The Colts rookies accounted for all three offensive touchdowns on Sunday afternoon as Indianapolis closed out the 2012 regular season with a 28-16 win over the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Here is a closer look at the three touchdown drives.
Fleener’s one-yard touchdown catch
The scene: 0-0, the Colts begin at their own 25-yard line following a 28-yard kick return by Deji Karim to begin the game.
The anatomy of the drive: Thirteen plays, for 75 yards in 7:09. It was perhaps the Colts finest opening drive of the season on Sunday that ate up nearly half of the opening frame.
Key play: With the Colts facing a third-and-three from the Houston 24-yard line, quarterback Andrew Luck went to one of his most reliable targets. Tight end Dwayne Allen hauled in the first down catch and took the reception all the way down to the four-yard line.
The score: The Colts lined up with all three tight ends in the game and linebacker Mario Harvey shifting to the left side of the line of scrimmage prior to the snap. Fleener, who was lined up to the left of offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, drifted into the end zone at the snap appearing to look for a potential block. The play-action fake to running back Vick Ballard was executed perfectly with Fleener wide open in the back of the end zone and Luck finding him. Fleener broke out Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ dance to celebrate his second career NFL touchdown.
Ballard’s one-yard touchdown run
The scene: Leading 7-6, the Colts took over at the Houston 39-yard line, following Vontae Davis’ first career interception at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The anatomy of the drive: Six plays, for 39 yards in 2:05. The drive included all 39 yards coming from Colts rookies.
Key play: On the second play of the drive, Ballard took a draw behind Castonzo and went 20 yards into the red zone. The draw has been a vital weapon in the Colts rushing attack all season long and Ballard’s run was his longest of the afternoon.
The score: On a first-and-goal from the one-yard line, the Colts come out in the same alignment that they lined up in during the game’s first touchdown. This time Ballard took the handoff and followed the blocks of Castzono, Harvey and Fleener into the end zone for his second career rushing touchdown.
Hilton’s 70-yard touchdown catch
The scene: Leading 21-16, the Colts take over at their own 43-yard line, following Shayne Graham missing a 52-yard field goal.
The anatomy of the drive: Three plays, for 57 yards in 1:51. The drive came after the Colts had just four total yards in the third quarter.
Key play: The key play came on the prior possession when the Texans marched down to the Indianapolis 27-yard line before facing a third-and-four. Schaub dropped back to pass and defensive end Lawrence Guy recorded his first career NFL sack when he took down the Houston quarterback for an eight-yard loss. The sack forced the long field goal attempt that went wide right.
The score: A holding penalty forced a third-and-23 for the Colts from their own 30-yard line. The Colts lined up in a four receiver set with Hilton in the left slot, to the right of Donnie Avery. Luck took the shotgun snap, looked to his right and a subtle pump fake forced Houston safety Quintin Demps to roam towards that side of the field. Luck quickly turned to his left and fired a perfect pass into Hilton’s arms and the speedster did the rest outrunning the Texans secondary for the Colts longest offensive play of the season.
Tags: Andrew Luck, anthony castonzo, Coby Fleener, donnie avery, dwayne allen, Mario Harvey, T.Y. Hilton, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog
How do you BUILD a new house? You get a great group of draughtsman together like Chuck Pagano, Bruce Arians, Greg Manusky and a draughting team that gels and assists one another as well as helping everyone on the construction site. Together they walk a difficult path but they draw up some wonderful lines from the master plan.
Then we need a master builder to co-ordinate all our men; so enter Andrew Luck. Just finishing as a master apprentice but a great pedigree so let’s cut the kid a break as he graduates into a fully fledged builder. As a new builder, Andrew needed the backing of some experience men, so Reggie Wayne, Donnie Avery assisted by Justice, Castonzo, Satele, McGlynn, Reitz, Stanton, Carter, Saunders, Hills, Shipley, Linkenbach, Stanton, Olsen, Moore, Hills and Karim who came in to do some carpentry, chipping away to build our home. And while they were there they too took on some apprentices like Fleener, Allen, Ballard, Hilton, Sowell, Brazill and Palmer. In fact, the Colts have so many rookies, people thought we were reforming a group from the mid-60’s, The Master Apprentices.
