Colts Defense Obliterates Bengals

For the first time since December 28, 2008, the Indianapolis Colts pitched a shutout.

The Colts (5-2) offense seemed shaky at times with drops and turnovers, but it was the defense that was the aggressor in this game which resulted in a 27-0 demolition of the Cincinnati Bengals.   Who Dey What?

Andrew Luck proved once again why he should be the leading candidate for league MVP at this point in the season. Despite a few errant throws and numerous drops by his receivers, Luck managed to throw for 344 yards and a pair of touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Luck was aided by the best rushing performance so far this season (171 yards). T-Rich and Bradshaw each averaged better than 5 yards per carry as they combined for 129 yards. Boom Herron added another 37 yards on 5 carries late in the fourth quarter when the game’s outcome was already determined.

TY Hilton was marvelous for the 2nd consecutive game with 107 yards on 7 catches.

Let’s tear off the Band-aid really quick and talk about where the Colts failed – fumbles. Luck appeared to have properly placed the ball in the arms of T-Rich, but the ball was never secured which resulted in a fumble. Bradshaw also was responsible for a lost fumble. Fumbles cost the Colts the game against Philly and luckily the Bengals played with zero effort yesterday or else they could have been costly again. But whenever the Colts turned the ball over – it was the defense who pulled the Colts out of the fire.

The Bengals managed a laughable 135 total yards of offense and did not even cross midfield until the 4th quarter. Andy Dalton – the NFL’s latest $100 million quarterback – looked more like a redshirt freshman making his first career start. He completed just 18 of 38 passes for 126 yards and was under constant pressure all afternoon. In fact, it was a sack by Zack Kerr which secured the shutout. Dalton’s QBR for the day: 7.9!

Giovani Bernard, one of the league’s premier running backs thus far, was completely squashed. He only managed 17 yards on 7 carries.

To say the Colts’ defense dominated the Bengals is an understatement. Yes, the Bengals were without AJ Green, one of the best receivers in the league, but he also missed last week’s game and the Bengals still managed to score 37 points. Yesterday – ZERO.

Coming into 2014 most fans were leery of the defense and were worried there would be pressure on the offense to score 40 points a game. I think after yesterday’s performance most fans should be walking with an extra step in their giddy-up today as I think it is fair to say that the Colts have one of the better defenses in the league.

Coming into yesterday, the Bengals were averaging 26.8 points per game, and they looked completely overwhelmed right from the start.

According to ESPN.com, the Colts have the 5th best pass defense and 9th best rush defense – seriously, when is the last time that has been the case? Ever since Peyton Manning was our QB, the Colts offense has always been the focal point of the organization – but now the scale may be tipping in favor of the defense. We know the offense can put up points – but now I’m more anxious for their next game just to see what our top-10 defense can do.

The Colts appear to be clicking on all cylinders on both sides of the ball right now. Three weeks ago, the “experts” said the Bengals were one of the best teams in the league. I think it is safe to say that the Bengals are completely overrated. The Patriots – despite the drubbing of these very same Bengals two weeks ago – are still far away from a perfect team. So, it looks like the Colts and Broncos are destined for a rematch in the AFC Championship game. Book it!

The Colts will put their five-game winning streak on the line next Sunday when they travel to Pittsburgh. Kickoff set for 4:25 EST.

Week 7 Preview: Colts vs Bengals

The Indianapolis Colts host the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium this Sunday at 1pm.  The Colts improved to 4-2 last Thursday after beating the Texans and currently have a 4 game win streak. The Bengals are 3-1-1. Cincinnati looked dominant by blowing out of the gates and starting the season 3-0, but have been struggled recently with a blowout loss to the Patriots and last week they tied with the Panthers.

As the Broncos look to be the #1 team in the AFC and experts disappointingly,  although reasonably, predict the Patriots 2nd, many think that the 3rd spot will be filled by either the Bengals or your very own Colts. With that being said let’s take a look and try to break down the game plan for this Sunday’s game.

Andrew Luck has been clicking on all cylinders and is playing like one of the best QB’s in the league right now while throwing for 370+ yards in 4 of his 6 games this season. Although I’m sure he will be doing just fine connecting with many of his receivers we might get to see Luck do some work with his legs in this match up. So far this season, the Bengals have been horrific at rushing the passer, which is a good reason for Luck to utilize his running game. We might see Pep Hamilton pulling out some QB rushing plays to force the Bengals to go man-to-man against some of the Colts receivers which we all know would turn out bad for them with T.Y., Reggie, and Hakeem all being huge threats.

The Bengals’ linebackers have been struggling this season which should result in a tremendous opportunity for Bradshaw and Richardson to rack up the yards running the ball up the middle. We might even see these two as serious threats in the passing game as well.

Even with A.J. Green out the Colts defense can’t slack on Cincinnati’s wide receivers. Andy Dalton is a great QB for the Bengals and deserves respect; he has the arm to make even mediocre receivers look good. Last week, without Green, Mohamed Sanu definitely stepped up in their tie against the Panthers by racking up 120 yards. Pagano needs to focus on him Sunday.

I think the Colts are going to be fueled by revenge. Last December Cinncy crushed the Colts 42-27. That wasn’t a pleasant taste at the end of the season last year for our squad and I think Pagano is going to remind them of that before the game. Colts have had 10 days for rest and preparation while the Bengals last game was a full overtime game. With this game being at L.O.S, I’ve got Indy winning this one 30-21.

