Colts is a trip out west to face the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night.
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