Colts Hold Their Own Against Tough Odds

With plenty working against the odds of a victory in Seattle, the Colts still managed to make a pretty good showing in a 28-13 loss.

Well, it wasn't as bad as it could have -- or maybe even should have -- been.

With half of their starters on defense sidelined, their head coach absent due to personal tragedy, wide receiver Marvin Harrison watching the game on his television in Indianapolis, and the rest of the offense playing just two series, it was almost stunning that the Colts only lost to the NFC's best team by just 15 points.

And at their stadium to boot.

But in the end, the 28-13 score was all that mattered to Seattle, who clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with the win.

Surprisingly, Colts backup quarterback Jim Sorgi ended the day with more passing yardage in three quarters than Seattle starter Matt Hasselbeck had in four. Sorgi completed 22 of 31 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown while Hasselbeck finished with 17 completions in 21 attempts, 168 yards and two touchdowns. And Hasselbeck was working primarily against Indy's second-string. His longest pass completion of the day was 17 yards, while Sorgi completed passes of 45, 39, and even 26 yards to three different receivers. Hasselbeck was very effective spreading the ball around though, hitting ten different receivers to keep the Colts guessing about where he was going every time he dropped back to throw.

Seattle's defense corralled the Colts running game throughout this game, but especially once Edgerrin James (13-41) stayed on the sidelines after the first half ended. Backups James Mungro and Dominic Rhodes couldn't find any running room against a stout Seattle defense, rushing for a combined 7 carries for -5 yards in the second half.

Meanwhile, Shaun Alexander found gaping holes to run through as Indy's patchwork defense couldn't seem to get in sync. The NFL's leading rusher rolled for 139 yards on 21 carries -- and at times with little resistance until he was into the Colts' secondary. He also scored two touchdowns to tie the all-time single season record of 27 previously set by Priest Holmes.

However, that second touchdown will certainly be cause for some debate following this weekend's action. It's likely to be remembered by everyone outside of Seattle as a bit cheesy since Alexander was re-inserted into the game after being pulled with just over 5 minutes remaining and the Seahawks leading 21-6. Following a Sorgi fumble that set up the Seahawks at the Colts' 17, Maurice Morris took the ball on two consecutive carries within inches of a touchdown. And then, instead of allowing a player who gets limited playing time to finish what he started, the Seahawks opted to put Alexander in to score the touchdown and tie an NFL record against a full slate of second-string players.

Wouldn't you think he would have wanted to earn it, and in a bit more spectacular fashion? It's likely that the decision was made to allow him to tie it in front of home fans since the Seahawks are on the road for their season finale. But it was still a cheesy way to tie an all-time record.

Considering the fact that the Colts treated this like a preseason game, there wasn't much else to complain about outside of the final score, a blocked field goal in the first quarter by Michael Boulware, and their inability to run the ball in the second half.

Okay, well maybe one more thing. The Colts weren't able to effectively finish their drives as the Seahawks clamped down on them three out four times in the red zone.

But Indianapolis dominated time of possession, had 387 yards of total offense compared to 332 by Seattle, managed two sacks by their backups -- including one by a player just promoted from their practice squad a couple of weeks ago, linebacker Mike Labinjo and the other by Gilbert Gardner who was subbing for injured linebacker Cato June. And Troy Walters turned in his best performance of the season returning punts, averaging 25 yards on his two returns.

Walters, who played the entire game for Marvin Harrison, also had 91 yards receiving on 8 catches, including a touchdown. That's his highest yardage total since November, 2002 against Dallas. Harrison, who has a slight fracture of his hand, could have played if necessary, but the Colts opted not to risk a more serious injury as he's expected to be fine in roughly another week. Colts wide receiver Brandon Stokley led all receivers with 122 yards on 5 catches, including a 45-yard catch-and-run late in the game. Stokley came up from that play limping and didn't return, receiving medical attention on the sidelines.

The Colts (13-2) finish their season at home against the Arizona Cardinals next week. They'll then have a week off before they host their first playoff game.

 


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