Indianapolis Colts Report Card

The rest of the country is counting votes, but we're busy tallying the grades for the Indianapolis Colts from their 18-15 win over New England on Sunday. See how the Colts rated. Agree? Disagree? Cast your votes in the forums!


Slowly but surely, the Colts' passing offense is starting to take a more familiar look. Peyton Manning is getting closer to the form that has made him one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Manning completed 21 of 29 passes for 254 yards and had a pair of TD passes to WR Anthony Gonzalez. More important, he did not have any interceptions and the offensive line did not give up a sack to a pretty good Patriots defensive line. Manning completed passes to seven receivers and ended the night with a 121.9 passer rating.


Still not where Indianapolis needs it to be. The Colts have shown flashes of what was once a pretty consistent running game. RB Joseph Addai returned from a hamstring injury and ran hard. RB Dominic Rhodes got fewer chances, but then again Indianapolis didn't have the ball for that many possessions to begin with (seven total). Even at the midway point of the season, the running game is still very much a work in progress.


The Colts did not record a sack against an offensive line that had allowed 28 coming into Sunday night's game. Indianapolis did, however, provide some pressure from the outside. On one of those occasions, in the fourth quarter, the pressure applied by DE Raheem Brock forced a pass interception by S Bob Sanders. Yes, the Patriots threw for 204 yards as QB Matt Cassel hit on 25 of 34 passes. Most of those throws came on dump-offs to WR Wes Welker (seven catches for 37 yards) and RB Kevin Faulk (five receptions for 38 yards). And Indianapolis did an OK job on big-play WR Randy Moss (six catches for 65 yards).


Much like the Colts' own run game, the team's run defense continues to be one area of concern. New England had 140 total yards on the group, 60 coming from Faulk on 10 carries. BenJarvus Green-Ellis added 57 yards on 15 carries and a 6-yard touchdown run. More than the total yards, the Patriots averaged 4.4 yards per rushing attempt. There is more work to be done in shoring up this area of the defense.


P Hunter Smith had three punts for a 54.3-yard average (39.7 yard net) but did not have one punt downed inside the Patriots 20-yard line. PK Adam Vinatieri had one touchback on a kickoff and made good on a 52-yard field goal, which proved to be the game-winning points for the Colts. Indianapolis did a fair job on kickoff and punt return coverage, allowing Ellis Hobbs a 24-yard average on four kickoff returns and Welker a 12-yard average on two punt returns.


The Colts appear to be emerging from their early-season funk, but there's still much more work to do overall. Indianapolis' offense is getting closer to regaining its rhythm, but it's still not there completely. And the defense has to find to way to get off the field and not allow long, time-consuming drives by opposing offenses. Tony Dungy and his coaching staff are trying to find the right buttons to push in order to get everybody's attention on the task at hand. Otherwise, another trip to the playoffs may elude the Colts if a consistent effort on both sides of the ball isn't found quickly.

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