Colts Dominate Jets on Monday Night Football
With just over 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Scott Tolzien entered the game at quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts.
Due to the number of health issues surrounding Andrew Luck recently, seeing anyone else under center can bring back nightmares of an injured franchise quarterback right to the surface. Fortunately, against the New York Jets on Monday night, Tolzien’s late-game appearance was only circumstantial, as the Colts led 41-3, which ended in a 41-10 win.
Returning from a concussion that sidelined him for last week’s Thanksgiving matchup versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, Luck was back in full form against the Jets, torching their shaky secondary, including the quickly-fading superstar cornerback, Darrelle Revis. Luck completed 22 of his passes on the night for 278 yards, throwing 4 touchdowns and no turnovers. It is clear that offense operates much differently when Luck is the quarterback. To say Tolzien struggled last week would be harsh, but this is a completely different team without Luck.
“We want to continue to build and grow,” said Dwayne Allen after the game. “It’s been our goal to get better every week and catch our stride. It’s all about getting better and playing well.”
Allen did a lot to help his cause on Monday, catching 4 passes for 72 yards with 3 touchdowns. It was the first time in a long time that Allen contributed to the offense. After struggling to stay on the field due to minor injuries and inconsistent play, the tight end who had just signed a new four-year deal in the offseason looked like he was in was in danger of losing his starting role to Jack Doyle. If Monday’s game indicates anything, Allen will not be letting that happen any time soon.
“All the receivers know that any given night can be their night and tonight was just my night. They always say to be prepared, and I was prepared.”
Allen was not the only one who came prepared. While Luck has never been afraid to spread the ball around among his receivers - as pointed out by Allen - it is obvious that TY Hilton is Luck’s favorite target. Hilton was targeted 10 times against New York, catching 9 for 146 yards, enough to put him at 1,000 yards for the fourth straight season. Hilton also passed Marvin Harrison for most 100-yard games by a Colts wide receiver in their first five seasons with 22, according to Zak Keefer of the Indy Star. Any questions of whether Hilton is a No. 1 receiver in the NFL or not have seemed to diminish quickly this season.
The Jets did not do themselves any favors on the night, either. After taking three personal foul penalties in the first half alone, the sloppy play of the Jets on both offense and defense was too much to overcome. Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled right out of the gate, throwing up a pick to Darius Butler early on, only to be replaced with Bryce Petty in the second half. While it was a less-than-stellar performance by the Jets, the Colts defense can take credit for a job well done. The unit caused three turnovers (2 interceptions and 1 fumble), and even though there were more than a few big plays against – including a 40-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson in the fourth - they can build on this win, and use the momentum gained in their favor for next week’s tilt against the divisional foe Houston Texans.
With the win, the Colts are now 6-6 on the season, and in a three-way tie for first place in the division. A win on Sunday against Houston could put them in the outright lead, depending on how the Tennessee Titans fare against the Denver Broncos. Despite lackluster play throughout the season, the Colts are still well in the hunt with the playoffs just around the corner. They are getting hot at the right time, and like they say, it isn’t how you start, rather, it’s how you finish.
"It's been a little bit of a roller coaster ride if you will, but our guys have stayed steady," head coach Chuck Pagano mentioned after the win. "We control our own destiny."
Jeff Tibbins covers the Indianapolis Colts for Pro Football Spot. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jeff_tibbins.
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