By looking at Adam Vinatieri’s 2013 stats, you could not tell that he will turn 41 years old later this month.
Vinatieri is putting together arguably the best season of his 18 years in the NFL.
He leads the NFL with 15 field goals from at least 40 yards this year and has already tied a career-high with four field goals from 50-plus yards.
With the Colts offense struggling to produce points since the bye week, Vinatieri has scored 39 points in that time frame with his only field goal miss being a blocked kick in Houston.
Vinatieri is on pace to set career-highs in virtually every kicking category this season.
Here’s a look at some of Vinatieri’s best seasons with the first two being with the Patriots:
- 2002 season: 27-of-30 (90%), 8-of-10 from 40-49, 1-2 from 50+, 2 game winning field goals, 1st career Pro Bowl
- 2004 season: 31-of-33 (93.9%), 11-12 from 40-49, 0-1 from 50, 2nd career Pro Bowl
- 2010 season: 26-of-28 (92.9%), 9-10 from 40-49.
- 2013 season: 26-of-29 (89.7%), 11-12 from 40-40, 4-6 from 50+. On pace for a career-high 34 field goals made
Tags: Adam Vinatieri
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Intro: Indianapolis earned a 22-14 victory over Tennessee to move within one win or a Titans loss of the AFC South crown. It takes 60 minutes and 45 players to win a game, and rarely does one like yesterday symbolize that more. Here are Five Things Learned from Sunday’s win.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts’ 22-14 victory over Tennessee was a 60-minute effort that needed something from every player.
Indianapolis got it to vanquish Tennessee and move much closer to a second straight playoff berth. It was a good bounce back after a difficult loss at Arizona, and the club kept alive its nearly two-season streak of not losing consecutive games.
The Colts are on the cusp of a divisional title that yields a home playoff game, and here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
FOCUS DURING ADVERSITY – The clamor around the Colts last week was loud as observers asked how the team would respond to a 2-2 stretch that included 29- and 30-point losses. Some outsiders who might have thought the ship was sinking heard Colts players talk about doing what they do, but only doing a little better. The process put in place by Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson in 2012 has been modified cosmetically as needed as things do through 28 games, but the bedrock foundation of trust, faith and philosophy stays rooted. Players knew execution and fundamentals were needed to beat Tennessee. The mid-week message was repeated afterward. From statesman Cory Redding after the win: “We settled down. We trusted one another to get the job done. We went back to basics, and it worked. That’s what we kind of got away from, guys trying to do too much. Just do your job and trust the man next to you to do theirs.”
BIDE YOUR TIME, SERVE YOUR TEAMMATES – Donald Brown waited 12 games this year to get a starting nod. He had not opened a game since week four of 2012. Brown came through as the leading rusher for the fourth time this season. After four straight starts for Greg Toler, Cassius Vaughn did not start. His focus then was to be the best CB on the field should his time come. It came – two interceptions. Jeff Linkenbach started at RG for the third time this season, and the Colts won for a third time. Mike McGlynn contributed in other roles, and Pagano praised every player involved for professionalism. It truly was a mature mindset by a team that listens to its coach. His mantra of, ‘45 Men, 60 Minutes, Don’t Judge, All You Got,’ was on full display.
PRODUCE IN CRUNCH – The Colts mustered 25 rushing yards through three quarters, but had 79 when it counted the most, including a four-yard Brown TD burst. The defense gave up a long TD drive to open the second half. An unsightly three-and-out offensive possession that included a penalty and sack, plus a long punt return, put the defense at its 32 just two minutes later. Robert Mathis had a sack-strip that led to a field goal to re-gain the lead. Four plays after the kick, Vaughn intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick. Takeaways on consecutive drives kept Tennessee from scoring again. The Colts scored 10 unanswered points, while the defense forced two punts and had one more interception with 33 seconds left to seal the game. Indianapolis produced in the crunch. Not always does a team win going away. Many do so by making plays when it matters.
ADAM VINATIERI VINTAGE – Adam Vinatieri twice before had made five field goals in a game, but not since 2004. Vinatieri tied a club record done seven other times by hitting from 47, 48, 45, 37 and 49 yards. His first, third and fifth kicks put the Colts ahead. It looked like Indianapolis would have to win a game without scoring a touchdown for the first time since 2003 – until late. Vinatieri is 26-of-29 this year, including 15-of-18 from the 40-plus range. He has made 22 of his last 23 efforts, 34-of-35 inside 50 yards. In addition to joining Morten Andersen as the only kickers with 800-plus points with two different teams, Vinatieri joined eight others (done a total of nine times) who hit four times from the 40-yard range in a game. Of all free agent signings in Colts history, his is one of the best.
STEADY IS MONEY – In going 4-2 at home and away, the Colts are 8-4. After going 3-1 in the first two quarters of the season, Sunday’s win put the Colts at 2-2 in the season’s third quarter. That steady production has the Colts within grasp of a 16th playoff berth since moving to Indianapolis. Under Pagano and Grigson, the Colts started 2-2 in the first quarter of 2012 with nearly a completely rebuilt team. Afterward, Indianapolis was 3-1, 3-1 and 3-1 to reach 11-5. This year’s two 3-1 starts meant five consecutive quarters of seasons had that steady production. Fighting injuries and uneven play, the Colts ended the third quarter with a .500 mark. An extended period of play since 2002 has seen the Colts have only five non-winning seasonal quarters – a span of almost 12 full seasons. Colts fans – current and long-time – should appreciate that feat.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, Cassius Vaughn, chuck pagano, cory redding, donald brown, greg toler, indianapolis colts, Jeff Linkenbach, mike mcglynn, ryan grigson
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Down 17-3 and having been out-scored 69-6 in the first halves of the last three games, the Colts captured something that led to another comeback win, this time at Tennessee, 30-27.
That something was ‘Mo’ – momentum.
It started on a 68-yard drive in the final 2:32 of the first half when the Colts navigated for an Adam Vinatieri 30-yard field goal at the gun.
Andrew Luck found rhythm (a cousin of ‘Mo’) on the drive by connecting with six different receivers on the march, good for 62 yards. A third-down interference call extended the drive early on – ‘Mo.’
“You can feel it,” said Luck. “We wish we didn’t have to rely on momentum to do that, but it’s a part of sports. It’s a weird phenomenon. You could feel it.”
An 18-year veteran, Vinatieri can sense intangibles, and he felt it when the club narrowed its halftime deficit to 17-6.
“It was important to get the momentum back,” said Vinatieri. “To put it back to 11 for some reason feels better.”
The Colts shaved the margin closer with a 74-yard march where Luck converted third downs with passes to T.Y. Hilton and Griff Whalen. He even scrambled 13 yards for a first down.
To close the final 14 yards of the march, Luck connected with Hilton for eight yards, then Donald Brown burst off left tackle for the score.
“You kind of feel it,” said Hilton. “We’ve been down that road time and time again. Once we start to click……”
The ball came out on the ensuing kickoff return and special teamer Daniel Herron made a play.
“The wedge was coming to me,” said Herron. “The next thing I know, I turned around and the ball was right there. Right place, right time.”
Pat Angerer notice how ‘Mo’ visited a number of teammates.
“Yeah, it’s just one guy making a play after another,” said Angerer. “We never get down.”
Be it Luck, luck, the horseshoe or ‘Mo,’ it’s better to have than not.
“Credit these guys,” said Chuck Pagano. “They find a way. We just gained momentum and held on.”
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, Andrew Luck, chuck pagano, Daniel Herron, donald brown, Griff Whalen, indianapolis colts, pat angerer, T.Y. Hilton
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Intro: Indianapolis responded to a 30-point loss five days earlier with a solid road win at Tennessee, 30-27. The game meant separation or a much tighter divisional race as the season reaches six remaining games. Wiping out two 14-point deficits, the Colts showed a number of big things in the win.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts are 7-3 and own a three-game AFC South lead with six games to play.
Just as important is the team battled back from its worst outing – a 38-8 home loss to St. Louis five days earlier – with a spirited performance in Tennessee.
The 30-27 win came with two rebounds from 14-point deficits, and it came with a dominant offensive performance and with good defensive play, plus three Adam Vinatieri field goals.
