Indianapolis Colts 2012: 4 Takeaways from Week 10 Win vs. Jaguars on TNF
The Indianapolis Colts' storybook season rages on.
The Colts' 27-10 dismantling of the free-falling Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football further solidified their playoff position. At 6-3, they are currently ranked fifth in the AFC. If the postseason were to begin today, they would go to the Mile High City to square off against former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos.
Who would've thought this to be possible?
After the Colts' dismal 2-14 season in 2011, nobody expected this team to go as far as they currently have—not with a rookie quarterback at the helm and a roster teeming with unproven players.
Their showing against a struggling Jaguars team on Thursday proved they are for real. Jacksonville may not have suited up Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashean Mathis, but Indy was also without six key players.
No Robert Mathis? No Jerraud Powers? No Samson Satele?
Even if Jacksonville was an abysmal 1-7 heading into the showdown at EverBank Field, the Colts had no reason to take the Jaguars lightly—this is the same team that dealt the Colts their only home loss in Week 3 on a last-minute, 80-yard Blaine Gabbert touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts III.
A short recap of four key takeaways from last night's win on Thursday Night Football should give fans an idea of how legitimate this Indianapolis Colts squad really is.
Quarterback Andrew Luck
Prior to Week 10, Luck, a rookie, had 2,404 yards passing—exactly the same number Peyton Manning put up at that point.
His Week 10 stat line against the Jags: 18-of-26, 227 yards, 1 INT, 7 Rush, 11 yards, 2 TD.
These are certainly not jaw-dropping numbers compared to his 433-yard showing against the Dolphins in Week 9. What's more is Luck didn't throw for any touchdowns in this game—he actually ran for one and snuck in another one to help put the Colts up 17-0 with 7:39 remaining in the first half. This is hard evidence of Luck's ability to improvise at the line of scrimmage and bring the ball in for a score when called upon.
His interception and fumble proved he's a mere mortal. In spite of these, Luck showed how great his resolve and leadership are—check him trying to tackle Jacksonville cornerback Dawan Landry after the interception and him trying to hold his agitated teammates off after Landry inadvertently hit him on the head after sliding out of bounds in the fourth quarter.
When Luck is on his game, so are the Colts.
Indy's wide receivers came up big yet again, amassing a total of 227 yards. The biggest receiving plays were made by Reggie Wayne and Donnie Avery in the first half.
Wayne, who leads the league with a total of 931 receiving yards, caught a 21-yard bomb from Luck on 1st-and-10 at the Jaguars' 8-yard line to begin the second quarter. Two plays later, Luck ran it in for a touchdown.
Not too long after that, Avery caught a 44-yard heave from Luck over the outstretched arms of Jacksonville cornerback Aaron Ross.This set up another Luck touchdown on 4th-and-1 from the Jags' 1-yard line.
Bottom line—the receiving corps made big plays at opportune moments that enabled the Colts to establish a big lead they never relinquished.
It's Darius Butler, the free-agent cornerback acquisition who signed with the Colts on September 25, that's who.
With both Vontae Davis and Jerraud Powers sidelined due to injuries, Butler made the biggest plays on the defensive end.
First, he recovered a Laurent Robinson fumble in the second quarter which paved the way for Luck's 1-yard touchdown.
In the third quarter, with the Colts ahead 17-3, he picked off Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert and took it into the end zone for a 21-point lead. It was his first interception since 2009 when he was still with the Patriots. More importantly, it all but put the game out of reach.
Butler then put the final touches on a masterpiece of a defensive game when he intercepted Chad Henne with 1:48 remaining.
If he can somehow sustain this kind of intensity, he will prove to be a vital cog down the stretch as the Colts are making a stronger playoff push.
Bruce Arians continues to impress as the Colts' interim coach. He has pressed the right buttons and is making sure the team stays motivated in the absence of head coach Chuck Pagano.
Under his guidance, Indy has strung together four straight wins with the Jacksonville conquest having the biggest margin of victory.
This Colts team is 6-3 because players have stepped up in a big way when called upon.
So far, the same thing can be said about its coaching staff.