The Indianapolis Colts picked up their first win of the Andrew Luck era in beating the Minnesota Vikings 23-20. The Colts trailed 3-0 after allowing the Vikings to score a field goal on their opening drive, then went on to outscore the Vikings 20-3 until midway through the fourth quarter. The Colts seemed too complacent with the lead and allowed Minnesota to score two touchdowns to tie the ball game with less than a minute to go.
In the end, the Colts relied on Luck to lead them on a late drive with two timeouts to get them in field goal range which set up Adam Vinatieri’s 53-yard game winning field goal.
Let’s take a look at what grades I gave each positional unit.
I was critical on Luck in the first game in that his three interceptions were just mere inches from being touchdowns. He looked uncomfortable in the pocket and rushed some passes. I wanted to see if he learned from his mistakes and improved today.
He showed me he’s a smart learner in that everything he did wrong against Chicago in Week 1 he corrected in his matchup against Minnesota. Luck went 20 for 31 with 224 yards, and two touchdowns. What’s even better is he didn’t turn the ball over once and put the Colts in good situations all day.
Now, Luck will need to continue to improve into next week, but given that he didn’t get much protection today I’ll give him a good grade for carrying this team to a victory on his shoulders.
Running Backs: B-
I thought the running game today was solid, but not superb. The Colts used more of a balanced attack today and rushed the ball 30 times. They got 84 yards on those 30 carries which equated out to a 2.8 yard average.
I will give them slightly better than an average grade all due to the offensive line struggling to make holes for the backs. I can’t dog on the running backs when there’s nothing there to gain. Donald Brown led the Colts with 45 yards on 16 carries while Luck was second in yardage with 21 yards on four carries.
I’d like to see the line start making holes to get more of a running attack going. They can’t be one dimensional like they were with Peyton Manning. They need to keep defenses guessing.
Wide Receivers: A
The receivers came up big today. Donnie Avery should be given a game ball in my mind for how big he came up with getting open in key downs. Avery caught nine passes for 111 yards and was always open it seemed when it mattered.
Reggie Wayne also came up big, too. The Vikings did their best to take him out of the game, but he continued effort to keep them at bay. Wayne had 71 yards on six receptions and a big touchdown catch right before the half. I also credit Wayne for his route he ran on the first touchdown pass from Luck to Dwayne Allen. Wayne was covered tight and had Kris Adams lined up to his left. Adams ran an out route while Wayne took his man to the safety help and cleared out the front of the endzone for Allen. It’s veteran moves like that to why Wayne will help this team immensely.
Four other receivers would go on to catch passes today. I felt this unit was highly effective.
Offensive Line: D
I thought the offensive line played very poorly today. Luck was sacked twice and was running for his life all day. If it weren’t for the ability for Luck to scramble and make something out of nothing, he would have been sacked more than five times.
The line also struggled to run block as well. Very rarely were there any holes opened up for the backs as Minnesota was getting big penetration into the backfield nearly every down.
This unit needs to improve drastically or the Colts won’t ever get more than six wins in a season.
Defensive Line: B
The defensive line was quietly effective for most of the day. They got a decent pass rush, but it wasn’t great. Credit most of that on the corners, but when the corners were playing tight coverage the line didn’t get to Christian Ponder enough.
Most of the day the line didn’t get enough penetration to stop Adrian Peterson or Toby Gerhart for losses. The Vikings rushed for 95 yards on 26 carries and converted too many first downs on the ground.
I’d like to see the line get better penetration and improve week to week. If it wasn’t for Cory Redding’s forced fumble and fumble recovery the unit would have dropped a grade.
For how banged up this unit is they’re playing out of their minds. There’s not one guy on this Colts roster that’s ever played a 3-4 linebacking spot. Mix that with the losses of Pat Angerer and Dwight Freeney to injury and this unit would have every excuse to be pretty bad.
Instead of throwing a pity party this unit continues to lead the defense as for the second straight game Jerrell Freeman led the team in tackles with 13. The Colts had four sacks today and all four came from the linebacking unit.
Once Freeney and Angerer return this may be the deepest unit on the team. They’re improving each week and showing they could be one of the best linebacking units in football one day.
The offensive line and secondary are the two units that need an overhaul soon. I’m growing so sick of seeing soft coverage from our corners. Any quarterback can throw to a wide open receiver on a slant route to gain five to six yards every down. Dare I say Curtis Painter could even do that. The sad thing is Painter isn’t much worse than Ponder.
Both corners should have been up on the line every down. There’s no reason to respect Percy Harvin’s speed due to the inaccuracy of Ponder. Too many possessions were extended due to the secondary missing assignments or flat out playing too far off the ball. I’ve had enough and want to see improvement.
For three quarters this coaching staff would have been given an A. Then came the fourth quarter. The coaching staff nearly lost this game today with complacency. Once the Colts got up 20-6, they played the game to not lose rather than to win. That’s what the old coaching staff did and look where they’re at now.
The Vikings are a terrible football team and the Colts kept giving them hope by just trying to waste time off the clock. Why stop what was working so well all game? I’m not a fan of moves like they pulled today because if that was a little bit better of a team, the Colts would have lost.