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Five and Out

Why did the Colts struggle offensively on Sunday?

(don’t you love the way I sneak that Hangover link in every week?  For the record, I contributed on the Indy, Baltimore, St. Louis, and Tennessee games)

The Colts scored 11 points below their season average on Sunday, but their offensive output was essentially the same as in other weeks.  Indy put up 410 yards (the third highest total of the year), and the passing and rushing yards were both within norms for the season.  The Colts yards per play was a little down, as was the number of first downs, but the real reason we perceive the Horse to have struggled on Sunday is the fact that they only put up 18 points despite not turning the ball over.

Essentially, these problems can be traced to five drives.  A sixth drive ended deep in 49ers territory at the end of the game, but doesn’t merit discussion because Indy ran out the clock with it.  Five times the Colts had chances to post touchdowns, but had to settle for three or zero points.  Analyzing what happened to the Horse inside the 45 yard line should tell us what the problem was on Sunday.

Drive #1:

The Colts convert two key third third downs to get inside the 49er 30 in the first quarter.

1-10-SF 28 (5:21) 29-J.Addai right end pushed ob at SF 25 for 3 yards (32-M.Lewis). PENALTY on IND-85-P.Garcon, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at SF 28 – No Play.

  • FRENCHY!  I know everyone loves him, but the penalties HAVE TO STOP.  He’s had what, 7 now?  In 7 games?  I love that he’s physical, but he can’t be grabbing people every week.  This put the Colts in a serious hole.

1-20-SF 38 (4:50) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete deep left to 87-R.Wayne (36-S.Spencer).

  • Deep ball to Wayne.  Great play by the corner. Maybe a touch under-thrown?

2-20-SF 38 (4:43) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short left to 44-D.Clark to SF 20 for 18 yards (38-D.Goldson).

  • Manning looks long again, and finds Clark for a big gain.

3-2-SF 20 (4:09) 29-J.Addai right tackle to SF 20 for no gain (96-K.Balmer).

  • Massive fail by the whole line.  It looks like Addai is supposed to go wide over Diem, but he doesn’t create a hole, so Addai cuts up inside and is crushed as Charlie Johnson is driven back by his man.  Saturday doesn’t get his man blocked either.  There is no hole anywhere on the right side.

Drive # 2:

Bob Sanders sets the Colts up at the 34, but they can only manage a field goal

1-10-SF 21 (:42) 29-J.Addai left tackle to SF 21 for no gain (92-A.Franklin).

  • Colts run left this time, but DeVan gets ridden across the field and Franklin buries Joe right as he’s about to get through the hole.  So there’s why we haven’t seen DeVan full time.  Awful job considering they were running away from him.

2-10-SF 21 (:12) 18-P.Manning pass short left to 87-R.Wayne pushed ob at SF 15 for 6 yards (36-S.Spencer)

  • Quick toss (play clock at 15 for those who care) to Wayne.  This is basically a surrogate run play. Gains 6.

3-4-SF 15 (15:00) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete short right to 44-D.Clark.

  • Clark looked to get open, but lost track of the ball in the sun. If you see a replay of this toss, you’ll see a weird light/shadow/light pattern in the endzone.  This is why we griped about the roof.

Drive # 3:

Indy goes on a quick drive to the end the half, and kicks a field goal with 6 seconds left

1-10-SF 38 (:20) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short left to 44-D.Clark to SF 29 for 9 yards (32-M.Lewis). FUMBLES (32-M.Lewis), ball out of bounds at SF 29.

2-1-SF 29 (:14) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short right to 17-A.Collie to SF 13 for 16 yards (26-M.Roman).

1-10-SF 13 (:06) 3-M.Stover 31 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-48-J.Snow, Holder-1-P.McAfee.

This drive worked out all right all things considered. Still, it merits inclusion because Indy had time to run one play for the end zone, but chose not to.  Those are points that were left on the field.

Drive #4:

The Colts quickly move into scoring position at the start of the second half.

1-10-SF 21 (10:35) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete deep left to 87-R.Wayne [99-M.Lawson].

  • Play action, Manning has Wayne deep, but rushes the toss because he’s hit from behind just after he throws the ball.  Clark is in to block, and gets RUN OVER by Lawson.  If Clark can hold his ground even a little, this is a TD.

2-10-SF 21 (10:29) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass short right to 17-A.Collie to SF 15 for 6 yards (32-M.Lewis).

  • Quick screen.  Another “pass as run”.  Effective.

3-4-SF 15 (9:55) 18-P.Manning sacked at SF 22 for -7 yards (91-R.McDonald). WATCH HIGHLIGHT

  • Pollack is swallowed alive.  Good Lord. Awful, awful, awful.  Watch the play through the link.  Not good.

Drive #5:

Indy takes over at the 42 after a huge fumble forced by the defense, but can’t move the ball an inch.

1-10-SF 42 (5:10) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete deep right to 85-P.Garcon.

  • Play action, Garcon beats his man deep, but runs a sloppy route.  Should have been a touch down.  This play perfectly illustrates his potential and his ‘greeness’.  He’s going to be good someday.  He isn’t good yet.

2-10-SF 42 (5:04) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete short left to 87-R.Wayne.

  • Tough to see what happened here.  Either Manning just sailed the pass out of bounds, or it was deflected at the line.  For the sake of argument, we’ll say it got away from Peyton.  He looked like he could have held the ball longer.

3-10-SF 42 (5:00) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete deep right to 85-P.Garcon (38-D.Goldson).

  • Manning pumps, but the safety doesn’t bite.  He tries to hit Garcon up the sideline, but the throw (or the route) is too close to the boundary and Garcon gets whacked by the safety.  It’s the old Marvin route (think the pick early in LXI), but it didn’t develop.


We have a problem at right guard.  That’s not news to anyone.  Pierre Garcon is a work in progress.  That’s not news either.  There was no ‘one thing’ that sank these drives other than systemic weaknesses (the line) combining with flukey crap like the roof being open in November.  Manning might have been off on a couple of throws, but not enough to notice.  If anything, it would be easy to fault him for looking deep so much.  He seemed to want to stick the ball in endzone with every throw, going just 3 for 8 on passes over 10 yards.  The Colts inability to run the ball in this part of the field really showed, Manning had to use screens and outs to generate ‘running’ type yardage.  It’s possible Manning was looking deep so often because of all the DBs the 49ers were using.  The deep part of the field was an easier read, so he sought out man coverage and launched.  It didn’t work.

Stats for these 5 drives:

5/12 passing, 55 yards
2 carries, zero yards
2 targets, 0 catches, 1 penalty
4 targets, 1 catch, 6 yards
2 targets, 2 catches, 26 yards
3 targets, 2 catches, 27 yards