COMMENTARY | Not many people envisioned the Indianapolis Colts beating the San Francisco 49ers on the road in Week 3 of the NFL, and even fewer people could have realistically believed that the Colts would beat the Niners soundly.
But when the final gun sounded, the Colts strolled out of a stunned Candlestick Park with a convincing 27-7 victory. Beyond the final score were five other surprises -- pleasant surprises if you're a Colts fan. Not so much if you root for the Niners.
The Colts Defense
Where did these guys come from?! After Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor sliced through the Colts defense with ease in Week 1, Indianapolis appeared to me to be completely defenseless against the read-option.
Two weeks later, on the road against the 49ers -- a team widely considered to be a front-runner for a return trip to the Super Bowl -- the defense limits Colin Kaepernick to 150 yards passing, a miserable 49.9 passer rating, 20 yards rushing, and two turnovers. Frank Gore is shut down for just 82 yards on the ground. The entire 49ers offense can only come up with 254 yards and 14 first downs.
I haven't been a fan of Ahmad Bradshaw to this point, but the guy impressed me on Sunday. Whether the arrival of Trent Richardson prompted him to run with a newfound motivation or he was just another week healthier and closer to game fitness, he ran like a man on a mission, collecting 95 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He averaged 5 yards per carry against one of the best defenses in the league, and he ran with power, speed and authority. I loved it.
While his stats weren't spectacular -- 164 passing yards and 24 yards on the ground -- Andrew Luck played an excellent game. It was a tough assignment to play on the road against the defending NFC Champions and his former college coach, Jim Harbaugh. He had friends and family at the game. It was a prime opportunity to crumble under the pressure.
But Luck played his typical smart, calm game, never turning the ball over, making good throws, and his 15-yard scamper for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter put the nail in the Niners' coffin. It's a great sign of things to come for the Colts with Luck under center.
Just like the defense, where did these guys come from?! Luck was sacked four times in each of the first two games this year, so naturally, against a fierce 49ers defensive line, the average Colts fan likely expected Luck to be fortunate to escape California with his spleen moderately intact.
Instead, the o-line allowed just a single sack and paved the way to 336 yards of offense, 23 first downs and 27 points. Nice job, guys!
Time of Possession
Losing the time-of-possession battle has been an issue for the Colts for years, but in this game, Indianapolis held on to the ball for a stunning 36:25 to San Francisco's 23:35. That's nearly 13 minutes -- or almost an entire quarter -- more than the Niners touched the ball.
That's an eternity for Kaepernick, Gore and the rest of the 49ers offense to be cooling their heels on the sidelines. It's also an eternity for the San Francisco defense to be out there on the field, getting more and more fatigued as the game wears on. Hopefully it's a trend that continues in the Colts' favor for the rest of the season.
The author is a resident of central Indiana and a long-time follower of the Indianapolis Colts.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Indianapolis Colts
- San Francisco 49ers
- Andrew Luck
- Ahmad Bradshaw