Indianapolis Colts Report Card

There's no doubt the Colts were a much-improved group in their win over the Steelers on Sunday. But how much have they improved? grades the Colts on their latest performance inside.


The Colts threw for 240 yards as QB Peyton Manning completed 21 of 40 passes, three of which went for touchdowns. While Manning was sacked twice, he was able to hook up with seven receivers. Yes, a couple of his throws were tipped. But this time Indianapolis receivers (mainly Reggie Wayne) were able to come up with the ball instead of a defender. The big question, though, revolves around WR Marvin Harrison, who failed to come up with at least two passes that might have gone for touchdowns.


Indianapolis is still struggling with its ground game, picking up 62 yards in 19 carries. The Colts are averaging just 3.3 yards per rush attempt. RB Joseph Addai started the game and finished with 34 yards on 12 carries. RB Dominic Rhodes added 28 yards on seven carries. Still, Indianapolis continues to try to get the running game untracked. The Colts did just enough to make Pittsburgh think about the run, though, which set up the game-winning touchdown pass to Rhodes coming off a run fake.


Bend but don't break. That pretty much epitomized what the Colts did against Pittsburgh on Sunday. QB Ben Roethlisberger completed 30 of 42 passes for 284 yards, but he did not have a touchdown pass and was intercepted three times. He was also sacked twice, both times by DE Dwight Freeney. Indianapolis also had three quarterback hurries in the game. The interceptions by CBs Keiwan Ratliff and Tim Jennings were momentum-changers. S Melvin Bullitt's interception on the final play salted the game away for the Colts.


As much as the Colts' run defense has struggled during the early portion of the season, Indianapolis has done steadily better as the year has progressed. Pittsburgh had just 55 yards in 26 carries, averaging 2.1 yards per rushing attempt. The biggest plays came on the goal line, when rookie DT Eric Foster stopped Steelers RB Mewelde Moore, including a third-down run when Foster stuffed Moore for a loss and forced a field goal.


The punt and kickoff coverage units had some problems, as the Steelers averaged 10 yards on four punt returns and 25.8 yards on four kickoff returns. Conversely, Indianapolis averaged 17 yards on five kickoff returns. P Hunter Smith had a 35.8-yard net (42.5 yards gross) on six punts and had one punt downed inside the 20-yard line. PK Adam Vinatieri made his only field-goal attempt of the game, hitting from 36 yards.


The Colts are finding ways to win games despite not hitting on all cylinders, offensively or defensively. Backup players — Ratliff, Jennings, Bullitt, DTs Eric Foster and Antonio Johnson — are coming up with big plays. Indianapolis continues to battle through its problems, and that's largely a testament to the job done by the coaching staff.

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