Indianapolis Colts Football

Five Things Learned, Jacksonville-Colts

Posted by craigkelleycolts on December 30, 2013 – 9:45 am

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Intro:  Indianapolis controlled almost every aspect of a game for the third straight week in moving from 8-5 to 11-5 with a 30-10 victory over Jacksonville.  The Colts earned the momentum they sought entering December, and now it is on to January.

 

INDIANAPOLIS – After Sunday’s 30-10 victory over Jacksonville, Chuck Pagano said everyone knows the second-most important month to be playing good football is in December.

He then pointed to his team’s 4-1 mark that was forged with three straight double-digit wins to end the season.

It was a strong response following a December 8 lopsided loss at Cincinnati, 42-28, the day Indianapolis captured the AFC South crown.

Knowing better play was imperative, the Colts focused on basics and end up entering the playoffs with much-needed steam.

After the club’s impressive victory over the Jaguars to go 6-0 in the division, here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.

WINNING ELEMENTS – A message that Chuck Pagano uses that irks a few followers is, “In the NFL, more games are lost than won.”  It’s not that Pagano doesn’t take calculated approaches to win, he just wants to avoid pitfalls that equate to losses – two being penalties and turnovers.  Indianapolis became the second team in 26 years (Kansas City, 2002) to top the league in fewest penalties (66, for 576 yards) and turnovers (14).  The Colts rebounded from minus-12 to plus-13 in turnover ratio from 2012 to 2013 (a jump from 26th to third).  The turnovers set a franchise record.  The team had three or fewer penalties in eight outings and only hit 40-plus infraction yards six times.  The NFL penalty-yard average was 98-845.  Of 12 playoff teams, 10 have positive or neutral turnover ratios.  The top six ratios all are playoff teams.

POSSESSION ADVANTAGE – While points win games, so can possession time.  Indianapolis won its last three games by controlling the ball 33:11, 38:20 and 33:40.  In eight of those 12 quarters, the Colts held the ball for nine-plus minutes and only three times lost the possession margin.  It speaks to executing third downs as well as ball security.  The Colts are 7-1 this year when topping 30-minutes.  Clearly the team is doing something with the ball when it has it, but keeping it usually means an opponent is being held at bay.

SPECIAL LUCK – Andrew Luck now is tied for the second-most wins by any QB since 1970 for the first two seasons of a career (22).  His 8,196 passing yards are the most ever over the first two seasons.  Luck is on a short list of Super Bowl era QBs who opened or are opening their careers with consecutive seasons with playoff starts (5, Joe Flacco; 3, Dan Marino, Bernie Kosar, Andy Dalton; 2, Shaun King, Ben Roethlisberger, Mark Sanzhez, Luck, Russell Wilson).  Dalton, Luck and Wilson are current streaks.  Enjoy Luck as he starts in his second playoffs.  It’s been a wondrous run so far by a special talent.  Note:  Luck has hit five, nine and 10 different receivers in the last three games, some of whom did not start the season here.

UP TEMPO, AGGRESSIVE LEAD FROM START – The last three games have seen the Colts pick up the tempo a notch on offense.  Sunday saw the club probe down the field in an aggressive manner.  There are factors that help a team get off quickly in a game, and this has helped as the Colts own a 24-10 first-quarter and 53-13 first-half points advantage in that time. The previous six games had seen the club labor with 49-9 and 112-24 deficits over those opening quarters and halves, while holding the lead but once.  Keeping the foot down can help the passing game and open up some running room.

SO BASIC – So many times, less is more.  When the team struggled, it went basic.  While focusing on small aspects of the game not appreciated by some non-purists, Robert Mathis preaches the critical nature to crafting solid performances.  “Just doing the little things, fundamentals, techniques, sound football, that’s the difference between winning and losing,” said Mathis.  “Fundamentals separate good players from great players and good teams from great teams.  It’s very important.”  Said Adam Vinatieri about the need for a team to focus on itself, not others, “It is very important.  If we work on what we do and execute our game plan, the team that does that wins a lot of games.  We have what it takes in this locker room.  We just have to continue to play well, commit ourselves and everything that it takes.  If we do that, we’ll be fine.”


