Nov 8, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive end Cory Redding (90) lifts defensive back Darius Butler (20) after returning an interception for a touchdown during the third quarter at EverBank Field. Indianapolis defeated Jacksonville 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

Horseshoe Hero: Colts Avenge Loss, Defeat Jaguars in TNF


Horseshoe Hero

Colts 27 – Jaguars 10

Every national broadcast network in the country is wishing they had scheduled more primetime slots for Indianapolis Colts games.

The extraordinarily talented young quarterback. The miraculous team turnaround. The unprecedented rally around the coach. The magic.

The Colts are 6-3 after defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-10 in Thursday Night Football, the Colts’ only primetime appearance this season…unless they make the playoffs of course.

In the process of avenging a frustrating Week 3 loss at home to the Jags, the Colts outplayed their division rival in all 3 phases of the game. Despite having played an emotional game against the Dolphins just four days prior, the Horseshoe Heroes came out firing on all cylinders.

Offense

I’m running out of superlatives for Andrew Luck. The young quarterback continues to amaze me each and every week. Rookies are known for making mistakes, and Luck is no exception, but what makes Luck different from other rookies is that after he makes a mistake once, he never makes it again. Luck went 18 of 26 for 227 yards. Although he had no passing touchdowns, he had two rushing scores, bringing his season total to 5. This is just one less rushing score than the Washington Redskins’ mobile rookie Robert Griffin III. It is also more than any other Colts quarterback in history.

If I had to give Luck one criticism, it would be this: He does not give up on a play, no matter what. This is hardly a criticism, but sometimes Luck needs to throw the ball away to avoid taking a bad hit or making a bad decision. This was apparent on two particular plays on Thursday night. On one occasion, Luck threw a bad interception in the first quarter upon taking a hit to the helmet from Bears defenseman Andre Branch. However, the interception was overturned due to an unnecessary roughness penalty, and the Colts went on to score a field goal on the drive, their first points of the night. On the other occasion, however, Luck was not so luck-y, and his pass was intercepted by Dawan Landry in the second quarter. The Jaguars this time would go on to score the field goal on the drive, although the Colts were already up 17 points at that point.

On the receiving end, Reggie Wayne was back to his leading ways, topping the team in receptions (8) and receiving yards (96). In fact, the entire first half was the Luck-to-Wayne show. Wayne caught all but one of Luck’s completions in the first two quarters.

Donnie Avery was also impressive. He was the team’s second-leading receiver with 4 receptions for 65 yards. This included a highlight reel-worthy catch in the second quarter — a miraculous grab that gave the Colts a 44-yard gain and brought the team to the Jaguar’s 6-yard line. The Colts would score a touchdown just 4 plays later.

The Colts used four backs on Thursday night, mostly alternating between Vick Ballard and Donald Brown. They also used Delone Carter for short yardage plays and used Robert Hughes as fullback. Rookie Vick Ballard led the way on the ground, rushing for 48 yards on 12 carries. Donald Brown was not far behind him, having just 2 fewer yards on two additional carries.

Defense

The Colts’ defense is definitely improving. The unit is actually averaging 9.1 fewer PPG allowed this season than last season, and they held the Jaguars to just 10 points despite being without Robert Mathis, Vontae Davis, and Jerraud Powers.

Antoine Bethea continues to play strongly, and he led the team in tackles with 7. He also had a sack of Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert, as did Josh Gordy, Tom Zbikowski, and Jerry Hughes.

Even more impressive than the number of sacks was the number of takeaways. The Colts had gone the previous four games without a single takeaway, but on Thursday, they had three. Two were credited to Darius Butler, a third-year cornerback who started in place of the injured Powers. Butler, who was cut from both the Patriots and the Panthers in the past year before being picked up by the Colts, played like a starter against the Jaguars, recovering a fumble that was forced by Moise Fokou and running an interception back for a touchdown. Butler is yet another developing Cinderella story on this Colts team. He is definitely capitalizing on his opportunity.

Special Teams

Adam Vinatieri was perfect on the night, sending 2 field goals and 3 PATs sailing perfectly through the uprights. Pat McAfee, again only needed just 3 times due to the Colts’ impressive offensive play, kicked 2 touchbacks.

 

The Colts have won 4 – yes, four – games in a row. The team will get a nice 10-day break before hitting the road to take on the New England Patriots next Sunday. Will the Colts extend the streak to 5? Regardless, they have already outplayed expectations, and I certainly am enjoying watching the magic unfold this season.

Stay #CHUCKSTRONG, Colts fans! Horseshoe Hero will be back next week with the recap of the Patriots game.

By the way, did anyone else see Luck’s incredible tackle of Landry last night after the interception? And did you know that the Colts are now 6-0 in Thursday Night Football games?

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Andrew Luck Darius Butler Indianapolis Colts Jacksonville-jaguars Reggie-wayne