Colts vs. Lions: Final Player Grades, Analysis for Indianapolis
There's little to be said so soon after one of the best comebacks in Colts' history. Down 12 with just three minutes to go, Andrew Luck orchestrated two touchdown drives, each less than a minute and a half. The defense did their part and held the Lions throughout the entire fourth quarter, giving the Colts the chance to come up with the game winning touchdown.
Keep this slideshow open, as it will be updated soon with final player grades and analysis.
Andrew Luck: B+
I can understand people disagreeing with this for two reasons:
A. Luck was worse than this! He threw three picks, fumbled, and was wildly inaccurate for most of the game! RG3 and Russell Wilson are everything that is good!!!1!!1
B. ARE YOU KIDDING?! Luck led the Colts to a miraculous comeback win and he doesn't get an A? HE DESERVES THE MVP!
And that is precisely why he gets a B+.
This was one of Luck's worst games of the season, as person A has a point. Luck WAS inaccurate for a large part of the game, as he was clearly rattled by the constant defensive pressure. However, the last two drives were as clutch as it gets. His touchdown throw to LaVon Brazill to start the whole comeback may have been his best play of the year.
Vick Ballard: B
Ballard breathed life into the Colts' offense at the start of the second half, with his runs powering an 80-yard touchdown drive. But, the Colts didn't go back to him from there on out, and the offense struggled. He finished with nine runs for 41 yards.
Donald Brown: C
Brown was nothing but average today, and still looks like he hasn't recovered from his knee injury earlier this year. His cuts aren't as fluid, and he just doesn't have the agility he had at the beginning of the year. It doesn't help that he was running behind a wall for most of the day, but nevertheless, Brown could be better.
Reggie Wayne: B-
Wayne usually gets an automatic "A" for his performance, but he was held in check for the vast majority of this game. Before the Colts' final drive, Wayne had just three catches for 25 yards. But on that final drive, Wayne and Luck connected for a 26-yard gain over the middle, crucial play in the comeback win.
Donnie Avery: A-
Avery still frustrates with an inability to hang on to the ball at times, but he came up with two big touchdowns (one the game winner) and a 42-yard grab that led to another touchdown.
T.Y. Hilton: B+
Another week, another big play for Hilton, rattling off a 60-yard catch-and-run in the first half to set up a Colts' score. He would add five more catches for a total of 100-yards, his fourth such game of the season.
Coby Fleener: B
On his first game back from injury, Coby Fleener came up with a huge play, reeling in a 26-yard touchdown pass in the first half. Fleener was not used much outside of that play, and needs to get more involved, but nevertheless it was a huge play. Kudos to him for making a great catch.
Dwayne Allen: B
Allen finished with two catches for 50 yards, including a 40-yard scamper down the left sideline that set up Fleener's eventual touchown. Like Fleener, you'd like to see them get more involved, but both had big plays on a day where the Colts absolutely needed them.
Anthony Castonzo: A-
He gave up a couple pressures, but overall it was another solid game for Anthony Castonzo, who kept Luck free of pressure from his blind side for most of the game, and provided some excellent edge blocks to pop Vick Ballard and Donald Brown free a couple of times.
Jeff Linkenbach: C-
Linkenbach came in to replace Joe Reitz early on after the starter went out with a concussion, and didn't do a terrible job. Linkenbach struggled to block Fairley/Suh one-on-one, but who doesn't? He still wasn't the biggest hole in the line.
Samson Satele/Mike McGlynn: D
The two interior lineman were simply overwhelmed by the talented Detroit defensive line. We already know that the two make up the weak link in the Colts' offensive line, and Sunday was a picture of exactly that, as they got penetrated on runs and passes alike.
Winston Justice: C
Justice wasn't terrible against the Lions, but he wasn't the player we saw in the first half of the season either, allowing several pressures and a sack on Andrew Luck.
Cory Redding: B+
Redding hasn't had a game like this in a while, but he showed up big for the Colts today, helping limit the Lions running game. Redding held his position all game, and finished with three tackles, one for a loss.
Antonio Johnson: C-
Johnson wasn't his usual get-pushed-around self, but still failed to finish plays, including an embarrassing missed tackle on a screen play and a weak attempt at a tackle that led to a touchdown run in the first half.
Ricardo Mathews: B-
I was pleasantly surprised by Mathews, who replaced an injured Fili Moala this week in the starting lineup. Mathews started the game really well, getting a run stop early, and then getting a great push to help blow up another run play in the same drive. He wasn't quite as noticeable after that, but still did a good job to control the line of scrimmage.
Robert Mathis: A-
The old defensive end showed his coverage skills today with an interception, the first of his career. He had another awful play in coverage, but the pick more than made up for it. He also was able to get a good amount of pressure on Stafford, getting a QB hit and a few hurries.
Dwight Freeney: B-
Freeney wasn't quite as active as Mathis, but was still able to beat Jeff Backus a couple of times to get pressures. But the Colts will need more from him as they near the playoffs.
Jerrell Freeman: A-
Freeman got beat a couple of times in coverage, but overall was his usual ball-magnet self with six tackles and a pass defended. His discipline and quickness have saved the Colts on more than one occasion.
The trio share the other ILB spot, and all came up with some big plays. Fokou had a very nice run stop, shedding the block and pulling down the running back. He finished with seven tackles. Angerer only had one tackle, but it was a big play, knifing in for one of the Colts' five tackles for a loss. Conner had four tackles and a pass defense, and at least one defensive stop.
Cassius Vaughn: C-
Vaughn was abused by Calvin Johnson on the day, as he just doesn't have the physical strength to matchup with Megatron. But, I put that more on the coaches than on the cornerback. Overall, Vaughn wasn't good, but was better than I expected, with decent coverage, nine tackles, and two passes defended.
Antoine Bethea: A-
Bethea was all over the field against the Lions, actively getting into the backfield and disrupting things, as well as making plays in coverage. He finished with six tackles and two passes defended.
Joe Lefeged: C-
Lefeged wasn't quite as bad as Zbikowski in run support, but he wasn't much different in coverage, and overall went most of the game unnoticed. His lack of action on Calvin Johnson's 46-yard touchdown pass was abysmal.
Vontae Davis: B-
Davis got beat by Johnson a couple times on the day as well, notably on the 46-yard touchdown. I can't put the blame on him for that though, as he had on safety support against the best deep threat in the league. For most of the game, Davis had tight coverage and tackled well.
Pat McAfee: A
McAfee was solid all day, punting eight times for 400 yards, a 50 yard average. He consistently flipped the field and also forced touchbacks on three of his five kickoffs. He was simply a weapon on Sunday.
Adam Vinatieri: A
5-5 on PATs!
T.Y. Hilton: C
Hilton was simply average on punt returns, failing to find much room throughout the game.
Greg Manusky: B
Manusky made the odd decision to keep the cornerbacks limited to their respective side of the field, which meant that Cassius Vaughn was matched up with Calvin Johnson far too often. But, to his credit, he did a great job of limiting the explosive Detroit offense to just 10 points in the second half (three in the fourth quarter).
Bruce Arians: C+
Arians' playcalling was questionable (again) throughout the game, as he relied on the same long passes despite the offensive line's clear struggles to hold the Lions' front four back. But, like the Titans' in overtime, Arians had some great playcalls on the final drive, and it led to the Colts' winning touchdown pass. And I haven't even mentioned the sheer team spirit that allows them to win these games, which starts with leadership.