Here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
PERFORM AWAY FROM HOME – The Colts were 4-4 on the road last year, and it started with beating Tennessee after two lopsided losses away from Lucas Oil Stadium. Since winning in Nashville in 2012, the Colts have gone 8-3 on the road. It is one of the NFL’s better marks, and a team needs a strong road identity. Indianapolis earned consecutive 20-plus-point road wins at San Francisco and Jacksonville earlier this year, the first time since 2009 the team had accomplished that feat. This year’s 4-1 road record includes AFC South wins at Tennessee and Houston. Nice.
30, THREE AND ZERO – The Colts have been unbeatable in games with 30 rushes, three rushing scores and no turnovers. Since Pagano’s arrival, the Colts are 11-0 when they have attempted 30 rushes in a game, including 4-0 this year. A ground identity was sought by Pagano and his staff entering 2013. After a lull, it was in full force in Nashville. The Colts ran for three scores in a second game this season (also at San Francisco), and Indianapolis has won 24 straight times when doing so. Also, the Colts had their fourth turnover-free game of the season, beating Oakland, the 49ers and Houston in addition to Tennessee. Since 1998, only in 2004 (five), 2008 (six) and 2010 (five) have the Colts had more in one season than four times. Each season it did so, a playoff berth accompanied.
EXTENDING DRIVES – A week after Indianapolis had its worst offensive showing of the season with five turnovers and four empty trips to the red zone, it bounced back in grand fashion. A huge accomplishment in the 30-27 win was having four drives with more than 10 snaps from scrimmage. After being among the league leaders in 10-plus-play drives earlier this year, the number was waning recently with inability to convert third downs. The Colts had 13-, 12-, 11- and 11-play drives against the Titans that produced 20-of-30 points. (Another nine-play drive ended with a field goal.) Each of those four double-digit play drives at least four first downs. Well done, mates.
DIVISION RESURGENCE – Of the 20 coaches on staff, only Richard Howell was here through the dominant AFC South years when the Colts took the crown on seven occasions (2003-07, 09-10). Only New England (nine) has more division titles since 2002 than the Colts. Colts coaches spoke leading into the season about returning the crown to Indianapolis. It is a football quest. The Colts are 3-0 in the AFC South, having bested each foe in its home. December offers rematches in Lucas Oil Stadium. This is the sixth time the Colts have opened 3-0 in the division (2003, 2005-07, 2009), only the second time (2007) they have done it by opening at each opponent’s site.
REGAIN POISE – The Colts entered Thursday’s game as the least penalized team in the league in both yards and infractions. A messy second-quarter defensive possession with penalties for rough play helped Tennessee re-establish a 14-point advantage. Some teams could have lost composure and ended the evening in a tough manner. The Colts righted themselves competitively and returned to form. Indianapolis survived a tough moment by out-scoring Tennessee afterward, 27-10. Sometimes in-game instances do not go as planned. Teams with character quickly return to form.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, chuck pagano, indianapolis colts, lucas oil stadium, Richard Howell
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The Colts wrapped up their first practice of the week on Wednesday in preparing for the St. Louis Rams. Today’s news looks at the vaunted Rams pass rush and how the Colts locker room handles hazing.
Take a look below at the top pieces from Thursday, November 7th.
By: Reggie Hayes, The News-Sentinel
When Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis looks at the St. Louis Rams he sees almost a mirror image to past teams.
Rams defensive end Robert Quinn leads the NFC with 10 sacks, along with 10 tackles for loss. His partner on the other end, Chris Long, has 5.5 sacks.
“They have a high motor,” Mathis said. “I love guys that keep their motor running play after play. They are definitely double trouble. They kind of remind me of 93 and 98.”
Mathis refers, of course, to No.93 Dwight Freeney and No.98 Mathis when they used to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks during their decade-long run together with the Colts. In fact, they were so good at what they did, Mathis used to joke that they lived at “9893 Bring The Heat Boulevard.”
Quinn and Long will be trying to evoke that spirit, much to Colts’ fans chagrin, when the Rams (3-6) play the Colts (6-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Mathis’ respect for the duo is echoed by Colts coach Chuck Pagano.
“From a defensive standpoint, they’re No.1 in the league as far as putting pressure on the quarterback and sacking the quarterback,” Pagano said. “They’ve got corners that can play. They can get up in your face and make things tough on your receivers to work to get off the line of scrimmage. From a defensive standpoint, they kind of smother you. That’s going to be a challenge.”
By: Mike Wells, AFC South Blog
The talk on Wednesday in the Colts locker room centered on the national story of hazing in the Miami Dolphins locker room.
This goes back to when Tony Dungy started coaching the team in 2002.
“When he was here, he was all about there would be none of the rookie hazing type stuff and it’s continued that way,” veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri said. “We’ve got a group of older veteran guys that don’t believe in dumb stuff and that’s the way it is.”
Having fun and cracking jokes in the locker room is expected amongst teammates. Players often joke about the type of music some of their teammates listen to or their clothing choices. But it’s all in fun. Something you would do with your close friends. The Colts are around each other on almost a daily basis from the end of July until the season ends in January or February. You can even argue that they spend more time with each other than with their own families.
But it doesn’t go overboard — the way it’s reportedly happened in Miami — with the Colts.
“Guys in this locker room understand what hazing is,” said cornerback Vontae Davis, who spent his first three seasons with the Dolphins. “When you can’t distinguish taking advantage of somebody from just cracking jokes, you’re not being reliable as a veteran. We know how to distinguish if we’re taking advantage of somebody or not. We hold each other accountable. We’re a big family.”
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, chuck pagano, robert mathis, Vontae Davis
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INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts are 6-2 and have a two-game AFC South lead at the season’s midpoint. The wins that followed a loss at San Diego came in dramatic style over unbeaten Denver and against a 2-5 Houston group fighting for its 2013 survival.
The Colts produced a 10th comeback win under Chuck Pagano by wiping out an 18-point halftime deficit in a 27-24 victory at Houston. Plays were made across the board in keeping a two-game AFC South lead over Tennessee.
Here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
PERFECT WITH PERFECTION – The Colts are 7-0 under Pagano (3-0 in 2013) in turnover-free performances. That the club has seven in 24 outings (almost 30 percent of the time) is a pretty healthy percentage and is a testament to his ball security preaching. Prior to Pagano, it took a 37-game span back to 2010 to encompass seven spotless performances. The Colts’ six giveaways lead the league. Only four other teams are in single digits. Three of those seven miscue-free games have been on the road, further evidence of the ability to play like Pagano preaches.
OVERCOME ADVERSITY – Houston sucker-punched the Colts one minute into the game with a long TD pass. Adam Vinatieri had a field goal blocked moments later to the delight of the Houston fans, but the defense held on third- and fourth-and-one rushes to thwart the Texans. One possession later, a near blocked punt helped set up a short field and a second Houston TD in the opening quarter. After replay overturned what appeared to be a recovered fumble on a kickoff return, Houston added its third TD for an 18-point lead. It came on a gut punch with 34 seconds left in the first half, a time when late scores can damage a team’s mindset. The Colts hung tough on the road and after trading field goals in the third quarter, scored on three straight drives to take the lead. It was producing and being non-judgmental in adversity. “Chuck (Pagano) puts into us the ‘never-give-up’ spirit,” said Anthony Castonzo. “It’s a trickle-down effect. Everybody buys in. We’re all 100 percent in on every play. There’s no give-up in this game.”
LUCK REMAINS MASTERFUL – With 10 game-winning drives in fourth quarter and overtime, Andrew Luck has the most of any quarterback in the first two years of a career since 1970. Luck’s manner in the huddle and calm leadership style affects teammates deeply. “Andrew basically takes control of the huddle. He’s telling us, ‘One play at a time, one play at a time.’ He’s focused,” said Castonzo of Luck, who must have read Kipling while earning his architecture at Stanford. Even after the latest Houdini act, Luck credits teammates and coaches first. There is no “I” in Luck. If a player can have a virtuoso career after 24 games, Luck has done it.
