Make it a 10-spot, my friends!!
The Colts went into Cincy with guns at the ready, and when the smoke cleared, got outta Dodge with a rootin', tootin' 45 – 37 victory over a very fired up Bengals team and a frenzied crowd of Halloween costume adorned homers.
Yes, the Colts secondary got rolled up and smoked like a Nate Newton fatty, Manning's play selection at the end of both halves was "odd", Chad Johnson was allowed to pop the question in our collective faces, and the Indy front four was nowhere near fantastic.
But...the Colts still won.
In what I thought, despite the offensive wizardry shown at times, may have been the Colts most poorly played game of the year -- at least mentally -- between the play selections and the apparent pass coverage gaffes ( I haven't seen that many open receivers since the epic flag football matchups from "the Battle of the Network Stars", with Bill Devane at QB!!), the Colts continue to display a very deadly demeanour each and every week.
And man, was it fun to watch.
As Carson Palmer (how can you not like this guy?) said, "you have to be perfect against these guys (the Colts). They don't stop."
I concur – this team is incredibly Terminator-like. Peyton should have done the post-game news conference clad in leather biker jacket, Gargoyle shades and speaking in a bizarre, Austrian accent.
Manning is clearly at the top of his game, as are the receivers and, of course, Edgerrin James. Remember when people were concerned about the offense?
Just like the old days, they carried the defense for much of this game, although they did tend to get a bit greedy with about 1:40 left in the 1st half, allowing the Bengals back in it after the interception and subsequent score.
A tad more annoying was that they didn't learn their lesson, and went for the downs late in the game, throwing on three consecutive plays and then having to punt. This set up the dreaded onside kick attempt, which the Colts thankfully recovered. And luckily, no one was injured like Gary Brackett was earlier in the season on one of those kamikaze-type kickoffs.
You can't fault Peyton's killer instinct, but I think even he can learn something from this – up by two scores at that juncture, kill them slow – feed Edgerrin, make them use their timeouts, and bleed the clock. Enjoy watching them suffer!! Yes, the game would have been iced if he'd connected with Wayne, but three straight run plays followed by a punt (or who knows – maybe a 1st down) would have been just as effective a death blow, if slightly less spectacular.
Even whining about this, however, makes me feel quite dorkish, as the bottom line is that the Colts won, on the road against a very good opponent, in front of a very fired up crowd. Despite a few minor miscues, and a pretty rough defensive outing.
And on a bright note – doesn't Marlin Jackson look like he is ready to become a MAJOR player on the D?
The Colts didn't make many big defensive plays, but they made enough. And he made a couple of them. And as much as we'll lament the poor pass-rushing performance, the Bengals showed that they are great at protecting the passer, so let's give them some credit. Don't forget, the Colts rush strictly the D-line 95% of the time, so even without help from backs or tight ends, that's five O-linemen blocking our four pass-rushers. The Bengal line played it superbly.
The pick aside, which was a bit of a fluke (as Peyton stepped on the back of Jake Scott's getaway stick just as he was releasing the pigskin), and some of the play choices, Manning was brilliant, again. As were the receivers as a whole, with Big D, Dallas Clark, taking his turn in the spotlight.
And for those who didn't know…
Very quietly during the game, Manning moved past Steve Young into 18th place on the all-time touchdown passes list, now sporting 234. He also moved past Young into 17th all-time for total pass completions, now with 2,681. Just up the road at 2,830: the legendary Johnny U.
And speaking of career milestones, Edgerrin James is closing in on the top 20 all-time rushers. Currently, Edgerrin sits at 8,836 career rushing yards, and with some luck could move up into 20th place by year's end. Who sits at 20th right now, with 9,407 yards? The one and only Tyler Rose, Earl Campbell.
Some folks don't consider Campbell among the top backs all-time because of his numbers, but don't tell that to two men who played against him back in the day – two men with pretty great credentials themselves – Tom Jackson and Dan Fouts. Both of them consider Campbell one of the greatest ever.
When he was playing linebacker for the Broncos, a reporter asked Jackson how to stop Campbell. Jackson deadpanned: "How about with a baseball bat?"
Fouts simply called Campbell "one of the most dominant football players ever."
Think about that, as Edgerrin gets closer with every carry.
Carson Palmer was certainly impressed with James, stating after the game, "his vision is just unbelievable."
As for the remaining triplet, Marvin Harrison had a fairly quiet game this week, but he did move closer to another major career marker with his career receiving yards now at 11, 851. Harrison is within 295 yards of 10th place on the all-time receiving yardage list. Who's in his sights? Why, one of Mister Fouts' old mainstays, Charlie Joiner, currently holds that position.
So while we enjoy this great Colts season, take time to enjoy some of the upcoming milestones as well, as three great Colts look to make their marks on the record books, just like the original triplets did in Dallas.
Of course, only one thing will make those comparisons truly legit: a championship.
And right now, it looks like this team is going to give it one heck of a shot.
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