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Five Things Learned, Colts-Kansas City

Posted by craigkelleycolts on December 23, 2013 – 9:52 am

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Intro:  Indianapolis controlled every aspect of the game at Kansas City over the final 56 minutes.  The Colts did not allow a point, ran for 135 yards, forced four turnovers and had four sacks and won going away (23-7) in a very tough road venue.

INDIANAPOLIS – With one game left in the season, Indianapolis is in play to move to the AFC’s second playoff seed, or it could shift to third or stay put at fourth.

Regardless, it has been a season of accomplishment on all fronts, and the Colts are gearing for a 16th playoff berth in 30 seasons in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis was dominant at Kansas City on Sunday, bouncing back from a 7-0 deficit with 56 strong minutes on defense and with an offense that thrived accordingly.

A two-game winning streak has the Colts at 10-5 and creating momentum beyond next Sunday.

After the club’s fourth-largest victory margin and the fourth over an opponent with 10-plus wins, here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.

OFFENSIVE LINE INTEGRITY – If Chuck Pagano had his way, Santa Claus might put a little something extra in the stockings of OL coaches Joe Gilbert and Hal Hunter.  The Colts started their seventh different line of the season Sunday at Kansas City, and it was the fifth straight week a different unit opened.  While Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn are regulars, along with tackles Gosder Cherilus and Anthony Castonzo, Xavier Nixon was making his first start at left guard.  Nixon, a natural tackle, made his career debut (in extended play) the previous week against Houston at right guard.  The Colts managed with a 10th 100-yard ground day, played turnover-free ball and Andrew Luck was sacked once.  While the offense is an 11-man operation, if the line doesn’t perform everything gets ugly (in all phases).  Kudos to the coaches and everyone associated with a stellar performance.

RESILIENCY IN GETTING BACK ON TRACK – A band of brothers hung tough after a 6-2 start went to an 8-5 juncture.  Indianapolis has rallied with two straight wins where every phase of the team performed well – particularly the defense and ground game.  The Colts have forced six turnovers and eight sacks in two games and have allowed only six-of-23 third downs to be converted.  The Colts led for the final 54 minutes against Houston and did not surrender a point at Kansas City over the final 56 minutes.  Indianapolis held the Texans without first downs on seven-of-14 possessions, including a five-possession marathon stretch.  While Houston had no post-season designs, Kansas City did, and Indianapolis shutout the Chiefs on five-of-seven drives, while one that did yield a first down ended two snaps later with a fumble.  The season never was in extreme jeopardy, but a five-game lull tested moxie around the locker room.

MAKING YOURSELF RELEVANT – Chuck Pagano used the phrase about Griff Whalen in training camp and while Whalen has done a very good job of doing so, Donald Brown has done a whale of a job.  Brown on Sunday scored on a 33-yard reception and a 51-yard run.  It was the first scoring run beyond 50 yards for Indianapolis in 33 games, and Brown had that last one as well in 2011.  Brown has a 5.6 average on 90 rushes, bucking to become only the fourth Colts back ever to have a 5.0 average on 80 seasonal attempts.  It has been done just once in the team’s Indianapolis era (George Wonsley, 1985), and Brown has contributed 24 receptions for two more scores.  Undervalued by many outside observers, Brown has cast himself in a much different public light.  His integrity and ethic are exemplary in all areas.

TEN WINS TRULY NOTEWORTHY – Indianapolis had a nine-year streak (at the time the NFL’s second-longest in history) with 10-plus wins end in 2010.  Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano have reconstructed a roster where only 10 players remain from 2010 and before.  Indianapolis has gotten to 10 wins in a year when a league-high 72 players have been pressed into service.  Getting to 10 wins is an accomplishment for any team and though this is the 13th in 30 seasons in Indianapolis, it is only right to acknowledge achievement.