And when you build your house, you need great storm protection so Redding, Johnson, Geathers, of course Mathis, Freeman, Conners, Freeney, Davis, Zbikowski, Bethea and Butler and back them up with Mathews, Tevaseu, Heard, Hughes, Harvey, Angerer, Westerman, Vaughan, Brown, Lefeged, Gordy, Guy, Howells, Williams and the mighty Moise Fokou. These guys know how to protect from a storm, doing it as if our very lives depended on it. Doing it as if their own lives depend on it because that’s what they lay on the line!
No construction is complete without some specialists; you know, electricians, plumbers and the like. So we need the great specialist Adam Vinateri along with McAfee and Overton and they even help in training up some of our young guns.
While all this is great, construction cannot start until the architect presents his work. He is the man who brings all these workers together and he is none other than the very Jim Irsay. His master plan is now being auctioned but this year is just our building year, remember. Thank you Jim; it’s been an amazing year in the construction of this house we are building.
This house, this COLTSHOUSE, is built on solid foundations with bricks and mortar. The foundations are the tradition and workers that have gone before us. Solid as any rock, they remain with us in this proud city of Indianapolis and are treasures that can never be stolen or removed. Our bricks are the hard work that all the above men do over the year. The mortar is the love from the support staff, the fans and all the families who come together to call ourselves THE COLTSTRONG FAMILY.
Happy New Year, Indianapolis from your mate down here!
Rooting for the Colts a half a world away. Our resident Aussie blogger, Rob Zammit, is a veterinarian and dedicated Colts fan.
Posted in Voice of the Fans
Each week Colts.com will take a look at the rest of the AFC South and review the previous weekend’s games.
Colts 28, Texans 16
-Houston had a chance to clinch the No. 1 seed on Sunday but only had the lead for 12 seconds at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Texans took a 16-14 lead with just over five minutes to go in the third quarter but the Colts took the ensuring kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown and never trailed again. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt finished 1.5 sacks short of the NFL single season record. Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson had 12 catches for 141 yards on Sunday.
NEXT GAME: Cincinnati in the AFC Wild Card, Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Titans 38, Jaguars 20
-The Titans put up a season-high 38 points on Sunday but only scored one offensive touchdown. Tennessee got two special teams and two defensive touchdowns over a five-minute span in the second and third quarters thus turning a seven-point deficit into a 21-point lead. Tennessee running back Chris Johnson finished the season with 276 carries for 1,243 yards, his fifth straight season of eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark.
NEXT GAME: Season Over.
Titans 38, Jaguars 20
-The Jaguars difficult 2012 season ended on Sunday afternoon. Jacksonville jumped out to a 14-7 lead behind quarterback Chad Henne throwing a pair of touchdowns. However, things began to unravel late in the first half when the Titans scored two quick touchdowns via defense and special teams. For the season, rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon led all rookies with 64 catches for 865 receiving yards.
NEXT GAME: Season Over.
2012 AFC South Standings
Tags: AFC South
Posted in Colts Blog
With a plethora of rookie players on the Colts roster, each week Colts.com will take a look at how the first-year players performed.
Dwayne Allen, TE: Allen had two catches for 21 yards on Sunday and finished the season with 45 catches for 521 yards. His 45 catches set a tight end rookie record for the Colts and Allen led all first-year tight ends in receiving.
Vick Ballard, RB: Ballard had a season-high 27 carries for 78 yards and helped grind out the final 9:46 off the clock against the Texans. For the season, Ballard had 211 carries for 814 yards as the feature back during the Colts run of winning nine of their last 11 games. Ballard finished fifth among all rookies with his 814 rushing yards this season.
LaVon Brazill, RB: Brazill played on offense and special teams on Sunday. He finished the season with 11 catches for 186 yards including a 42-yard touchdown in the comeback victory over the Lions.
Coby Fleener, TE: Fleener had one catch for one-yard and a touchdown on Sunday afternoon. The Stanford product overcame a shoulder injury to haul in 26 catches for 281 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.
T.Y. Hilton, WR: Hilton notched his fifth 100-yard receiving day on the season with four catches for 111 yards. His 70-yard touchdown was the longest play from scrimmage this season for the Colts. On the season, Hilton had 50 catches for 861 yards and seven touchdowns. Hilton finished second among all rookies in receiving yards, just four yards behind the Jaguars Justin Blackmon
Delano Howell, S: Howell played his fifth game with the Colts, seeing action on special teams with one tackle.
