Archive for Sunday, January 7, 2007

Stunned and done

Maligned Indy ‘D’ stymies L.J., Chiefs

January 7, 2007

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— Peyton Manning knows all about falling apart in the playoffs. Though he struggled early Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts' stunningly stingy defense came to the rescue.

Manning and the Colts beat the inept Kansas City Chiefs, 23-8, Saturday, and while the star quarterback's numbers were good - 30-of-38 for 268 yards - his performance was mediocre. At least it was for the most prolific passer of his generation.

He threw three interceptions, didn't complete a deep pass and, ultimately, was bailed out by his defense.

"You have to keep playing," said Manning, who improved to 4-6 in the playoffs. "Every time you drop back to throw, your goal is to possess the ball on the next play. Three times, I was very poor on that. As soon as it gets you second-guessing, as soon as it gets you gun-shy, that's when you have problems."

The beleaguered Indianapolis defense was so good - or perhaps more accurately, Kansas City's offense was so bad - that Manning's miscues didn't stop the AFC South champions from advancing to the next round at Baltimore on Saturday.

"Our defense was awesome today," Manning said. "We made some mistakes and the defense made sure we didn't pay for it."

A defense that yielded 173 yards rushing per game this season allowed only 44 to Pro Bowl back Larry Johnson and the Chiefs.

Kansas City's initial first down came with 3:34 remaining in the third quarter. Indianapolis had four sacks, two by Dwight Freeney, and two interceptions. The Chiefs managed 126 total yards.

"We heard it all about having the worst defense," Freeney said. "Now we can hear this: We have the best run defense in the playoffs."

Meanwhile, Adam Vinatieri made three field goals and rookie Joseph Addai rushed for 122 yards and a TD for the Colts (13-4). Wisely, with Manning unable to throw deep, Indianapolis gave Kansas City (9-8) a steady dose of short passes that wore out the Chiefs.

Kansas city quarterback trent green kneels on the turf after getting hit and fumbling late in the game. The Colts defeated the Chiefs, 23-8, Saturday in Indianapolis. Green was sacked four times and threw two interceptions, and Kansas City didn't earn a first down until the final minutes of the third quarter.

Kansas city quarterback trent green kneels on the turf after getting hit and fumbling late in the game. The Colts defeated the Chiefs, 23-8, Saturday in Indianapolis. Green was sacked four times and threw two interceptions, and Kansas City didn't earn a first down until the final minutes of the third quarter.

That was most evident after Kansas City finally woke up and drove 60 yards to a six-yard touchdown catch by Tony Gonzalez with eight seconds remaining in the third period. Then the Colts went 71 yards on nine plays, mostly victimizing the Chiefs' linebackers underneath. Reggie Wayne caught a five-yard TD pass to make it 23-8.

When Bob Sanders intercepted Green's desperate lob with just more than six minutes remaining, the Colts could start making travel plans for Baltimore - the city they left 23 years ago.

"It's a big challenge," Manning said. "Playing Baltimore is tough enough, but to go there - I think it's one of the tougher places to play. And they've been off a week and are fresh."

Until falling behind 16-0, the Chiefs looked like a team surprised to have made the playoffs, which they did last Sunday with a lot of help from other clubs. Johnson, who rushed for 1,789 yards and 17 TDs this season, was never a factor. He had only 32 yards on 13 carries.

"If we can't do what we do best, it amps them up," Johnson said. "And they certainly got amped up."

And while Manning's favorite receiver, Marvin Harrison, also had little impact, tight end Dallas Clark, in just his second game back from a knee injury, had nine catches for 103 yards.

"The way Kansas City's defense was, there were very few times we'd get a true single coverage outside on Marvin and Reggie," Manning said. "Play action to get the ball downfield was not there. But our running backs did such a great job of getting open and catching the ball and what we call 'going north.'

"Those checkdowns turned into 12-yard gains, and that's a real positive for the offense."

This game took a far different shape than the previous meeting between these clubs.

When Dustin Colquitt punted less than 11â2 minutes into the game, it was one more punt than in a 38-31 Indianapolis win three years ago at Kansas City. His 37-yard effort gave the Colts good field position, and they wound up with Vinatieri's 48-yard field goal.

Vinatieri added a 19-yarder to make it 6-0 following a 42-yard hookup on third down between Manning and Harrison on another short pass.

Indianapolis safety Bob sanders celebrates as he leaves the field. The Colts defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 23-8, on Saturday in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis safety Bob sanders celebrates as he leaves the field. The Colts defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 23-8, on Saturday in Indianapolis.

Manning nearly handed Kansas City points when his throw behind Harrison from the Colts 49 went to nemesis Ty Law. He ran to the Indy 9, but again the Chiefs couldn't do anything. Even worse for them, Lawrence Tynes missed the chip-shot field goal, clanging it off the left upright.

