Colts beat Jaguars, are in control of their playoff destiny

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 28: Peyton Manning  of the Indianapolis Colts watches his teammates before the NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Here are six quick-hit observations of the Colts’ huge 34-24 win over the Jaguars on Sunday.

1. Colts are now in the driver’s seat.
Congratulations Jaguars, you just put Peyton Manning in control of the Colts’ playoff destiny. With their win on Sunday, Indy needs to win its final two games and the Colts will win thier 97th straight (numbers exact) AFC South crown. Not that beating Manning on his home turf was going to be easy, but the Jags had a golden opportunity to put the Colts away for good and couldn’t do it. Now it’s a footrace from here on out, as the Colts travel to Oakland in Week 16 and Jacksonville hosts the Redskins.

2. Seriously, Josh Scobee?
When I think of horrendous onsides kick attempts, I think of Josh Scobee’s feeble try late in the fourth quarter. After the Jaguars had stolen a lot of the momentum back with a touchdown to get within three at 27-24, Scobee dribbled a kick about five yards in front of himself and Tyjuan Hagler returned the gift 41 yards for a touchdown. Recovering an onsides kick is tough enough. It’s even tougher when your kicker rolls one right to a defender so he can return it for an easy touchdown.

3. Why is Sean Considine still in the league?
How Sean Considine still has a job after proving he couldn’t start all those years up in Philadelphia is beyond me. The Colts knew the Jaguars’ weakness was the play of their safeties and Manning attacked them early and often. Considine, specifically, had issues with both the run and the pass. The Colts, who usually struggle running the football, rushed for 155 yards against a Jacksonville run defense that had been stout. Donald Brown had a breakout performance, rushing for 129 yards on 14 carries and one score. Of course, he was aided by the fact that Considine’s head didn’t stop spinning from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.

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Even Peyton Manning can’t win games on his own

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 28: Peyton Manning  of the Indianapolis Colts looks to throw a pass while pursued by Kevin Burnett  of the San Diego Chargers during the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Chargers won 36-14. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

In terms of reading defenses, making adjustments at the line of scrimmage and putting the ball in a spot that only his receiver can make a play, Peyton Manning is the best. But if his performance Sunday night against the Chargers is any indication, then he’s at the point in his career where he needs more help around him.

Indy deactivated six starters for their Sunday night matchup with the Chargers, who promptly crushed the Colts 36-14. Manning completed 31-of-48 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns, but he was intercepted four times, two of which were returned for touchdowns by San Diego.

Among the key players that were out for the Colts were Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai and Austin Collie. And outside of Jacob Tamme, there hasn’t been any backup that has stepped up in the trio’s absence. (Donald Brown has been unimpressive and inconsistency continues to plague Pierre Garcon.)

Try as he did, Manning was overmatched on Sunday night. Eric Weddle should have been called for pass interference on his interception-turned-touchdown, but take that play out of the equation and Peyton still struggled. He never seemed to get settled because he was taking hits inside the pocket and a lot of his throws sailed on him because he rarely had time to set his feet. Granted, he should have been better. He missed open receivers, he forced passes into coverage and even when he did make a competition, he wasn’t always on target.

He was bad. But if the Colts were completely healthy I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that he wouldn’t have played as poorly as he did last night.

The Colts have now lost three of their last four games but the good news is that they should start to get some players back next week. Addai seems to be getting closer to returning and Collie (concussion) should be medically cleared to play soon as well.

For Manning’s sake, let’s hope that reinforcements are on the way. The AFC South is still the Colts’ division to lose but the Jaguars hung with the Giants on Sunday in the Meadowlands so they’re not likely to go away soon. Indy has a fight on its hands.

Asante Samuel complains to refs while Austin Collie lays motionless on the field

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 15:  Asante Samuel #22 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates with Quintin Mikell #27 and Trent Cole #58 after an interception for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns on December 15, 2008 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Football is an emotional game and emotions are bound to come out following big plays, nasty hits or yes, when players feel that an official missed a call.

But to watch Asante Samuel dance around the field in disgust over a call that a ref made during the Colts-Eagles game as Indianapolis receiver Austin Collie lay motionless on the field was, for lack of a better word, unfortunate.

Collie had been knocked unconscious after three Eagles defenders sandwiched him following a reception (or what was perceived to be a reception) late in the second quarter. As trainers attended to Collie, Samuel began hopping up and down in protest of the call (either the unnecessary roughness penalty that had been drawn or the call of an incomplete pass when it looked like Collie had secured the catch and then fumbled, which resulted in a recovery by Philadelphia).

I realize that helmet-to-helmet hits are a sore subject between the players and the league right now, but Samuel could have handled the situation with more class. There was Collie lying motionless on the ground and Samuel picked that moment to bitch at the official. I wonder how he would have felt if one of the Falcons players did that while his teammate DeSean Jackson was knocked out following a big collision a couple of weeks ago. Again, emotions come out in football but Samuel should have held his in check right before Collie was carried off the field on a stretcher. There were more important things at hand than whether or not the official got the call right.

Hopefully the reports on Collie will be positive. I’ll update this post when I hear more.

Update: Collie is said to be “sitting up and responsive” in the Colts’ locker room, which is great news.

Colts offense takes another hit with Collie expected to miss several weeks

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie (R) carries the football pursued by Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Eric Berry during the first quarter of their NFL football game in Indianapolis October 10, 2010.  REUTERS/Brent Smith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Apparently no hand is safe inside the Indianapolis Colts’ locker room.

A day after reports surfaced that tight end Dallas Clark is out indefinitely with a hand injury, the Indianapolis Star confirms that receiver Austin Collie underwent surgery on his hand earlier this week.

No timetable has been given for Collie’s return, although he’s expected to miss several games. Anthony Gonzalez (ankle) is expected to return to his third receiver role in Week 8 and Blair White will serve as the team’s No. 4 wideout. Peyton Manning has a way of making any receiver look good, but there’s no question Indy’s offense took a huge hit with the losses of Clark and Collie.

Compounding the issue is that leading rusher Joseph Addai’s status for the Colts’ November 1 game with the Texans is uncertain after he suffered nerve damage to his left shoulder last week. He too could miss a couple of games, although it’s too early to draw any assumptions on how long he’ll be out.

The bye week has never looked so good.

Super Bowl XLIV Preview: 5 Factors the Saints must overcome

As part of our ongoing coverage leading up to Super Bowl XLIV, here are five factors the Saints must overcome to beat the Colts.

1. First time jitters.
Since the berth of the Super Bowl in 1966, only seven teams have won in their first appearance: the Packers, Jets, Steelers, 49ers, Bears, Giants and Buccaneers. The remaining 18 teams appearing in their first Super Bowl all lost, meaning 30% of first-timers fall in the NFL title game. Trends like these mean nothing when it comes to the actual game, but it’s worth noting that this will be Drew Brees’ first Super Bowl, compared to Peyton Manning, who will be appearing in his second in four years. The fact that the Colts have already played once in Miami is an advantage for them as well.

2. Peyton Manning’s quick-release.
Perhaps no team has done a better job this postseason at battering the quarterback than the Saints. But Manning doesn’t make it easy for teams to get to him because he excels at reading the defense at the line of scrimmage, diagnosing the coverage and getting the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible. He also makes adjustments better than any QB in the game, as evidence of how quickly the tide turned in the AFC Championship Game towards the end of the first half. Gregg Williams can boast all he wants about getting to Manning, but his players still have to execute. And that’s easier said than done when it comes to pressuring Peyton.

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