Sunday, January 13, 2008

No, I didn't just jump off a bridge...

but I did just get home (I live several hours from Indy right now). I'm sure we'll all have more to say about this game in the coming days, but I didn't want anyone to think we were dodging the issue...
So here's what I have to say:

1. Demond and I both stopped worrying about losing the game after the first Chargers drive of the 2nd half. Why? Because we knew this team couldn't beat New England. There was just no pass rush. That was far and away the most unforgivable defensive game of the year. Sure there were the tipped pass picks (did someone coat our receivers hands with grease today?) and the Marvin Harrison Experiment basically cost us the season, but at the end of the day the utter and total inability of the defense to get pressure was the story. Didn't we just say this last week? The morons at Scouts Inc. wanted us to believe the run d was the problem. Nope. A total lack of pass pressure made a loss (today or next week totally inevitable).

2. I think Dallas Clark has played his last game with the Colts. He led the league in dropped passes. I haven't seen the tape of the 4th down play at the end of the game today, but from where we were, it looked pretty catchable.

3. The officiating was atrocious all game long. Most big calls favored the Colts, others went to the Chargers (how did they miss the big delay of game call in the first half??). Two Colts TDs had to be replay challenged. The first 55 minutes was called one way, the last 5 another. All of it left the crowd scratching its head. I'm not complaining mind you, we benefited from some of those calls. I'm just saying it was bad. Real bad.

4. I suppose some NE fans might want to crow about this game and blame Manning for some reason. I haven't read any articles yet, but there's a pattern I've seen in Colts playoff games. Something horrible goes wrong, so everyone blames Peyton. Now, maybe every throw today wasn't perfect, but I'd say 402 yards passing and three TDs is getting it done. If you give your defense the lead with 8 minutes left and say, Hey...keep Billy Volek out of the endzone, you expect to get rewarded with a win. On the final drive his last two passes were both dropped (Reggie Wayne got killed, so I forgive him). There are a lot of people to blame this loss on (Marlin Jackson, TJ Rushing, Marvin Harrison, Brock and Mathis), but seriously, I don't pin it on Manning, that's just stupid. The only real mistake he made was throwing at all to Kenton Keith. His hands are stone. That pick didn't really hurt though, they held SD and got the ball at the 50, driving in for a score anyway.

5. Things we can put to rest:
-Manning struggles against the 3-4. Sure there were 4 empty trips inside the 30, but neither pick, the fumble, or the turnover on downs had anything to do with the 3-4 defense. The O-line was great all day, especially Ugoh. There was some degree of protection problems on the goal line drive that ended badly, but that really had more to do with NO ONE GETTING OPEN.
-Specials teams would do in this team. They never played better. AV was booming it.
-This defense doesn't need Dwight Freeney. Someone tried to make that argument a few weeks ago. I hoped Mathis and Brock coming back would be enough. It wasn't. This season effectively ended with Freeney went down.
-The bye week hurt the Colts. Um, folks...that first drive was flawless. The Colts picked off Rivers on the first defensive possession. The game turned on Harrison's fumble. Now, you can argue that he should have played the last game, but I think they wanted him to. Seriously, when you dominate the first quarter (ala Tampa last week), you can't claim the bye week hurt you. Only an utter moron would say that the bye week affected this game. The D was bad due to a lack of pressure. The pass rushers would have played some if they could against Tennessee. So seriously, don't bore me with stupidness about bye weeks.

6. Final thought-Here's why the defense REALLY sucked today. Because the crowd was crazy. It caused penalties, timeouts and confusion. But they couldn't take advantage. Sometimes you look at another team's talent or game plan and say, geeze, that was brilliant they just beat us. Today wasn't one of those days. ANY QB of marginal quality can shred a cover-2 given enough time. I simply wouldn't have believed that defense to be capable of playing that poorly. About that I am indeed shocked.

