A Look Back at the Colts-Lions Preseason Game Saturday
COLTS TIGHT END COMES UP BIG IN LOSS
Not every NFL receiver is capable, or even willing, of going over the middle of the field to reel in tough receptions.
As Colts quarterback Peyton Manning explained during camp, it takes a certain type of hard-nosed player to possess the hands and the courage to make those catches.
Luckily for Manning, Dallas Clark makes his living there.
The Colts tight end caught a game-high six receptions against the Detroit Lions in the Colts' 18-17 road loss on Saturday. Clark finished the game with 63 yards and a touchdown catch, which came over the middle. Manning threw six passes to Clark in the three quarters the first offensive unit played Saturday, and Clark caught them all, mostly far away from either sideline.
Clark caught three balls during Indianapolis' first drive of the afternoon, including a six-yard touchdown pass from Manning to cap off the 80-yard drive. In the third quarter, Manning found Clark on a highlight play over the middle again, this time for 23 yards. The catch eventually set up the Colts' other touchdown score of the game, a two-yard rush by rookie running back Donald Brown.
Clark has a history of playing well against the Lions. Last season, Clark caught 12 passes for 142 yards against Detroit, setting personal career highs in both categories, while becoming the first tight end in team history to record 10 or more receptions in a single game.
GARCON MAKING PLAYS
Few players on the team possess the type of big-play potential wide receiver Pierre Garcon does every time he touches the ball.
Against the Lions, he displayed that potential.
After the Colts defense put together an impressive goal-line stand, the offense took over on the team's own 1-yard line. On second down, Colts rookie quarterback Curtis Painter found Garcon down the right side of the field for a gain of 19. Three plays later, a short Painter pass to Garcon on the left turned into a massive 63-yard pickup thanks to an array of moves from the second-year wide out.
But Garcon had one regret…
"I wish I could have gotten into the end zone," he said.
Instead, the play resulted in a 29-yard Shane Andrus field goal, but Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell was pleased overall with the drive.
"There were two great plays in that whole sequence. There was a great fourth-down stop, which was huge, and there was (Pierre's catch)," Caldwell said. "Typically when you're backed up that far (in your own territory), it turns into points for the opposition."
Caldwell said Garcon is the type of player who can break tackles and pick up yardage after the catch.
"He's a strong and physical guy, and we certainty got a taste of what he is capable of doing," he said. "We just have to make sure he does that consistently."
A SHORT WEEK AHEAD
The Colts will play their fourth and final preseason game at Cincinnati next Thursday, giving them only four days to prepare for their next opponent.
Caldwell said the team would hold a relatively short practice on Monday, go again Tuesday and hold another workout on Wednesday that would typically "be much like a Friday of a game week."
Unlike Saturday's game at Detroit in which the Colts' first offensive and defensive units played into the third quarter, Caldwell said he planned to rest the team's first units for a majority of the Cincinnati game, explaining the game is an opportunity for the younger players to get some playing time.
"We are going to look closely where we have some really tight races, in terms of competitiveness at a position," Caldwell said. "It will be meaningful work because it will make determinations on whether or not they make the team."
Caldwell also said the preseason game will give the Colts a chance to get an idea of what type of depth they have.
"There are always going to be some guys who get bumps and bruises, so (depth) is very important to us."
• The Colts' beefed-up defensive line put together an impressive goal-line stand in the third quarter. Lions rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford drove Detroit deep in to Colts territory, but the defense came up when it needed to. Inside the Colts' three-yard line, Detroit ran the ball three times – but all three times Indianapolis' run defense stonewalled the Lions' rushing attack. The Lions turned the ball over on downs and the Colts were able to score a field goal on the ensuing drive. Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney said, "Things are really coming up. We are honing down in this third preseason game and it's time to get focused and ready for the regular season."
• Rookie cornerback Jerraud Powers came away with the Colts' only interception Saturday, picking off a deep pass attempt by Stafford with 14 seconds left in the second quarter. Powers out-jumped Lions wide receiver Bryant Johnson for the ball before falling to the ground. After the game, Powers said his play was only "decent" and that he still committed a few mistakes that were easily correctable. "Each game is something different that I can work on to make myself better and put myself in a better position to make plays," he said. "The main thing is trying to be better than I was the day before, that's sort of been my mindset."
• Safety Jamie Silva recorded a game-high 10 tackles Saturday … Running back Joseph Addai ran the ball seven times for 22 yards, including an 11-yard rush in the first half … 12 different Colts receivers caught passes against Detroit.