LINEBACKERS MORE THAN MATHIS – Houston was able to neutralize Robert Mathis probably better than any team this year. Still, Erik Walden had a 10-yard second-quarter sack of Case Keenum that preceded a missed field goal that would have put Houston up, 17-0. After the Colts took the 27-24 lead with four minutes left, Mathis and Angerer stopped Ben Tate for short yardage around midfield, then Angerer stayed at home and dropped Keenum for a three-yard loss on a Pistol keeper, a superb one-on-one effort. On the ensuing play, Mathis contained Keenum and Angerer delivered a hit on Keenum’s release. Keenum’s pass hit Walden in the facemask and Mathis nearly corralled the ball for a touchdown. Three linebackers, three plays in the clutch, and the Colts forced a punt. While Angerer’s 12 tackles topped the team, Walden was in the middle of key moments for a second straight game.
PRODUCTION PAST WIDE RECEIVERS – With Reggie Wayne gone for the season, developing production past the wide receiving corps is a must. Luck hit wide receivers 12 times in 29 targets, with more plays being made in the second half than the first. Indianapolis was able to get three receptions from Coby Fleener, plus a critical two-point snare. Trent Richardson had two receptions, including a 24-yarder that set up T.Y. Hilton’s third TD. Success in spreading the ball paid dividends, and the club must continue that as Luck’s cohesion with wide outs continues to develop.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, Andrew Luck, anthony castonzo, chuck pagano, Coby Fleener, erik walden, indianapolis colts, pat angerer, Reggie Wayne, robert mathis, trent richardson
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The Colts will put on the pads today as they return to the practice field in preparation for Sunday night’s matchup with the Texans. Today’s news looks at the longevity of Adam Vinatieri and this weekend’s contest.
Take a look below at the top pieces from Wednesday, October 30th.
By: Mike Chappell, Indy Star
With a 15-of-17 effort in the first seven games of the season, Adam Vinatieri is showing zero signs of slowing down.
“He’s obviously found the Fountain of Youth somewhere,” Pagano said. “I don’t know if that’s in Carmel or if he went to Florida.”
Vinatieri smiled at the notion. At 40, he’s the NFL’s oldest player.
But in his 18th season and after laying the foundation for likely induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he remains driven.
“Never being satisfied is the real key to it,” Vinatieri said. “Always wanting more and more. More stats. More Super Bowl rings.
“Whatever ‘more’ that might be, just keeping it going.”
By: Tom James, The Terre Haute Tribune
Chuck Pagano said throw the records out the window when divisional teams meet and that message has permeated through the Colts locker room.
It’s back to work for the Indianapolis Colts, who will go into Sunday night’s nationally televised National Football League game (NBC, 8:30 p.m. kickoff) against defending AFC South champion Houston with a 5-2 record and a two-game lead in the division.
The Texans, meanwhile, have struggled of late and will take a 2-5 mark against Indianapolis.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck doesn’t care to talk about Houston’s issues so far this season. All he knows is that the Texans have ruled the division the last two seasons and still possess an outstanding defense.
“I don’t think there will be any problem of flipping the switch [coming off a bye] and getting back going. I don’t think guys really turned it off completely [last week] either,” Luck said Monday.
“It’s great to relax, great to get your mind off of things. But we’re excited for this week and a great test in Houston.”
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, Andrew Luck, chuck pagano
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Throughout the course of the season, Colts.com will run a “Newcomer of the Week” following each regular season game. With the Colts having an influx of the newcomers this season here’s a look at the “Newcomer of the Week” from San Diego.
The normal reps for Trent Richardson were not there on Monday night.
Limited offensive possessions only allowed for 10 Richardson carries against the Chargers but he did average 4.0 yards on those attempts.
Richardson had both of the Colts third-down conversions from Monday night.
During the Colts lone third quarter drive, it was Richardson with 12- and three-yard rushes on separate third-and-ones.
“That’s how it should be all season,” Richardson said of the physical running nature.
The most impressive Richardson play of the evening came on a 13-yard reception where he broke three separate tackles.
However, it was a late fourth quarter drop that had Richardson’s attention following the 19-9 loss.
“I dropped a screen pass (because) I took my eyes off the ball,” Richardson said after the game. “I can still see myself running. That’s not the football I play. I don’t like to have missed assignments. I’m beating myself up about it, but good thing we have a game this Sunday.”
“We beat ourselves. Don’t get me wrong they made a lot of good plays and that’s a good team, but I felt the whole game that we weren’t going to lose.”
