ISR Colts/Notre Dame Beat Writer
What was presumed to be a lopsided blow-out turned out to be a near evenly matched game. The Colts jumped out to an early 14-0 lead after two Andrew Luck touchdown passes to Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen, respectively.
After that, Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, making his second career start, let his presence be known. He was competent with the majority of his passes to begin, but really did his work on the ground. It seemed like Pryor was running out of the pocket on nearly every dropback he took, and for good reason. The Colts defense did not even come close to having an answer for Pryor.
However, in a back-and-forth fourth quarter, the Colts found themselves on top with a 21-17 victory, and a 1-0 record to start the season. It was not a win in the fashion most expected, but it was one the Colts will take regardless.
- Andrew Luck – Probably the most identifiable observation fans will make from this game is the play of quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck started out the game hitting his first 11 passes before missing one. He finished the game 18 of 23 which is good for 78% completion percentage. That is a product of shorter, less aggressive passing routes. Luck looked much more efficient in this game than he did last year. He held onto the ball too long on plays and was pressured far too often, but those are things that will need to be worked on.
- Vick Ballard – Vick Ballard looked very good with his 13 carries for 63 yards (4.8 yards per carry). When there were running lanes, he hit them aggressively.
- Reggie Wayne – I am running out of things to say about Reggie Wayne. He is the model of consistency and has been a blessing for Andrew Luck’s development. Wayne posted 8 receptions for 96 yards and 1 touchdown today – totals the general public should get accustomed to seeing throughout the year.
- Cory Redding – It was good to see a healthy Cory Redding out on the field running all around today. Redding was involved in plenty of the action today and got several good pressures on Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
- Bjoern Werner – Bjoern Werner was a bit of a missing man out on the field today. I noticed him only because I was looking for him, but he did not do much today. He did play a great deal of the game, so that should go far in terms of his development.
- Kelvin Sheppard – Kelvin Sheppard held his own as the third man in line forced to start due to injuries to Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner. He was around the ball much of the time when plays ended.
- Greg Toler – Greg Toler’s presence on the team is such a contrast from what Indianapolis fans are accustomed to seeing from their Colts defensive backs. His aggressiveness in trying to make plays paid off today as he was able to snag an interception in the end zone in the first quarter. His style of play is going to open up opportunities for turnovers for himself and his teammates.
- Antoine Bethea – What happens when Antoine Bethea has a solid option next to him at safety like LaRon Landry is he is able to actually play in the secondary and make plays on balls. He was able to do exactly that at the end of the game today by intercepting a Pryor pass with thirty seconds remaining. After two seasons without an interception, it was nice to see Bethea break the streak, and show us what is, perhaps, a sign of things to come.
- LaRon Landry – LaRon Landry was all over the place today and it was extremely reminiscent of the former Bob Sanders. Landry’s aggressive, hard-hitting style of play is a welcome addition to a defense looking to leave its fingerprints on each and every game. Landry finished with 15 tackles, many of them of the bone-crunching variety.
- Things are bound to change throughout the year, but if Sunday’s carry distribution was any indication, Vick Ballard may just be getting the bulk of the carries out of the backfield for the time being. Ballard had 13 carries to Bradshaw’s 7 and averaged a whole yard per carry more than Bradshaw. It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff rotates these two.
- Now, this may sound absurd considering Terrelle Pryor ran for over 100 yards, but I thought the Colts run defense looked good against the Raiders running backs. Among the 19 carries given to running backs (including star back Darren McFadden), the Raiders only averaged 2.6 yards per carry.
- With that last point being said, the Colts really need to figure out a way to contain this new-age, mobile quarterback. With remaining contests against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, Collin Kaepernick and the 49ers, and even Jake Locker from the Titans and next week against Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins, these contests are going to be extremely difficult to win if the quarterback can run and gain first downs at will.