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Indianapolis Colts Running Game and Defense the Key To Success

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Joseph Addai #29 of the Indianapolis Colts runs against the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December  26, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Lucas WeickCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2010

The Indianapolis Colts defeated the Oakland Raiders yesterday 31-26, but the score doesn't tell the whole story of the game, at least not the story you would expect to hear if you just saw that score.

A person who didn't watch the game would probably assume that Peyton Manning passed for about 300 yards with a couple touchdowns and that the Colts defense came together and stopped Oakland on their final drive to hold for the win.

Well, Manning did throw three TDs, but that's about it. He actually had a subpar day as far as Manning standards go. He threw two interceptions and only passed for 179 yards, completing 16 of 30 passes. Certainly not the typical day at the office for him, but it was good enough to get the job done.

That would mean the Colts running game had to have had a big day, and they really did. They rushed for a 2010 team-high 198 yards against the Raiders. Joseph Addai did return this week, but his 45 yards were second to Dominic Rhodes' 98 yards. Donald Brown chipped in with 28 yards, but the longest run of the day was for 25 and belonged to, that's right, get ready for it, Peyton Manning!

The Colts have finally found a running attack, and it is helping out greatly. This gives them back-to-back 150-plus rushing yard games for the first time all year. As mentioned before, Dominic Rhodes was the star, and if he can continue to grind out performances like this, we could be looking at a deep playoff run if the Colts win next week.

I'm sure most of you Colts fans out there remember the 2006-2007 Super Bowl-winning team and the playoff games leading up to that victory. The running game was a big part of those games, and the two running backs were none other than Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes.

But I'm not going to get too carried away, because the Colts still are not in the playoffs yet, needing a win against the Titans or a Jaguars loss on Sunday to get in.

Back to the game, though, and let's talk about the defense. One would assume that the defense had a bad day when they see 28 points on the board, but really the defense had a good day.

You have to take into consideration that the Raiders ran the opening kickoff back for a TD and got three points off of Manning's two interceptions.

So the Colts defense did well on Sunday, and what impressed me the most was the fact that they held Darren McFadden to only 45 yards. This makes it two weeks in a row that they have held a dominant running back to under 50 yards in a game, including Maurice Jones-Drew a week ago.

The Raiders actually only scored one offensive TD on the day, relying heavily on Sebastian Janikowski, who kicked four out of five field goals, including a booming 59-yarder from midfield. While we are on the kicking game, Adam Vinatieri did have a field goal yesterday, making him an impressive 23-of-25 this year.

Overall the defense played well, and the win was a great team effort, which is certainly good to see because that's what it will take for this team to go the distance and win it all.

The Colts conclude their regular season schedule next week at home against the Tennessee Titans, where if they win they are AFC South Division champs once again. They can also lose the game and still win the division if the Jaguars lose at Houston.

Keep up with all the Colts news at my blog, #18 and the Colts.

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