Colts display elite qualities in warm-up for Pats game
Posted: Sunday October 28, 2007 9:06PM; Updated: Sunday October 28, 2007 9:25PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With Armageddon in the RCA Dome looming next weekend, here's all you need to know about the Colts' tune-up game at Carolina on Sunday:
They pretty much stunk up the joint for the first 26-plus minutes of the first half, and still won going away, 31-7.
Coming off a short week after winning on the road in Jacksonville on Monday night, Indianapolis faced a first-place team that enjoyed the luxury of its bye last week. No matter. They spotted the Panthers a 7-0 lead, then they ripped off the game's final 31 points.
The Colts won without all-world receiver Marvin Harrison, who was inactive with a bruised knee. They won despite scoring just three points and getting one first down on their opening five drives. They won even though Peyton Manning completed less than 50 percent of his passes (14 of 30) and didn't come close to cracking 300 yards (254). And perhaps most remarkably, they won despite totaling at least five drops, not converting on third down in the first half (0-of-4), and having just 7:51 of possession time in the opening two quarters.
In other words, the Colts played about as badly as they've played in a long, long time -- at least since their pre-playoff, mid-December rut of last season -- and still managed to administer a thorough butt-kicking to a winning team on the road. Trap game? There was no sign of a stinking trap game.
So if you're a Patriots backer, is there hope in how sluggish the Colts started at Carolina, or fear and loathing about how strongly they finished? Perhaps some of both. But if it's going to take somebody's A game to beat the defending Super Bowl champions -- who are now 7-0 for the third consecutive season, tying an NFL record set by the 1929-31 Green Bay Packers -- how can that not serve as the perfect segue to a discussion of the steamrolling Patriots?
The Pats, of course, are 8-0 and setting new standards for the measurement of one's A game. New England humiliated Washington 52-7 on Sunday in Foxboro, and it wasn't really that close. In the Colts' winning locker room, it took all of about five seconds for the topic of next Sunday's showdown with the Patriots to surface.
"Everybody's been talking about it for a long time except us, so I guess now it's safe to talk about it,'' said Manning, an air of resignation in his voice. "They're playing great. It's well documented in what we face in the Patriots, how good of a team they are. It's going to be a super tough challenge.''