Though the game wasn't some flashy high scoring affair, the Colts had a dominating performance against the Ravens in their 20-3 divisional round win. The offense was patient and productive against one the league's toughest defenses.
The defense did their best Raven impression, holding the Baltimore rushing attack for a third of the yards they had the previous week.
Naturally, Peyton Manning got credit for a solid performance on a night when the rushing attack produced little.
There's no denying that Manning was a key component of the victory, but behind the league's MVP are several guys that put in valuable performances of their own.
Outside of Indiana, Gary Brackett may be one of the league's most overlooked players. Baltimore's Ray Lewis has long be heralded as a great middle linebacker and rightfully so.
But throughout the last several years, Brackett has been a leader of the Colts' defense. He's averaged just over 112 tackles over the last five seasons.
Last night, the veteran led the way with his outstanding play. Brackett registered four tackles and a sack that helped pin the Ravens deep in their own territory. His emotional leadership led the way for a smothering defense that held the Ravens to a field goal.
A castoff from the Packers, Daniel Muir emerged as a key played in the Colts' rotational system along the defensive line. The 300 plus pound defensive tackle spent much of the game clogging holes and limiting Ray Rice's running options.
On one key play, Muir even broke a block and forced Rice to run wider than he wanted until help arrived. Muir had a hand in seven tackles, leading all Colts' defenders.
It's a fair argument to applaud the entire Colts' offensive line. The Ravens brought pressure knowing the Colts were going to have to pass to win. Other than a sack off an overload blitz, the line played perfectly. Special attention goes to Diem.
Often overlooked because of Jeff Saturday, Diem's been a consistent tackle for the Colts for several years. Last night, he was very active in pass blocking and even broke out wide on one of the few good Colts' runs.
It's not that Matt Stover helped beat his former club. It's that Stover helped set the tone for the game. The Colts' opening drive looked good until it stalled setting up a long field goal. A miss, and maybe the Ravens get some momentum and an early lead.
Instead, the ageless Stover hit a 44-yarder that gave the Colts some points until the offense got back on track. Since replacing Adam Vinatieri, Stover has been a consistent performer. He came up when needed against the Ravens.
Pierre Garcon's value wasn't measured in his receiving ability against the Ravens. His five catches went for just 34 yards. Instead, it was his defensive play that helped save the game for the Colts. Manning was intercepted by Ed Reed.
Trailing by five yards, Garcon caught up and punched the ball away from Reed, where it was scooped up by Dallas Clark. Until then, it looked as if the Colts' keep away would ice the game. The Ravens got new life, and Garcon instantly took it away.
When I arrived at the stadium, ever seat had a sign in it that read "United We Stand." Obviously the Colts wanted to put the perfect season argument behind them. There's no denying that fans were split on it in the weeks prior to the playoffs.
However, last night, the only fan I ever heard complain was some drunk. The vast majority of the fan base backed the team from the opening kickoff. Bill Polian responded by saying the fans deserved a game ball.
The Colts showed they can win after a bye, and the fans showed that they'll back this team until the end. Both hope that's not until February.