Soooo, that's it. I think we'll still be doing a podcast this week. I'm going to sit down with the tape and check on a few plays that didn't get replayed at the dome, but all in all, this loss doesn't really hurt that bad, believe it or not. Without Freeney, this defense just wasn't good enough to win a Super Bowl. I'm utterly shocked by that, but it's undeniably true. The mistakes by the O would have gotten covered up (they would have kicked a FG on the goal line drive for instance), if the D had been even just a little bit better.

Oh well. At least I can root easily for both NFC teams.

UPDATE: I haven't watched the whole game but I do want to comment on a few plays:
  • The pick at the end of the first half-yeah, the throw was high, but I wouldn't say that it was uncatchable. Reggie Wayne has to make that play
  • The Kenton Keith play was clearly on him.
  • One reader said he thought Peyton threw high more than normal. Not sure about that. He completed 68.5% of his passes, so it's not really worth complaining about.
  • Man, did Ugoh get beat on the 4th and 5 play by the goal line. Somehow I missed that live, even though it was right in front of us.
  • The Chargers D on that possession was great. Tremendous plays on 2nd and 3rd down.
  • Dallas Clark has to catch that last ball. It hit him in the freaking palm of hand. Seriously, there's no excuse for that.
  • Several people note that they knew we were screwed when Freeney went down. That's great and all, but I think that was a little hard to evaluate considering how many other guys were hurt. We suspected the lack of rush would kill us, but were hoping that getting other guys healthy would help. The funny thing is, after Freeney went down, the Colts sack rate was pretty constant, but their pressure rate fell through the floor.

Maybe I'll feel differently in a few days, but I'm still not sure this one will go in the toughest losses column. When you deserve to lose, it's ok. They should have won this game, but the Chargers D made some great plays at the end, and our D made exactly one all day, and it was in the first quarter. You shouldn't win games like that.

Demond Sanders: Yes, the defense was horrible. They let the crowd down. But I still go back to the turnovers. The Colts punted one time in the game and only ended up with 24 points. They were inside the Chargers' 35 yard line FOUR TIMES and scored ZERO POINTS. How many times will you win a game like that against a playoff team? The answer is zero times.

I feel bad because I really enjoyed this season, but I'm not going to dwell on this loss. I had a bad feeling about the game after the fumble. Marvin Harrison always goes to the ground immediately after a reception. It's one of the things we love about him. The one time he tries to make an extra move. . .


JC said...

Going back to a point I made earlier in the season (actually I just repeated what The Sports Guy said) - This is like the '88 Lakers losing in the conference finals to Houston and not giving the Celtics a shot to redeem themselves for the gay '87 Magic Hook Shot.

I said ever since Freeney went down that you guys were effed.

Being the contrarian that you are, you denied it, and said Ugoh (sic) was of equal importance. He got straight up gangsta smoked on that last 4th down play.

None of your bullets blamed the O-line.....I think. They blasted the pass rush though and justifiably so.

Phil Rivers is no Tom Brady - but he sure made that Tampa 2 look bad in the second half. Wait, no I'm sorry. Bill Volek did.

This is total bullshit not getting the Colts next week.

You let us down.

Anonymous said...

Simple truth: with no pass rush, the Tampa 2 falters. That's exactly what happened here. Freeney earned his paycheck by not being there.

Anonymous said...

On Dallas Clark...

According to Sirius NFL Radio... they interviewed Colts GM Bill Polian and was asked directly about the contract status of Dallas Clark. Polian said that if a deal wasn't made before the free agency signing period began, the Colts would use the 'franchise' tag on Clark. So, at the very least, the Colts would have Clark at least one more season.

coltsfanawalt said...

This reinforces something I've believed but have never had the occasion to argue. People thought Dwight Freeney was overrated because his stats were down with the double and triple teams he received. The argument was that Bob Sanders was the best defender, as shown by his resurgence in last year's playoffs.

I could not buy this. First, it's apples to oranges to compare their contributions. Second, we just learned what playoff games are like without a pass rush. Freeney is vital to our defense. They both are, really.

Anonymous said...

I agree with several things, but disagree with others.

