I hated writing that story title...again. This was such a winnable game for us. If not for a few ill timed mistakes, we could've been on top of the AFC East. Oh, did I mention we're in a 3 way? No, not that kind, you pig. A 3 way tie for first place with Buffalo and New York. Going into matchups with the Bills this week and the Jets next, this could get ugly. A win against Indy would've put us at 6-2 and ahead of the other 2, but it wasn't meant to be. It wasn't a question of one team wanting it more than the other; I always thought that was a stupid statement. This game was execution.
Say what you want about this New England teams minus Brady, but they are one tough, resilient bunch. We bash Belichick and call him "cheater," but the reality is he is one helluva coach. Games between Dungy and Belichick are chess matches, and it almost doesn't matter who plays QB, RB, or CB.These two are the best of the best at game management.
Game management. It becomes a battle of strategy with these 2. And, as I stated in my previous recap, there were some oddities in Belichick's game management that caused me to scratch my head. 4th and 1 with an offense that's running all over Indy's linebackers? Seems doable to me, but I don't have the experience he has; I'm just some guy with a laptop and a television, playing armchair coach. Then there was that ridiculous challenge of a 12th man on the field that cost them a critical timeout. Ahhh... I gotta relax. On to the stats.
The numbers were suprisingly even in a lot of cases and sometimes, oddly enough, slanted towards NE. Total net yards were 342 for NE vs. 301 for Indy. Yards rushing were 140 vs. 47 for Indy. This shocked the hell out of me. Last Monday, Indy managed to hold Tennessee, a rushing powerhouse, to 88 net yards rushing, but didn't seem to have an answer for 3rd stringer BenJarvus Green-Ellis. I'd like to say "Law Firm" is just that talented, but I think this was a conscious decision by Dungy. I believe he surrendered to our running game in order to focus more on defending the pass, as evidenced by uncharacteristically mediocre numbers for Welker (7 for 37) and Moss (6 for 65). Dungy knows how dangerous these 2 can be, especially Welker, and wanted to take that away. He was successful.
This one stat is a pet peeve and drives me nuts when it's low: redzone efficiency. We were 1 for 4, 25%. Out of 4 trips to the endzone we were only able to score once with a Green-Ellis freight train up the middle. If you can't consistently convert in the redzone, you won't win games. P.E.R.I.O.D. That coupled with almost 10 more minutes of possession just infuriates me. Cassel has said when you get into the redzone, everything gets compressed and it becomes that much harder to read what's going on and find the open man. He's improved a lot, but he really needs to improve on redzone conversions.
There were a couple of plays that we muffed, but that's all it takes with the Colts. On the other hand, it could have been a decisive win against a perennial AFC rival had we upped our redzone efficiency. Passing gets you in the endzone, but Indy did a good job of shutting that down. Credit where credit is due.