PLAY TO WIN – Pagano was vocal in recent weeks about the NFL scheduling 16 games and that he intends to play them all.  Indianapolis still can grab the coveted second seed.  The Colts could jump to third or stay fourth.  Regardless, he plays to win and this Sunday should be no different.  Pagano has instilled a process around the team in which players buy in and excel.  The process sustained through his 12-game absence last year and with his full-time presence this year.  So much of coaching is messaging to players.  Players buy Pagano’s message.


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Posted in Colts Blog, Colts Casey B, Colts Cheerleading, COLTS DAILY HEADLINES, Colts Photography, Colts.com Web Updates, Events and Promotions, Fan Feature, My Indiana Football, Voice of the Fans

Colts do not travel six players to Kansas City

Posted by craigkelleycolts on December 21, 2013 – 7:23 pm

On Friday, the Colts designated five players to be doubtful for Sunday’s game – safety Sergio Brown, guard Jeff Linkenbach, defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois, guard Joe Reitz and defensive tackle Montori Hughes.

Among players listed as questionable to participate was guard Hugh Thornton.

All of those players were declared out for Sunday’s game today.

A banged-up Colts team was limited through many parts of the roster in preparation for Kansas City.

To help bolster an offensive line depleted of three guards, Indianapolis elevated Thomas Austin off the practice squad Saturday and released running back Shaun Draughn.

The Colts’ line will be operating with a seventh different starting alignment on Sunday that could include rookie Xavier Nixon at left guard.  A natural tackle, Nixon played 61 plays at right guard last Sunday against Houston when Reitz left with a concussion.

The state of the line on Friday caused Chuck Pagano to say, “It’s like everybody else.  We’re not the only (team) that’s pregnant right now.  We got what we got.  We got a job to go do, and we’re going to get it done.  Try to find a way.”

The Colts have used a league-high 71 players this year and will be starting a different offensive line in a fifth straight game.

Indianapolis will be facing potent Kansas City special teams return units, and Brown has been the club’s top specialty performer this season.  Brown was hurt during last week’s game, and this is his first missed outing.

Francois has missed the past two contests and could be ready for the Jacksonville finale.

Indianapolis is the lone NFL team to clinch a division title.  The Colts currently are the AFC’s fourth seed, with division leaders Denver, New England and Cincinnati owning better records.

Kansas City at 11-3 is tied with Denver record-wise, but the Chiefs lost both games to the Broncos and would need to finished with a better record in the last two games to wrest the AFC West crown.

A loss to Kansas City would cement the fourth seeding for the Colts.  Indianapolis could move to the second seed with two wins to close the season, if Baltimore could win its final two outings.


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Colts have won their division and still can advance to Divisional Round. Denver, Kansas City and Seattle have clinched playoff berths. Check out all playoff scenarios for Week 16.

Posted by craigkelleycolts on December 17, 2013 – 11:38 am

2013 NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 16

AFC

CLINCHED: Denver – playoff spot

Indianapolis – AFC South

Kansas City – playoff spot

DENVER BRONCOS

Denver clinches AFC West division and a first-round bye with:

1)    DEN win + KC loss

Denver clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:

1)    DEN win + KC loss + NE loss or tie

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

New England clinches AFC East division with:

1)    NE win or tie OR

2)    MIA loss or tie

New England clinches a first-round bye with:

1)    NE win + CIN loss or tie + IND loss or tie OR

2)    NE tie + CIN loss + IND loss

New England clinches a playoff spot with:

1)    CIN loss or tie

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Cincinnati clinches AFC North division with:

1)    CIN win + BAL loss or tie OR

2)    CIN tie + BAL loss

Cincinnati clinches a playoff spot with:

1)    CIN win + MIA loss or tie OR

2)    CIN tie + MIA loss

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Baltimore clinches a playoff spot with:

1)    BAL win + MIA loss + SD loss or tie

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Miami clinches a playoff spot with:

1)    MIA win + BAL loss + CIN loss

NFC

CLINCHED: Seattle – playoff spot

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Seattle clinches NFC West division and home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

1)    SEA win or tie OR

2)    SF loss or tie

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

New Orleans clinches NFC South division and a first-round bye with:

1)    NO win

New Orleans clinches a playoff spot with:

1)    ARI loss OR

2)    NO tie + SF loss or tie OR

3)    NO tie + ARI tie OR

4)    SF loss + ARI tie

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Carolina clinches a playoff spot with:

1)    CAR win OR

2)    CAR tie + ARI loss OR

3)    CAR tie + SF loss OR

4)    ARI loss + SF loss

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

San Francisco clinches a playoff spot with:

1)    SF win OR

2)    ARI loss OR

3)    SF tie + ARI tie

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Philadelphia clinches NFC East division with:

1)    PHI win + DAL loss or tie OR

2)    PHI tie + DAL loss

CHICAGO BEARS

Chicago clinches NFC North division with:

1)    CHI win + DET loss or tie + GB loss

Information provided by National Football League.

 


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Five Things Learned, Houston-Colts

Posted by craigkelleycolts on December 16, 2013 – 10:07 am

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Intro:  Indianapolis gained momentum with a 25-3 win over Houston, the club’s second-largest victory margin of the year.  The Colts grabbed the lead from the outset and did not need any comeback in assuring an 18th winning season in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS – Three of the Colts’ previous eight wins needed fourth-quarter comebacks, and the club had not earned an advantage larger than one score since November 14 at Tennessee.

Indianapolis had been plagued by slow starts in the last six outings but ended all of that by scoring early and building a 17-point halftime margin in a 25-3 win over Houston.

The Colts gained a measure of momentum heading into a week 16 showdown with 11-3 Kansas City, a possible playoff foe.

The Colts were the only AFC division leader to win last weekend, and here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.

RESERVES TRAIN LIKE STARTERS – Chuck Pagano and his staff have said numerous times that reserves train like starters.  Trent Richardson yesterday credited the scout team (comprised also of practice squad players) for providing great ‘looks’ in practices that only help hone the starters.  Joe Reitz, Fili Moala, Griff Whalen and Darius Butler figured to get heavy work Sunday.  Tackle Xavier Nixon did not, but he went in early for Reitz at RG and played the duration of the game after never having played the position before.  With Reitz starting at RG, the Colts were using their sixth different opening configuration.  His early exit with a concussion almost makes this count as a seventh different opening bunch.  Cassius Vaughn and Darius Butler have split starting time for Greg Toler, and both had multiple interceptions in the Colts’ last two wins.  Credit coaches, credit players, but give credit when looking for one way how the team won Sunday.

EARLY ADVANTAGE, EASIER PLAY CALLS – Andrew Luck said the faster start yesterday made “a world of difference.”  Pagano said it opens things up on both sides of the ball and makes calls easier because the outcome is not hanging in the balance with so much time left on the clock.  The Colts won late against Oakland, Seattle and Houston, while making plays down the stretch to subdue Denver and Tennessee (twice).  San Francisco (27-7) and Jacksonville (37-3) were the only real wide-margin days for a battling Colts club.  It’s not that yesterday didn’t have stress, there was just less of it by finding a rhythm, getting an advantage larger than one score and finishing out an opponent.

RICHARDSON UNSELFISH – Trent Richardson lined up in different spots in the offense.  He did so at blocking back.  He works hard enough during the week when moved elsewhere that he wants to contribute as a receiver.  He has caught nine passes in the last two games, and yesterday he produced a season-best 102 scrimmage yards.  His adaptation to the offense has had fits and starts.  Yesterday was a good day for Richardson, and he needs to remain a building block.

