Looks like the Indianapolis Colts know how to respond to a challenge. Especially one made by their owner.
As you’ll recall, Jim Irsay called the entire team out after the week one loss to Buffalo, calling the game a “crap performance.” The Boys in the Horseshoe took an impressive (and at times, fortunate) first half showing and transformed it into a 20-12 victory over the G-Men at Met Life Stadium.
Things didn’t start off so hot for the Colts, however. On the first drive of the game, the Colts defense allowed RB David Wilson and the Giants offense to move the ball down to the seven-yard line in just six plays. This included three Wilson rushes for an average of 9.3 yards. But, being that this was a preseason game, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin did the right thing and went for it on fourth down. The Colts defense stuffed RB Andre Brown for no gain, and Indianapolis gained possession.
They weren’t able to do anything with it however, going three and out that featured two negative run plays and an incompletion meant for TE Coby Fleener.
After allowing the Giants to drive down the field again to the seven-yard line and getting the lead of three points from Josh Brown, the Colts offense started to show a little life. Andrew Luck’s first completion came on third-and-ten when he hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for 14 yards. Luck then completed his next four passes (two each to Heyward-Bey and Reggie Wayne) and scrambled for 14 yards after the offensive line broke down in protection – something that happened a bit too much for this man’s liking last night. Luck’s last pass of the drive was a direct result of this issue. Under duress, Luck underthrew the ball to the end-zone, where it looked like Giants cornerback had the easy interception. As Luck would have it, though (see what I did there?), Ross bobbled the pick, popping it up into the air where an alert Wayne was waiting. After one tip off of Wayne’s hands, he snatched the ball out of the air and, with supreme presence of mind, dragged both feet in the end zone to complete the score. The Colts never trailed again.
As it always is with preseason games, there are things that were good, things that were bad, and things that were just plain fugly during the game. Last night was no exception to this rule. I call this, appropriately, the “GBF report.” This is the breakdown of what I saw against New York:
Andrew Luck – Other than a bad pass to TE Coby Fleener (which easily could have been a bad route by Fleener) and the non-interception to Aaron Ross, Luck had a good night. He completed 9 of 13 passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns with a passer rating of 133.7.
T.Y Hilton – Hilton continued his impressive showing in year 2. He only caught two passes for 38 yards, but that included a nifty catch in the corner of the end zone against good coverage.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – DHB made a good impression, catching all but one of the five passes thrown his way. He ended the night with four catches for 45 yards, and didn’t drop a single one.
Pass defense – The starters held Giants QB Eli Manning to 8 of 17 passes for 91 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception by free agent signee Greg Toler. The Colts front seven also managed to notch six sacks of Giants quarterbacks: One for Erik Walden (who blew right by Giants starting RT David Diehl) and LB Marshay Green, and two each by back-ups Drake Nevis and Caesar Rayford.
The run game – The starters really sucked on this one. The running backs started the night gaining a total of eight yards on seven carries. The longest run of the night was by Luck. Part of the problem seems to be that the offensive line still hasn’t meshed well enough to give any effective blocking and open up running lanes. The other issue is that the Giants have a strong defense and don’t give yards up easily.
The run defense – I’m still seeing a lot of holes opening up in the Colts defense in the run game. Granted, some projected starters sat out while recovering from various minor injuries, but the stats do indicate an alarming trend nonetheless. Antonio Brown and David Wilson each averaged over 4 yards per carry, each only running the ball eight times. The Giants as a team also averaged 4.0 yards, for a total of 95 on the day.
Offensive line play – Speaking of the offensive line, they had a rough night again. They didn’t give up a sack, but Luck was under constant pressure in the first quarter and as we said, provided little to no support in the run game. Gosder Cherilus was beaten badly on one play by Giants DE Justin Tuck. Not the type of thing you want see from a guy you just signed for $34.5 million.
Reggie Wayne’s insane touchdown catch – We’ve gone over this one already, but c’mon man, it was the play of the preseason (if there is such a thing).
Why is it fugly then, you might ask? Did you see that pass? There’s no way that should ever have happened. It was a poor decision by Luck, who needs to learn how to just throw the ball away when he gets into trouble like that – something his predecessor did extremely well. This would go a long way towards reducing his turnover problems. Also fugly about this play was Aaron Ross’ botched pick. The man said best himself: Those are the type of plays you are glad happen in preseason games.
Chandler Harnish – I am going to assume you guys know where this is going, and it has absolutely nothing to do with his performance on the field (2-5 for 12 yards, BTW). During pre-game, Harnish was warming up as quarterbacks do, throwing passes down the field. On one particular pass however, Harnish sailed one toward the sideline, out of the grasp of his intended recipient.
What happened next was equal parts hilarious and cringe-worthy. Fox Sports sideline report Pam Oliver was standing on that very sideline, her back to the action happening. As she was recording a spot for the pregame show, Harnish’s pass flew right into her, nailing the side of her head. Pam took it like a champ though, and managed to laugh it off later live on air with booth announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
The Colts preseason continues next week, when Indy hosts the Cleveland Browns on Saturday, August 24th at 7:00 pm.
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