The crowd at today's 38-3 trouncing of the St. Louis Rams in Lucas Oil Stadium was much like a regular-season game. It was much different than we're used to for a preseason game.
Usually, preseason games have low intensity and very minimal crowd involvement. Today was different.
The crowd was into it at the get-go when the Rams took the opening possession of the game. They drove the ball quite nicely, gaining first downs at ease until they reached mid-field.
The Colts defense showed poise and great effort and forced the Rams into a fourth down inside their own territory. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher decided against a field goal in efforts to keep the drive alive. The Colts defense made a great stand and stopped the Rams from going any further.
Credit the new coaching staff and schemes. The old Colts would have given up the first down there, but this team showed heart and got a good pass rush on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. That stop was a big-enough win for the team searching for new character.
Then came Andrew Luck.
The crowd gave Luck a loud round of applause and cheer when he came out to take the field for the first time as the Colts quarterback. Everyone was in anticipation of what he would do. No one would have scripted what they did on the first play, though.
Luck hit running back Donald Brown on a nice screen pass, and Brown took the ball 63 yards to score. Thirteen seconds into the new offense, and Luck already led the Colts to a 7-0 lead.
Credit Luck for noticing that the play was not there to the left and to hit Brown in a screen effort. Credit Brown and the downfield blocking to score on the first play.
That gave the Colts fans hope, and the stadium stayed alive for the rest of the game.
On the next Rams possession, the Colts held the Rams to 25 yards on nine plays and forced a punt. Luck, took the field again, but the Colts couldn't muster much and were forced to a three-in-out.
On the next drive, the Colts did something they failed miserably at last season. They forced a turnover. The fumble recovery near midfield gave the Colts the ball back at their own 47.
Andrew Luck then put on a clinic the rest of the half.
Luck, led the Colts on a magnificent seven-play, 53-yard drive that ended on a 23-yard Austin Collie touchdown reception. Luck was brilliant on the drive and highly accurate. He looked like a seasoned veteran putting balls where no one else besides the receiver could catch them.
The Rams finally got on the scoreboard on their next possession with a 37-yard Greg Zuerlein field goal. They were given a gift with a huge pass interference penalty called on the first play of the drive that was a bad call. The defense held their own and only gave up three.
Luck came back out and led the Colts on yet another marvelous drive. It only tool 4:08 for Luck to lead the Colts 80 yards on 13 plays. He hit receivers with great passes and once again was highly accurate.
What I was more impressed with was Luck's skill in the no-huddle on just his third series of his NFL career. He crafted a great drive that ended on a one-yard Delone Carter rushing touchdown and gave the Colts a 21-3 lead.
That would be the end of the day for many of the Colts starters, including Andrew Luck, who finished 10-for-16 with 188 yards, and two touchdowns. Pure brilliance.
Both sides of the ball took care of the game in the second half as Darren Evans rushed in for a touchdown and Mr. Irrelevant Chandler Harnish hit Jeremy Ross on a brilliant 33-yard touchdown strike on his first drive in the fourth quarter. Punter Pat McAfee capped the game with a 31-yard field goal to give the Colts a 38-3 lead with 4:44 left.
Many people will say don't look too deep into preseason games, but this game has a lot of promise and hope. The Colts manhandled an opponent for the first time in over two seasons. They also only scored more than 21 points four times last year in 20 games, including the four preseason contests. They matched that effort in just the first half today.
Also, the Colts haven't won their preseason opener since 2004 and haven't won a home preseason opener since 2003.
I'm sticking with my guns here saying the Colts will win seven to nine games this year if they play like this. They looked great on all sides of the ball, including special teams, and gave the Colts fans a lot of hope.
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