POINTS A PREMIUM – Yesterday’s 25 points could have been more had a handful of chances been cashed in better.  A red zone turnover early led to Houston’s lone score.  Takeaways that started possessions at Houston’s 17 and 44 produced field goals.  Those happened in the first half when Indianapolis still built a 20-3 lead.  Later, a long punt return set the Colts up at Houston’s 28, but a field goal was the result.  Pagano cited these afterward as points left on the field.  It did not bite harshly on Sunday, but there are other Sundays looming.

DEFENSE WAS NEARLY AIRTIGHT – Houston’s only points came off a 32-yard drive that only produced two first downs.  The next 11 defensive possessions for the Colts ended with seven punts, two takeaways, a turnover on downs and a sack-strip-safety.  Those 11 possessions netted nine downs for the Texans, while the Colts pitched first-down shutouts on five straight possessions just after halftime.  Indianapolis held Houston to 16 yards on 10 plays in the third quarter.  It was an overall performance that included four sacks, a two-thirds failure on third downs (the best since week five), 12 first downs and 26:49 possession time (the season’s third-lowest mark).  Well done.


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Five Things Learned, Colts-Cincinnati

Posted by craigkelleycolts on December 9, 2013 – 9:46 am

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Intro:  Indianapolis won the AFC South title Sunday in a manner less-preferred than anyone wished.  The Colts fell behind by 21 points early in the second half at Cincinnati and rallied to make it a one-score affair before eventually losing, 42-28.  The Colts have three games left to hone their playoff approach.

 

INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts’ 42-28 loss at Cincinnati was not made any more palatable when three hours later Tennessee lost at Denver to hand Indianapolis its eighth AFC South crown.

The Colts fell behind by 14 points at halftime, a margin that grew to 21 points before the offense roared to life.

Still, four touchdowns in the final 30 minutes could not rescue the day as Cincinnati grew its lead back to 21 before winning.

The Colts are in the playoffs.  Time remains to sharpen aspects of the approach in all three phases, and here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.

PLAYOFFS GUARANTEED – The Colts are one of three teams (Denver, Seattle) to nail down a playoff berth, the only one to claim a division crown at this point.  That cannot be taken away, and it was the first goal the team had entering 2013.  “A division championship is a division championship any way you get it,” said Jim Irsay.  Said Robert Mathis, “I’m not going to sneeze at a division title.  We just have to work from here.”  Sure the team is not functioning at the level it seeks, but a ticket has been punched to play beyond 16 games.  That is an accomplishment.  Every other goal the team has still is in play.

EXECUTION IS ELIXIR – A scoreless first half with no third-down conversions in six attempts had the Colts in a halftime hole.  With five-of-40 third-down conversions in six games, it’s hard not to mention.  The Colts have had a first-half lead in only one of the last six games and have been out-scored, 114-24.  The combined deficit is 49-9 in the first quarter.  During the span, Indianapolis has 15 two- or three-and-outs on 37 possessions, with 16 total possessions not producing a first down.  Opponents have four three-and-outs in 34 possessions, with only five drives not yielding a first down.  The first-half time of possession disparity in the six games is 101:16 for opponents and 78:44 for the Colts.

HOPEFUL SPARK IS FOUND – Eight Colts receivers had first-half receptions at Cincinnati, but T.Y. Hilton was not among them.  Hilton was targeted five times in 46 Andrew Luck passes, and he did not catch a pass until 12 minutes remained in the game.  Da’Rick Rogers (six receptions, 107 yards) and LaVon Brazill (three-for-53) saw significant time, and each had two touchdown receptions.  Granted the tilted scoreboard created a higher number of passes than planned, still a team looking for a spark among receivers may have found one at Cincinnati.  Rogers is young and learning.  Brazill needs to make a push as his second year nears completion.  Yesterday’s production was a needed boost that needs to remain.  Each showed a physical nature that produced yards after the catch.

