It’s almost kickoff time to the 2009 season. I feel appropriately nauseous. I’ll be checking back in throughout the game with commentary and observations.
- The first quarter flew by as the Colts chewed up ground, but failed to score thanks to an awful pick by Manning in the end zone on the first drive. The Colts have struggled to force the ball to Reggie Wayne who is perpetually double covered, but have still moved the ball thanks to great catches out of the backfield by the backs. To top it all off, Gonzo has left the game with a knee injury. On defense, the Colts had a solid series after giving up a pair of third down conversions, they stopped the Jags thanks to a huge Freeney sack on first down. Apart from the horrible throw by Manning, the first quarter went as scripted.
- And the Colts second drive goes the way of the first. Addai fumbles with the Colts already in scoring territory. Two drives inside the Jags 30 yield zero points. This is the recipe for an upset.
- The Jags ram the ball down inside the 10, but the Colts hold as Session and Hayden make nice plays. On third down, Garrard sails his throw and the Jags wind up with a field goal. The big play was a 22 yard run up the middle by MJD. The Jags are chewing up yards on the ground, but are clearly worried about pass protection. This is a team that HAS to keep games close because they will struggle to keep Garrard upright if forced to pass with regularity.
- This time they get it right. The Colts again mount a long drive, made longer by a sack given up Diem to start the drive. Manning completes a bomb on third and long to Wayne, and they matriculated the ball up field down inside the 10. Three straight runs by Addai gave the Colts a 7-3 lead. They’ve dominated the game, but it’s too close for comfort. The defense needs a quality stand here to give the Colts an extra possession before the end of the half. CJ is playing well, but the right side is still a work in progress both running and passing protecting.
- The Jags third drive almost came crashing to a halt, but David Garrard threw off both Dwight Freeney and Daniel Muir, kept his balance and completed the pass anyway. Later in the drive rookie Jarraud Powers made a sweet attempt to pick off Garrard, but couldn’t hang on. The Colts blitzed on third down, and again the Jags screened. This time the Horse was better prepared. Scobee banged home a long field goal with about a minute to play. Indy has more more chance to get points and open up the lead before the half.
- The Colts drive ends on fourth down as neither Collie nor Clark could corral balls that hit them in the hands. Clark’s wasn’t a drop as Manning just barely overthrew him for what would have resulted in a field a goal. The play was on fourth down and resulted in a 63 yard field goal attempt by Scobee, who didn’t convert it.
So with a half in the books, it’s looking like another typical Colts/Jags game. It’s eerily similar to the game last year at the Luke where Indy dominated, but the Jags hung around thanks to turnovers. 7-6 Colts at the half.
- The Jags drive stalls out as Mathis knocks down a screen, and on third down Troy Williamson slips to the ground as Garrard’s pass sails incomplete. The Colts start deep in their own territory, and need a long drive to get some breathing room. With Gonzo out, Wayne is getting a ton of throws.
- And folks, that’s why he’s the best. Manning takes the Colts on a MASSIVE drive covering almost 90 yards. On it, he converts several huge third down throws (he’s perfect on third down to this point). Finally, he punishes the Jags with a sweet 35 yard toss to Reggie Wayne for a 14-6 lead. Wayne is destroying the Jags to the tune of 133 yards.
- Folks, he’s going to be a star. Jarraud Powers just made an incredible play to break up a third down pass to Torry Holt. The Jags go three and out as the Colts successfully blitz on third down. That was a big time stand by the defense. Two runs and an incomplete pass is a formula for victory. It’s time for the Horse to put its foot on the throat of the Jags.
- Close but no cigar. Wayne drops a bomb after an incredible diving effort, and then comes up 2 yards short on third down. The Kitties keep breathing.
- Swarming. Freeney forces a false start before the drive even starts, and the Jags have no chance. Mathis and Freeney force back to back incomplete passes, and the Jags punt bounces backward to their own 35.
- The door swings wide open again. The Colts go three and out thanks to three ugly looking plays. AV yanks a 52 yard field goal wide on fourth 9. I wanted them to go for it.
- The quarter ends with the Jags driving. Indy had them stopped on 3rd and 2, but MJD shook off a tackle by Powers and powered for the first down. The quarter saw the Colts widen their lead, but opportunities were missed. The game remains too close for comfort.
- On the biggest play of the game, the Jags flip wide to Jones-Drew who evades an arm tackle by Freeney and busts through for a touchdown on 4th and 2. The 2 point conversion fails, fortunately, as the Jags run up the middle on a direct snap to MJD fails. The Colts still lead 14-12, but this game is closer than it should be and far from over.
- Jim Caldwell makes his first HUGE decision as head coach. Facing a fourth and 1 from the Jags 43, Caldwell elects to punt, defying my angry screams of “NOOOOOO!”. McAfee hits a beauty, and the Jags are backed up on the one yard line. If they are going to win this game, they’ll have to do it the hard way. I’m still not convinced it was the right call. Meanwhile, the Colts are wholly unable to run the ball. There is almost no room to move on any of the carries as both Addai and Brown have been largely stymied all day.
- I stand corrected. After a great play by Hayden on first down, Freeney flushes Garrard who scrambles for 7 on third and 8. The Jags are forced to punt from their own endzone. A massive punt (57 yards) knocks the Colts back to their own 35, but the Jags are running out of chances. Indy needs to not give up the ball here.
- Third and one for the Colts turns sour as their inability run the ball sinks the team. Caldwell rightly went for it on fourth down, but Don Brown was stopped for no gain. Once again, the Colts have proved that they are incapable of running the ball with either back, and now the Jags have the ball at the 35 with 2 minutes to play and one time out. It’s last year all over again. For the record, Addai carried 17 times for 42 yards and Brown carried 11 for 33. The line isn’t up snuff.
- THE COLTS BRING THE HOUSE AND GARRARD FOLDS! Brackett, Freeney, and Mathis come up bigger than large, as the Jags go four and out managing to gain just three yards in the process. Manning takes the knee and the Jags are out of time outs.
I’ll check back in later with more observations and commentary. That game was exhausting.