I hope I don't start sounding like a broke record, but I really thought the guys were going to get it done yesterday. I completely disagree with the way they were leaning on the run early. I got to say I was a little surprised that it worked as well as it did.
What makes it more surprising is that the Bengals defense is actually pretty good. They are currently ranked No 2 overall, giving up just 278.5 yards a game. They are 3rd in passing (189 yards/game) and 6th against the run (89.5 yards/game).
Indianapolis was held under the overall yards allowed average with just 273 (179 passing and 94 rushing), but the bright spot is they made most of those yards count. The three scoring drives accounted for 182 yards; throw in the drive that ended in a blocked field goal and you have 208 yards of 273 resulting in points and an attempt at points.
It's not much offense, but it is efficient.
Yes, I know that efficiency does not win games, but I think it does go to show that the team is capable when things actually start to work. Skeptics will say that is true for any team, but when it comes to one that has hardly played together like the Colts and has been ravaged by injuries I think it does.
I do think that the way to success for the team this year will be through the air. The team still has one of the most talented wide receivers and tight ends in the league in Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne. Pierre Garcon, inconsistency, fumbles, and all, would start on most if not all teams as would Austin Collie. I still picture Donald Brown and Joseph Addai as being better utilized like the Eagles did Brian Westbrook.
When I look at the drive charts I think they back me up; they do and they don't. The scoring drives in the second half were primarily passing. However, the two sustained drives the team had in the first half (one resulting in a touchdown) were an even mix of the run and pass.
Maybe what made it possible for Curtis Painter and the Colts to do as well as they did in the second half was the fact that the Bengals felt they needed to give the Colts running game respect after what it helped Indianapolis accomplish in the first half. Otherwise, if it was all pass the Bengals defense might have been keying on that (much easier than having to defend against both the run and pass).
I'd have to go back and analyze drive charts to get a better idea about all that (sorry, folks but I don't have the time for that). I do remember from watching the games wishing that the play calling was more consistent. Could be that Caldwell was just trying to establish both the run and pass as a threat in order to force defenses to have to be ready for both.
With that in mind (and if it is what Caldwell was doing), the Bengals game stands as evidence that the Colts are on the right track. With Peyton Manning behind center, defenses knew it was going to be passing, passing, and more passing. Switching over from that to a balanced attack can't be easy.
Hopefully that is what we have been seeing the last few weeks; if it is we might be alright this year after all. Of course that means that we will actually have to cut out the fumbles and interceptions...