18 Plays is normally our weekly podcast, but we couldn’t get it to go this week. Demond had the flu, broke his computer, and forgot to DVR the game. It was a trifecta that couldn’t be overcome. So, I’ll have to present 18 Plays in written form. But first some general game observations after finally watching the tape in detail:
- Before Gonzo got hurt, the Colts were going 2 TEs all the time. They were splitting Tamme and Clark wide, basically giving a 4 wide look. AFTER Gonzo went down, it was all three WRs. Gonzo’s injury was the end of the of the 2 TE look that was so effective early. For everyone saying that Collie and Garcon’s inclusion doesn’t change the offense, all they have to do is look at the tape to see that’s not true. The Colts’ offense was fundamentally altered after 11 went out.
- A reader wrote to ask about TE help for the line. Here’s the good news: there was very little all day. I counted 6 pass plays where the TE was left in to block. I counted three left and three right. The pass pro was straight up and very effective.
- The effectiveness of the blitz was WILDLY overstated. I counted 10 blitzes. 5 were successful. 5 were not. The Jags had, I believe, 5 first downs against the blitz. By my count the Colts’ blitz forced 2 punts, 2 4th downs, and 1 turn over on downs. Now, those are great results, but don’t let anyone oversell the value of the blitz. It came up enormous on the Jags’ final drive, but was very spotty until then.
- The Colts D is smart. There were several key knock downs of passes by the DBs, but they always came on the second time the Jags tried to run the same route on them. Any time the Jags tried to run a play that had already worked, the Indy D was all over it. Hayden and Powers both beat down passes that had beaten them earlier in the game. It was very impressive.
Now for your 18 Plays:
- 10:06 2nd 4, 4 INT by Cox We’ve already discussed it, but Manning had Clark open in the flat. Instead he went left to a double covered Wayne. He wished up the throw. It was awful. He said as much…let’s move on.
- 6:18 1st 10, Jax 49 Freeney’s sack helped alter the nature of the Jags’ drive. They showed TE help left, but moved the man in motion away from Freeney. It was a mistake. After a vintage spin, Garrard went down hard.
- 14:00 2nd 6, Jax 26, Addai fumbles, but as near as I can tell, the ball was not knocked out by a Jaguar. I watched the play 10xs, and it looks like he hits the ball on the hip of Jeff Saturday. It was a horribly unlucky play that killed the Colts’ second drive.
- 11:41 2nd 3, Ind 47 The Colts blitz right with Session. This moves Hagler and Brackett more to the middle of the field. The Jags’ simply run left and there is no one there as MJD rumbles for 26 yards. The blitz lead to a big play for Jags as there was no one to play that gap.
- 9:12 2nd 6, Ind 6, The officials miss an obvious pick (offensive pass interference) as Hagler is screened off his man thanks to contact with a WR. Hayden is left to come up and make play on the TE coming out of the backfield. It’s a classic mismatch that often leads to DBs getting run over at the goal line. Instead, Hayden delivers a blow to Estadia who drops the pass. Hayden was brilliant on Sunday and earned every penny.
- 8:10 3rd and 13, Ind 19, Manning hits Wayne for 39 yards. CBS was too busy showing a replay to let me see the line play, but Wayne makes an incredible leaping grab on 3rd down to set up the Colts’ first score. Manning threw a well timed jumped ball, and Cox had no shot. Elite play by Wayne.
- 6:46 3rd and 6, Jax 38, Manning to Clark for 21 yards and a first down. Simple route across the field. The pass blocking was immaculate.
- 1:10 3rd and 8, Ind 30, MJD catches a screen for two yards. The Colts blitzed on third down here, and the Jags tried to fool them again with a screen. Once again, what worked once won’t work twice. The Jags tried the same thing on the first 3rd down of the game successfully, but this time Bullitt reads the screen and forces MJD inside where Session heads him off for a short gain and a Jags field goal.
- :08 4th and 1, Ind 46 Manning throws deep incomplete to Clark. This was a ballsy and great play and play call. The throw is just off Clark’s hand, and it looks like he had to look back into the sun for the throw. If the roof is closed, he might make that catch. Great risky call by Caldwell almost paid off.
- 10:11 3rd and 9, Ind 30, Kuharsky broke this down a few days ago
- 7:04 1st and 10, Ind 35, TDManning to Wayne for a 35 yard TD. Hey! It’s the stretch play! Manning does a p/a fake, which saves Clark who has his hands full blocking on the edge. The fake sucks in the corner and the deep safety is slow to recover, and the Horse takes the lead. The stretch directly lead to a touch down. That’s why it’s an awesome weapon, even when they don’t run the ball with it.
- 5:43 3rd and 5, Jax 25 The Colts blitz which puts a rookie corner 1 on 1 with one of the best receivers of all time. Jerraud Powers says, “I like it like that!”. He blankets Torry Holt and makes a brilliant play to bat down a ball and force a punt. For the blitz to be effective, the Colts CBs will have to make lots of plays like this. On Sunday, they did.
- 11:12 4th and 2, Ind 7, Great call by Del Rio to go for the score. The Colts blitzed on the play, and it turned out similar to the earlier run play where they blitzed. Session came in on the right, and Freeney almost blows up the play in the backfield (he was everywhere!). MJD slips past him, and a WR managed to block both Hagler and Powers at the same time. Again, the LBs shifted to the right to compensate for the blitz, and Powers didn’t read the play well. Two men being blocked by one opens a huge hole and Jones-Drew cruised for a score.
- 2 PT conversion failed The Jags lined up with MJD in the shot gun. He took the snap, faked the handoff, and sprinted up the middle. The Colts’ DTs held the line, and Freeney (shocker) darted in to take him down. This play saved the game for the Colts and was the margin of victory. Kuharsky also covered this
- 7:08, 4th and 2, Jax 44, McAfee punt to the 1 I didn’t like the call to punt, but it worked. Snow makes a brilliant tip to Jacob Lacey who downs the ball at the one. You can’t do a better job punting than Pat McAfee did in his first NFL game.
- 5:25 3rd and 8, Jax 3, This was a classic four man rush with Freeney and Mathis causing problems for Garrard who scrambles for 7 when he needed 8. Mookie Johnson makes an amazing play to run down Garrard and help Hagler tackle him a yard short of the first. Hagler squares up on Garrard, but Garrard FLATTENS him. Fortunately, Johnson was hustling, and it was enough to make the stop.
- 2:06 4th and 1, Jax 35, Brown for no gain on the big fourth down. Foster was the FB on the play, and he went wide to seal the edge. Brown cut up inside and was taken down by an unblocked LB. Either Foster needed to come inside to block, or Brown should have followed him wide. It’s still amazing this play didn’t work.
- 1:23 4th and 8, Jax 37, The Colts’ blitz on back to back plays, although I don’t know if it was necessary here. Mathis is on Garrard in a heartbeat, forcing him to spin out. Brackett grabs his legs as Freeney hits his arm and forces the throw to the turf. Brackett said it was the first time in his career he’s ever blitzed on back to back plays. It was a fitting end to the day as the those three are the heart of the Colts and the truly irreplaceable players on the defense.