Coming into their game against the New York Jets on October 14, the Indianapolis Colts were riding a wave of strong emotion after defeating the Green Bay Packers last week on the heels of head coach Chuck Pagano's leukemia diagnosis. The Jets, meanwhile, were reeling from a shaky start and a brewing quarterback controversy that threatened to completely sink the season. Many observers felt that rookie QB Andrew Luck could lead the Colts to victory on the Jets' home turf while Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow battled for playing time in Buddy Ryan's offense. While the two Jets quarterbacks did end up splitting time on the field Sunday, Luck played poorly in his Big Apple debut and only Tebow stood out among the QBs in New York's 35-9 trouncing of the Colts.
Tebow put his stamp on this game as the first half would down. With the Jets up 14-6 but stalled on the Colts 40-yard line, New York lined up to punt on fourth-and-11. Instead, Tebow took the snap and dumped a little jumpshot pass to linebacker Nick Bellore. Bellore's ensuing 23-yard rumble setup a miniature Tebow drive that culminated in a Sanchez touchdown pass. It's all very confusing, and apparently the Colts agreed, because they succumbed to the trickery. In reality, that little flicker was Tebow's only pass of the day, while Sanchez went 11-of-18 with two touchdown passes. The real story of the Jets' offense, though, was written by running back Shonn Greene, who carried the ball 32 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns.
In contrast to the Jets' fireworks, the Colts scattered just three Adam Vinatieri field goals across three different quarters for their only scores of the game. Luck completed 22 of 44 passes, was picked off twice and was sacked four times. Vick Ballard led an anemic Colts rushing game with 25 yards on eight carries, while Luck and receiver Reggie Wayne both coughed up the ball. One somewhat bright spot was linebacker Jerry Hughes, who recorded the Colts' only sack while filling in for the injured Robert Mathis. With Mathis on the shelf for at least a couple of weeks and Dwight Freeney leaving the game with yet another injury, Hughes will have to step up if the Colts have any hope of picking up another victory anytime soon.
The Colts play at home against the Cleveland Browns next week in what could be a battle for draft position. Indy is showing all the signs of inconsistency that we might expect from a young and building team, and you just never know what we'll see from week to week. Isn't it fun?
Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Colts fans since the team arrived in Indianapolis on a snowy morning in 1984. The Blue and White eventually replaced the Chicago Bears as his #1 team, and Super Bowl XLI was a dream come true.
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