Andrew Luck, QB: Luck was 14-of-28 for 191 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Texans. He has now gone 14 quarters without an interception. Luck’s 11 wins is four more than any other rookie quarterback who was drafted No. 1 overall has recorded in their first NFL season. Luck finished the regular season 339-of-627 for 4,374 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Bradley Sowell: OT: Sowell was active and returned a short kickoff 11 yards on Sunday.
Rookie wide receiver Nate Palmer was inactive against the Chiefs.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Bradley Sowell, Coby Fleener, Delano Howell, dwayne allen, LaVon Brazill, Nate Palmer, T.Y. Hilton, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog
What’s up Colts Nation!? It’s another bittersweet day for me as this is my final pre-game blog of the regular season.
Sunday’s game will be one of the most memorable and heartwarming experiences of my Colts fandom. Coach Chuck Pagano leading the team in a game for the first time since September 23rd is one of the best presents anyone could ask for during the holiday season. I can’t wait for the moment when he comes out of the tunnel to undoubtedly a standing ovation. That place will be rocking!
However, as is customary I will be venturing out to the tailgating front despite the cold weather for the final time this season. It’s been such a memorable year for Colts Nation in so many ways, and in terms of tailgating it’s been no different.
As I’m sure you’re aware by now, I’m in search of the best tailgate in Colts Nation. Read full details here. But here’s the problem, I need you guys to tell me where to go! I should get things started around 10 AM tomorrow and I WILL be hungry! Think your tailgate has what it takes to win the “Tailgate of the Week” and be entered in the “Tailgate of the Year” contest? Then let me know where to come this week on Twitter and Facebook.
Here’s what you can win!
Yours in Food and Football,
Tags: Colts, Colts Casey B, Food, football, tailgating
Posted in Colts Casey B
What’s up Colts Nation!? This is it! This is my final fantasy football blog of the 2012 season. While it’s bittersweet for both you and I, you can still relive all of my blogs by clicking here.
One point to make quickly, if you’re still playing in your fantasy league right now, a meaningful game this is, then you must be in your league’s championship or “Super Bowl.” That does not apply to myself at 90% of the fantasy football playing population. However, with so much on the line this week, the most important decisions must be made now.
In last week’s blog, I talked about the importance for teams that are still striving for playoff spots and how important it is for them to perform. Now for this week, we have to take that into consideration, but we also must look at the teams that have “nothing” to play for and have their playoff positioning set. As we’ve seen in years past, this is the time when teams will typically rest their star players to have them ready for the playoffs.
Instead of doing my usual “start em” and “sit em” picks of the week as I’ve done throughout the year, I’m going to share some insights on who you should and shouldn’t start and why.
Tony Romo – This could be the biggest game of his career as he heads into Fed Ex Field to face off against RGIII and the Redskins. It’s this simple: the winner of the game wins the NFC East. Besides the fact Romo put up around 30 points on Thanksgiving in the first matchup between these two teams, I think this is the game where Romo shines and shows that he belongs. He has played so well throughout the month of December, not only this season, but in his career. I think he’ll put up huge fantasy points.
Adrian Peterson – Even though it’s unlikely he gets 207 yards and breaks Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, AP will have a huge day as his team’s playoff hopes are riding on his back just like his team has the entire year. It’s simple for the Vikings, win and you’re in. It makes it tough that they have to host the Green Bay Packers in their season finale. I’m not sure if they’ll win, or if AP will break the record, but I know that he will do whatever he can to assure both happen, and because of that you have to start him.
Now there aren’t many teams out there that have their positioning locked up, but there are a few. One of them being our very own Colts, but as Coach Pagano said earlier this week, I don’t foresee us resting any of our players. However, the Atlanta Falcons have the NFC’s No. 1 seed locked up heading into a home game against the Buccaneers, and they have a lot of big players in the fantasy world, so I would be hesitant about starting any of the Falcons players. As far as the AFC is concerned, the only teams whose position is locked in are the Wildcard teams. The Bengals have the sixth seed locked up, but they have a big game against the Ravens so I don’t foresee either team resting players.
