Colts vs. Chiefs: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Indianapolis
Indianapolis 20, Kansas City 13
The Indianapolis Colts beat the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in their Week 16 matchup. The win not only clinches a playoff spot for the Colts, but also the No. 5 seed, as they hold the tiebreaker with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Colts get to 10 wins with the victory, just the second time a 14-loss team has won at least 10 games in the following season. The victory is likely Bruce Arians' final game coaching this season, as Chuck Pagano will return to the team this week to coach the final game against the Houston Texans.
For the Chiefs, the loss propels them one week closer to the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL draft, where they will need to begin a major rebuilding process. Unfortunately, their biggest need is at QB, something that isn't expected to be as stacked in this year's draft as last year's.
Here are the final player grades and analysis from this Week 16 contest.
Andrew Luck: B-
Luck spent most of his time during this game buying time as his wide receivers failed to get open. It was a messy third quarter for Luck, in which he took two sacks and threw nine straight incompletions, but it was not nearly as poor as the stats would suggest.
Luck struggled to find anybody open down the field for most of the game, and the third quarter was the epitome of that theme.
The fact that Luck took care of the ball and didn't force it to covered receivers was positive, and his play during the game-winning drive was exactly why Indianapolis is excited about the future.
Vick Ballard: B
Ballard started the game slowly, running poorly, fumbling the ball and whiffing on a key block in pass protection that led to a punt. But he both ran and protected better as the game went on, despite very inconsistent blocking from the men up front.
Ballard finished with just 69 yards on 20 carries, a 3.5-yard average, but had several key runs on the go-ahead drive and a fantastic 13-yard run to ice the game on third down.
Mewelde Moore: C+
Moore didn't get many touches in this one (deservedly after a costly fumble last week), but made the most of the one reception he had, going 32 yards to help set up a field goal.
Reggie Wayne: B
Wayne finished with five catches, topping 100 catches for the fourth time in his career, for 81 yards. He also went over 1,300 yards on the season (also the fourth time in his career). Wayne finished with the game-winning touchdown but struggled for a large portion of the game to make catches he usually does, and he was a part of why the Colts' were stagnant for most of this contest.
Donnie Avery: C-
Avery was key in the first half with four catches, but he only managed one in the second half and dropped numerous others. He struggled to get open downfield when the Colts absolutely needed him to on third downs.
T.Y. Hilton: C-
Hilton didn't finish with the total of drops that Avery did, but he was blanketed all game as he simply could not get involved. He finished with one crucial 11-yard catch to convert a third down during the Colts' game-winning drive and a 23-yarder to set up a field goal at the end of the first half. But he was invisible other than that.
Dwayne Allen: B-
Allen was mainly used as a "dump-down" guy in this one, running a lot of short crossing routes and what not. The rookie was active in the first half, catching three passes for 18 yards, but didn't get a single target in the second half.
Coby Fleener: C+
Fleener did catch a two-yard pass for a first down, and recovered a fumble after Ballard coughed it up, but was once again missing for most of the game. He did have one shot downfield, but a high pass and Fleener's questionable adjustment caused the ball to fall to the grass.
Anthony Castonzo: B-
Once again the offensive lineman with the best upside, Castonzo struggled at times this week, allowing a sack to Tamba Hali (although Luck held onto the ball for too long). Castonzo also wasn't as good in run blocking this week, although he continues to be the best option the Colts have.
Joe Reitz: C+
Reitz struggled more than usual in run blocking today, and it led to Vick Ballard getting stuffed in the backfield a couple times. Still, on first glance he seems a bit more consistent than the rest of a poor offensive line.
A.Q. Shipley: C
You didn't notice Shipley much, good or bad, in this one. Still, it's a step up from Samson Satele.
Mike McGlynn: C-
If it seems like I'm constantly grading McGlynn down, it's because I am. He's been on a down streak over the last six weeks or so, and it's a very disappointing stretch from a guy who is supposed to be the veteran leader on the offensive line.
Jeff Linkenbach: D
Linkenbach continues to show why the Colts had him lining up at guard in the offseason, as the drop-off from Winston Justice looks more and more apparent each week. Even in run blocking, the one area that Linkenbach generally has over Justice, Linkenbach looked bad today, allowing numerous penetrations and stuffs.
