INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts are 5-2 and have a two-game AFC South lead at their bye week. The last two home wins – 34-28 over Seattle, 39-33 over Denver – were 60-minute slugfests that showed the spunk of this bunch.
Chuck Pagano lauded resiliency, passion, toughness, fortitude and, most of all, grit in the locker room following the victory over Denver. The Colts still have not lost consecutive games under Pagano, going 7-0 and with a 7.1-point victory margin following losses.
It was a three-phase effort that is a blueprint of the program in Indianapolis.
Here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
MR. TEAM – Andrew Luck may have thrown for three first-half touchdowns and raced in from 10 yards out for another in the second half, but all he would do was cite the full-team effort in beating Denver. Luck always casts light on teammates and the program, never wishing any personal limelight. His maturity has been on full display since his opening game, and Luck stayed grounded in the bluster of the return of Peyton Manning. While some would call this a signature win over a team that had won 17 straight and with the finest Indianapolis Colt ever with Manning, Luck took delight in the team aspect of the win.
POSITIONAL PUNTING/KICKOFF EXCELLENCE – Pat McAfee had a 48.9 average on nine punts, with six landing inside the Denver 20. The Broncos had one first down on those resulting drives and a team that had averaged only 3.2 non-scoring drives per game came away empty on 11-of-17 possessions. More importantly, Indianapolis got 19 of its 39 points directly/indirectly as a result of those punts. The first TD came after a fumble created on a return. Another set up a strip-sack-safety that caused a nine-point swing to give Indianapolis a lead it would not lose. The final one led to an interception and a clinching FG. McAfee’s eight kickoffs all reached the end zone, four accounting for touchbacks. Denver averaged a drive start at its 25, an 11-yard advantage for Indianapolis in that category over the course of the game.
RUNNING STILL EQUALS WINS – Of the Colts’ 71 offensive snaps, 31 were rushes. Indianapolis upped its record to 10-0 under Pagano when attempting at least 30 rushes in a game – the league’s best record since 2012. Luck had 29 yards, including an 11-yard first-down dash on third-and-11 in the second quarter. That led to a touchdown, then he rolled in from 10 yards out himself in the second half. Darrius Heyward-Bey gained 30 yards on a reverse. The ground influence helped the Colts own the ball almost 32 minutes, 10 minutes more than in last week’s loss at San Diego.
LINEBACKER MAYHEM – Robert Mathis is Robert Mathis, a fifth multi-sack game this year to push his seasonal total to a league-best 11.5. It is his fifth 10-plus sack season (plus ties his seasonal-bests from 2005 and 2008), and his second-quarter sack-strip-safety triggered a nine-point swing for a lead Indianapolis never relinquished. Erik Walden was a free agent signee added to the corps to fight the run and harrow the quarterback. Walden hit the right arm of Peyton Manning with 7:07 left, creating an interception for Pat Angerer at the Denver 24. It led to a field goal and a nine-point lead after Manning cut a 36-17 deficit to six points with two scoring drives. Walden then forced a fumble at the Colts’ two with 3:03 to go, staving off a sure score that could have swung the final advantage to Denver. In a 35-possession game, there were plays made all over the field, but linebacker mayhem was a big reason Indianapolis emerged winners.
PAGANO VISION – It has been a season of successful replay challenges for Pagano and another one netted results against Denver when a punt return ruled out of bounds before a fumble was reversed, and it led to an Indianapolis TD. Pagano’s eagle eyes keep paying dividends. Also, stressing a plus-two turnover ratio per game, he got it for a fourth time in 2013. The Colts have defeated Oakland, San Francisco, Jacksonville and Denver with that margin. NFL home teams with plus margins were 20-2 heading into yesterday’s games. The Colts are 2-0 in home games with a plus margin.
Tags: Andrew Luck, chuck pagano, darrius heyward-bey, erik walden, indianapolis colts, pat angerer, pat mcafee, robert mathis
Posted in Colts Blog
This week’s “Back-Up of the Game” presented by Venyu is safety Sergio Brown.
