Colts Move to First Place in AFC South with 3-1 Second Quarter
INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning knew early on 2010 was a different kind of season.
Manning, in his 13th season as the Colts' quarterback, said it was clear from the beginning – just as it was clear in the second quarter of the season – that little would be easy.
Not that anything in the NFL ever is.
But Manning said for the Colts in 2010, that was particularly true.
There were new faces in new places, not only on the field, but on the coaching staff, and from the beginning of the season, injuries played a role.
The key early, Manning said:
Forming an identity not only as an offense but as a team, and as the Colts continued to do that, they won three of four games in the second quarter, pushing their way into first place in the AFC South at the midway point of the season.
"We are kind of where we are," Manning said during a second quarter that featured victories over Kansas City, Washington and Houston. "There's going to be some unknown. We've had a lot of shuffling around.
"Every week it's like it is in the NFL. We're just trying to do what we have to do that week to win. I guess people want to compare it to previous seasons, and what we've done in this phase of our offense. That's something we're really not doing.
"We're just trying to form the identity of this team and that will progress throughout the season."
A game-by-game look at the four games in the second quarter of the 2010 season:
Game 5: INDIANAPOLIS 19, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 9
This was exactly what Manning and the Colts expected.
The Kansas City Chiefs, after all, were coming off a bye and were the NFL's last remaining unbeaten team. Why shouldn't it have been a close game?
"We knew it was going to be a test, and we knew there were going to be some series where it might not go our way," Manning said after the Colts beat Chiefs with four field goals by Adam Vinatieri, a late touchdown run by Mike Hart and a defense that held the Chiefs to three field goals.
"That's part of football, and part of every game taking on its own identity."
Manning said the key part was the Colts found a way to get the victory, a victory that moved them into a share of first place in the AFC South with a 3-2 record. The Colts also moved to 2-0 at home.
"We know we have to take it one game at a time," Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon said.
The defensive nature of the game also surprised no one around the Colts, with the Chiefs having allowed just 38 points in their first three games.
"Overall, they (the Chiefs) did exactly what they've done in terms of keeping teams out of the end zone," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "Overall, I think they just continued. They just did it in a different way."
Caldwell and Manning each said the Chiefs utilized multiple "unusual" defenses, with Manning saying the Chiefs employed a strategy of playing multiple defensive backs to force the Colts to use the run and short passes. Manning completed 26 of 44 passes for 244 yards and did not throw a touchdown pass for the first time during the 2010 regular season.
Addai rushed for 50 yards on 17 carries before leaving, and Hart rushed for 50 yards on 11 carries, and broke multiple tackles on his 11-yard, game-clinching touchdown late in the game.
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles rushed for 87 yards on 16 carries. Quarterback Matt Cassell completed 16 of 29 passes for 156 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions, with the Colts holding the Chiefs to a field goal on two possessions inside the Colts' 20.
"We didn't put any more emphasis on this one as opposed to last week," Manning said. "We really wanted to win last week. We really wanted to win the opener. We certainly knew this was going to be a tough test, playing the Chiefs, who had a lot of momentum. They were coming off their bye week.
"We knew they were going to be fresh, and we knew we were going to get their best shot. I thought we certainly got that."
Turning point: When Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop kicked his third field goal – a 43-yarder with 3:26 remaining in the third quarter – the game was tied, 9-9. Vinatieri, who earlier in the game made field goals of 20, 24 and 47 yards, gave the Colts a 12-9 lead with a 42-yard field goal 20 seconds into the fourth quarter, then Hart – playing for injured starter Addai – scored on an 11-yard run with 4:02 remaining.
Moment to remember: The Colts' defense held the Chiefs to three field goals and allowed just 1-of-10 third-down conversions, also forcing Kansas City into four three-and-out series. One of the biggest plays of the game for the Colts' defense came in the first half. With the outcome well in doubt, safety Antoine Bethea forced a fumble by Charles that gave Indianapolis momentum in a tight game.
"It makes a huge difference getting them off the field and getting our offense back on the field," Bethea said. "It just drives a dagger in their heart as well. Even the three-and-outs we had were huge for us. Third-down conversions are one of the biggest stats in the league."
Note: Vinatieri scored 13 of the Colts' 19 points on four field goals and an extra point, converting field goals from 20, 24, 47 and 42 yards. "You just have to go out there and do your job, and today I felt like I was out there a bunch and helped contribute to the win," Vinatieri said. "When you can go out there and put some points up and keep them behind us and kind of chasing us, it's a good thing." Vinatieri came one field goal from tying his career-high of five in one game set against Jacksonville in 1996 and Buffalo in 2004. It was his first four field-goal game since November of 2008 against Houston.
Quote to note: "We're (3-2). You might say it's unfamiliar territory, but don't get spoiled. It's still the NFL. No game is easy. It's a situation we've been in before, just not normally. We know what we have to do. A lot of the older guys are telling the younger guys, 'Just keep chopping wood, just keep pushing and it's all going to work out for us.'---WR-Reggie Wayne
Game 6: INDIANAPOLIS 27, WASHINGTON REDSKINS 24The score was all that mattered.