Combined with four dropped passes, no first downs - that's right, none - and 16 total yards, it made for a futile first half for the Chiefs, who haven't won a postseason game in 13 years.

"We didn't get any rhythm offensively," Chiefs coach Herman Edwards said. "I thought our defense hung in there for the most part, but I think they got a little fatigued."

Law got his ninth career pick of Manning early in the third quarter, but KC went three-and-out again. Edwards, one of Colts coach Tony Dungy's best friends and a former assistant under Dungy, looked perplexed. That look never faded.

Comments

Atreides 8 years, 4 months ago

Past due for a major purge of the Chiefs organization from top to bottom. That means Carl Peterson should start waving bye-bye and go apply his band aide philosophy to another team. Now that Lamar's gone, this is a possibility. And Carl? Take Herm Edwards with you, please. He's so conservative that he makes Marty Schottenheimer look like a gambling fool with play calling.

Atreides 8 years, 4 months ago

Great post, plumberscrack.

One drawback to the Great Lamar(he was) is that he was 'too loyal' to his hirelings and willing to put up with mediocrity. Peterson succeeded at one thing only and that he put folks in the seats, so Lamar was happy. Hopefully his heir to the throne has a different panache, wants more than this, than his Dad?

I think if the Heir(what's his first name??) does what's right and purges the old guard in the organization, tells the fans what the plan is - most of the fans will support a losing team the first 3 seasons or so if everything is geared long-term to building an authentic Super Bowl contender by year 4 or five.

Herm Edwards would make a great NCAA football coach, but the man is too predictable for the NFL(like Schottenheimer). He's one of Peterson's old boy network anyway. Sorry Herm, but you should go with Carl.

Any new GM/ President should have no sacred cows in a revamping of the team. Even LJ should be on the block if something like new talent via trades or draft picks come the way. Many would think that the idea of trading LJ is insane, but let's face it: he won't be the 'cenataur' very many more seasons (especially if he keeps playing for Edwards!). He's at the top of his career now, so if offers come that one couldn't refuse( multi-future talent) why not?

Does anyone know if Tony Gonzalez's contract is up? If no, I say trade Tony as well to a contender for draft picks. He deserves it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

"Any new GM/ President should have no sacred cows in a revamping of the team."

Hey, I'm available. Granted, I know nothing about running a football team, but I'd work really cheap (by NFL standards) and I'd allow absolutely no sacred cows-- I doubt that even pro teams that would have uniforms that fit, anyway.

(I made similar offers when KU was looking for a new basketball coach, and they very unwisely chose not to even respond. Go figure.)

white_mountain 8 years, 4 months ago

Okay, a little armchair quarterbacking..

It was clear soon after Green returned that he wasn't producing like Huard was, whether it was sacks, interceptions, boldness. He was gun shy. This is not just post-game blaming.. this has been obvious for a while now.

KC lost its passing game when Huard was sent back to the bench. All you heard after that was "Larry Johnson this, Larry Johnson that". Granted, LJ is great, but what happened to the passing game as a weapon??

By half time of that game I was sure Edwards would put Huard in and give him a chance to produce. Instead, Edwards kept trying for more of the same (ie "insanity").

Green ain't getting it done, and hasn't been getting it done for some time now. Huard proved he is a winner, and we should give him starting QB next year.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

"Okay, a little armchair quarterbacking."

Sorry, but I can't let armchair quarterbacking interfere with my lobbying for the job of GM.

Just give me a chance to prove myself. That's all I ask. I'll do it for $200,000 a year (which is way less than Petersen is getting) and if, after two years, you aren't satisified, I'll refund half of my paychecks.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

BTW, I hope the annual NFL GM meetings are in a warm place. Winter (even though it's mild) is getting me down.

If the meetings are in Cleveland, I may have to reconsider my offer.

bethnbob 8 years, 4 months ago

Ok, All together now, ready.......... There's always next year!

Porter 8 years, 4 months ago

I'm not usually a Green apologist, but I don't think Huard would have made a difference. I don't think Joe Montana would have made a difference in that game. The Chiefs O-Line couldn't have blocked a fourth-grade girl yesterday.

budwhysir 8 years, 4 months ago

I want everyone to know, the chiefs earned thier spot in that play off. They where not handed anything. Thier greate determination and expert playing put them in the play offs.

bethnbob 8 years, 4 months ago

Don't forget King Carl just signed an extension for 4 years right before Lamar died. So he's not going anywhere and neither is Herm or the Chiefs.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

"Oh, lets not foget about firing the GM too!"

Yes, I agree. And I'm ready and waiting in the wings to take the helm. I guarantee a Super Bowl win the first year, and I'll begin practicing my "Mission Accomplished" speech right away.

Gawd, this is gonna be great!!

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