A funny thing happened at the RCA Dome Thursday night. The Indianapolis Colts picked up where they left off from their Super Bowl victory. By way of explanation, that would mean that the Colts were running on all cylinders (except for a brief hiccup in the early first half), both on offense and defense. The Colts, behind quarterback Peyton Manning’s 288 yards and three touchdowns and Reggie Wayne’s 2 TD receptions, thrashed the New Orleans Saints 41-10.
The Colts’ inaugural victory of the 2007 season from all appearances seems to be sending a message to San Diego, New England and other contenders: they’re not about to give up the crown just yet. The Colts defense, long known to be the Achilles heel of the team, did not allow a TD last night. That alone has to be a major morale booster to the Colts defensive unit, especially since defensive end Dwight Freeney was a non-factor Thursday night.
A recurring theme from last night’s game was the fact that Manning exposed former Colts cornerback Jason David constantly; all 3 TD’s thrown by Manning were thrown to both WR’s Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison, both covered by David. Yet, as Manning told Dave Goldberg of the Associated Press, “We don’t do that. We had the right calls at the right time. With Marvin and Reggie, you’re always going to throw it to those guys. If you have a good day, they say you’re picking on one guy. We really don’t do that.”
The defense, as previously noted, was outstanding for nearly the entire game. Linebacker Freddy Keiaho, taking over for departed Cato June (now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), made major contributions; in the second quarter, he drove through a blocker, carrying him into Saints RB Reggie Bush for a 5-yard loss. In the third quarter, he intercepted a pass by Saints QB Drew Brees which led to a Adam Vinatieri field goal which gave the Colts an insurmountable 27-10 lead.
The Colts defense also made Saints RB’s Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush’s night miserable, allowing between the both of them only 38 rushing yards between them. The Colts pass defense only allowed Brees to complete 27-of-40 for 188 yards and 2 interceptions. Brees told the Associated Press after the game, “It just felt like we never got in synch. We felt we hadn’t accomplished much in the first half so we were chomping at the bit to get out there and sustain some drives. Everything happens for a reason. Maybe we needed to get our butts kicked tonight to get a little fire going.”
Some interesting and noteworthy stats from last night’s game: Harrison’s 83 receiving yards gives him 13,780 for his career, moving him past Henry Ellard to fifth place on the NFL career receiving yardage list. Manning has gone 164 pass attempts without an interception, dating back to last season. Manning is also 8-2 in season openers in his career and the Colts are a league-best 15-2 in September, all under Dungy. The Colts will get a well-deserved long rest; they will next fly into Nashville to face the rival Tennessee Titans and their star QB Vince Young on September 16.