All week the Colts talked about the importance that field position would play in taking on the undefeated Denver Broncos.
It was the Colts special teams that dominated the field position category with Sergio Brown on top of his game at the gunner position.
Late in the first quarter, Brown found himself in the perfect place to make a game-changing turnover.
Denver punt returner Trindon Holiday fielded a McAfee punt at the Colts seven-yard line before changing fields up the far sideline.
Colts fullback Stanley Havili was there to strip Holiday and Brown recovered the bouncing ball, which set up the Colts first touchdown of the evening.
Brown had a pair of special teams tackles and downed two Pat McAfee punts inside of the Broncos 10-yard line.
The special teams phase wasn’t the only area that Brown impacted the game.
With the Colts thin in the secondary, Brown played spot duty at the safety position in the second half and added another tackle.
Tags: pat mcafee, Sergio Brown, Stanley Havili
Posted in Colts Blog
The Colts head into their bye week at 5-2 after a 39-33 win over the Denver Broncos on Monday night. Today’s news look at the Colts defensive effort against Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck’s four-touchdown night and Chuck Pagano giving Jim Irsay the game ball.
Take a look below at the top pieces from Monday, October 21st.
By: Bob Kravitz, Indy Star
Kravitz’s column looks at the “other guys” who got things done in the Colts 39-33 victory over the undefeated Denver Broncos.
It had everything to do with the Colts defense, and especially Robert Mathis, who’s been waiting a decade to blind-side and strip-sack Manning. The bruised and battered Indy secondary was extraordinary most of the night – at least until they ran out of bodies — manning up against 18’s receivers, making them work for every yard until late in the second half.
It had everything to do with special teams, with Pat McAfee throttling Trindon Holliday and Stanley Havili stripping Holliday, leading to a touchdown. Think McAfee won’t happily pay a fine if one happens to come from the league office?
It had everything to do with Andrew Luck, who didn’t put up “Star Wars’’ numbers, but played more than well enough, finishing 21 of 38 for 228 yards and three passing touchdowns plus one running touchdown. Manning got his numbers – he always does – hitting 29 of 49 for 386 yards, three TD’s and one interception. But this night belonged to the Indy defense, which might sound bizarre on a night in which they allowed 33 points, but remains a point in fact.
By: Michael Pointer, Indy Star
The “noise” and “circus” that surrounded the lead up to the Colts and Broncos never crept into Andrew Luck’s head.
Luck completed 21-of-38 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns ran for another and generally looked like an All-Pro for the first three quarters as the Colts rolled to a 39-33 victory over Manning and the Broncos before 67,196 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium. The four total touchdowns matched a career high.
“I have never looked at it as the guy that replaced Peyton,” Luck told NBC after the game. “I just looked at it as a chance to play football for a great team. Guys in the locker room have made it easy. I don’t know how to answer that question.”
By: Mike Wells, ESPN.com
Wells looks at a different angle from Sunday night’s game as Chuck Pagano delivered the game ball to Colts Owner Jim Irsay.
That’s why coach Chuck Pagano gave his owner an emotional postgame speech inside the locker room.
These Colts (5-2) aren’t the flashiest team, but they find a way to get it done. Game balls could have been given out to the entire offense, defense and special teams.
“We all knew what we were up against and the players were just hanging tough,” Pagano said. “This is the grittiest football team that I’ve ever been around my entire life.”
The Colts spent the week leading up to the game not listening to people say they weren’t good enough to hang with the high-scoring Broncos. Veteran receiver Reggie Wayne referred to last week as a circus because of the attention the game got.
“We were willing to work and prove everybody wrong,” Colts defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said. “I knew everybody in the media world was banking on Peyton Manning coming in here and putting on a show. I tip my hat to him, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But this team — all three aspects of it — was excellent. We fought for 60 minutes. We knew it wasn’t a game that would be won in a half.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, chuck pagano, Reggie Wayne, Ricky Jean-Francois, robert mathis
Posted in Colts Blog, COLTS DAILY HEADLINES