Colts' Performance Against the Giants an Offensive 'Lineman's Dream'
But for a night, there was no question they looked much, much better.
That was particularly true on the offensive line.
The Colts, who allowed two sacks and a lot of pressure on quarterback Peyton Manning in a Week 1 loss at Houston, responded with a strong performance in a 38-14 victory Sunday night over the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium.
At the heart of the performance:
A big-time rushing day, and a relatively comfortable day in the pocket by Manning -- each due in large part to a solid performance by the offensive line.
"There's no question we ran the ball pretty well in the first half," Colts coach Jim Caldwell said after the franchise averted its first 0-2 start since 1998, Manning's rookie season.
"I think the offensive line did a nice job controlling the line of scrimmage, the backs ran hard. It was a good day for us."
The Colts rushed for 160 yards and a touchdown on 43 carries, with fifth-year running back Joseph Addai setting the tone for the game with a 13-carry, 80-yard performance in the first half. The Colts as a team rushed for 124 yards on 23 first-half carries.
"That's fun football right there," offensive tackle Ryan Diem said. "That's a lineman's dream. I think we were able to make Peyton pretty clean today, which was another one of our goals."
The Colts indeed kept pressure of Manning. A week after the Houston Texans hit Manning several times during a 34-24 victory over the Colts in Houston, Manning had more time and faced significantly less pressure.
The entire offense was helped by improved offensive balance. Whereas the week before Manning passed 57 times, completing 40 for 433 yards and three touchdowns, Manning completed 20 of 26 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns against the Giants.
"We just knew that the week before we passed it all the time," Colts center Jeff Saturday said. "Teams get used to that. It's tough to pass block when everybody is teeing off, so to stay on top of the run game and have a good balance, really helped us and that's what we focused on."
The Colts, without argument, are a pass-first team and will remain that way so long as Manning remains in his prime. But Manning is the first to say that for the offense to operate at its highest level, it must run effectively and therefore open up opportunities in the play-action game.
The Colts the past two seasons have ranked 31st and 32nd, respectively in rushing offense, and during the past two offseasons, improving the running game has been a priority. One game does not guarantee long-term improvement, but on Sunday for the first time in a while, the Colts looked like an offense balanced enough to make defenses worry about more than just the pass.