That’s it for me for the fantasy football season; don’t forget to check out my homepage on Colts.com to see what I’ve been up to! (Especially my tailgate videos)
Yours in Fantasy Football,
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Colts, Cowboys, Falcons, fantasy football, football, Tony Romo, Vikings
Posted in Colts Casey B
Bruce Arians was back in his normal spot on Thursday afternoon.
There was the Colts offensive coordinator positioned just inside the Colts locker room as the media talked with him and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
Arians had been handling the head coaching media requirements for the past 12 weeks but he was back where he wanted to be on Thursday.
This week has not necessarily been more relaxed for Arians as come Sunday he will still be the under the watchful eye of head coach Chuck Pagano when calling the offensive plays.
“Anytime you’re calling plays, there’s a bigger bulls eye on your back, I’ve learned that through the years,” Arians said. “The game plan has always been the biggest part of the job. The other part is really kind of easy, but the game planning part takes all the time. Playing a team twice in three weeks is really difficult.”
Returning back to his offensive coordinator position full-time, Arians is looking forward to spending a little more time on the part of the game that made him the first phone call Pagano made upon being hired back in January.
“It’s easier now, there’s no doubt about that and it’s fun,” Arians said of the focus on the play calling. “It’s fun again to have Chuck (Pagano) back in the building and doing his thing.”
Arians and the offensive staff is preparing for the Texans defense again after a one-week break from assessing Houston film. Not much has changed from a schematic standpoint Arians said, with the focus remaining in the trenches with defensive tackle Antonio Smith and defensive end J.J. Watt.
“We’ve got to block 94 (Smith) and 99 (Watt), they’re the outstanding players. Their front is as good as anybody we’ve played and their secondary is good,” Arians said.
“Situationally, on third down and in the red zone, we failed a couple times in the red zone against them and fumbled the ball and got a touchdown called back that would have been huge points in that game. We had it to a six-point game in the fourth quarter and couldn’t pull this one out. Hopefully we’ll have that there and win it this time.”
Come Sunday, Arians will once again find himself down on the field sending in plays to quarterback Andrew Luck.
The title of interim head coach is gone and the red challenge flag will be missing from his back pocket, two things that make Arians very happy.
How much will Arians miss that red flag?
“That’s the biggest thing I’m glad to get rid of,” Arians said with a smile.
Tags: Andrew Luck, bruce arians, chuck pagano
Posted in Colts Blog
With postseason awards rapidly approaching, the Colts got a pair of nods on Wednesday evening with wide receiver Reggie Wayne and outside linebacker Robert Mathis being named to the Pro Bowl.
For Wayne, the selection is his sixth in the past seven seasons and it’s hard to quantify what he has meant to such a young Colts offense.
“I think one, his knack for showing up in big times,” Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said of what stands out to him about Wayne. “Big moments, he controls them. He’s going to make the catch. He’s going to make the play. He’s going to get the first-down, the touchdown, whatever you need. He’s going to make the big plays.”
At the age of 34, Wayne is 10 years older than nearly half of the Colts starters on offense and coordinator Bruce Arians pointed to what the Pro Bowl receiver has done off the field more than his receiving numbers.
“I’ve said it so many times, his leadership ability with the young guys has been outstanding,” Arians said. “The fact that you know he can still perform and play football but what he’s done leadership-wise has gone above and beyond Pro Bowl status with me.”
The selection of Mathis is the fifth straight and comes during a season in which he has eight sacks in 11 games played.
This offseason, the questions were rampant about how Mathis would adjust to the stand up position at linebacker but he has quietly gone about his business while earning another trip to Hawaii.
“It’s amazing a guy like that, that’s played defensive end for as many years as he has, and then transfer him over to two-point stance. It’s kind of like dinosaurs and cavemen,” Manusky said of Mathis.
“The best thing about it was the guy knows football and I’ll tell you he took his job and profession like he was a rookie, a young guy. He was just sucking up as much information as he could. It was just great to see him have success out in the field like he does each and every week.”
While Mathis did smile when asked about the thought of a trip to Hawaii this time of year, he is hoping to have plans when the Pro Bowl is played the week before the Super Bowl.