SERGIO BROWN IS SPECIAL – Sergio Brown has been among many bright spots for the Colts this year.  Every unit likes a go-to performer, and Brown has been that on coverage units.  With seven tackles, Brown is among club leaders.  He also has two fumble recoveries and a blocked field goal.  Twice against Denver, he downed punts deep in Broncos territory.  At Cincinnati, he downed a punt at the one and batted another back into play that was downed at the Bengals’ four.  Brown is a heads-up guy, a play waiting to happen.

STINGIER ON GROUND – Seven times this year the Colts have allowed 140-plus yards in a game.  Seven of the last nine opponents have rushed at least 30 times, each time topping 30 minutes possession time and but once not reaching a 4.0 average.  Cincinnati ran 35 times Sunday, netting 155 yards and a 4.4 average.  Where some games have had skewed rushing totals with quarterback scampers (Ryan Fitzpatrick had 54 of Tennessee’s 162 yards and eight of its 36 attempts a week ago), yesterday was not one of them.  Five times in the last eight games an opponent had at least 33:55 possession time.  Opponents’ rushing production is a factor in the time of possession, and it creates added pressure on the other team to maximize its opportunities.


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Five Things Learned, Tennessee-Colts

Posted by craigkelleycolts on December 2, 2013 – 10:29 am

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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.


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Andrew Luck Checks in After 11 Games

Posted by craigkelleycolts on November 26, 2013 – 8:55 am

Andrew Luck made an appearance on the NFL Network on Monday, the day after the Colts’ 40-11 loss at Arizona left them at 7-4.

The Colts maintain a two-game lead on Tennessee in the AFC South chase and host the Titans on Sunday in a key contest.

A victory Sunday and one in one of the remaining four games (at Cincinnati, vs. Houston, at Kansas City, vs. Jacksonville) would hand the Colts their eighth AFC South crown and the first since 2010.

Luck weighed in on some questions surrounding the club:

  • On reasons Indianapolis has fallen behind in the first halves of the last four games:

“A myriad of factors but really at the end of the day it’s lack of execution. Credit to the other teams as well, but we’re not handling our business; I know from the offensive perspective, I’m not doing a good enough job getting completions, getting first downs, getting drives together which usually end up in points if you can get some first downs. So lack of execution and we’re working on it. Guys are anxious and excited to get back on the practice field and work on it. We understand you can’t survive your mistakes forever, as evident by this past weekend [against Arizona], so we’ll keep working on it.”

  • On what are the biggest issues facing the Colts moving forward:

“Again, it’s lack of execution. The slow start [against Arizona] definitely hurt; I know I need to pick my game up, I know everybody else in the locker room feels the same way. It’s one guy here, and the next play maybe it’s another guy, the next play it’s another guy. We all just have to get back on the same page and get back on the practice field and work at it.”

  • On if the game plan is to get Trent Richardson and Donald Brown involved a little bit more with wide receiver Reggie Wayne out for the rest of the season:

“I think with Reggie [Wayne] out it’s an opportunity for a lot of guys, not just the running backs, but our wideouts, tight ends to get involved. We know when we’ve been successful we’ve been able to run the football. Last weekend we didn’t do a great job of running the football, and a lot of that falls on me to make sure we’re getting in the right play. So we know when Trent’s rolling, when Donald Brown is rolling, that usually means our team is rolling.”

  • On how big this weekend’s game against the Tennessee Titans is:

“It’s huge. In my short career so far, I’ve realized that every game is huge in the NFL, especially when it’s a division game at home against a salty, good team in Tennessee. It’s always fun to play them because we know it’s going to be a heavyweight fight.”

KELLEY’S VIEW:  The mood of the fans is of understandable concern, but they should be heartened by the ability of the team to respond to challenges.  Four games without Reggie Wayne have added to the difficulty of competing, but a time-tested process is in place that will work with accompanying execution.  It’s not a very popular answer, but it is the appropriate one.

