Five Things Learned, Miami-Colts
Intro: Miami erased two three-point Colts leads after Indianapolis rallied back from an 11-point (14-3) second-quarter deficit. One final chance to win ended for the Colts at the Miami 23 with four snaps in the final 1:50. The Colts are 1-1, just like last year, and face a two-game road trip.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts tight-wired their way to eight comeback wins in the last 17 games and nearly pulled off another one Sunday against Miami.
Miami 24, Colts 20.
One final bid ended with four snaps from the Dolphins’ 23 after the Colts had moved from their 14. Indianapolis did not hold onto two different three-point leads and lost at home for the first time in almost a year.
Indianapolis had its chances. Chuck Pagano said the team made plays, but not enough to win, something he claimed Miami did in reaching 2-0.
The mood was deep disappointment in the locker room, but one that tactfully placed blame on those present. Players pointed fingers at themselves. The feeling today should turn to resolve for a team Pagano credits with passion and integrity.
“This team is going to fight. We know that,” said Pagano. “We know they’re going to play for 60 minutes, and it doesn’t matter what the score (or) the situation is. It speaks to the character and resiliency of this group. If we get some things cleaned up, we’ll keep getting better every week.”
Here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
GOSDER CHERILUS IS SOLID INVESTMENT – Cherilus is a quiet presence and one who showed grit against Miami. Most observers said he would need help from backs or tight ends in facing Cameron Wake. Cherilus did not miss a snap. Any help he had was minimal. A talented Wake with 2.5 sacks at Cleveland was credited with one assisted tackle yesterday. Well done, Mr. Cherilus.
POINTS ARE PRECIOUS – A missed field goal early from 52 yards out was tough, though Adam Vinatieri hitting the upright halfway up the pipe validated the decision to kick. Andrew Luck’s two savvy third-down conversions maximized the club’s third possession when it trailed by 11 points. Allowing three points on a 44-yard drive in the first half’s final 1:26 hurt, as did the field goal Indianapolis settled for after a second-half-opening takeaway. While the Colts won the replay to uphold the turnover, another replay negated a Colts reception to the one. Indianapolis then had a touchdown wiped out by a motion penalty. The final drive ended in frustration with two deep throws from the Miami 23 that produced third- and fourth-and-10. Luck, in self-analysis mode, said afterward setting up a more manageable distance with some shorter routes might have been a better approach.
STAY DEDICATED ON GROUND – Through two games, Indianapolis is averaging 5.0 yards per rush on 52 attempts. While Luck’s 7.6 average boosts the effort, Vick Ballard was 4.8 against Oakland and Ahmad Bradshaw was 4.3 against Miami. Rushing ability and the threat of the rush only keeps defenses honest and aids the passing game. Keep eyes peeled straight ahead and discount any who decry the ground efforts.
CAPABLE, MORE CONSISTENT – Pagano was right on two counts – the Colts made plays, but not enough to win, while Miami made enough to win; the Colts had good statistics, but only points mattered. On Miami’s four scoring drives, it snapped 22 plays and gained 251 yards. The Dolphins had an 11.4 average and faced only two third downs on those combined drives (one was a spike before the half-ending field goal). On the other 44 plays, the Colts held Miami to 147 yards, a 3.3 average.
PAGANO ON HIS GAME – Pagano was on-point in challenging a spot of the ball on a fourth-down Miami rush in the final period. He believed Ryan Tannehill was short on a second-effort run over left tackle, and Pagano’s spunk resulted in an overturned replay. Indianapolis then trailed by four points with 12 minutes remaining, and the game could have been determined on that drive. His feel for the game and his team is where Colts fans want it to be. Pagano’s moxie at 1-1 will be a guiding aid with two looming road trips.