The Indianapolis Colts today agreed to terms with punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee punted 76 times for 3,499 yards (46.0 avg., 38.5 net) in 2013 and set a franchise single-season record with 27 punts pinned inside the 20-yard line, breaking his previous record of 26 in 2012. He also set a single-game franchise record with six punts pinned inside the 20 in Week 7 against Denver. McAfee handled 86 kickoffs during the season, resulting in 41 touchbacks. In two postseason games, he totaled six punts for 310 yards (51.7 avg., 44.7 net).
McAfee holds Colts career records in kickoffs (387), kickoff touchbacks (164), punting gross average (45.6) and punting net average (38.4). He also ranks fourth in franchise history in career punts (366) and punting yards (16,685) and third in punts inside the 20 (116). In 2012, McAfee set franchise single-season records for gross punting average (48.2), net punting average (40.3) and games averaging 50-plus gross yards per punt (five) while tying the record for kickoff touchbacks (45). In 2009, he was named to the PFW/PFWA and The Sporting News NFL All-Rookie Teams. McAfee was originally selected by the Colts in the seventh round (222nd overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft out of West Virginia University.
Tags: pat mcafee, roster moves
Posted in Colts Blog
Last year when the NFL Combine invaded Lucas Oil Stadium, the hoard of media waited…and waited for the press conference of former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.
Prior to Sunday night it looked like Johnny Manziel’s 2014 combine press conference would rival that of Te’o.
But now that distinction belongs to Missouri defensive end Michael Sam.
On Sunday night, Sam told the New York Times: “I’m Michael Sam. I’m a football player and I’m gay.”
Sam was one of the most dominant players in college football last year. He had 11.5 sacks in 2013 and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year for a Tigers team that captured the Cotton Bowl.
NFL draft pundits have the 260-pound Sam projected to be drafted in the later rounds of the 2014 draft.
Below are a few excerpts of Sam’s article in the New York Times.
“I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” said Mr. Sam, who also spoke with ESPN on Sunday. “I just want to own my truth.”
“I’m not naïve,” Mr. Sam said. “I know this is a huge deal and I know how important this is. But my role as of right now is to train for the combine and play in the N.F.L.”
Also, a few Colts players went to Twitter to express their support for Sam deciding to come out a week and a half before the Combine.
Good for Michael Sam.. Hopefully this'll inspire others to be comfortable and proud of who they are—
Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) February 10, 2014
Wishing nothing but the best of luck to this Michael Sam fella. Took a lot of guts to do what he just did before the big job interview—
Matt Overton (@MattOverton_LS) February 10, 2014
Tags: khaled holmes, Matt Overton, pat mcafee
Posted in Colts Blog
Intro: The Colts’ season ended Saturday at New England with a 43-22 loss where Indianapolis trailed after 79 seconds and never was able to draw even. Indianapolis allowed 234 rushing yards and committed four turnovers to end a season that had a number of accomplishments.
INDIANAPOLIS – Saturday’s 43-22 Divisional Playoff loss at New England was a disappointing ending to a second straight year that featured 11 regular-season wins.
Indianapolis advanced one round further in the playoffs than it did last season and for a roster that featured 27 players finishing their first year with the team, a team that had to use a league-high 73 players because of injury, it was a year that had noteworthy accomplishments that can point toward a bright future.
The Colts absorbed a tough loss to a talented New England team, and here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
ANDREW LUCK WILL HAVE HIS DAYS – It is evident readily that Andrew Luck is one of the special talents in the NFL, though Saturday at New England was not his night. Playing the toughest position in sports can mean a player will have a game like Luck did with four interceptions. While each throw had its own story, Luck shouldered the blame and will take the experience with him into his third season. Coming off a wondrous Kansas City performance, this likely felt like both ends of the football spectrum for him, but Colts fans are heartened by what they have in Luck. Sure, it will sting watching veterans Peyton Manning and Tom Brady battle next Sunday, as well as youngsters Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick but given a logical progression for Luck, there should be future title Sundays for him. There already have been many special ones for Colts fans with him at the controls.
