Against the Washington Redskins, the Indianapolis Colts' offense played smart and scared. Peyton Manning played most of the night without huddling his offense. Consequently, the Redskins' defenders were confused, out of position, and tired much of the night. All the while, the Redskins' defensive backs missed a couple of prime interception opportunities, and the Redskins' offense looked anemic in the red zone as it has all season.
The Colts maintained leads of 7 and 10 points almost all night. Their team quickness and slick play calling was prevailing. As if that wasn't enough of an edge, the refs helped them by failing to call obvious holding infractions by their offensive line. Did I mention how anemic Washington's offense was inside the red zone? Lest I forget, the Redskins' defensive scheme for three quarters was downright bizarre. Apparently, Jim Haslett felt he could outsmart Number 18. Not!
At the end of the third quarter, the Colts were moving the ball and leading the Redskins 27 to 20. They were in control of the game, no question about it. But, early in the fourth quarter, London Fletcher caused Joseph Addai to fumble. Up to that point, Addai was having a career night. A clean hit sent him to the showers early. No matter, the Colts stopped the Redskins' offense after the fumble, forcing a 3 and out.
I don't believe I've ever seen a safety play as poorly as Reed Doughty did in the second half tonight. The Colts seemed to look for him time and again. I also don't believe I've ever seen so many defensive gambles abused by a quarterback. Manning put on a clinic, making the Redskins pay whenever he wanted to. He wanted to a lot.
With 8:36 left in the 4th quarter, Washington took over on its own 8 yard line. They were without Chris Cooley, who left the game with a concussion. No matter, the Redskins moved the ball as well as they had all night. Finally, it was the Colts' defense that was being put back on its heels. They had proved unable to tackle running back Ryan Torain all night. On this drive, McNabb beat them with his arm. With 2:46 left in the game, the score was 27 to 24, Indianapolis.
The Colts took over on their own 20. Washington defensed two passes to make it 3rd and 10. What do ya know, Manning's third pass attempt was swatted away by Phillip Buchanon. After the Colts' punt, Washington took over on its 37 with 2:12 to go. The Redskins had all three of their timeouts left. They needed to move the ball 33 yards to attempt a 47-yard field goal which would, if successful, tie the game. Here's what happened next ...
Redskins - Six yard pass. Two minute warning. Quarterback sack by Mathis for a five-yard loss. 1:53 left on the clock - it was 3rd and 10. Incomplete pass. A no-call which should have been pass interference. 4th and 10. With 1:42 left, McNabb threw deep. Incomplete.
Colts - Took over on downs about 1:40 left.1 yard gain. No gain on 2nd down. 1:30 left. On 3rd and 10, Indianapolis gained 2 yards on the ground. On 4th and 8, the Colts took a delay of game. It was 4th and 14 with 41 ticks on the clock. The Colts punted from the Washington 42. With 32 seconds on the clock, Washington got the ball on its 20. They had no timeouts.
Redskins - McNabb threw deep, under-throwing Joey Galloway by half-a-yard. You guessed it or saw it - the pass was picked off. Game over.
Washington is now 3 and 3. They're definitely still in the hunt for the division title, though New York and Philly are both 4 and 2. The Cowboys are 1 and 4. Next week the Redskins travel to Chicago. As for the Colts - they're tied for the AFC South title with a 4 and 2 record.