As the first game of the NFL Playoffs concluded, you could not have ever guessed the storyline and the unit that would be the MVP of the Colts wild card win over the Chiefs. That unit – the Colts defense. Yes, the same Colts defense that was gashed for over 300 yards rushing against the Jags December 10th. The same Colts defense that allowed 173 yards per game on the ground, and was beaten in three of the their five games for the very reason that they couldn’t stop the run. Saturday at the RCA Dome, the Colts defense, with the sellout crowd chanting “defense,” could for the first time in 2006 take a bow.
The numbers were staggering. They held the Chiefs to no first downs until the 3:30 mark of the THIRD QUARTER. They stopped KC on the groud totally, holding them to just 44 yards on 17 carries (2.6 per carry) and 126 yards overall. One would think that the Colts defense was abducted by aliens and replaced with the 1970’s Steel Curtain. It was a sight to behold to see Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis coming off the ends and reeking havoc on Trent Green, and the linebackers stuffing Larry Johnson time after time.
It was not the prettiest effort from Peyton Manning and co. on the offense. Manning seemed to play somewhat rattled for the first half and early into the third quarter, throwing three interceptions and having to settle for a ton of underneath throws. Manning was saved on Saturday by the hard running and moves of back Joseph Addai, who ran for 122 yards on 25 carries and a score. If the game were up to Manning to win on this day, it may not have happened.
For Johnson and the Chiefs, it was a bizarre way to end a 9-7 season. They were so inept on offense you almost thought you were watching the Oakland Raiders. They couldn’t move the ball on the ground against the weak Colts run-D, and Trent Green and throwing the ball was no treat either. They tried to get the ball down the field, but had no luck there, and then, when they tried to get the ball underneath, they either dropped the pass or were hit the minute they made the catches.
The Colts will now relax for the night and get set to head to Baltimore to take on the AFC North champion Ravens. The storyline all week will turn from if the Colts could stop the run to “can the Ravens stop Manning and the Colts.” That question will take some time early on next weekend to play out, but sitting here watching this game today, the Colts had better have a good week or practice, because if not, they are going to get beat next weekend.