The Indianapolis Colts utterly dominated the New York Giants for three quarters on Saturday night. Unfortunately, the warm bodies thrown at Giants in the fourth quarter couldn’t hold the lead and gave up points at an alarming pace.
Coach Chuck Pagano called the effort unacceptable. I would use a few more choice words, but these are largely players who won’t be in the NFL at all in a matter of weeks.
They gave up a 26 point lead in a single quarter after keeping the Giants off the scoreboard and holding them to just 77 total yards. The Giants moved the ball at will in the fourth, racking up 228 yards of offense.
Its tough to look back at this game and remember all the good that the starting unit did in the first half. In reality, the Colts looked exceptional in the first half. Even the second unit looked very solid.
Here’s what stood out from Saturday’s game:
- Three-and-Out. The Colts opened up the game by forcing back-to-back three-and-outs by the Giants. The third time the Giants got the ball, they coughed it up on the kickoff. The fourth time, the Colts forced turnovers on back-to-back plays only to have them taken away by questionable penalties (more on this later). The Eli Manning led Giants amassed a grand total of just 38 yards.
- Bjoern Werner had an amazing play running down Rashad Jennings after Manning dumped off the ball. Werner has shown a motor and level of effort that makes me think he’ll be a solid rush linebacker going forward.
- D’Qwell Jackson had himself a game with four tackles, a sack, and a QB hit. He’s doing a great job filling the gaps the line is giving him and meeting the ball carrier for minimal gain.
- Cornerbacks Louchiez Purifoy and Marcus Burley continue to impress in games. Purifoy might have the punt return job locked up, and if so he’s going to return at least one this season for a touchdown. Burley had a couple plays that made me think of Bob Sanders (except Burley didn’t get hurt).
- More Offensive Happiness. This offense makes me ecstatic. In four drives with Andrew Luck and company, the Colts scored 13 points. They did it without Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton too. Add those two player into the mix, and the Colts are looking at 17-plus points on those four drives easily.
- Is it Trent Richardson or the offensive line thats the problem? When he has a big hole, Richardson hits it hard and gets a solid gain. There were other plays where he simply doesn’t get to the line in time to make a play, he just doesn’t have the burst to use what his blockers give him. And then there were times where there was literally nowhere to run. Its a mixed bag and will be interesting to see how Ahmad Bradshaw does with the same line.
- It wasn’t a great showing for rookie Donte Moncrief. He was given the opportunity to start and didn’t really do much with it. One reception and a drop that turned out to be defensive holding. With all the hype, he should have produced more on the field.
- Special Teams. A forced fumble and general outstanding coverage by this unit was encouraging. The problem will be that a number of these standout special teamers will have to be cut in favor of someone who offers more to the team overall.
- Pat McAfee can absolutely hit a 60-plus yard field goal. I’ve seen him do it at practice, outdoors. Pagano guaranteed that he would hit one at some point in the future. Seeing Adam Vinatieri bouncing around the sideline as McAfee attempted that 64-yarder was nice too. No one wanted him to hit that more than Vinatieri.
- Football Shape. It seems pretty clear now that Hakeem Nicks is in football shape. Nicks was dynamic in the starting roll and torched his former team. The taunting penalty was childish, and shouldn’t have offset with the defensive hold, I doubt we see something like that from Nicks again. Its clear that he’s a monumental upgrade over Darrius Heyward-Bey.
There were 32 flags thrown Saturday night and 26 accepted penalties. The NFL Director of Officiating Dean Blandino stated that the penalties will continue in this fashion, stating that players will adjust to this style of officiating by the time the season begins.
While most of these stem from players who are not destined to make the final roster, it is still a troubling trend. The result was a game last lasted over three-and-a-half hours.
There are penalties on every play, and last season defensive holding and interference were under-flagged. But merely touching a receiver doesn’t constitute holding or interference. The officials still have to find the right touch as this is causing concern across the NFL.
In reality, this might come down to television contracts. The networks need the games to be concluded within three hours for scheduling reasons, and too many flags and reviews will make that an issue. We don’t need football games to last as long as baseball games.
The Colts will host the New Orleans Saints next Saturday.