NFL Nation: Seahawks-Colts 100409


Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


INDIANAPOLIS -- Division games can always be difficult and the toughest opponents the Colts will face this year are still to come.

But Indianapolis’ easy dominance of Seattle Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium reconfirms a longstanding Colts’ tenet: You’re not going to get a dud in a game like this out of Peyton Manning and the boys. Colts 34, Seahawks 17.

Everybody played well in boosting the Colts to 4-0, where they sit two games up on 2-2 Houston and 2.5 up on 2-2 Jacksonville, who they beat on opening day. The team that dethroned the Colts as AFC South champs last season, Tennessee, is 0-4 and not in good shape as it prepares to host Indy at LP Field in a week.

This one fit the template. Effective offense meant the Colts were quickly playing from ahead and Manning was surgically precise.

Playing from ahead set the pass rush free. Robert Mathis twice sacked and stripped Seneca Wallace, putting balls on the ground for teammates to recover.

Two late scores by the Seahawks didn’t do much to alter the feel of another solid Indianapolis effort.

In the AFC South, the Colts remain in the familiar position of playing from ahead.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


INDIANAPOLIS -- Peyton Manning is just the second quarterback in league history to throw 55 or more touchdown passes to two different receivers.

Dan Marino threw 79 to Mark Clayton and 55 to Mark Duper.

Manning’s second-quarter scoring pass to Reggie Wayne Sunday afternoon against Seattle was the 55th scoring connection between the two.

Manning and Marvin Harrison hooked up a record 112 times.

Halftime notes from Indy

October, 4, 2009
10/04/09
2:56
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


INDIANAPOLIS -- The methodical Colts are getting minimal resistance from Seattle, and have this game in complete control at the half with a 21-3 lead.

A couple of quick thoughts:
  • Seattle’s actually doing a reasonably nice job getting Seneca Wallace out of the direct line of fire by rolling him out and making it more difficult for the Colts to get direct shots on him. Still, he’s feeling people closing on him from all angles and hasn’t had too many chances to comfortably look downfield.
  • Meanwhile Peyton Manning’s hit 17 of 20 passes and has two TDs and a 145.8 passer rating.
  • Indy’s defensive backs have done well on some short throws to wrap up receivers quickly and not allow them to turn into anything significant. Melvin Bullitt made a tremendous open-field tackle on Deion Branch when Branch tried to cut all the way across the field. Think of who’s missing here -- Bob Sanders, Kelvin Hayden. The Colts are hardly flinching without those guys.
  • The Seahawks have hurt themselves with penalties, though the Colts have made plays on some of them and declined. I feel like some Seattle guys have overreached on those plays because they had little choice based on what the Colts were doing. Hold or get the QB killed, etc.
  • Manning has to be thrilled with the progress of Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Donald Brown. They’ve all made big plays in the first half. I suspect you’ll be reading more about them in this space a bit later.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The Seahawks have made a few strides offensively in Week 4, but they have not been good enough to function efficiently in the red zone.

That might help explain the animated discussion coach Jim Mora was having with receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh after Seattle had to settle for a field goal and 14-3 deficit after Seneca Wallace took a sack on third down.

The Seahawks were having some of these growing pains anyway when Matt Hasselbeck was still the quarterback. They had to start over, basically, when Wallace took over midway through the Week 2 defeat at San Francisco.

Wallace has completed 14 of 17 passes for 107 yards against the Colts in the first half. Those are good numbers. But the team has had serious problems connecting for longer gains. Deon Butler was open for what could have been a long touchdown pass early in the game, but he and Wallace weren't close to connecting.

For Seattle, the key will be weathering the current storm and somehow getting to 3-3 heading into the bye week. While the Seahawks are competing decently against the Colts, they are not good enough to make the important plays on offense. That will make it nearly impossible to keep pace with Peyton Manning.

AFC South: Final Word

October, 2, 2009
10/02/09
4:06
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Sunday’s games:

 
  Fernando Medina-US PRESSWIRE
  Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew can hurt opponents on screen passes.
Screen passes can be big in Titans-Jaguars: With Tennessee hell bent on stopping runs and getting to David Garrard, the Jaguars are likely to hurt them with at least a few screens with Maurice Jones-Drew getting the ball in some space. The Titans would be wise to mix in some screen themselves on offense. Chris Johnson’s been getting stopped for a lot of losses, and they’d be wise to attempt to get him outside with at least a couple short throws.