There are 52 players on the roster in addition to Luck.  Each player needs to do his part (Luck and many are), and it’s good to hear leaders pointing toward themselves in saying they must produce at their highest individual level.

The margin of error shrunk a little with the Arizona loss, but no goals have been lost.  The team controls its own destiny.

While the Colts have beaten Tennessee nine of the last 10, half have been by one-score margins.  The last three have included comebacks.

It will be an exciting day in the stadium.  Players want to atone for a 38-8 loss in their last home appearance.  Tennessee is one of six teams at 5-6, and they harbor legitimate post-season hopes.


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Five Things Learned, Colts-Arizona

Posted by craigkelleycolts on November 25, 2013 – 10:32 am

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Intro:  Indianapolis suffered a second wide-margin defeat in four games by losing at Arizona, 40-11.  The Colts are at 7-4 and still own a two-game lead in the AFC South in hosting 5-6 Tennessee, their closest divisional foe.

INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts’ trip to Arizona more resembled the one they took to San Diego in week six (19-9 loss) than it did the one to San Francisco in week three (27-7 win).

The Colts (7-4) fell at Arizona, 40-11, in a game they never led and one that spun out of control in the first 30 minutes.

Indianapolis has responded from eight prior defeats under Chuck Pagano with victories, a resilience that must be called upon again as Tennessee (5-6) visits with intentions of tightening the AFC South race and earning a playoff berth of some kind.

Improvement is needed from the Colts, and here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.

PERCEPTION VERSUS REALITY – The reality is Indianapolis needs to play more consistently in the next five games than it has done in the last four.  Personnel losses have not been used as a crutch, and the secondary has been battered of late after most of the injuries early in the year were spread across the offense.  While players said they could not “big-picture” the situation in the moments after the Arizona game, a long flight home certainly provided that time.  Sure, 8-3 beats 7-4.  Sure, New England had pulled it off (going to 8-3 from a near 7-4 after a 24-point home halftime deficit to Denver) about the same time the Colts’ flight landed.  What’s done is done, but reality also holds that the Colts control their playoff fate with a two-game lead over Tennessee.  This Sunday’s game has added implications, but no added meaning.  Chuck Pagano says every game is a must-win because he wants to win them all.  The approach this week will be to improve and take advantage of being in a good spot.  No season-opening goal has been lost.

STILL SEARCHING POST-REGGIE – The 16 quarters Indianapolis has played since Reggie Wayne’s injury late in the Denver win have seen the team struggle much more than thrive.  T.Y. Hilton has done well.  Colts tight ends did well at Tennessee, but large deficits have put the offense in modes it doesn’t particularly enjoy.  Needing a surge at Arizona, wide receivers other than Hilton caught six-of-13 passes targeted, gaining 57 yards.  After tight ends had nine receptions in 13 attempts against Tennessee, the unit had five receptions at Arizona.  The offense is laboring with a consistent identity.  Early deficits have hindered the growth.

MAKE A PLAY – When Arizona moved for a game-opening score, the onus shifted to a team whose first-half struggles have been rehashed and debated for the past month.  Still, Indianapolis failed to extend five-of-six first-half possessions beyond three plays.  The one drive that did stalled in the red zone.  The offense also gave up a defensive touchdown to Arizona in that span as the Cardinals bolted to a 24-point halftime advantage.  The Colts now have converted three-of-25 first-half third downs in the last four games.  Until it improves, this remains one of the key storylines around the team.

STOP A PLAY – Over the last four games, opposing quarterbacks are operating at a 122.1 rating level and though it’s a small sample compared to 11 games, only one QB in the league has higher individual seasonal rating.  Since beating Denver, the success of opposing QBs (Case Keenum, Kellen Clemens, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Palmer) has caused the Colts’ seasonal numbers to increase in pass defense – 58.7 completion percentage to 61.3; yards per attempt from 7.23 to 8.07; yards per completion from 12.3 to 13.2; TD:Int ratio from 8:8 to 16:8 and rating from 78.3 to 92.4.  The Colts have allowed 11 TD passes while intercepting one.

