Monday, December 8, 2014

Colts Observations, Week 14 vs. Browns

Quick summary:

The Colts win a game they have no business winning because nothing good ever happens to the Cleveland Browns.

90 yards to glory. We've seen this one before: the Colts put together a lackluster performance but survive on the strength of a late drive. The 90-yard touchdown drive needed something from all of the team's rising young stars. Donte Moncrief had a key catch, and so did Coby Fleener. Dwayne Allen drew a crucial pass interference penalty. Boom Herron had the most important one-yard run of his career. Andrew Luck made a big play with his legs. T.Y. Hilton caught the game winner.

Da Boom. Boom Herron saved the day. There's no disputing this. Without his second and third effort on a fourth and inches, the Colts would've lost. Herron never let up, twisting out of tackles and getting juuuuuuuust enough yardage for a first down. The less said about the original spot there, the better.

T.Y. terrific. T.Y. Hilton has shed the reputation of being a one-dimensional "speed" guy. He runs good routes and can shake off defenders. That world-class speed is always there for him, of course. He ended up with 10 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns. One went for 42 yards, the other for one yard--but what an important yard it was.

Not all wine and roses, however. T.Y. wasn't perfect. He fumbled the ball away after a catch (the Browns didn't get any points out of it), had a ball glance off his hands and into the grasp of a Browns defender, and also dropped a perfectly thrown pass on a fade route in the endzone. I'd still take him on my team, however.

D'oh for two. The Colts are slavishly devoted to "The Chart" of two-point conversion scenarios and should kill it with fire because theirs is terrible. There was no reason to go for two after Hilton's TD catch in the third quarter. In my humble opinion, it was too early in the game to do that. You don't go for two unless you absolutely had to, and the Colts had to know they were going to get a few more cracks at the Browns defense because the Browns offense is terrible. The failed conversion forced them to go for two after the eventual game-winning TD. They also failed to convert, meaning Cleveland could've won the game with a field goal.

Shipley, believe it or not. The Colts hate A.Q. Shipley. I'd love to know why. He's not the monster that Jonotthan "There Are Some Stupid Ways to Spell Jonathan" Harrison is and doesn't have the latter's potential. I get that. What I don't get, however, is how Shipley continues to get the short end of the stick. He outplayed Samson Satele but ended up getting shipped off to Baltimore. After being cast away there, he ended up back in Indy, where he filled in at center because the Colts have no plan for their offensive line. How was Shipley rewarded for his admirable play? He didn't sniff the football field until Hugh Thornton got hurt. Meanwhile, Harrison was given every chance to snap balls over Luck's head and miss the block that led to a Browns touchdown. Shipley only got into the game because Harrison was hurt. I don't get it. I don't think Shipley's the best offensive lineman ever, but it seems to me he's been effective when he's in, limited potential or not.

(Not So) Ageless Reggie Wayne. I'm not going to bag on Reggie. I just can't. I'm not going to say he's too old and his skills have diminished because it breaks my heart to even think that way. Pagano said Reggie has a torn tricep that's making it impossible for him to catch the ball. I hope that's the case. Reggie's trying to catch balls in the fold of his arm and his chest--something he never does. He had just one catch on eight targets and looked absolutely awful. If he's hurt, rest him. Let him heal.

Just spot 'em a couple touchdowns. It'll be fine. I appreciate the fact that the Colts don't panic when things go wrong. I don't appreciate how often things go wrong, however. The Colts surrendered two defensive touchdowns: one on a fumble in the endzone and the other on a pick six. Luck added another interception and Hilton lost a fumble. The interception resulted in a field goal, meaning the Colts offense effectively handed the Browns 17 points. That would spell a blowout against most teams, but we're talking about the Browns.

Pure misery. I don't know how Browns fans do it. I really don't. I remember when the Colts had back-to-back 3-13 seasons and suffered through the Peyton-less 2-14 campaign. It's been winning seasons and playoffs for all but one other year since 1999. Colts fans saw an unprecedented era of terrific play. The Browns, however, haven't tasted success. Their games are nearly impossible to watch no matter who's at quarterback. If their offense could do anything--just a single play!--they win this game. Alas, they couldn't and they didn't.

Sure, he's offside, but block him, maybe? I agree with Gosder Cherilus that Paul Kruger was offside just before he rocked Andrew Luck and picked up a 15-yard roughing the passer/contact with the helmet penalty. However, Cherilus just stood there and numbly pointed at the officials to bring attention to Kruger's offsidedness (I know, not a word). Let's just block him next time, just to be safe, okay?

Then again, maybe Cherilus really wanted that field goal. The Colts ended up with an important field goal after Kruger's penalty. So I guess there's that.

Josh Gordy. He's been pretty much terrible in relief of Vontae Davis, but he wasn't awful this week. He also had the interception that finally sealed the game (as if the Browns were going to do anything).

Unexpected Bonehead Play Award. This one goes to Cory Redding. The veteran had an inexplicable roughing the passer penalty near the end of the game. Did he think the Colts had intercepted the ball and decide it was a good time to take a shot at Hoyer? It was unnecessary.

Johnny Football time! The Browns are done. You know it, I know it, they know it. That means it's time to get a good look at their first-round pick because that's what the NFL wants. Hoyer missed a bunch of throws, including a couple to guys who were wide open.

I'll have what he's having. Adam Vinatieri ages like a fine wine. I was afraid the 51-yarder was too much to ask for, but he nailed it.

Yep, it did hit the ground. The Colts got a break late when Josh Gordon caught a 14-yard pass on third down. That wasn't the break. The Colts challenged the play, and the ball definitely hit the turf. The Browns punted, and it was 90 yards to glory from there.