GROUND IT OUT – When Chuck Pagano states the importance of running the ball, he could point to the eight playoff results as exhibits why. The Colts ran 19 times for 100 yards (5.3 avg.) against Kansas City, and that was the lowest rushing total of any eight playoff winners this year. In the Wild Card round, New Orleans (185, 5.1 avg.), San Diego (196, 4.9) and San Francisco (167, 5.6) pounded the ball. In the Divisional Playoffs, New England (234, 5.1), Seattle (174, 5.0), San Francisco (126, 3.7) and Denver (133, 3.9) ran effectively, and often. The Colts were out-rushed by Kansas City, 150-100, the only post-season winner with fewer yards than its opponent. In two playoff games, opponents had almost twice the rushing attempts (78-40) than did the Colts, and a 90:40 pass:rush ratio was not healthy. Establishing a better blend is necessary (there were scoreboard factors that tilted it), and it would not damage the effectiveness of the passing game.
STOP RUN – The Colts allowed a 192.0 rushing average in the post-season, with New England getting 234 yards, the second-most allowed in a playoff game in franchise history. At the start of the season, Pagano said rushing for a 5.0 average would be the club’s dreamed-of goal since that average would “lead the world.” Kansas City and New England combined for a 4.9 average. Counting the playoffs, Indianapolis allowed 150-plus rushing yards in five of its last seven games. When subtracting the Jacksonville and Houston outings, the remaining five opponents ran for 856 yards (171.2 avg./game), a 5.1 average and 12 touchdowns. Being more stout in the run defense has to be on the mindsets heading forward.
THIS ISN’T ‘RUDY’ – The Colts were ahead on the scoreboard in the post-season for just 4:21 in two games, and Indianapolis was in a tie score situation with Kansas City and New England for only 11:49. Other than that, Indianapolis was trailing, and the offense took the field just once in two games while not behind (that was the game-opening possession at New England). While comebacks are great theater, it is not the way to thrive in this business regularly. Four major comebacks (Seattle, Tennessee, Kansas City and Houston) are memorable and will have their rightful place on the highlight film, but consistent adverse scoreboard conditions (one first-half lead in a six-game mid-season run was arduous) spell trouble.
TRENT, PAT, VINNY – Here’s hoping Trent Richardson has a solid upcoming off-season to get fully acclimated. Four post-season rushes in two games is not what Richardson or anyone wants, and he was credited with appearances on 35-of-130 offensive snaps in two games. He is a young talent that needs to contribute in 2014. Pat McAfee had a good playoff showing (six punts, 51.7 average, 44.7 net), particularly against Kansas City in helping keep a dynamic return team at bay. Adam Vinatieri was perfect in the post-season after having one of his best-ever regular-season performances, and he’s had 17 prior to this past one. There is a business side to the game, but the Colts were in good hands with these two performers in 2013.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, Andrew Luck, chuck pagano, indianapolis colts, pat mcafee, trent richardson
Posted in Colts Blog
Intro: Indianapolis wiped out the biggest deficit in franchise history and the second-largest in NFL playoff history by earning a 45-44 victory in the Wild Card round after trailing Kansas City, 38-10, in the third quarter. It was the fourth comeback win by the Colts in 2013, and it sends them deeper into the playoffs than they have been since 2009.
INDIANAPOLIS – Saturday’s improbable and pulsating 45-44 victory over Kansas City in the Wild Card playoffs was achieved by Indianapolis overcoming the largest deficit in franchise history and the second-largest ever in league post-season play.
The Colts did almost enough to lose before finishing a nose ahead in what Chuck Pagano called an “epic” victory.
Indianapolis always uses a 24-hour rule to process the outcomes of games and with a post-season date Saturday in New England, putting the result behind is in order. So is correcting matters that made such a comeback necessary.
