ReFo: Colts @ Lions, Week 13
The Indianapolis Colts continue to find ways to win close games. Taking their record for the season to 7-1 in games decided by one score or less, they came back from 9 points down with a little over four minutes left to play to win the game on the final play.
With that late collapse, the Detroit Lions saw their already slender playoff hopes fade even further away. Realistically, Detroit knows that they won’t be playing in January.
The game hinged on the Lions’ inability to close it out, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have players who stepped up. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the key performances from Sunday’s game, including a performance that wasn’t as incredible as it seemed.
Indianapolis – Three Performances of Note
Andrew Rides His Luck
After watching him bring the Colts back from the brink late in the fourth quarter, plenty of people will be more than a bit puzzled with the overall grade for quarterback Andrew Luck (-5.6). However, in a game where his best throws came late in the game, he was fortunate to not finish with six interceptions. His touchdown pass on 1st-and-10 with 2:47 left in the game to bring the Colts within one score was a thing of beauty, but too often he was caught making ill advised or just downright poor throws. On both of the final two drives of the game he should have been picked off, initially by Drayton Florence on 2nd-and-5 with 3:16 remaining. Undercutting the throw to T.Y. Hilton, Florence was unlucky to not seal the game there and then. On the final drive it was Jacob Lacey who could have won the game for the Lions had he held on to a wayward Luck pass. Forcing the ball to Reggie Wayne despite double coverage from Lacey and safety Don Carey on 2nd-and-10 with 14 second left in the game, Luck realistically shouldn’t have even had the opportunity to throw the game-winner as time expired. Fortunately for the first overall pick, people will remember this game for his two touchdown throws in the final three minutes. However, the full picture of the game highlights the work that Luck still has to do to become the finished article.
For the second week in a row, Dwight Freeney reminded us all of just how good he can be on his day. Proving that sacks aren’t everything, the pass rusher finished the game with six total pressures, equalling last week for his most pressure filled performance of the season. His hit and five hurries, all from the right side, on 34 snaps as a pass rusher gave him a Pass Rushing Productivity (PRP) Rating of 13.2. He made just the one tackle from his 22 plays against the run but it was at least for a defensive stop. It was as a pass rusher than he excelled though, making life miserable for Jeff Backus all game long. On 3rd-and-10 with 8:51 left in the game he beat the left tackle to the outside right from the snap, chasing quarterback Matt Stafford out of the pocket and forcing the incompletion.
Right Side Struggles
Lost in the excitement of another late win for the Colts was the performance of the right side of the offensive line, which leaked pressure all game. Right guard Mike McGlynn allowed a hit and six hurries from 59 plays in pass protection, giving him a Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) Rating of 91.1. At right tackle, Winston Justice allowed a sack and five hurries from just 40 plays as a pass blocker, giving him a PBE Rating of 88.1. Not even a change in personnel could change their fortunes, with Jeff Linkenbach allowing two hits and a pressure after taking over at right tackle for the final two drives. As the Colts chase a place in the postseason, they need to get better protection from the right side of that line.
Detroit – Three Performances of Note
How to Blow a Lead
After intercepting Luck on 3rd-and-10 with 6:49 left in the game and a 9 point lead, you’d be forgiven for thinking that was the game over. Clearly that’s what the Lions’ defense thought too, as they somehow managed to blow the lead. They had their opportunities to close it out once and for all, with the two dropped interceptions highlighted earlier being prime examples, but it will be the final play that will draw the most ire from Lions fans as they process the late collapse. Sneaking wide receiver Donnie Avery across the formation on a crossing route, Luck completed the pass at the 10-yard line. With the clock reaching three zeros, all the Lions had to do was tackle him and the game would be over. Yet somehow, with four Lions on the goal line as Avery hit the 6-yard line, he was able to score without so much as a touch from a Lions defender until he was over the goal line.
The Calvin Johnson Show
You could criticise the Lions’ passing attack for being one dimensional and focussed around one player. But when that one player is as good as Calvin Johnson, it’s hard to argue with any game plan the focuses around him. With an incredible 171 yards from his 46 snaps in route as a receiver, Johnson finished the game averaging 3.72 Yards Per Route Run. He had plenty of highlight plays throughout the game, but none were as ridiculous as his one-handed grab on 1st-and-10 12:19 left in the first half. Getting a half step on cornerback Cassius Vaughn from the snap, Johnson was able to reach out and pull the ball in with his outstretched arm. The Lions’ season may be all but over in terms of the postseason, but Johnson’ attempt to break Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record will keep some interest in the final quarter of the season.
Suh Continues to Dominate
Say what you want about his intent to kick out at Texans’ quarterback Matt Schaub last week, but Ndamukong Suh has just reeled off the two most dominating performances of his career. For the second straight week the defensive tackle recorded 10 total pressures, including a sack on the Colts’ first offensive snap. Those 10 pressures, coming on 43 snaps as a pass rusher, gave him a PRP Rating of 18.0 for the day. With the Colts abandoning the run he saw just 14 snaps against it, making two tackles with one resulting in a defensive stop. He continues to make the headlines for the wrong reasons, but Suh’s play these past two weeks has been headline worthy in its own right.
– As a team, Detroit combined to miss 10 tackles on the day.
– Lions wide receiver Mike Thomas finished the game with -1 receiving yards and two dropped passes.
– Four Colts (LaVonn Brazil, Dwayne Allen, Donnie Avery and T.Y. Hilton) had a reception of 40 yards or more.
He might have been on the losing team this week, but Ndamukong Suh’s dominant performance was evident throughout.
Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon