Bills - Colts
Posted 08 November 2006 - 09:53 PM
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2006 – 1:00 PM ET
RCA DOME, INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA
CBS / CBS HD: Dick Enberg, Randy Cross
DIRECTV NFL Sunday Ticket: Channel 711 / Channel 723 (HD)
RADIO: Buffalo Bills Radio Network
PLAY-BY-PLAY: John Murphy
COLOR ANALYST: Mark Kelso
SIDELINE REPORTER: Paul Peck
Indianapolis Colts Radio Network
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Bob Lamey
COLOR ANALYST: Ted Marchibroda
Sirius Sunday Drive: Channel 125 (Buffalo feed) / Channel 123 (Indy feed)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES RECORD: Bills lead, 34-29-1, although the Colts have won the last five meetings. This game marks Buffalo’s final trip to the Hoosier/RCA Dome, where they’re 7-11 since the Colts moved from Baltimore in 1984. The next time the Bills visit Indy in the regular season they’ll be playing at brand-new Lucas Oil Stadium, scheduled to open in 2008.
PLAYOFF RECORD: none
LAST MEETING: November 23, 2003 – Colts 17, Bills 14
The Buffalo defense held the potent Indy attack at bay for most of the afternoon, but couldn’t stop the two-minute drill when it counted. Trailing 14-9 with 7:38 remaining, Peyton Manning engineered an efficient, clock-burning drive that put the ball inside the Buffalo 10 just before the two-minute warning. An offsides penalty on Sam Adams gave the Colts first-and-goal at the three; it took all four downs, but Edgerrin James managed to sneak across his second touchdown of the day with 1:38 left on the clock. A Manning-to-James Mungro hookup for the two-point conversion gave Indy a three-point lead, and David Thornton intercepted Drew Bledsoe at midfield to preserve the final margin.
James finished with 108 yards on 28 carries, while Travis Henry paced the Buffalo offense with 22 attempts for 77 yards. Bledsoe (15-28-135) suffered through his fourth consecutive sub-200-yard passing game, all Buffalo losses.
LAST TIME IN INDY: September 23, 2001 – Colts 42, Bills 26
On a weekend that marked the NFL’s return to action after the September 11th attacks, the Colts spent most of the afternoon running over, around, and through a mediocre Buffalo defense. The game actually got of to an encouraging start, with the Bills jumping out to an early 7-0 lead on a 48-yard interception return by rookie CB Nate Clements; a Kenyatta Wright fumble recovery ended Indy’s next drive. After that, though, it was all Colts, all the time: they scored on their next six possessions en route to rolling up 555 yards of total offense, the third-highest total ever amassed by a Bills opponent.
Manning recovered from the early INT to throw four touchdown passes to his own team, and added a one-yard TD run to cap off the Colts’ final scoring drive. On the day, he was 23-29 for 421 yards, with the majority of those completions going to Marvin Harrison (7-146, 3 TDs) and Jerome Pathon (9-168, 1 TD). Edgerrin James added 111 rushing yards on 23 carries.
Rob Johnson led the Bills in rushing with 63 yards, and was 24-37 for 257 yards and a touchdown.
COLTS OVERVIEW (2006 RANKINGS)
OFFENSE (#2 total yardage, #21 rushing, #1 passing, #3 scoring):
Where to begin? The Colts’ weekly game release seems like a good place, with its page upon page of franchise and league records held by the Peyton Manning-to-Marvin Harrison combination.
Manning, the pundits’ overwhelming choice for midseason MVP, is playing perhaps the best football of his career; he leads the league (again) in touchdown passes and quarterback rating. Harrison and running mate Reggie Wayne are both among the league receiving leaders. And the rushing attack, expected to drop off after Edgerrin James left for a big paycheck in Arizona, is averaging exactly the same yards per carry as last year.
Despite splitting time with Dominic Rhodes, first-round pick Joseph Addai (LSU) leads all rookies – yes, that includes Laurence Maroney – with 490 rushing yards. Rhodes is still listed as the starter in Indy’s single-back offense, but Addai, also a receiving threat out of the backfield, should become their next ‘franchise back’ sooner rather than later.
The starting wideouts present a dilemma to opposing defensive coordinators: which one do you try to cover with your top cornerback? Harrison, the seven-time Pro Bowler who keeps quietly moving up the all-time leaderboards (recently passing Andre Reed for #4 in receptions), or Wayne, who stands twenty yards behind Houston’s Andre Johnson for the league lead in receiving yardage?
Brandon Stokley has missed most of the season with leg injuries, but the Colts have been able to compensate by using more two-TE sets. Dallas Clark – the guy many Bills fans wanted with the pick used to draft Willis McGahee – is the starter, but Ben Utecht and Bryan Fletcher provide more than adequate depth at the position.
Tarik Glenn has been a fixture at LT ever since his sophomore campaign in 1998, missing only six starts during that time. Ryan Lilja is still working his way back from a knee injury, so second-year man Dylan Gandy has started all eight games at left guard. All-Pro center Jeff Saturday is even more durable than Glenn; since taking over as the starter in 2000, the former UDFA has missed just two games. RG Jake Scott and RT Ryan Diem round out a starting five which allowed ten sacks in the first half of the season, fewer than any team except New Orleans.
DEFENSE (#20 total yardage, #32 rushing, #3 passing, #t20 scoring):
Good thing the Indianapolis offense is so prolific; even at their lights-out pace, they’ve scored just five more touchdowns than the defense has allowed.
When the Colts used the eleventh overall pick in the 2002 draft to select Dwight Freeney, several draft ‘experts’ declared him a tweener who wouldn’t make it as an undersized pass-rushing end. Four double-digit-sack seasons, three Pro Bowls, and the all-time franchise sack record later, that talk has died down, although he’s having a subpar 2006 season. Robert Mathis, the left end, leads the team with 4.5 sacks. Aaron Schobel’s cousin Bo is one of the backup ends, as is Josh Thomas (Orchard Park H.S. / Syracuse).
With Corey Simon on the non-football-injury list, and Montae Reagor still out for the next few weeks with injuries sustained in a car accident, the Colts, desperate to solidify the middle of their line, sent a second-round pick to Tampa Bay for DT Anthony ‘Booger’ McFarland. Raheem Brock is the other tackle, with former Patriot Dan Klecko and Darrell Reid in reserve.
Cato June, a converted college safety starting at weakside linebacker in Tony Dungy’s Tampa 2 defense, leads the team in both tackles and interceptions. MLB Gary Brackett, an overachieving UDFA, beat out Rob Morris at MLB and started all sixteen games last season. (Brackett is questionable with a hamstring injury, so either Morris or third-round pick Freddie Keiaho could get the start there instead.) Gilbert Gardner replaces David Thornton (FA – Titans) as the strongside ‘backer.
The starting cornerbacks, Nick Harper and Jason David, are average at best. Last year’s second-round pick, Kelvin Hayden, filled in when Harper missed the Jets game, and could push for playing time.
Free safety Bob Sanders is the best player in the secondary; when he missed several recent games with a knee injury, his absence was definitely noticed. Sixth-round pick Antoine Bethea (Division I-AA Howard) might have pushed Mike Doss at SS even if Doss hadn’t been injured; now that he’s on I.R., Bethea should have no problem holding onto the job. Marlin Jackson started the Denver game at FS, and can also play corner.
Other than Adam Vinatieri’s yips in his return to Gillette Stadium, he’s actually having a good season. Despite missing three games due to injury, the eleventh-year vet has already connected on 16 of 18 field goal attempts, is perfect on 14 PAT attempts, and has six touchbacks out of 34 kickoffs.
Hunter Smith has to have one of the least strenuous jobs in the league, averaging barely sixty punts per season, although he does manage to keep busy by holding for field goals and extra points. He places a good percentage of his kicks inside the 20-yard line (7 of 24 so far this season), but bad punt-defense play – only San Francisco is giving up more yards/return – has dropped his net average to 32.9 yards/kick, worst since his rookie season.
Terrence Wilkins is back as the kickoff/punt returner; he’s averaging 25.2 yards on kick returns, good for eighth in the league, and his 11.0 punt-return average includes an 82-yard touchdown against Jacksonville. As noted, though, the coverage teams are bad: 28th on kickoffs, 31st on punts, and they’ve given up a touchdown on each.
Indianapolis provides the counterpoint to the New England model in the “draft linemen or skill players?” debate. Since Bill Polian arrived in town in 1998, the team has used #1 picks on: QB (Manning), two RBs (Edgerrin James, Addai), a WR (Wayne), a TE (Clark), a DB (Jackson), a LB (Morris), and a DE (Freeney). Those nine drafts have added up to exactly one first-day pick on the offensive line: 1999 third-rounder Brandon Burlsworth (Arkansas), who tragically lost his life in a car accident less than two weeks after he was drafted. As in Buffalo and Carolina, Polian has filled out the roster with lower-round picks and free-agent signings on the lines. Obviously, that’s worked out better on offense than defense for Indy… but overall, well enough to earn the NFL’s best regular-season record (85-35) since 1999.
The Colts, early eleven-point favorites, can become the first team in NFL history to start 9-0 in consecutive seasons. Even with their problems on defense, it’s tough to bet against them.
Go Bills... and good luck.
NFL.com: injury report / Colts depth chart / Colts team stats / Bills depth chart / Bills team stats
Official team website: Colts.com
Posted 09 November 2006 - 04:44 PM
Those two should have never been allowed to leave Buffalo.
Posted 10 November 2006 - 06:10 PM
Ned Flanders, on Nov 9 2006, 04:44 PM, said:
Hard to stop an OC who is offered the Head Coach job from packing his bags.
Blame Ralph W for Polian's move; the two of them just did not get along. This is one time when the owner really needed to step back and let his employees do their jobs. Firing Polian is one of Wilson's DUMBEST decisions.
Great report as usual, Lori!
Hey Scott - if there is room on the Stadium Wall of Fame, maybe you could fit the name "Lori" up there?
Posted 10 November 2006 - 07:59 PM
Rockpile, on Nov 10 2006, 06:10 PM, said:
Posted 11 November 2006 - 01:57 AM
Posted 11 November 2006 - 06:09 PM
BuffOrange, on Nov 11 2006, 01:57 AM, said:
I guess the Bills better just win, then!
Cross is a maroon.