Colts Roll Past Texans; Seize AFC South Lead

TY Hilton Texans Colts_00001
The 2014 Colts seem to be of the mindset of not being boring when it comes to play on the field.  Coming on the heels of a hard fought battle against the Ravens just four days prior, the Colts took control of the AFC South on the national stage on Thursday Night Football with a 33-28 victory over the Houston Texans.

The Colts, lead by Andrew Luck, took it to the Texans early in first quarter by zipping out to 24 point lead.  T.Y. Hilton torched the Houston secondary and Luck surgically picked apart the defense. The scores came via an Adam Vinatieri FG (27 yards), a T-Rich TD run (5 yards), and TD passes from Luck to Bradshaw (5 yards) and Fleener (4 yards).

The Texans cut into the once insurmountable lead by scoring 14 points by the way of their best two offensive weapons: Andre Johnson and Arian Foster.  The Colts added another Vinatieri field goal (34 yards) to seize a 27-14 halftime lead.

The momentum shifted in the third quarter when Arian Foster suddenly began clicking and breaking off huge chunks of yards against the Colts defense.  Ultimately, Foster scored his second TD of the evening, but it was soon countered by a Luck-to-Hilton 33-yard TD followed by a failed 2-point conversion.  The Colts were now up 33-21 after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, JJ Watt happened.  He picked up a fumbled exchange between Luck & Harrison and took it to the house.  The Texans inched closer and now trailed 33-28.   After what appeared to be destined for a blowout was now anybody’s ball game, but for the second straight week the defense stepped up courtesy of Bjoern Werner with a strip-sack and the eventual recovery by D’Qwell Jackson, which clinched the 33-28 victory for True Blue.

Game Notes:

1.  T.Y. Hilton: 223 yards; 1 short of breaking Raymond Berry’s franchise record.  Hilton was unstoppable and finally hauled in his first touchdown for the season.

2.  Pat McAfee – what more can be said about him?  He has been nailing punts all season and had a game-changing onside kick recovery that caught the Texans team and coaching staff completely off guard.  At this point in the season McAfee is clearly the front-runner to make the Pro Bowl.

3.  Andrew Luck had another phenomenal game.  He finished 25-44 for 370 yards and 3 TDs.   His lone interception was the result of a tipped pass and the aforementioned fumble due to a botched center-QB exchange.  Luck is clearly the front-runner in the MVP race at this point.  Yes, Luck is better than Wilson – I said it!

4.  The defense smothered the Texans in the first quarter, but slowly Bill O’Brien’s team found their groove and the Colts had no answers for their top playmakers.   Andre Johnson showed he still has elite skills with some ridiculous catches that had no chance of being defended.   Foster found success running against the Colts – as he always seems to, but overall, the defense held when it counted and even generated a legitimate pass rush.  Werner shined late with the game-ending strip-sack of Fitzpatrick.

5.  Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw again were very effective against a legit defense.   They combined for 75 yards;  although they didn’t break 100 yards for the first time since the opener at Denver, they were hard-fought yards they gained behind a banged up offensive line that struggled at times but played well considering they were missing Mewhort and Thorton.

6.  Kudos to Coach Pagano and his staff for catching the Texans off-guard with the opening quarter on-side kick recovery which resulted in the Richardson touchdown.  Suddenly, teams will have to start prepping against the Colts because of the success they’ve had doing this so far.

7.  The Colts tight ends of Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, and Jack Doyle are some of the best in the league.  Allen again is showing how much he was missed last season as a safety-valve for Luck when things break down.  Fleener is becoming exactly what most thought he’d become – a redzone threat for Luck.  That leaves Doyle, a player that is really growing on me in terms of his skill set.  He’s become the team’s Jack-of-all trades (no pun intended) by filling in whatever role the team needs.

8.  Vontae Davis had an up and down game, but he faced far superior competition last night compared to the past few games.  Andre Johnson still has it, and sometimes it just comes down to special players making plays.  Johnson was able to make a spectacular catch against Davis in the 2nd quarter, but Davis was able to strip the ball for a forced fumble against Johnson in the fourth quarter ending one of the Texans’ drives that could have produced points.  Davis has really had a good season up to this point, and so far is proving to be  worth every penny of his monster contract.

9.  Greg Manusky and the pass-rush.  The Colts sacked Fitzpatrick 5 times with sacks coming from the following players: D’Qwell Jackson, Ricky Jean Francois, Erik Walden, Bjoern Werner, and rookie Jonathon Newsome.  Many of us at the beginning of the season were concerned about the pass-rush, or lack thereof, but they are improving each week with different players contributing.

10.  Adam Vinatieri has been rock solid for the second year in a row.  He may be the oldest member of the Colts, but he is not showing any sign of slowing down.  A few years ago he seemed a bit off, but the last few years he’s seemed to regain his reputation for precision.

All in all, the team must be happy and now has a mini-bye before facing the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, October 19th in what should be a good measuring stick game.  The Bengals have a roster that many feel is one of the best in the league, and they are coming off a butt-kicking by the hand of our hated arch-enemy, the New England Patriots (Sorry, I know we all hate seeing that name).  Sitting at 4-2  and in first-place in the AFC South sure seems a long way off from the 0-2 start.  Go Colts!

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