NFL Analysis: Colts Come Up Short vs. Jets


Fair warning:  I have no comfort for you today. 

There is none to be had.

All I have is reason, and while reason keeps you sane, it won't warm you up on a cold night, and there are plenty of cold nights coming.

Your Indianapolis Colts just lost another heart breaking playoff game.  My Indianapolis Colts yet again found a way to turn victory into defeat.

Numbers and logic and rationality won't make the frustration go away. 

I woke up to a note from Scott Kacsmar, who contributes to  It directed me to a message board where I saw some heart breaking stats:

The Colts are now 1-5 (.167) in the postseason in games where they have 0 turnovers.
Rest of the league: 41-3 (.932)

The Colts are now 8-4 (.667) in the posteason when leading after 3 quarters.
Rest of the league: 100-16 (.862)

Since 1998, there have been 31 comebacks in the 4th quarter in the playoffs. The Colts have allowed a league-high 5 of them, including 4 in each of the last 4 seasons.

Since the Jets had 169 yards on the ground tonight, that will give Indy 5 of the 7 worst games ranked by rushing yards allowed when they did not have a turnover.

That 1995 AFC-C in Pittsburgh with the Jim Harbaugh hail mary, that was another playoff loss where they had 0 turnovers, a 4th quarter lead, and lost 20-16.

Since 1970, the Colts have 7 playoff losses where they had 0 turnovers. The rest of the league has just 14 combined. The only other team with more than one is Cincinnati (2).  Meanwhile, the Colts have the best regular season record in the NFL since 1998 when they don't turn it over at 38-2 (.950).

That says it all doesn't it?  In each of the last four years, the Colts have blown a fourth quarter lead.  You'd think that after all this time, I'd be used to it.  Losing the same game over and over again.  Heck, this is the second time in three years the Colts forced a fumble on the other team's game winning drive only to have it bounce right back to the receiver. 

Last night's game perfectly encapsulated the 2010 season.  The special teams and the pass defense failed in the final moments, and the team that won every close game in 2009 lost another one in 2010.  Is it any solace that this team wasn't really a threat to go deep into the playoffs? 

No.  Not even a little.


  • It broke my heart to see so many people write on Twitter: "They are going to blame Manning for this?".  That's what happens, people.  Last night, Peyton Manning passed Troy Aikman for 7th place on the all time passer rating list.  He now has the second longest streak of consecutive playoff games with a rating over 80.  Indy is 3-4 in those games.  Manning now holds the record with four playoff losses with a rating over 90.  He extended the record for playoff losses with a rating over 80 to 6.  Get used to it, friends.  Peyton gets blamed for everything, even when he plays great.  He was on his game yesterday. 
  • Reggie Wayne's quixotic 2010 ended with a whimper.  It wasn't surprising, but it was disheartening.
  • The Jets may be the one team in the league convinced that Pierre Garcon is a world beater.  He ate them alive again.
  • The coaching decision to play it safe at the end of the half once again got the Colts beat in a playoff game.  Indy gets fewer offensive possessions than any team in football, so why would Caldwell so willingly give them up? :45 and two timeouts is plenty of time to mount a field goal drive. I lightly defended Caldwell at the time but, he was wrong, wrong, wrong.  That's consecutive narrow playoff losses where conservative coaching got Indy beat.   In the end, the Colts scored on four of their five final drives.  The only they didn't score on was the give up drive to end the half.  Big mistake.
  • The game plan was fine, and running a draw on 3rd and 7 was defensible.  Indy was 5/7 running on 3rd down, and 2/6 passing.  Three of those failed passing attempts were targets to Blair White.
  • Stupid challenge by Caldwell early, but it made no difference at all in the game.  Do you think he's more aggressive at the end of the half if they had had 3 timeouts instead of 2?  I don't.
  • I don't understand at all why people are upset by the timeout at the end of the game.  With :29 and the ball at the 32 yard line, the Jets were surely going to run more plays.  Caldwell figured that if they could get the Jets to throw two incomplete passes, Indy would still get the ball back if the Jets hit a go ahead field goal.  Instead, Edwards made an incredible catch, and the Jets just wasted the extra time.  I suppose you could argue the Jets ran a more settled play because of the time out, but I'm not buying it. Sanchez made a crappy throw, and his guy made a great catch. That was likely to happen no matter what.  That time out changed nothing that I could see.  It was probably a good thought. If Edwards comes down out of bounds, then the final seconds could have been real interesting.
  • The linebackers were a mess, particularly Angerer.  The problem with the run defense is generally the linebackers, and it was last night.
  • I'm not sure playing the kickoff return straight up was a good idea. Then again, a squib kick generally leads to solid yardage too.  There might not be an answer to that problem. 
  • Mark Sanchez is horrible.  Horrible, horrible.  Horrible. His receivers are very, very good.
  • Larry Coyer's failings after halftime are astounding.  The Colts allowed 101 third quarter points this season (not counting returns) for about 30% of the total points allowed (not counting returns). Typically, you see more points in the second or fourth quarters because drives carry over. Caldwell routinely failed to make half time adjustments, and the Colts rarely came out ready to play on defense.  You have to wonder why the Colts continue to take the ball to start the game when their defense is so over matched after after time.
  • Jacob Tamme had an awful game.  A big drop, penalties and a major fail run blocking on the first third and one.
  • Either Don Brown is hurt, or the coaches have some explaining to do. Dom Rhodes was awful last night. 14 carries for 33 yards (Addai had 13 for 60) won't cut it.  When last we saw Brown, he was having the game of his life.  The Jets weren't blitzing heavily, so the pass protection argument doesn't hold water.  If Brown was healthy, the coaches made a massive mistake sticking with Dom. 
  • Freeney made one huge play to hit Sanchez and prevent a touchdown, but the Jets game plan didn't give him much opportunity.  Mathis was quiet at best.
  • I'm glad Taj Smith got off the hook. He didn't deserve to be a goat.
  • There were some tough breaks on the officiating.  The no call on the ball to Tamme was a tough one, and Edwards pushed off on his big catch.  That stuff happens.  Hardly worth mentioning.
  • Linkenbach had a great game replacing Diem.  I'm betting he finds his way into the starting lineup next year.
  • Blair White is a nice story, but last night showed his massive limitations.  He does not get open nearly enough.
  • The biggest problem with this defense: it doesn't force turnovers.  They got just one yesterday, and that was more about a horrible choice by Sanchez. He made several others, but nothing came of them.  Without Sanders, Hayden and Session, the defense just doesn't have enough dynamic players.  They forced just 6 turnovers in the Colts' final 8 games.
  • Vinateri capped the best season by a Colts kicker ever.  He was amazing all year. If we had had him 5 years earlier...I can't even think about it.  We finally got the answer to our question about his range.  If the game is on the line, his range is unlimited.  I was on the fence about brining him back.  No more.  Sign him.  Now.


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