As my year as a Colts NFL.com Blogblitz writer comes to a close, here is my post-game analysis article on the team’s 17-16 loss to the Jets:
As American sports fans, we love to play the blame game. We love to point out one stupid penalty or one missed tackle to blame our losses on.
We can’t do that this time, though. The Colts played their hearts out and the Jets played their hearts out, and in the end, the Jets proved to be the better team. The Colts didn’t get outhustled, outfought, or outcoached. They simply got outplayed by a better opponent.
On defense, the Jets rolled out the best offensive line in the league, while the Colts sent out their dismal rush defense. At times, though, the Colts’ front seven stepped up their game and pulled down LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene for losses. However, in the end, the Jets’ rushing cast overpowered the Colts for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
For the Jets’ passing game, the Colts brought in an average secondary that was supposed to stop a Jets’ receiving group that boasted Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Dustin Keller, and Jericho Cotchery. The Colts did a superb job holding the Jets to only 189 yards passing, but in the end, the Jets’ star-studded receivers caught three crucial passes on the final drive to propel Gang Green to victory.
In terms of running the ball on offense, the Colts hoped that Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes would at least have average games to help balance out the offensive attack. Addai and Rhodes combined for 93 yards on 17 carries, more than expected against one of the top rush defenses in the league, but in the end, the Jets were able to make sure that the vast minority of those yards game in Jet territory.
Through the air, the Colts felt that their top-rated passing game would be the X-factor in paving the road to victory. Peyton Manning may be the greatest passer of all-time and Reggie Wayne one of the greatest receivers of all-time. Matching up with the Canton Class of 2020, the Jets sent out Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, two of the league’s top cornerbacks, to contain the aerial attack. In a matchup of best-against-best, Manning threw for 225 yards, including 112 to Pierre Garçon, who spent most of the game guarded by Cromartie. In the end, though, the Jets proved to be too much, as Revis kept Wayne on his island for just one catch for one yard, and the rest of the passing game could only muster one touchdown.
And finally, special teams featured a usually terrible Colts group against a Jets team full of Pro Bowl players. Adam Vinatieri kicked three beautiful field goals for the Colts and Dominic Rhodes had a decent game, returning two kicks for 44 yards. However, in the end, Cromartie had a huge 47-yard kick return in the final minute and Nick Folk kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to send the Jets to the AFC Divisional round and date with the Patriots in Foxborough.
So, in essence, the Colts didn’t do anything wrong on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Neither did the Jets, though.
Did Taj Smith’s running into the kicker penalty ruin the game for the Colts? No. In fact, it almost helped because Vinatieri ended up kicking the go-ahead field goal with less time left on the clock. So, that’s not to blame.
What about Blair White not catching the ball right before Vinatieri’s kick? Yes, it would have been nice for White to catch that pass. The clock would have run down even more before the Colts took the lead. But the pass came in low from Manning, a pocket passer throwing on the run, and White couldn’t scoop it up while diving. You can’t blame Manning playing conservative and keeping the ball away from the Jets’ secondary and you can’t blame White for not being able to make a miraculous diving catch. So, you can’t blame the game on that play.