CIRCLE TIGHTLY – A cut-throat, competitive league can have teams going from advantageous positions to peril in a matter of two-to-four weeks.  Clearly the Colts are more in peril than after being 6-2.  To a man, players are circling tighter to improve themselves and to lessen any noise outside the locker room that could cause harm.  While this could sound minimally important outside the circle, those inside it know the imperative nature of doing so.  Antoine Bethea said Sunday the Colts win and lose as a whole, and they must look each other in the eyes to spur a rebound.  Hanging as a band of brothers is the only way.


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Indianapolis Colts DE-Cory Redding Named Recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award

Posted by coltsindianapolis on November 22, 2013 – 3:59 pm

Indianapolis Colts defensive end Cory Redding has been selected by his teammates as the recipient of the 2013 Ed Block Courage Award.

 

The award is an annual recognition for courageous play by an individual and Redding is one of 32 National Football League players who earned the accolade. The players of each member club nominate an individual annually and those chosen are honored at a banquet in Baltimore each March.

 

“The Ed Block Courage Award is special to me because these are the things that I cherish and hold close to my heart as far as being a leader on and off the field, helping people in need, challenging myself in times of adversity to bounce back, all the characteristics that make up the Ed Block Courage Award,” said Redding. “To be nominated by my peers and elected from a committee of people to receive this award is the greatest honor I’ve had to this point in the game of football and I’ll do my best to represent the award.”

 

Redding is in his second season with the Colts and 11th overall in the NFL. In 10 games this season, he has posted 27 tackles (19 solo), 3.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss and one pass defensed.

 

“Cory is a true professional on and off the field,” said Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano. “His leadership skills are unparalleled and he embodies the true sense of serving. Cory is extremely deserving of this award and I’m thrilled that he is being recognized by his peers for his efforts.”

 

Redding, has appeared in 155 games, making 125 starts over his 11-year career. He holds career totals of 480 tackles (323 solo), 31.0 sacks, 20 passes defensed, 10 fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles and one interception. Since joining the Colts in 2012, he has started all 24 games he’s played in and has recorded 73 tackles (44 solo), 5.5 sacks, eight passes defensed and one fumble recovery.

 

Off the field, Redding lends his support to many charitable endeavors. In 2007, he started the Cory Redding Foundation to support educational, recreational and community assistance programs for at-risk populations. The foundation’s current programs include the 3D Football Camp, the Cory Redding Middle School Challenge program and a partnership with Meals and Wheels in Austin, TX which provides meals for more than 2,000 individuals each year. Redding has also been involved with several other community events, including the CHUCKSTRONG Gala, Playground Build, Play 60 Challenge Launch Party and the Million Meal Marathon.

 

The award is named after Ed Block who was the head athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts from 1954-1977. He served as trainer emeritus with the club until he passed away in 1983.

 

Past winners of the award dating back to 2000, include: S-Antoine Bethea (2012), DE-Robert Mathis (2011), DE-Dwight Freeney (2010), DB-Marlin Jackson (2009), C-Jeff Saturday (2008), OG-Ryan Lilja (2007), WR-Reggie Wayne (2006), LB-Cato June (2005), LB-Gary Brackett (2004), DE-Chad Bratzke (2003), LB-Rob Morris (2002), QB-Peyton Manning (2001) and DT-Bernard Whittington (2000).

 

The 36th annual Ed Block Courage Award dinner is schedule during March in Baltimore. Proceeds from the affair benefit the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation in Baltimore. The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation’s objective is to establish homes for abused children in each NFL city. Indianapolis established an Ed Block Courage home (Children’s Bureau) in October of 2000. The home is part of a national support network for abused children.


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