What We Learned: Colts vs. Chiefs

Greg Talmage shares what we learned from watching the Colts squeak out a narrow, 13-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at the RCA Dome Sunday.

1. A win is a win
It wasn't pretty, but if the season ended today the Indianapolis Colts would have a bye and then host a divisional playoff game in the RCA Dome. Not too shabby for a team that has been devastated by injuries.

2. Right corner in the nickel is a weak spot for the Colts
When the Colts move from their base defense to nickel defense, RCB Marlin Jackson moves inside to cover the slot and usually Tim Jennings subs in to play the vacated RCB spot. With Jennings inactive on Sunday, T.J. Rushing assumed that role.

Rushing, like Jennings, seemed to have a huge target on his back all afternoon as Chiefs' QB Brodie Croyle tried to exploit the Rushing-Bowe match-up. T.J. actually had decent coverage on Croyle's touchdown pass to Bowe. But you have to give credit to Croyle and Bowe on that one — it was a perfect pass and exceptional footwork by the receiver. Still, Colts fans can expect opposing teams to continue to test this component of the defense.

Through 10 games, this seems to be the only weak spot in the Colts' secondary. With that said, Jennings has had his moments and should continue to improve. Hopefully his injury is of the short-term variety, because the Colts experience a real drop in a talent with Rushing as the nickel corner.

3. Offensive line cohesiveness and quarterback/receiver timing were lacking
The good thing about these two things is that they usually happen a couple times each season and in the past have proven to be anomalies. For example, this game reminded me a lot of last year's Week 10 victory over Buffalo.

The Colts, 8-0 at the time, had a difficult time finishing off the 3-5 Bills in the RCA Dome before eventually holding onto a 17-16 win. Does anyone remember that game?


Colts' QB Peyton Manning
AP Photo/Darren Cummings

The root of these two problems is simply injuries. That's a diagnosis, not an excuse. The truth is that Manning has developed little rapport with Harrison's replacements — Aaron Moorehead or Craphonso Thorpe. Manning and Marvin Harrison share a brain. Peyton and Moorehead obviously do not.

While the makeshift offensive line did a decent job last week the same cannot be said today. RT Ryan Diem was obviously playing hurt today. That didn't work out too well and Diem eventually left the game. Ryan will likely take Thursday off before trying to come back healthy on Dec. 2.

LT Charlie Johnson has had his share of struggles filling in for Tony Ugoh, as well as a difficult assignment Sunday against DE Jared Allen. Johnson looks be a lot more comfortable on the right side instead of the left.

4. Minus Freeney, Robert Mathis is still a beast
One thing I was curious to watch was how the opposition changed their pass blocking schemes without Dwight Freeney on the field. Would they focus more on Mathis? Would they get more receivers out by opting not to chip or help?

Even with the extra focus and attention, Mathis still had a very solid day with a sack and forced fumble. While Josh Thomas and Simeon Rice are physically replacing Freeney at RDE, it is Robert Mathis on the other side that will likely be the one to pick up Freeney's production. On Sunday, Robert showed he is up to the task. Let's see how future opponents adjust.

5. Hunter Smith did little to restore confidence
In his postgame press conference, Coach Dungy admitted even after missing four straight field goals Adam Vinatieri was the last of his worries and that he now expects Adam to make the rest of his kicks all season.

I'm not sure Dungy has that same kind of confidence in his punter. Hunter again struggled getting much air or distance in his punts.


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