Other Newcomers of Note:
-Inside Linebacker Kelvin Sheppard saw ample playing time in the second half with Jerrell Freeman sidelined (concussion). Sheppard finished with four tackles and had a nine-yard sack of Philip Rivers in the fourth quarter.
-Defensive Tackle Ricky Jean Francois was back in the starting lineup after he missed the last two weeks with a groin injury. Jean Francois had three tackles and a tackle for loss which forced a field goal attempt by the Chargers.
-Fullback Stanley Havili returned to the lineup on Monday night and while his stats might not indicate it, his contributions should not be taken for granted. Havili did have a 12-yard reception in the fourth quarter that set up Adam Vinatieri’s 51-yard field goal.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, kelvin sheppard, Ricky Jean-Francois, Stanley Havili, trent richardson
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INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts have played poised football and executed consistently in winning 15-of-21 under Chuck Pagano prior to Monday.
At San Diego, the Colts had one of their tougher outings and were not able to win many “situational” moments, according to Pagano.
While results rarely are as good or bad as they seem, there are points on which to improve as Indianapolis seeks to retain its lead pace in the AFC South.
Here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
POSSESSION AND POINTS – After the Colts opened with a sustained scoring drive and forced two San Diego punts to start the game, it looked like it would be a night of accomplishment on the national stage. Instead, San Diego owned the ball for almost 21 minutes of the second and third quarters and beyond the first five minutes of the fourth period. Sixteen of their 19 points came from the 55 plays on those drives, while the Colts labored almost in vain. Indianapolis had a near-32-minute possession average in its first five games and produced on the scoreboard while having the ball in getting to 4-1. A sobering defeat saw San Diego control the game with a near two-to-one possession advantage and getting points to close those drives. The Colts had to be efficient when they got the ball, and they were not.
EXECUTE – Pagano is a player’s coach in every respect, including a post-game message: “I told the players, it isn’t about heart. It isn’t about toughness. It isn’t about preparation. Our guys do that week-in and week-out. They’re going to play their hearts out. We just have to play smart. We have to play better football. We didn’t play good football. We didn’t play good situational football. We’ll get that fixed.” Penalties have not been a season-long problem. Seven at Jacksonville did not hinder a 34-point win. Five at San Diego perpetuated defeat, with three coming on third downs to extend drives. Ten points came on drives where penalties hurt. Offensively, two-of-10 on third downs and about six dropped passes kept the defense on the field. Effort is not the issue. Smart effort has made this team a success – one able to avoid consecutive losses under Pagano.
FREEMAN FACTOR – Jerrell Freeman missed parts of the game Monday with a concussion, plus had a cut on his chin. Freeman has been a big factor in the club’s defensive success, and missing him for more than a half at San Diego might have proved his value in absence as much as what he has done while playing. His leadership is key to a defense that will need a solid performance Sunday, and a concussion baseline must be met in a short week.
VINNY’S GREATNESS – This is not really a lesson learned, just a citation for a Hall-worthy player being at the top of his game in an 18th season. Adam Vinatieri nailed 50- and 51-yard field goals at San Diego. Nailed – into the net. He has made 12-of-14 this year. A 49-yarder pushed a late lead against Seattle from three to six points. He kept the Colts within arm’s distance at San Diego. Vinatieri is seven-of-nine beyond 40 yards this year, with a 52-yarder that hit halfway up the upright against Miami and a 51-yard miss into the win at San Francisco. Those who dare to question of the game’s greats may have to wait a few more years.
DEFEND THE RUN – Two straight games the Colts have allowed 100-yard rushers. Marshawn Lynch and Ryan Mathews both reached 102, and this is in addition to Terrelle Pryor (112) and Russell Wilson (102). Seattle ran for 218 yards and a 6.4 average. San Diego got 147 at a 4.0 clip. It is a two-game matter that bears watching.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, chuck pagano, indianapolis colts, Jerrell Freeman
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Intro: Indianapolis posted a dominant 27-7 win at San Francisco on Sunday. The Colts ran 12 more times than they threw and earned their most lop-sided road victory since 2009. Facing a physical defending Super Bowl team, the Colts were more physical.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts answered a tough home setback by meeting the challenge of their first road game with a 20-point victory margin over a team (San Francisco) that made the Super Bowl last year and nearly did the previous season.
