A ton of missed tackles, fumbles, botched field goals, and a handful of mental errors to boot.
Usually this spells defeat in the NFL, especially when a team is on the road, but then again we are talking about the Indianapolis Colts, and when this comedy of errors was complete, they had escaped with a 27-24 victory over the host Washington Redskins in a game that looked like neither team wanted to win.
Indianapolis initially looked as if it meant business on defense, as rookie linebacker Pat Angerer subbing for the injured Gary Brackett, appeared to set the tone early by sacking Redskins quarterback Donavan McNabb.
The Colts would sputter on their first offensive possession and have to punt, and when McNabb was picked off by Jerraud Powers, Peyton Manning would capitalize on the next play from scrimmage by finding Pierre Garcon for a 57-yard touchdown. The Redskins would counter with a 10-play 89 yard drive that resulted in a 9-yard touchdown run by Ryan Torain to tie the score at the end of the first period. The Colts would control the scoreboard in the second quarter with two scoring drives resulting in 10 points and would head to the locker room seemingly in control by the score of 17-7.
Washington would sack Manning at the 13:04 mark of the third quarter, forcing a fumble, and found themselves in business at the Indianapolis 13-yard line. Four plays later Ryan Torain would motor into the end zone from one yard out for his second touchdown of the game and the Colts were ahead by just three at 17-14. Enter Joseph Addai, as on the ensuing drive he compiled 63 yards in three carries culminating with a 13-yard touchdown run up the middle of the Washington defense, and in just 1:57 seconds after receiving the ball back, the Colts had a bit of breathing room at 24-14.
The Redskins would manage to tack on another field goal and trailed by just seven as the final stanza began.
Indianapolis would strike first in the period with a 33-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri stretching the Colts lead back to 10, but when Washington compiled a 12-play touchdown drive which took nearly six minutes off the clock, the Indianapolis lead was down to just three with 2:46 left to play in the game. The Colts would promptly misfire on what could be categorized as their worst offensive series of the season with three incomplete passes, and suddenly the Redskins had the ball back in a mere 33 seconds and a chance to win the game. But Washington’s offense would prove to be equally inept, and pressure from Robert Mathis and Eric Foster made McNabb go down, taking with it any hope the Redskins really had for victory.
The Colts would regain possession with 1:42 remaining and would promptly play it safe with three running plays that did not result in a first down. Washington resumed possession of the football with just 32 seconds left and when McNabb’s deep pass attempt was intercepted by Aaron Francisco, Peyton Manning was able to simply kneel down with the snap and defuse any hopes that Washington had for any last second miracle finish.
NOTES: Joseph Addai displayed a tough as nails running style until he left the game with an injury.
Addai accounted for 128 of the Colts 170 rushing yards. Indianapolis had not broken the magical 100 yard rushing number in the last 28 games. Mike Hart added 42 yards in a back-up role.
Pat Angerer had 11 solo tackles in his pro debut. Jerraud Powers, who I have often maligned in my stories, had 11 tackles as well with an interception. Clint Session added 10 tackles on a night when their teammates missed a bunch of easy ones as well.
Peyton Manning threw for more than 300 yards for the 63rd time in his storied career. Brett Favre holds the record currently with 72 games. For the record, Washington missed three easy opportunities to intercept Manning and that just might have been the difference in the game.
Adam Vinatieri missed two field goals that generally are automatic for him. This has to be a concern for the Colts brass.
Pierre Garcon’s one handed circus catch is easily the best reception of the NFL season to date.
The Colts will now enjoy a bye week and will return to action on Nov. 1 on ESPN Monday Night Football at Lucas Oil Stadium against division foe Houston. The Texans defeated the Colts in their season opener and have played up and down since that victory. The game kicks off at 8:30 p.m. and can also be heard on 1070 AM and 97.1 FM.
Danny Bridges, who will use the bye week to carve a Halloween pumpkin that the neighborhood kids will laugh at and probably smash, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or Bridgeshd@aol.com.