So let's imagine you didn't see the Colts-Ravens game Sunday night. And now, it's Monday morning, you're at work, and all the yakking around the office water cooler is about the dominating defensive performance put on by one of the teams -- with sacks, forced fumbles, punishing hits and a defensive touchdown to boot.
Now ask yourself – which team would you assume was the topic of this discussion?
The Indianapolis Colts made a statement Sunday night: "We are tough, we are prepared, and we come to play."
In a season opener with all the feel of a playoff game, the Colts went toe-to-toe with the smashmouth Ravens, wore them down and eventually imposed their will in a 24 - 7 victory before a stunned Baltimore crowd.
Let me start with "An Open Letter To A Linebacker": Gary Brackett…..You belong.
I will continue to root for Rob Morris -- as a backup and special teams player. Behind the Colts' starting defensive line (minus Montae Reagor), Brackett, Cato June and David Thornton cowboyed up and played lights-out football. As a unit.
And the defensive line? It played with a ferocity that was both terrible and glorious to behold.Corey Simon is not the saviour of this group, but he is what may be the final dangerous link in what is becoming a very strong chain-mail defense. His presence in the middle not only helped the linebackers, but its ripple effect along the line itself was immediate. Freed up to make use of his athletic ability, Larry Tripplett was, in the words of James Hetfield of Metallica, "…some kind of monster."
And Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and Raheem Brock picked up right where they left off, wreaking havoc all night long and leaving the Ravens offensive line in a state of chaos, woe and despair.
Watching Raheem "Raging Bull" Brock charge down the field with his fumble recovery was reminiscent of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona!!
In fact, the entire front seven played so well that Bob Sanders wasn't required to do what he does best – punish ballcarriers. Good. Let THE IMPALER'S appetite for destruction grow for another week.
And the cornerbacks - with Marlin Jackson out and Donald Strickland limited, how would Nick Harper and Jason David fare?
"Nick the Pick" proved that when healthy, he is a quality corner with a nose for the ball and the ability to lay the wood. Jason David showed, once again, that it's not the size of the dog in the fight. Just ask Clarence Moore. Jason "Scrappy-Doo" David is a ballplayer.
But as great of a game as the defense played, they weren't the only ones making statements that night.
How do you define toughness in a receiver? Is it the physically superior man like TO or Moss who can dominate a defensive back with superior size and strength in the vertical game?
No. To me, a TOUGH receiver is the guy who will go over the middle and consistently make the catch in traffic, knowing he's going to take the shots. Now I ask you, is there a tougher trio in the National Football League than Reggie Wayne, Brandon Stokley and Marvin Harrison?
That's right – Marvin Harrison – TOUGH.
Damn straight, Keyshawn – tougher than you'll ever know. Tough. Clutch. Money.
This game was a statement.
It was a statement with every hit the defense laid.With every pass that Brandon Stokley, a few weeks after dislocating his shoulder, snagged in Ed Reed's face. And with Marvin Harrison's catch over the middle, where he took Ray Lewis' best shot, jumped up and threw his fist downfield like a knockout punch. "First Down". That's tough. That's a statement.
You want more?
Reggie Wayne catching practically everything in his battles with All-Pro Samari Rolle, stating, "That's my ball", with his actions, his focus.
And it's Edgerrin James, getting hammered low by a blitzing Ed Reed as he takes a handoff, somehow staying on his feet and turning a 3-yard loss into the most amazing 3-yard gain I've ever seen.
This game was a statement, and the statement was this: This team is tough, they're prepared and they come to play. All day long, all season long.
Jacksonville's next up, another of the teams that are supposed to be tough, and improved.
All I can say is.....the Colts will be ready.
Good day to you.
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