The Colts' ground game that was much maligned earlier in the season is now being lauded for its effectiveness.
First, RB Donald Brown, who had struggled to pick up the slack when RBs Joseph Addai and Mike Hart went down earlier this season. produced his first career 100-yard rushing day in the pivotal Week 15 victory over the Jaguars. While he appeared to be tiptoeing behind the line earlier in the season, the 2009 first-rounder is now hitting the hole with more purpose. He ripped off two runs of 40-plus yards — the second being a 43-yard TD gallop two plays after the Colts' "D" stuffed the Jaguars on a 4th-and-1 play at the Jacksonville 39-yard line.
"Brown is finally starting to get it," a daily team observer said.
Next it was Dominic Rhodes, who joined the Colts for the third time in his career in early December, who provided a "much needed shot in the arm," according to QB Peyton Manning.
"He immediately lifted everybody's spirits when he arrived," our source said. "The team just fed off his excitement."
Rhodes, 31, made his 2010 debut late in the first half against Jacksonville. He pancaked blitzing LB Daryl Smith on first down; then motored 14 yards on a draw up the middle on the next play.
In Week 16 at Oakland, he erupted for 98 yards on 17 carries, showing nice vision and great burst in between the tackles.
"His yards were coming right up the gut. He's quick, he reads the hole really well, and on one play he automatically cut it outside and picked up a nice chunk of extra yards."
Addai, who was terrific before being sidelined with a neck/shoulder injury in Week Six, also returned to action in Week 16, finding the endzone on his second carry.
The most encouraging part was Addai, who was a bit apprehensive about not being hit in two months, reporting that he felt good after the game. It's hard to quantify the boost a healthy Addai brings to the team.
It appears as if the Colts could be heading into the postseason with the luxury of a healthy and dangerous backfield, allowing the club to play the hot hand and alleviate pressure off Manning.