The bye week is behind us and the Colts picked up where they left off, playing well in 42-6 blowout over the St. Louis Rams. Time for another edition of the Dime Package, 10 questions following the Colts' win.
10. 42-6 win. Score surprise you?
Maybe the final margin. I know some hate it when you say that a team can win if they just show up, but that was the case in this one. If the Colts just showed up and played an average game by their standards, they would win it going away. The Colts played a better than average game, and the Rams, well, the Rams are just a bad football club. Still, with Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson, I was surprised they were kept out of the endzone the entire game.
9. How impressive was the Colts defense?
Fantasy Football Update: About two days before the game, I asked a buddy if he'd swap the Colts defense he had for my Seahawks defense. Luckily, this guy just looks at stats (the Seahawks have had two shutouts, so their stats were inflated) and not at matchups. I got the Colts and decided I'd start them this week.
I figured they'd do OK against the Rams. They didn't. Instead, they were fantastic.
The defense totaled three sacks and two interceptions. One interception was returned for a touchdown. They held Bulger to 140 yards passing.
Sure, Jackson got 134 yards rushing, but never did his break away ability come into play. For the most part, they held Jackson in check. He never took over the game, which is key if you are going to beat the Rams.
8. How did Bob Sanders look in return?
He was, understandably, a little rusty. The Rams played up his aggressiveness to play the run on a flea flicker that resulted in a 50-yard gain.
Sanders was rotated out at times as it was obvious the Colts wanted to minimize the number of plays he had. He ended up with just one tackle, but that tackle was classic Sanders. On a Jackson inside run, Sanders came up in support and stuffed the much bigger Jackson.
It was nice to see that type of play again.
7. Defensive play of the game?
Easily Jacob Lacey's interception return for a touchdown. Lacey made a great read on a quick pass by Bulger. He broke in front of the receiver and raced 35 yards for the score.
The unsportsmanlike call against him for his slide and "safe" wave afterward was a little cheap though.
It was a great play by the undrafted rookie who continues to shine every chance he's given.
6. How did they look on offense?
For a bit, I had nightmares of 2007 dancing in my head. It was a year notorious for injuries to offensive play makers. At one point both Reggie Wayne and Donald Brown had left due to injuries, though at least neither seem severe.
Peyton Manning just kept rolling with whoever he had.
Manning may have had his "worst" game yardage wise. It was the first game this year that he failed to crack the 300-yard mark. But Manning was still magnificent, spreading the ball around to eight different receivers and earning a passer rating well in the hundreds.
Without Brown, Joseph Addai was forced to carry the load in rushing the ball. He only had 64 yards on 20 carries, but he was effective when he needed to be, even picking up some key first downs on short yardage when the Rams had stacked the line.
5. Why is Manning off to such a great start?
I think it boils down to one thing, addition by subtraction.
In Marvin Harrison's declining years, it seemed Manning would keep throwing to Harrison because he was part of the offense. I don't think Manning was trying to keep Harrison happy. More so, Harrison was a target because defenses didn't fear him anymore.
With Harrison gone, the defense now has to adjust to multiple play makers. Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Brown, and Addai are all capable of scoring on long plays. In fact, Addai is the only one who doesn't have a reception of over 35 yards. This offense has big play capability and Manning is free to pick out any weapon he chooses.
He's simply better now that he has a relatively no name bunch of receivers. It's made Wayne and Clark better offensive leaders, and it's brought the young guys along fairly quickly.
Manning must be salivating at the prospect of getting another weapon when Anthony Gonzalez comes back.
4. Offensive play in the game?
With less than four minutes before halftime, the Colts faced a 3rd-and-1 play on the Rams' 19. The Colts' offense had stalled recently. Its previous two possessions results in punts. Addai took the third down hand-off and got the first down. Three plays later, Addai scored to push the lead to 21-3.
It's a small play, but a key play. Had the Colts settled for a field goal, the Rams could have taken some momentum to halftime. Instead, they went to the locker room down 18.
3. Let's talk MVPs. Who was the Defensive MVP?
Daniel Muir. There was a lot of worrying around Colts' nation, myself included, about the defensive line play after the release of Ed Johnson. Muir stepped into the starting lineup and played very well. He recorded seven tackles and got half a sack. Muir looked strong on the line, and it was the middle of the line that Jackson had the most trouble picking up yards.
2. Offensive MVP?
Again, let's go to the line for this one. I'll give the O-MVP to the entire offensive line. Manning was left clean today. He was rarely pressured and never sacked. Also, the line provided some solid holes that let Addai pick up good yardage between the tackles. Solid game for the offensive line.
1. What's coming up for the Colts?
The Colts hit the ground running and came out of the bye looking just as good as they did before it. The Colts now return home to play the 49ers, a team that will be desperate for a win having dropped two games in a row after a 3-1 start.
It will be another week and another test for the Colts run defense now that the 49ers have talented Frank Gore back. These 2009 Colts look to be up to the challenge.