My newest blogblitz article analyzes the Colts’ 23-20 victory over the Titans and looks ahead to the Colts’ matchup with the Jets. A Colts-Jets preview will come later in the week.
Four short weeks ago, the Colts were a .500 team with a nonexistent rushing game and a crumbling former MVP quarterback who couldn’t throw to the right team. The Colts were a full game out of the AFC South crown and had lost three consecutive contests.
Now, though, the Colts are AFC South champions, hold the No. 3 seeding in the AFC playoffs, and have won 10 games for the ninth consecutive season (and 11th in the last 12).
The Colts capped off their four-game win streak in not-so-pretty fashion, but the team came through in the clutch. Peyton Manning completed 27 of 41 passes for only 264 yards. However, Manning thrived in the one area that had been his problem during the team’s midseason woes – turnovers. Manning did not throw an interception on Sunday and connected with two receivers, Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garçon, for touchdowns. Most importantly, Manning came through on the last drive of the game, making two key passes for 31 yards to set up a game-winning 43-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
Manning would not have found success without exceptional help from his receivers. Throughout the season, injuries to receivers Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark have weakened the Colts’ receiving corps. On Sunday, though, the four main remaining receivers stepped up their game, as Wayne, Garçon, Jacob Tamme and Blair White all had more than 50 yards. Wayne, Garçon, and Tamme also caught at least seven passes.
And then there was the rushing game. Four weeks ago, no one in Indianapolis thought that the road back to the playoffs would be paved by Dominic Rhodes. The back rushed 11 times for 48 yards, going hand-in-hand with Joseph Addai’s 11 rushes for 44 yards. Donald Brown also chipped in three rushes for nine yards. All of a sudden, the Colts have become a threat to rush for 100 yards every time they step onto the field.
One concern looking toward next week’s playoff matchup with the Jets could be the defense. The Colts stuffed Chris Johnson for 39 yards on 20 rushes on Sunday, an optimistic statistic for Colts’ fans looking ahead to a Jets’ offense that revolves around running backs LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene.
However, against the Titans, the Colts surrendered 300 yards passing and two touchdown tosses to 38-year-old backup Kerry Collins. After his stellar Week 16 performance in Chicago, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez poses a much greater threat than Collins through the air, especially considering that he has veterans Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Jericho Cotchery catching his throws. The Colts’ secondary will have to find a way to keep Sanchez in check, while the linebackers clog up the rushing game. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, the AFC’s Pro Bowl starters at defensive end, will also have to prove their worth to the entire nation. Freeney took down Collins once on Sunday, but the duo will need another sack or two to solidify a Colts’ victory.
Finish the post at http://blogblitz.nfl.com/indianapolis-colts/entry/colts_post_game