“It sounds real nice, just the thought of kicking sand and just jumping in some salt water and watching my boys crawl around it,” Mathis said. “A great thought but I’d much rather be down in New Orleans getting ready for the big show.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, bruce arians, Greg Manusky, Reggie Wayne, robert mathis
Posted in Colts Blog
For the last 17 seasons, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak has found himself as a coordinator or head coach in the NFL.
He has been apart of three Super Bowl Championship teams and has been at the helm of the Texans since 2006.
As a division rival of the Colts, Kubiak has had a close eye on Indianapolis and holds the job done by the Colts this season in high regard.
“I think it’s got to be considered one of the finer jobs done in football in a long time,” Kubiak said on Wednesday’s conference.
“I can’t tell you how impressed I am. We could stay on this phone all day long. It’s been something special to watch. I would give the veteran players in Indianapolis a lot of credit because they’ve obviously brought those young guys along very quickly and were great examples for them.”
In preparing for the Colts this weekend, Kubiak expects to see them at as full strength even with already being locked into the five-seed in the AFC playoffs.
The question of whether or not to rest key players is normally a topic for playoff teams this time of year but Kubiak pointed out the numbers problem in trying to juggle out a roster come Sunday.
“I think that’s kind of moved on in football,” Kubiak said of team’s resting players. “I think everybody’s got maybe certain players that may have injuries they have been fighting through or stuff that you have to pay special attention to. But the bottom line is you only have 53 active players and 46 are going to suit up.”
When the Colts and Texans met two weeks ago, the AFC South was still up for grabs but a 26-17 victory by Houston clinched the division.
Both teams are heading to the postseason, with the Texans still unsure of where they will be seeded come January.
Along with the playoff implications for the Texans on the line this Sunday, they will also be facing the return of Chuck Pagano to the sideline.
It has been three months since Pagano has coached a game from the sidelines and Kubiak knows his team will be dealing with an emotional environment at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It’s been talked about a great deal throughout the course of the season and obviously as a coach and a member of the National Football League, I think it’s wonderful,” Kubiak said of Pagano’s return.
“I’m just so happy for Chuck and his family and what he’s been through. I’m glad to see he’s doing well and back on the field. I know that’s important to him and how proud he is of the guys and the work they did while he was away. Regardless of whether you are playing him or not playing him, you all respect this league and what guys do and the jobs they do. None bigger than what he’s been through and my respect for him is tremendous.”
Tags: chuck pagano
Posted in Colts Blog
Darius Butler has never played for head coach Chuck Pagano yet his success has ironically enough put him on the head coach’s radio show twice this season.
Thanks to another interception returned for a touchdown last weekend, Butler found himself on the show Monday evening. Come Sunday, Butler will look to the sidelines and see Pagano down there for the first time since the cornerback joined the Colts in late September.
“I got here during the bye week and that was when we got the news of Chuck. Then we played Green Bay and we beat a tough Green Bay team,” Butler said. “Once I saw that, that was kind of my first time seeing the team prepare like that and I knew. I had been on a playoff team early in my career and I knew we definitely had what it takes.”
As a former member of the New England Patriots, Butler has experienced life in the postseason.
He helped etch his, and the Colts, spot into the playoffs last week thanks to a 32-yard interception returned for a touchdown.
“The message before the game was that we wanted to come into the playoffs through the front door,” Butler said of the Colts 20-13 win over the Chiefs. “We wanted to kick down the front door to win and control our own destiny, instead of sneaking in the back door and waiting on other people. We did that and accomplished our goal and now that’s onto the next and that’s making a run in the playoffs.”
That run will include Pagano on the sidelines and that is something that Butler can’t wait to see.
Pagano is a former defensive backs coach and has liked what he has seen from Butler over the last 12 games.
The key against the Chiefs was to secure a playoff spot so this week would not have the added pressure of needing a win to extend the season. That goal was accomplished and the relief in seeing Pagano on Monday was a welcoming sight for Butler.
“He really didn’t have to say anything,” Butler said of Monday morning’s team meeting with Pagano. “Just him walking in the door and being in front of the team for the first time in a while, addressing us as a unit and as a head coach again, that was great in itself.”
Tags: chuck pagano, darius butler
Posted in Colts Blog