1. I also know that this team doesn't have what it takes to beat New England, and I know that our team (COLTS!) does. When the history books are closed on this season, I think that this will be the verdict on the 2007 Colts: they got caught looking ahead to New England, instead of pulling out all the stops to win THIS WEEK's game.

2. Yes, both defenses were horrible today. The Colts' D had flashes of greatness, but I did not believe they would give up 28 points!

3. Marvin should have been IR'd months ago. I thought that maybe they were just saving him for the playoffs. Boy am I glad they did that (insert sarcastic look here).

4. Yes, pass pressure was a problem. Another problem was our total lack of a running presence. Joseph Addai (my choice for Super Bowl MVP last year) had 43 yards. FORTY THREE YARDS!!!! He only had one performace worse than that all year (before the #2 seed was locked up): Baltimore. I know he got hurt today, but there should definitely be some depth there. Maybe we should draft another back this year?

5. I think you are insane to think that Dallas Clark is going anywhere. Mark my words, we are going to use our franchise tag on him this year, and either sign or release him next year (depending on his 2008 performance). He was #7 in receptions for all tight ends, #8 in yards, #8 in yards per game, #1 in TD's, and NO fumbles. Speaking of which, who do you want to replace him as the starter? Utecht?? Please.

The fact that my game day jersey is #44 has nothing to do with this assessment.

6. On the whole I'd say this loss was a team effort (or lack thereof) but Peyton is on that team, and yes, he did throw a few INTs and he did overthrow a few receivers. More than usual.

I agree with the rest of your assessment. The 12th man ruled today. I was there in section 341, and it was sooo loud on defense. Louder than it has been all year. I think the 12th man made more plays than the Colts Defense. Not really, but it's a nice thought. Wait, no it's not.

The Chargers fans sitting behind me were pissed about the officiating. One guy wouldn't shut up about the officials being in the Colts pocket all game. Even when they won, he still went on about it. Oh, and he was really pissed that the Dome didn't replay the Chargers "big plays" when there was a questionable call. Like we would.

I will now be rooting for whoever wins the NFC Championship, not that it will do any good.

BTW Demond, I work with your mother-in-law, and she says that Jabba's barge awaits.

coltsfanawalt said...

I live in Northwest Indiana, aka Bears country. The day Freeney was placed on IR, I told all my friends, many who are not Colts fans, that the Colts season was going to come up short. I started to doubt myself and hope that I was wrong, but in the end it was true.

I'm glad we lost this week. New England would've killed us with our pass rush, and they would've been even more vicious than some of them are being now.

Also, I never understood kicking someone when they're down. I never went to a Patriot's web site last year after we beat them and rubbed it in. I told a close friend, who is a Pats diehard, that they were a great team and that we felt fortunate to win against them. I also never trashed any Bears fan after the superbowl, and they're all around me. I told them that I admired their team and that I thought they'd be back soon.

I just stayed on my Colts forums an bragged and celebrated with my fellow Colts homers about the sweetness of it all. I'm glad I treated the hurting fans that way, because this feels awful enough without help and without someone trying to shred the last of our spirit.

Deshawn and Demond, thank you for the most awesome website. Though I don't often respond, it is my first stop everytime I get online.
Your observations are always insightful and entertaining. Please keep it up. I'm a huge fan.

Anonymous said...

The final pass of the game to Dallas Clark was not very catchable. Dallas Clark is an invaluable football player to the Colts offense and I would be floored if the Colts let him go.

Tony Ugoh was burned by Shawne Merriman when it mattered most.

JC said...

Yea everybody pile on the vile, awful Patriot fans who read Deshawn and Demond dissect our team and guarantee a "humiliating collapse on (our) own home field".

Please. These two kids deserve everything that comes their way.

Except me. They definitely don't deserve me.

Bob M. said...

Funny, but I agree with everything DZ said. Hard to argue the Marvin non-IRing, because you just can't predict. A bruise? Come on! Maybe after 6 weeks or so they could have, but what FA out there represented a better option? The no-pressure DL was lethal.

I still love Dallas Clark--not sure why he developed Roberto Duran hands this season, but he has shown excellent ball skills in previous years.

I also question the lack of interest in running--looked pretty good for a 4-5 play stretch there when Addai picked up about 20 yards (doubling his output in 3 runs)and Keith came in and added 5 on the next play. But that was about it. WTF?

Of course I am bummed, but it wasn't as devastating as in years past. Partially it was the 2007 SB that helps, and partially it was one of those "two tipped pass INTs and a fumble near the red zone--how can you fight that" days. We were not diminated nor were we terribly guilty of being sloppy as the articles I have seen indicate. The pass pro was "crumbly" but Manning was scarcely touched--he stepped up just fine. He didn't have all day often, but enough time for the short-medium game they were playing. With one or two notable exceptions.

We still COULD have won, but were not playing well enough to beat NE anyway, and in the end, I'd rather not give Pats fans more bogus stuff to crow about. They're better than the Colts this year. Everybody knows it. But still they'd feel compelled to hoot and holler 24/7 if they beat us next week. Let's give an injured SD team a chance. Notmuch, but then again I didn't give them much chance today either.

And kudos to the Chargers--all those injuries and they kept chugging along. I was stunned and they were steady. Rivers seems to be quite the punk, however.

JC, good luck. Not like you'll need it. Unless the dollar figure on Farve's contract with the devil exceeds that of Belichick's.

Although it WOULD be gut-busting funny if the Giants beat the Pats in Arizona. They can bring pressure and run the ball.

Jacob Burch said...

i said an another part of the game that the chargers o line completely won this game (or, as you've put it, the lack of pass rush of the colts), so we can all humbly agree there.

i'll still contend the defense didn't look as sharp to the ball as they had all season and that i do feel a week off could be to blame. not that it would have changed anything, not that it's the biggest reason, but i stick by the observation.

jc~ fairly sane posts on your end today, but two points:
a) that would make ugoh probably the 30th LT in the game to at one point get burned by shawn merriman. he played his mind out the rest of the game and the d's assertion that ugoh was just as important as freeney is probably true. there was the outside hope that the makeshift d-line could have contended, but as we noticed int he second half, there was no hope. still, a ugoh-less but freeney-full colts very well could have looked the same feet (in a game that probably would resemble and feel like the pittsburgh game even more)

Anonymous said...

After 10 rushing attempts, the Colts had a total of 11 rushing yards. The only time the Colts could run after that was when SD's defense (by personnel and alignment) gave them the run. Straight up, the Chargers shut down the run.

How appropriate that a Dallas Clark drop ended the Colt chances. Dropped passes became a problem last year and the disease spread like the plague this year. Clark was the worst.

Football games are won and lost up front. The SD fronts on both sides of the ball were significantly better. Surprisingly, the Chargers' WRs, secondary and RBs also outplayed their Colt counterparts. The only positions where the Colts won the battle were at QB and placekicker.


Deshawn Zombie said...

Ok, so I just watched the last pass to clark. It hit him in the palm of the hand. The pass was perfect.

Jessica said...

This season was great, too bad it couldnt end that way. 2 plays before Peyton threw that pick on a plass intended for Kenton "can't catch" Keith, i said "Whatever you do, dont pass to keith, especially in the redzone." and look at what happened.

im gonna miss you guys a lot, i cant wait for next season.
Your game blogs make every great game a little better. Ya'll say everything that im thinking and are always there to make me laugh.
If i ever get a chamce to finally get to Indy, im contacting you guys, and we'll have to get together for dinner or something.

Bryan said...

I'm a Pats fan who's commented here before, and I'm not going to blame Manning because I actually saw the game. I think you guys have more than ably dissected what went wrong. I'm just writing to thank you guys for such a well-written and entertaining blog, in all seriousness, during the season. Let's put it this way: I don't read any Pats blogs (unless you count, you know, the national media), because I don't think I could stomach them.

Deshawn Zombie said...