It was one of the most unforgettable Colts and NFL playoff games ever, and here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
ANDREW LUCK CONTINUES TO DEFINE SPECIAL – Already a playoff starter in consecutive seasons to open a career and having tied for the second-most starting victories (22) over the first two seasons by a QB in the Super Bowl era, Luck delivered a performance that almost defied belief and description by overcoming three interceptions with four touchdown passes and guiding the Colts back from a 38-10 second-half hole to a 45-44 victory. Luck helped the Colts out-score Kansas City 35-6 over the game’s final 27 minutes. He moved the club to three TDs in 16 snaps to narrow the 28-point deficit to 10 points entering the last quarter, then capped a marathon 90-yard march by recovering a fumble and running/diving for a touchdown. At 44-38 past the midway point of the final quarter, he converted a third-and-five with an 11-yard completion, then reared back and hit T.Y. Hilton for a 64-yard strike to settle the matter. Indianapolis had five TDs in six possessions to earn the win, and Luck’s 443 yards ranked fifth in NFL playoff history. In a franchise that had John Unitas and Peyton Manning win titles, Luck’s first-ever playoff win was one for the ages. Afterward, all he could do was credit teammates for sticking with him, while Ryan Grigson compared him to Michael Jordan for always excelling in the clutch and wanting to do so in those moments.
BELIEF NEVER WANES – Just this season, Indianapolis rallied from 12 points down to beat Seattle, 14 to top Tennessee and 18 to dispatch Houston. Those were the eighth, ninth and 10th comeback wins under Pagano. Saturday’s stage was bigger than the regular season, and the deficit was larger than any overcome in the Colts’ 60-plus seasons. Still, a band of brothers fought, chipped away, didn’t judge, stuck to the process, honed fundamentals and techniques – all the things Chuck Pagano said afterward were critical but made him sound like a broken record when he cited them. These players are tight. Had the comeback not happened and they had to answer why, they would have done so with complete professionalism. That is not the case and a group that never quits has 60 more minutes to fight. Belief in Pagano and the program are as solid as any team has in this league. Players play for each other as much as they play for themselves, maybe more so.
SPECIAL NIGHT – Knowing how talented Kansas City is on specialty units, Indianapolis copped a better kickoff return average (30.0) than the Chiefs (26.7). Kansas City’s average was almost three yards off the NFL record it set during the season (29.4). Eight times Pat McAfee sailed kickoffs into the end zone and seven times Quintin Demps brought them out. McAfee’s kicks were five, eight, nine, six, four, six, eight and eight yards deep, and only the last one was downed by Demps, and that came after the Colts’ last score. His longest return was 34 yards, and Indianapolis met the goal of Special Teams Coach Tom McMahon of having the Chiefs play full-court offense. On kickoff drive starts, the Colts held a two-yard advantage (nine drives, avg. of 22-yard line; KC, eight drives, avg. of 20). Additionally, McAfee’s lone punt of 51 yards was returned only six yards, another victory for the Colts. Special teams were an issue in the club’s last home playoff loss in 2010 as the Jets scored a last-second field goal for a 17-16 win. This time? No dice.
MATHIS MOMENT – All year, Robert Mathis has helped turn games with sacks and strip-sacks. His strip-sack against Denver helped ignite a nine-point splurge that put the Colts ahead in the second quarter with a lead it never yielded. He has found times to bedevil quarterbacks, and his sack-strip of Alex Smith in the third quarter set the stage for a quick 41-yard TD drive that cut a 38-10 gap to 38-24. Kansas City had run a nice offensive tempo to negate Mathis (he was an eyelash away from Smith before he threw a 79-yard TD pass for a 17-7 lead) most of the game, but the NFL sack champion got one that counted. This team feeds off many sources, but this “pillar” player had a timely play in a comeback. Since Luck said there were no 28-point plays to be made, this one play was huge.