The Colts met a physical opponent by being even more so. On a national television stage, Indianapolis showed a much different blueprint for victory than past seasons have had.
Colts 27, San Francisco 7.
Here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
LET’S GET PHYSICAL – Nothing is more telling than the words of an owner. In this case, Jim Irsay, “To bring in Ahmad Bradshaw and now to have Trent Richardson…You can see Trent with his lateral movement, his explosion, he’s always going forward. What we’re looking for is what we saw today.” When Irsay changed his organizational dynamic in early 2012 by bringing in Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, the new duo spoke of a different style of play. Every move since then has reflected that approach and progress made over 18 games prior to yesterday was incremental. Yesterday, it was dramatic. The Colts ran 12 more times than they threw, a first for that disparity since 2011. The Colts are 4-0 in the last 19 games when they have rushed more often than thrown, and they are 4-0 in games in that span when out-rushing opponents by 59 yards. “Run and stop the run” has been a mantra. It was reality yesterday. It is a much different feeling for long-time Colts fans. This new pair of shoes could be broken in quickly.
1-2 PUNCH, AND MORE – Ahmad Bradshaw carried 19 times for 95 yards. Trent Richardson had 13 carries for 35 yards. Bradshaw said the plan never was to ease his new buddy in, “We’ve got a one-two punch and we used it. It’s going to be tough for a lot of opponents this year.” The duo had 32 of the team’s 39 rushes. Get used to it. Pep Hamilton mentioned Friday that Donald Brown would be in the mix. Brown had 25 yards on three carries, including a 16-yarder for a first down that led to a field goal. Indianapolis has a more pronounced “hammer” look to the offense. Pagano spoke 20 months ago of the Colts having an AFC North look (like that of Pittsburgh and Baltimore). That was the look at San Francisco.
MULTI-POSITIONAL OFFENSIVE LINEMEN – The offensive line had one of its grittiest and most productive performances of recent memory. Mike McGlynn shifted to center for the injured Samson Satele (the third time he has done this in 19 games), and played well. He competed successfully while being battered all game. Jeff Linkenbach showed his versatility again by starting at right guard for McGlynn. In 29 career starts, Linkenbach has opened five times at LT, four at LG, four at RG and 16 at RT. Mixed in among stalwart veterans Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus was rookie left guard Hugh Thornton. Versatility among all linemen provides big-time currency for the offense. Often is it not acknowledged, but Sunday it was on full display. They ventured into Candlestick and shined. Well done, gents.
VALUE OF KICKERS, COVERAGE, FIELD POSITION – San Francisco started nine of its 11 possessions at or inside its 20. Pat McAfee reached the end zone on four of his six kickoffs, producing three touchbacks. The other three returns reached the 13, 11 and 12. McAfee pinned the 49ers to their eight (twice) and nine with three of his four punts. Adam Vinatieri hit clutch efforts from 43 and 41 yards, and his lone miss from 51 yards was wide while attempted into the wind. The Colts won the average field position drive start by eight yards, and three-of-five three-and-outs defensively for Indianapolis came after solid kicks. Again, a part of the game sometimes overlooked. Not today. It was probably great flights home for special teams and offensive line coaches.
BELIEVE IN COACHES – Defensive players heard it for two weeks after Terrelle Pryor ran for 112 yards. With Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson looming in the next month, getting squared away on a diverse offense was necessary. Chuck Pagano said research was done and that players would be prepared. Kaepernick rushed seven times for 20 yards, and the only TD run by a quarterback belonged to Andrew Luck. The phrase heard after Sunday’s win was “assignment football.” Assignments were sound and execution was solid. The Colts are 13-6 under the new regime, with players buying in and competing for each other. They’re coachable, and everyone enjoyed the fruits of a decisive win.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, ahmad bradshaw, anthony castonzo, chuck pagano, donald brown, gosder cherilus, Hugh Thornton, indianapolis colts, Jeff Linkenbach, Jim Irsay, mike mcglynn, pat mcafee, Pep Hamilton, ryan grigson, trent richardson
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