Thoughts on the Colts’ win the Raiders at Oakland Coliseum.
What it means: The Colts are 9-6 and will win the AFC South next week with a win against the Titans at home or a Jacksonville loss at Houston.
What I liked: I doubted if the Colts would be able to play quality run defense against a physical run team for a second week in a row, but they did. Oakland managed only 80 ground yards. The Colts might now qualify as a better run defense that we thought based on their work earlier in the season. They’re a better run team too -- they’ve rushed for more than 150 yards in consecutive games for the first time since 2006, according to CBS.
What I didn’t like: Special teams saw the Raiders' Jacoby Ford return the opening kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown. Also, Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski kicked three field goals of 45-yards or longer and Shane Lechler boomed his punts. That’s a path to holding an opponent without an offensive touchdown for more than 58 minutes and allowing it to stay in the game.
Injury watch: Joseph Addai returned to action after eight games out with a shoulder/neck injury. He took 12 carries 45 yards. But Dominic Rhodes got 17 carries and went 98 yards. Antoine Bethea was hurt late, but returned after just one play.
Brilliant: Peyton Manning's 27-yard naked bootleg got the Colts a big first down near the end that allowed them to run out the clock, but he slid short of a touchdown with a defender closing in on him to be safe.
Unconventional: Jim Caldwell hasn’t been icing kickers on field goals, he’s been icing them on onside kicks. For the second week in a row a late timeout washed away an onside attempt. Last week Tyjuan Hagler recovered the kick after the timeout and returned it for a touchdown. This week the Colts simply recovered the second kick.
What’s next: The Colts host the Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium in a game that could determine the AFC South winner and Indianapolis’ playoff fate. The only scenario where the Colts do not win the division is if they lose to the Titans and the Jaguars beat the Texans in Houston.