WINNING KEY STATISTICS – An abnormal day saw the Colts win a game with a minus-three turnover ratio while allowing more than 500 net yards and owning the ball not even 23 minutes. Kansas City converted nearly 60 percent of it third downs (nine-of-16) and inflicted major damage on that down with two early TDs. All year long, Pagano said next to points that turnovers tell the tale of outcomes. The Colts were out-scored, 17-14, in points resulting from turnovers, so that tale was suspended for a day, a key day. According to ESPN number crunchers, the Colts had only a 3.6 percent chance to win when they trailed by 21 points at the half. After Luck’s interception to open the third quarter, that percent dipped to 0.9 when the Chiefs upped the deficit to 38-10. Whatever numbers may be, Indianapolis caught lightning in a bottle with the NFL’s second-largest post-season rally. Winning twice while having such deficits in key categories likely is not possible next weekend.
Tags: Andrew Luck, chuck pagano, indianapolis colts, pat mcafee, robert mathis, ryan grigson, T.Y. Hilton, Tom McMahon
Posted in Colts Blog
The Colts returned to play in front of their home fans on Sunday afternoon and delivered with a vital 22-14 divisional win over the Tennessee Titans.
With the win, the Colts moved to three games up in the AFC South with just four weeks remaining in the regular season.
Find out what the Colts players said on Twitter after their Week 13 victory:
Linebacker Kelvin Sheppard:
Linebacker Erik Walden:
Tight End Weslye Saunders:
Cornerback Vontae Davis:
Safety Antoine Bethea:
Punter Pat McAfee:
Long Snapper Matt Overton:
Tags: antoine bethea, erik walden, kelvin sheppard, Matt Overton, pat mcafee, Vontae Davis, Weslye Saunders
Posted in Colts Blog
While the names Andrew Luck and Robert Mathis will appear on many Pro Bowl ballots, there’s another Colts player that certainly deserves a consideration.
Sergio Brown might not be a household name but what he has done to flip field position for the Colts this year has been noticed.
As one of the Colts gunners, Brown has forced numerous fair catches and downed several punts inside of the opponent’s 10-yard line.
“As soon as Sergio got here, we knew we had something special,” punter Pat McAfee said earlier this week. “People don’t understand the importance of a gunner on a punt team. Sergio is a guy who can change the game not only for me but for our team”
Brown has five solo special teams tackles on the year. Special teams coach Tom McMahon also gives his guys a “tackle” for any player that forces a fair catch or downs a punt inside the opponent’s 10-yard line.
“Sergio is consistent,” McMahon says. “The best thing he does is he gets all the way down and then he looks late (meaning his back is facing the opponent’s goal line before turning around to find the ball).
“At the end of the day when he pins them down there and then forces a 98-yard drive, it makes everybody better.”
The combination of McAfee and Brown has allowed the Colts to win the hidden yardage debate at critical times.
“I pride myself on doing that,” Brown says of downing the football deep. “It definitely helps when you have an outstanding punter like Pat and he can hang them up there for me and give me time to get down there and do the other half of it.”
And what does McAfee think of Brown?
“He’s the best in the league and I don’t think it’s really a question.”
Tags: pat mcafee, Sergio Brown, Tom McMahon
Posted in Colts Blog
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
INDIANAPOLIS – In Sunday’s 34-28 win over Seattle, Indianapolis snapped 60 offensive plays. After only nine, the Colts were staring adversity squarely in the face.
Those opening plays gained nine yards and no first downs, and Pat McAfee’s third punt was blocked through the end zone. Undefeated Seattle led, 12-0.
Antoine Bethea motioned teammates together on the sideline to deliver a message. Indianapolis forced a three-and-out, then scored two quick touchdowns for a 14-12 lead.
After Seattle countered by taking a 25-17 advantage in the third quarter, the Colts scored 17 points and snuffed out two late drives to earn a comeback victory over a team that had won nine straight games.
The victory was the ninth comeback triumph in 21 outings under Chuck Pagano. It placed the Colts alone atop the AFC South five games into the season.
Here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
GRIT BEATS RABBITS – A heavyweight fight is not determined when one boxer pulls a rabbit out of the hat. It happens when he reaches inside and finds the extra something that has put him in the ring. The Colts have been relevant under Chuck Pagano, jumping nine games in the standings a year ago and now sitting among AFC leaders and on top of their division at 4-1. Pagano had his players at halftime, down 19-17, say they would run and tackle better in the second half. Eighty of 109 rushing yards followed, and the Colts defensively halved the Seahawks’ first-half ground total in the last 30 minutes. Holding Seattle to three field goals (the second with a defensive stand in Indianapolis territory after a turnover) was key, as were two late stops. The offense responded with 86- and 42-yard drives for 11 fourth-quarter points to earn the win. A true prize fight has both boxers landing blows. The one who summons the most wins. Out-pointed in early rounds, the Colts rose again with play from three units. “Nobody’s built better to win these close games, especially in the fourth quarter, than this team,” said Pagano. “(It’s) character, resiliency, toughness, grit, never quit, belief, faith. We’ve got something special.”
HILTON IS CENTRAL ELEMENT – Four plays after falling behind 12-0, T.Y. Hilton was in the end zone with a 73-yard grab (32 yards coming after the catch). On third-and-22 from the seven six minutes before the half, Hilton was interfered with and the Colts had 39 penalty yards. Hilton then had a 13-yard reception to convert another third down, leading to a half-ending field goal. Hilton’s lone third-quarter reception was a 29-yard TD strike. Early on the fourth-quarter 86-yard scoring drive, Andrew Luck targeted Hilton on third-and-10 from the 25. Interference, 16 yards. On second-and-11 from the 40, Hilton had a 13-yard catch. On third-and-eight from the Seattle 45, Luck found Hilton again for 12 more clutch yards. That was the last time Hilton was targeted, and he had done an afternoon’s work. On six targeted times, he had five receptions for 140 yards and two scores, his seventh 100-plus outing. Two penalties added 55 more yards, coming on drives that accounted for 11 points. Well done, #13.
FREEMAN FACTOR – Jerrell Freeman has been a disruptive presence all season. Strip-sacks against Miami and San Francisco made him the first Colts linebacker since 2004 not named Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis to have quarterback takedowns in consecutive games. The mobile Freeman tracked down Russell Wilson for no gain on third-and-two with seven minutes to go. The Colts were clinging to a 31-28 lead that was in doubt. Up 34-28, Freeman rushed Wilson into an interception with 1:23 left. Game-set-match, or, according to Reggie Wayne, “Ding, ding,” the bout was over and the referee held up the Colts’ hand. Either way, Freeman has had a telling hand in many plays. This is not something truly learned, just something cited as contributing factors in a big-time win.
A FEW GOOD MEN – Pagano has his men believing that every one of them can make a difference. Take bows Delano Howell and Lawrence Guy. Howell has started twice in place of LaRon Landry. He has made plays before, but his 61-yard return of a blocked field goal was a huge comeback impetus. The person who triggered it was Guy, who was signed recently to add depth to a thin defensive line. Howell had the eye candy with a great return (the third-longest in club history off a blocked field goal), but Guy provided the grit. Neither player garners a great deal of spotlight, but both’s professionalism created a big play Sunday against a team that excels on specialty units and against a kicker whose first miss of the year resulted in points for the opponent. While we’re at it, bow yourself Tom McMahon.
NO JUDGES – After two blowout wins by a 64-10 combined margin, the Colts were on the ropes down 12 and with a Seattle offense that had knifed for two scores and 92 yards on 13 snaps. Seattle would land more haymakers and Indianapolis would have to rally from behind most of the day. It did so on the one-year anniversary of the 30-27 comeback victory over Green Bay. That day a year ago was one of the most compelling in the club’s Indianapolis era, with its head coach in a hospital battling leukemia. Pagano was present Sunday to marshal another special victory. Outsiders tend to tune out themes used by coaches. Pagano’s players don’t. They live the themes and play them out on Sundays. It would have been easy to fold under pressure and deficits yesterday, but the Colts didn’t. Fans now have first place team (with 11 challenges ahead), one that hangs together.
Tags: Andrew Luck, antoine bethea, chuck pagano, Delano Howell, indianapolis colts, Jerrell Freeman, Lawrence Guy, pat mcafee, Reggie Wayne, robert mathis, T.Y. Hilton
Posted in Colts Blog
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
Posted in Colts Blog