Caldwell said while the Colts hardly played perfectly against the Washington Redskins in a 27-24 Week 6 victory – and while three second-half turnovers gave the game a different feel than might have been otherwise – more important were other things:
They ran efficiently. They won on the road. Mostly, Caldwell said, they just won.
"All in all, I don't think we were perfect," Caldwell said. "We had a few too many turnovers to make it a little different game than maybe it would have been if we hadn't turned the ball over, but they hung in there and found a way to win it."
The Colts (4-2), who lost three fumbles in the second half, out-gained Washington (3-3), 469-335, with Manning completing 25 of 38 passes for 307 yards and touchdowns of 57 yards to Pierre Garcon and five yards to wide receiver Austin Collie.
Those touchdowns came in the first half, in which Indianapolis pushed to a 17-7 lead, and with Addai running well throughout, the Colts held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
"They're a great team – they're a tough defense," tight end Dallas Clark said. "We knew it was going to be a challenge. They've been shutting offenses out all year, and they gave us fits.
"Every yard was earned. They make you earn it."
Turning point: Against the Redskins, it wasn't so much a play, but the entire second quarter. First, Manning capped a 12-play, 84-yard drive with a 5-yard pass to Collie. That gave Indianapolis a 14-7 lead, and while Vinatieri missed a 38-yard field goal on the Colts' next possession, he converted from 43 yards on the possession after that for a 17-7 lead. Redskins wide receiver Brandon Banks blocked a 48-yard attempt by Vinatieri with two seconds remaining in the half.
Moment to remember: Second-half turnovers helped the Redskins stay close, and Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb passed eight yards to Keiland Williams with 2:46 remaining to pull Washington to within three, 27-24. The Redskins prevented the Colts from running out the clock, but with 32 seconds remaining, Colts safety Aaron Francisco's one-handed interception clinched the victory. "They gave us all we could handle," Caldwell said.
Note: Addai, who rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries – a 7.5-yard average – against a defense geared to stopping the pass, gave the Colts a 24-14 lead on a 13-yard touchdown run with 9:21 remaining in the third quarter. The Colts rushed for 170 yards as a team. "Anytime you come in on the road and run the ball, you're going to have a chance to win," Colts center Jeff Saturday said.
Quote to note: "The standard of our team is so high that whenever we have a few bumps in the road, people seem to panic. People say, 'Oh, the Colts are going to have a bad year. The Colts don't have this. They don't have that.' Look around the league, it's pretty balanced out there. There's not really a dominant team out there. We're still trying to work on being more consistent and finding our identity."---DB-Jerraud Powers
Game 7: INDIANAPOLIS 30, HOUSTON TEXANS 17The Colts long have emphasized the 'Next Man Up' motto, and they would emphasize it again throughout the second half of the 2010 season.
Against the Houston Texans in early November, it certainly was no different.
But on that night, Manning emphasized a different word:
The Colts, with an offense missing several key players and a defense turning in one of its most complete performances of the season, took an early lead on AFC South rival Houston, then held on for a 30-17 victory in front of 66,363 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"It's a great team effort and a great team win," Manning said after completing 26 of 45 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a passer rating of 89.9.
"Everybody is dealing with injuries. I'm not going to beat the point in. Whoever is in there has to somehow find the way to do the job. It's not always going to be pretty or perfect. You have to keep grinding.
"That is kind of the word we use, just keep grinding and make some plays."
The Colts, after taking a 17-3 halftime lead, got a quick score in the third quarter on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Wayne, and the Texans never again got closer than 10.
Defensive end Dwight Freeney secured the victory with a sack/fumble with :57 remaining that defensive tackle Eric Foster recovered at the Indianapolis 19.
"We just looked at it like it was another game, but it was a must-win for us," said Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden, whose 25-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter gave Indianapolis a 14-0 lead. "We responded, and we responded well."
The Colts played without not only Clark, out for the season with a wrist injury, but Addai, Collie, Powers and Lacey and defensive tackle Antonio Johnson.
"It's one of the things we talk about year in and year out, week in and week out," Caldwell said. "You are going to get an opportunity somewhere along the line, and we need every guy on our team, the 53 and the practice squad, to always be ready.
"It's something we talk about and we expect. We certainly don't talk about drop-offs and insufficient play."
Said Colts linebacker Gary Brackett, "One, it was huge because it was a divisional game. If we would have gone two games down to these guys it would have been tough to get back into the divisional race. Now, we still control our destiny, and that's the way we like it around here."
Turning point: The Colts took control with a complete first half in which they led by 14 points at halftime after outgaining the Texans, 165-89. The Colts also got big contributions from reserves on their first scoring drive, moving 78 yards on seven plays and taking a touchdown lead with 6:59 remaining in the first quarter when Manning passed two yards to reserve tight end Jacob Tamme on 3rd-and-goal from the two. A 35-yard run by Hart gave the Colts a first down on the Houston 43. Tamme caught a 26-yard pass from Manning to give the Colts 1st-and-goal at the 7.
