No suspense for Sack Master: Last week Dwight Freeney made his final defensive play count, getting to 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, extending his streak of registering a sack in every game this season. Dwight is certainly a guy that cares more about the team than individual numbers, however, you're naive if you don't think he keeps track of his sacks. Dwight let out a nice smile in the locker room after the game last week when talking about the big tackle for loss.
Freeney brought down Matt Schaub on the Texans first offensive play Sunday, meaning Freeney has a sack in all eight games this season, and nine straight overall. Freeney is now knocking on the door of the NFL record for consecutive games with sacks (10).
"It's not like I'm sitting there like, 'Oh, I've got to get one.' Every game, my mentality is I have to get three or four every game," commented Freeney after registering 1.5 sacks Sunday.
If Freeney breaks the NFL record, we might start to hear talk about Defensive Player of the Year Honors. Dwight appreciates the team win more than the individual accolades and knows how nice it is to have a four-game cushion in the AFC South. "Every win means something and this win means we're one step closer to winning the division," he commented after the game.
What About Bob? This is an easy headline when Sanders is playing, or even when he's questionable. This might be the last week we talk about the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year until the off-season. The Colts placed Bob-Zilla on injured reserve this week due to a torn biceps injury. This ends #21's season and puts friend of Indysportsnation, Melvin Bullitt back in the starting lineup. The defense performed well without Bob (in the first five games of the year) and I suspect there will not be a significant drop-off now that he is back out of the lineup.
I asked Melvin about his return to the starting lineup Sunday night on Indysportsnation Overtime on Fox 59, "It was unfortunate the situation with Bob, and then Marlin, Tyjuan as well. It's just the way it goes sometimes. It's always that next man up situation and I just happen to be that next man." Bullitt finished with seven solo tackles.
I find it interesting to listen to fan reaction to the Sanders situation. It seems as though folks are tired of seeing how much money Sanders makes for relatively little production. We'll see what the off-season brings for Sanders and the Colts secondary.
Big Play Powers: With all of this talk about the injuries to the Colts secondary, perhaps we are not giving enough credit to the guys like Bullitt who have more than picked up the slack. Count Jerraud Powers as one of the surprises of the NFL season. The third-round pick from Auburn was likely drafted as a cornerback of the future. Instead, he is a DB of the present. Not only has he played great in pass coverage, but he's also shown an ability to make a big play. Last week he had a crowd of media members at his locker after recovering a key second half fumble against the 49ers.
Sunday afternoon he was also a popular person thanks in part to that first quarter interception. Powers, however, followed that up with a play that people will be talking about for some time. Houston was driving for a touchdown when Ryan Moats fumbled near the goal-line. You likely saw the play and the 55 replays so I won't re-hash it, but incredible job by Powers to get back in-bounds, and recover the fumble. The play kept Houston out of the end zone and "could've" led to a Colts score. (The Colts were later picked off in Houston territory)
Powers is proud of those Colts who've filled in admirably after injuries to some of the veterans. "It shows how deep we are, we had almost four guys go out, and we've still got great players there, still got guys back there making plays."
Peyton's Pace: The Colts led 10-0 after one quarter. While the scoreboard was impressive, Peyton Manning's statistics were even better. He was 19-for-25 for 176 yards and a touchdown. If you multiply that by four, Peyton was on pace for a ho-hum 76-for-100, 704 yard day.
"We have had some games, I guess, based on what the defense was doing where we did come out and just threw it every single time. Seems like Green Bay a couple years back, we threw it a bunch. It was working pretty good," commented Manning after the game.
Peyton obviously didn't throw for 700+ yards, but he did compile another 300-yard passing performance, and his 50 attempts are more than even he is accustomed to.
QB Comparison: Along those same lines, I looked up at the stat monitor with 8:18 to play in the second quarter and was struck by the QB Comparison: Matt Schaub was 2-for-4 for 8 yards. Manning was 22 for 31 for 199 yards.
These things tend to even themselves out and Schaub got the Texans moving in the second half, while Peyton had just two pass attempts in the third quarter.
In the Zone: While there is certainly very little to complain about from a fans' perspective when your team is off to an 8-0 start, there are areas for improvement. Reggie Wayne was quick to credit the Texans Sunday for their performance but acknowledged that the Colts could've put their division rivals away earlier. "We just gotta do better in the red zone. If we score touchdowns instead of field goals it is a totally different ball game."
Reggie was very matter of fact after the game, but didn't exactly appreciate one reporter's inference that the offense has been 'hot and cold' lately. "That's your opinion dog....It's football, they're on scholarship too, you know what I'm saying so it's not going to be easy every time." It may just be me, but when I hear an explanation to a problem go down the road of 'it's football' I think of Edgerrin James.
Watch and Wait: This game came down to a 42-yard field goal attempt by Texans kicker Kris Brown. If he made it, Houston could've won the overtime toss and never let Peyton Manning have another chance to win the game. Instead, Brown missed, and the Colts celebrated a 17th consecutive regular season victory. Since many of the Colts games this season have been blowout victories, it was fun to watch one that went down to the final play.
The players have quite an unusual perspective watching a kick fly through the air with so much at stake. "It was a great feeling to watch that field goal get missed, feel sorry for their kicker, but I mean, we won," commented the always quotable Clint Session after his 14 tackle performance.
Enough about Next Man Up, Next Game Up: This promises to be a busy week around West 56th street. The Colts are gearing up for their annual battle with the Patriots. Last year's game lost a little luster since Tom Brady was not a participant.
Brady is back and so should the hype for one of the NFL's most anticipated games of the season. There will be plent of time this week to talk about the Patriots, and Dwight Freeney wasn't taking part in an pre-mature preview discussion Sunday. "I'm going to worry about next week, next week. It's still Sunday."
Chances are, by the time you are reading this, it is Monday and Patriots week is underway. The Colts locker-room is sure to be full of reporters from both Indianapolis and Boston this week.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun