Monday, October 27, 2014

Colts Observations: Week 8 vs. Steelers

Quick summary:

The Colts simply refuse to stop Ben Roethlisberger and a suddenly resurgent Steelers offense. The day was perhaps summed up best with the phrase "intentional grounding on your butt."

So, what happened? No one knows. The Colts had a few injuries on defense, but that can't explain away surrendering 500+ yards to Big Ben. We saw blown assignments in coverage and absolutely no pass rush whatsoever.

Vontae Davis hurt. Okay, injuries contributed to the problems. The Colts lost their big-money corner early in the game, leaving Darius Butler out there to cover guys. Butler's an excellent nickelback, but he missed the last couple games with injury. He didn't have the chance to get his "game legs" back before being thrown into a tough situation.

Cory Redding, Art Jones, Rick Jean Francois, Erik Walden banged up. These players all missed snaps because of injuries during the game. There may have been others that I'm forgetting. I attribute the injuries to a complete shellacking by Pittsburgh's offensive line. Walden didn't return to the game.

Will someone cover Heath Miller? As I write this, Miller is wide open 30 yards downfield with no defender in sight. Stat line: seven catches, 112 yards, and a touchdown.

Will someone cover T.Y. Hilton? T.Y. wasn't quite as wide open as Miller, but he found plenty of room in the secondary. Stat line: six catches, 155 yards, and a touchdown.

Xbox numbers. Roethlisberger was 40-49 for 522 yards with six touchdowns and zero interceptions. Back in my Online Dynasty heyday on NCAA Football (Xbox 360), I routinely had games like that with Purdue.

DHB. It was, of course, Darrius Heyward-Bey who (surprise!) caught a pass and then got up because nobody touched him. He then fumbled the football while trying for extra yardage, surprising absolutely no one. It couldn't have been anyone else, could it?

"Butler clearly had his hand wrapped around the receiver's arm" on a pass interference call late in the game. Except the replay looked like the receiver shoved him out of the way. Look, I get the NFL and its new contact rules. Would it have made any difference in the game? Probably not. Plus, let's face it--the Colts didn't exactly make their own luck during this game.

Huge, huge, huge, play. Or at least it should've been. After the Colts let the Steelers march down the field yet again, Andy Studebaker stripped the ball and recovered the fumble. It was a huge play! A monumental shift in momentum! The Colts were only eight points down! And then...

Intentional grounding on your butt. Look, there's nothing Andrew Luck could do here. He tripped, he fell at the edge of the endzone, and he was trying to avoid the inevitable safety. You can't fault him for trying to avoid it. The play just typified the "snake bit" nature of this week's game: you get a huge change in momentum, and then you squander it. The play turned an eight-point deficit into a 17-point lead thanks to the safety and the inability of the Colts defense to stop anyone. And I do have to ask: would Luck have tripped over A.Q. Shipley? I kid, I kid.

At least they came back. The Colts could've folded after staring down a 35-10 deficit. They hung in there, even though it was futile in the end.

"I haven't heard of half of these guys and the ones I have heard of are way past their prime." This references the Steelers receiving corps.

Unleash Moncrief. Some fans have been calling for Donte Moncrief to get more playing time. He had a big game while logging significant playing time for Indy, finishing with seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. The Colts have to find more playing time for this guy. Hakeem Nicks started in place of Reggie Wayne, but Nicks was basically a non-factor.

#GRIFFNATION! Griff Whalen had two catches for 23 yards in garbage time. As a kick returner, he was also really busy because Pittsburgh wouldn't stop scoring. His best return was 31 yards.

The Nantz Robo-Commentator is stuck and needs to be rebooted. Jim Nantz latched onto the T.Y. Hilton-Antonio Brown youth football story like a Mississippi leg hound in the first half. I think they rebooted the system at halftime.

Ahmad Bradshaw. With Trent Richardson active but not playing (whatever), Bradshaw carried the load for Indy. Well, okay, he didn't have to run much since the Colts dug themselves a huge hole. He contributed a rushing touchdown and caught seven passes for 52 yards.