PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus
Indianapolis was inconsistent in the passing game for most of the day against Oakland. QB Peyton Manning completed 22 of 39 passes for 276 yards with one touchdown and had one pass intercepted. Manning, though, suffered through some dropped passes while being sacked three times, was hurried on three other occasions and had seven passes batted away by Raiders defenders (five by either a linebacker or defensive lineman).
TE Dallas Clark had just one catch in the game, and that came on the Colts' game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. The bright spot, however, came on that drive as Manning was 7-for-7 passing and was helped by an outstanding one-handed catch along the sideline by WR Reggie Wayne in a third-and-long situation.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus
Once again, the running attack struggled for most of the game. But, as has been the case over the last few weeks, when Indianapolis needed to make some yards with the game on the line, RB Joseph Addai has provided some much-needed punch. Addai was limited to 44 yards on 15 carries (matching his lowest yardage total on the ground this season), but he picked up a key two-point conversion on a run late in the fourth quarter. Backup Kenton Keith had 11 yards on just three carries.
Safety Matt Giordano battles Ronald Curry
AP Photo/M.J. Sanchez
PASS DEFENSE: B
Indianapolis limited Raiders QB Josh McCown to 94 yards on 13 completions, a puny 7.2-yard average. The Colts went into the game with the NFL's No. 1 pass defense, permitting 166.8 yards a game. Between McCown and rookie QB JaMarcus Russell, Oakland hit on 15 of 29 passes for 104 yards and one touchdown. The pass rush, however, was inconsistent, and the Colts did not record a sack all afternoon. Indianapolis had only one quarterback hurry and one pass deflected.
RUSH DEFENSE: B
Justin Fargas had 89 yards on 26 carries, averaging 3.4 yards a carry. As a team, the Raiders had 149 rushing yards on 39 total attempts. The Colts run defense bent at times throughout the course of the game, giving up two runs of 10 or more yards and allowing a 2-yard Fargas touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that gave the home team a brief lead.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
A 90-yard punt return for a touchdown by T.J. Rushing (tying the longest such play in franchise history) in the first quarter gave the Colts an early cushion. PK Adam Vinatieri hit two short field goals (22, 19), and P Hunter Smith averaged 41 yards (37 yards net) on three punts and had one downed inside the Raiders 20-yard line.
Rushing averaged 24.3 yards on three kickoff returns and had a 47.0-yard average on two punt returns. On the down side, though, he fumbled one kickoff and fair caught a punt at the Colts 10-yard line. Indianapolis, however, allowed the Raiders to average 29.4 yards on five kickoff returns, including a 36-yarder late in the fourth quarter that gave Oakland great field position on its last offensive possession.
To win five consecutive AFC South titles is impressive in itself. To win 12 games in a season for five consecutive years and set an NFL record in the process shows the overall consistency of the organization that Tony Dungy and team president Bill Polian have put in place.
But to do those things in a year when several key components — both on offense and defense — have been sidelined by injuries, that says a lot for how Dungy runs his team. The Colts have used backups, especially a handful of rookies and inexperienced veterans, with great success this year. That should say everything anybody would need to know about what the coaching staff has done during the 2007 season. They've "coached them up." Enough said.