Colts 23 - Vikings 20
The Colts needed just two games to get their first win of the regular season, surging ahead with mere seconds left on the clock to defeat the Minnesota Vikings in front of a sold out home crowd on Sunday afternoon. With a record of 1-1, the Colts are no longer the league’s statistically worst team. Although the effort was a bit scrappy, the Colts earned every bit of their hard-fought win, and quarterback Andrew Luck shined. In fact, many players left their marks on the field, on all sides of the ball.
It’s no secret Andrew Luck has the athletic ability to succeed in the NFL, but on Sunday, Luck proved that he also has the mental ability to be an elite NFL quarterback. If Luck had any negative memories from last week’s less-than-ideal debut, he erased them, and he played with poise, strength, and tenacity in his second start. Luck completed almost 65% of his passes, including two impressive touchdown tosses in the first half. In the first quarter, Luck accounted for 81 yards of an 80-yard, 13-play touchdown drive. He was consistent all afternoon and threw no interceptions – 3 fewer than last week. Luck is an analytical player, and he’s learning to cut through defenses very quickly. He was even the team’s second-leading rusher.
Donnie Avery, a free agent acquisition this offseason, was also pretty stellar in his second outing as a Colt. On the team’s first touchdown drive, he caught 3 passes for 65 yards, and on the day, he caught a team-high 9 receptions for 111 yards. It was tight end Dwayne Allen who earned the day’s first touchdown, though. Not only was it the rookie’s first ever score, but it was also his first ever reception. Reggie Wayne had a pretty 30-yard touchdown reception of his own in the end zone and was the team’s second-leading receiver with 6 receptions for 71 yards.
Although Luck was again under pressure for much of the game, the offensive line was much improved this week, especially since the team lost center Samson Satele early in the game to injury. Mike McGlynn took over and more than held his own, and Trai Essex, who signed with the Horseshoe just 6 days ago, stepped in to play at right guard – remarkable! The battered line was all heart.
The defense also stepped up their game this week. They held Adrian Peterson to just 60 yards and prevented the Vikings’ star running back from scoring a single touchdown – something that just does not happen very often. Cornerback Jerraud Powers led the team with 7 tackles, while Robert Mathis, Kavell Connor, and Jerry Hughes – yes, Jerry Hughes – were all credited with sacks. Hughes, who has struggled in recent seasons, seems to be thriving in the Colts’ new 3-4 defensive scheme. Jerrell Freeman, who ran an interception back for a touchdown last week against Chicago, forced a fumble this week, and Cory Redding recovered a fumble. Both are new to the Colts this year as well.
The special teams players were the real heroes on Sunday. Adam Vinatieri, who missed his only field goal attempt last week, saved the day by kicking the game winner – a 53 yarder – with just 8 seconds remaining in the game. All 5 of his kicks (3 FG, 2 PAT) sailed perfectly through the uprights. Pat McAfee – who I’ve since learned has read this column (Thank you, Mr. McAfee!) – kept up his stellar play as well and even upped his game from last week, averaging 53.6 yards on 5 punts. His net punting average was 43.4.
The Colts played like a real team unit – a winning one, at that – on Sunday. I look forward to the great things in store for them, especially when they get some players back from injury, like Dwight Freeney, Austin Collie, and Pat Angerer.
Congrats on the first win, Colts Nation! Horseshoe Hero will be back next week when the Colts take on Jacksonville at home. For more, you can follow me on Twitter @catierae08.