On a night where the Colts were far from perfect — they lost three fumbles and missed two field goals — they still found a way to earn a 27-24 road victory over the Redskins by getting a great team effort.
Peyton Manning returned to form after an un-Manning-like performance in Week Five, eclipsing the 300-yard mark passing for the fourth time this season.
Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon were each on the receiving end of Manning TD passes, and Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark grabbed six catches each.
The defense, with rookie Pat Angerer starting in place of injured captain Gary Brackett, allowed Redskins RB Ryan Torain (20-100-2) to post the first 100-yard game of his career. However, the "D" did a better job harassing the still dangerous Donovan McNabb (three sacks, seven QB hits) and put forth an excellent effort getting off the field on third downs (the Redskins converted just 4-of-13 third-down attempts). Jerraud Powers and Aaron Francisco both intercepted McNabb passes and Robert Mathis tallied 1½ sacks.
The offensive line kept Manning clean virtually the entire night (only one sack allowed) and cleared the way for Joseph Addai to put together his best performance in years. Addai, who was questionable for the game after injuring his neck against the Chiefs, racked up 128 yards and a TD on 17 carries before leaving the game in the third quarter for the second week in a row, this time with an apparent shoulder injury.
The PFW Spin
Teams always want to get a win heading into the bye week, and it couldn't come at a better time for the Colts. Outside of the Packers, you could argue that no team has battled more injuries thus far this season. And after watching the way Addai has contributed in so many different ways in the first six weeks, the argument could also be made that no player not named Manning is more valuable to Indianapolis than Addai.
Sure, Mike Hart scored a big TD in Addai's absence against the Chiefs. And Hart is capable of getting the tough yards. But it's hard to believe that, if Addai is still in the game when the Colts receive the ball following a Redskins TD with 2:46 remaining and the offense trying to run out the clock with a three-point lead, the Colts would still attempt to throw the ball three times — all incompletions — only burning 33 seconds off the clock before giving the ball back to McNabb.
The bottom line is that the Colts desperately need a healthy Addai coming out of the break. Hart and Donald Brown, who has not stayed on the field long enough to earn the trust of the coaching staff since being drafted in the first round in 2009, cannot be counted on to help this team like Addai. Sunday night was a great example of how the Colts must make teams pay when they do not respect the run. It will open things up in the passing game, making Manning's life easier. And anything the Colts can do to ease some of the burden off of Manning is going to make them a better overall team.
There are other issues that still need to get sorted out. The season is almost half over and the Colts are still in search of a guy that can be trusted in the return game — after his two fumbles (one lost) Sunday night, Kenneth Moore is clearly not that guy. Don't be surprised to see Moore looking for work by the end of this week.
The run defense also needs to improve. It seems every time the Colts take a step forward against a strong running team, they take two steps backward. Coming out of the bye, they will face the league's leading rusher, Arian Foster of Houston. You better believe they will get a steady diet of delayed handoffs and draws after the defensive train wreck in Week One in which Foster ran over the Colts to the tune of 33 carries for 231 yards and three touchdowns.
But the encouraging thing for Colts fans heading into the bye week is that this team hasn't come close to playing its best football and it's 4-2. If the Colts can correct some of these issues, and get Addai and countless others, including Collie, Garcon, Brackett, Powers, Clint Session, perhaps even, gasp, Bob Sanders back or close to 100 percent, they could be gearing up for one of their patented runs when it matters most — in November and December.