Moment to remember: The Colts pushed the lead to 14-0 on the second play of the second quarter, when Hayden stepped in front of a short pass by Texans quarterback Matt Schaub to wide receiver Kevin Walter and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. The Texans never seriously threatened to take the lead, but until Hayden's interception return, the game had a tight feel.
Note: The victory moved the Colts into sole possession of first place for the first time this season. The Colts won the South from start to finish in 2003, 2005-07 and 2009, beginning each of those seasons 5-0 or better – 5-0 in 2003, 13-0 in 2005, 9-0 in 2006, 7-0 in 2007 and 14-0 in 2009. In 2010, they had been within a game of first place the entire season, but until beating Houston, never had held sole possession. The victory also allowed the Colts to avert a season sweep by Houston. The Colts had not been swept in the division since 2002.
Quote to note: "Every week you have to go out and prove yourself, and it's tough in this league. You get by with a win one week and you can celebrate for a little bit and then you have another one coming up that's going to be equally as tough. I do think our team is fighting back and getting ourselves in position to once again be close to the top."---Head Coach Jim Caldwell
Game 8: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 26, INDIANAPOLIS 24The Colts, with injuries mounting, rallied from an early double-digit deficit to take a one-point halftime lead, but quarterback Michael Vick helped the Philadelphia Eagles rally for 26-24 victory in front of 69,144 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa.
Afterward, the Colts talked of disappointment.
But they also talked about heart and effort – and they talked about showing those things in a difficult venue in difficult circumstances.
"The guys don't have certainly anything to hang their heads about," Caldwell said. "They fought extremely hard. . . We don't make any excuses for anything. We just didn't play as well as we'd like to play in all situations."
Vick completed 17 of 29 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 74 yards on 10 carries.
"What we wanted to do was make sure we limited the big plays," Caldwell said. "He had a couple of huge ones for them. He threw the ball well, and he ran the ball obviously well. He gives you all kinds of problems."
The Eagles, who entered the game off their 2010 bye week, took a 7-0 lead when wide receiver DeSean Jackson caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Vick, and pushed the lead to 13-0 after a David Akers' 21-yard field goal ended a nine-play, 96-yard drive late in the opening period.
Jacob Tamme, starting a second consecutive game in place of injured Dallas Clark at tight end, caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Manning early in the second quarter, and just prior halftime, the Colts had trimmed the lead to two, 16-14.
But after the Colts maintained momentum and took the halftime lead, Vick made big plays in the second half, giving the Eagles a lead that a late Colts rally couldn't quite overcome.
"We played a heck of a ballgame, but we didn't keep them corralled like we wanted to," Caldwell said. "It was really a few key big plays that got away from us. . . . It's one of those situations where you're trying to make something happen. It just didn't work out.
"Our guys did a fine job of fighting. They have a lot of spirit and a lot of pride. In the most difficult circumstances, they'll fight to the bitter end. That's certainly what they did today. . . .
"We just couldn't get it over the hump there at the end."
Turning point: The Eagles, after trailing at halftime, took the lead with a 44-yard field goal by Akers – his fourth of the game – midway through the third quarter, then pushed the lead to nine points with a 1-yard sneak by Vick 1:13 into the fourth quarter. The Colts had taken the lead, 17-16, on a 37-yard go-ahead field goal by Vinatieri, but Caldwell said Philadelphia big plays and the inability to move the ball efficiently in the third quarter hurt the Colts in the second half.
Moment to remember: The Colts, who trailed by 10 points with 3:37 gone in the game, led 17-16 at halftime before Philadelphia rallied for the game's next 10 points. After that, the Colts rallied again. Rookie running back Javarris James scored the second of two touchdowns with 1:50 remaining to pull the Colts to within two, and after a first down, the Colts forced an Eagles punt. The Colts took possession with 40 seconds remaining, but with no timeouts. Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel intercepted Manning at the Eagles 36 with only seconds remaining. "We certainly had a chance there at the end – disappointed we didn't give (kicker) Adam (Vinatieri) a shot," Manning said. "We had the wind with us, and we love Vinatieri in those chances. We were disappointed we didn't give him a shot."
Note: The Colts, as increasingly had been the case in recent weeks, played through injuries against the Eagles. They not only placed wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez on injured reserve the day before the game, they two weeks before placed Clark on injured reserve, and the pre-game inactive list included not only Addai, but Hart, Powers, safety Bob Sanders, cornerback Justin Tryon, defensive tackle Antonio Johnson, linebacker Clint Session and tight end Brody Eldridge. "I'm not going to use that as an excuse," Manning said. "Philly has an excellent team. I thought they really executed their defense well. They have excellent players."
Quote to note: "The positive is I think we can improve throughout the week with these guys. The game reps, I think you can't get enough of them. All these new guys, the more games we play, I think we can improve. Hopefully, we can find that improvement and win at the same time. That's the real key."---QB-Peyton Manning