The Colts will pass rush OK without Dwight Freeney: Raheem Brock won’t be working against Walter Jones, also expected to miss the game hurt. And the quarterback Brock and his linemates will be chasing isn’t Matt Hasselbeck but Seneca Wallace. The absence of Freeney can hurt more next week in Tennessee, but it shouldn’t have a huge impact here.

Houston’s got all kinds of incentive: A month that they expected to produce a 3-1 record can end at best at 2-2. Oakland’s passing attack is unthreatening, which should allow the Texans to focus on the run as much as necessary to settle down in that department. A year ago the Texans went to Oakland and blew a big chance to get to 8-7 and produced a dud. The Texans recovered well from their Week 1 debacle against the Jets. Can they do the same following a Week 3 disappointment?

The Titans will concentrate on the ground games: This should be a get-back-to-basics scenario where they will try to run and stop the run. The Jaguars are average against the run and the Titans are equipped to emphasize stopping the dangerous Jones-Drew without running too much risk against a middling passing attack. One X-factor that could work in Jacksonville’s favor: more end-around and misdirection stuff keyed around rookie receiver Mike Thomas.

Look for another big moment from Pierre Garcon: The bulk of the balls are going to be aimed at Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. But Peyton Manning has cause for having confidence in Garcon, who made big plays for him in Miami and Arizona. The Colts will want to keep building Garcon as an additional, viable option and I’d expect he’ll have another chance or to for impact plays.

NFC West: Final Word

October, 2, 2009
10/02/09
4:03
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Five nuggets of knowledge heading into this weekend's games:

Bruce Kluckhohn US PRESSWIRE
Vernon Davis looks to have a favorable matchup in Week 4.
Good opportunity for Davis. Tight end Vernon Davis, coming off his most productive receiving game, should have similar opportunities against St. Louis. The Rams had problems with Seahawks tight end John Carlson in the opener. Since then, they've lost safety James Butler to injury and rangy linebacker David Vobora to suspension. And if the St. Louis pass rush continues to struggle some, Davis could have more time to get downfield. The 49ers are pleased by Davis' progress and they should be. He's become more than just a dominant blocker.

Long's evolving role. Could it be that the Rams used the second overall choice in the 2008 NFL draft for an interior third-down pass-rusher and rotational defensive end? Chris Long, a 16-game starter last season, has not started a game for the Rams this season. The Rams played him at right defensive tackle on third downs during their Week 3 defeat to the Packers. They also played him at both defensive end spots, but not all the time. Long seemed to become more effective as the game progressed, but the Rams' staff is making a statement by withholding such a high draft choice from the starting lineup. The 49ers are not a very good team in pass protection. Perhaps Long can get his first sack of the season.

Watch for Seattle's other Jones. Left tackle Walter Jones will not play against the Colts, but running back Julius Jones should have a chance to remain productive if Seattle sticks with its ground game. Jones has runs covering 20, 16, 15 and 14 yards over the first three weeks, plus a 39-yard touchdown reception on a screen against Chicago. The screen game could again become important for Seattle against the Colts' speedy defense. Jones has games of 98 and 117 yards rushing so far this season.

49ers' conservative offense. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye took some heat for running the ball on third-and-6 when a first down would have won a Week 3 matchup at Minnesota. With Frank Gore out and receiver Brandon Jones back from injury, the circumstances might be right for Raye to open up the offense some, particularly at home against a struggling team. If Raye settles for 3 yards and a cloud of yawns in this game, we'll have an even stronger indication of how little he trusts quarterback Shaun Hill and the offensive line.

Cardinals' pass protection should hold up. It's a bye week for Arizona, after all, and that means Kurt Warner should be safe from opposing defensive ends. The week off should serve the Cardinals well. Rewatching their Week 3 debacle against the Colts showed how close the team was to making big plays offensively, particularly in the second half. Arizona will continue to struggle in pass protection against teams with rushers such as Dwight Freeney, but all is not lost. Expect a better performance against the Texans' defense in Week 5.

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