Lawrence Guy: C+
Guy had some extended snaps with Mookie Johnson out and Corey Redding leaving with an injury, and he took advantage of it. Though he definitely had some poor moments, Guy also also finished with eight tackles, looking very active for a defensive lineman.
Ricardo Mathews: D
Mathews struggled mightily against the Kansas City offensive line, helping to allow over 350 rushing yards on the day. He generally gets a few good penetration plays, but was held to just one tackle today, and didn't make any splash plays.
Martin Tevaseu/Kevin Heard: D
These too manned the interior linemen positions on the day, and got dominated on the ground game for much of the contest. Heard got a nice pressure on Brady Quinn in the first quarter, but disappeared after that. Tevaseu finished with three tackles, but got pushed off the line and hole to allow the Chiefs to dominate the ground game.
Jerrell Freeman: C+
Freeman finished with a team-high 10 tackles, but he struggled to get to the edge to meet running backs, leading to Jamaal Charles' 10.3 yards-per-carry average.
Pat Angerer: D+
Angerer struggled to get off blocks all day, especially on the edge. He also got run over a few times by Peyton Hillis, and finished with just six tackles. The past few games were supposed to be Angerer's chance to prove he belonged back in the starting lineup, but it has merely solidified how much the team misses Kavell Conner's run-stopping ability. Angerer did have a great strip in the first half that led to a fumble, helping to limit the Chiefs to 13 points on a day where they dominated the yards category.
Robert Mathis: C-
Mathis got a few pressures on the day but didn't have any big impact plays, and he struggled mightily to set the edge and was a liability when dropped back into coverage.
Dwight Freeney: B+
Freeney abused Chiefs rookie left tackle Donald Stephenson all day, getting a sack and at least three QB hits, along with numerous pressures. Freeney also struggled against the run, but made up for it with his best game in pass-rushing this season.
Vontae Davis: A
Davis followed up an unfortunate game last week with a great one against a poor Chiefs passing offense. He was tight in coverage all game, and came up with a couple of great plays on the ball. One was in the end zone and saved the Colts from a Chiefs score. The other was negated by a phantom pass interference penalty, but was a fantastic play by Davis. Add in another pass defense and four tackles, and this was a good day for him.
Cassius Vaughn: D+
Outside of running down Charles on the sideline a few times, Vaughn added little positive to the team. He gave up numerous long passes, including a 57-yarder on the Chiefs' second drive of the game. The little success the Chiefs got through the air came when throwing at Vaughn.
Darius Butler: B
Butler kept up his knack for being in the right place at the right time, adding another pick-six on his stat sheet for the first score of the game. It was a great catch for the pick, and Butler showed how to take advantage of the opportunity.
Antoine Bethea: D+
Bethea struggled in run support in this one, taking poor angles and missing on more tackles than we're used to seeing. Bethea finished with just five tackles, and his poor angles and reads led to several very long runs, including Charles' 86-yarder to start the second half.
Joe Lefeged: C-
Add Lefeged onto the list of Colts victimized in the run game with a few poor plays in run defense. He still looks like a better option than Tom Zbikowski, but he had a down day other than a fumble recovery.
Pat McAfee: A-
Other than a punt that was too strong in the first half (leading to a touchback and just 22 net yards), McAfee was as good as it gets in this one, pinning the Chiefs back inside their own 20 three times. McAfee finished with over 45 yards on average on seven punts.
Adam Vinatieri: A
Vinatieri continued his dependable streak by hitting both of his field-goal attempts. He's gone 10-for-11 in the last seven weeks.
Bruce Arians: C-
There wasn't a lot of big coaching decisions in this one, but Arians' team failed to take control of a poor Kansas City team due to the offense's complete lack of sustained drives. Arians' should have looked to adjust to the hurry-up earlier, as the Colts had success with it.
Greg Manusky: C
Like Arians, Manusky didn't have any huge gaffes, but the number of nickel and dime sets was confusing considering the lack of threat from the Chiefs' passing offense, and their domination in the run game for most of the game.