Colts ride defense and ‘ground-and-pound’ philosophy
A week after losing to the Miami Dolphins, the Indianapolis Colts walked into Candlestick and punched the San Francisco 49ers square in the mouth, winning 27-7 and moving to 2-1 on the season.
Sound like a dream? Perhaps, but on Sunday, it was a dream that came true.
After nearly finding a way to will his team to yet another fourth-quarter comeback, Andrew Luck saw the lights go out on his team in Indianapolis in Week Two.
“We have work to do, DH,” said Luck to his wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey after the tough loss.
And after Week Three, the work had been completed, at least for now.
With the blockbuster trade acquisition of stud running back Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns, the Colts and their loyal fan base immediately received a shot of adrenaline heading into the week’s matchup against the Niners.
I, for one, will be the first to admit that I didn’t see the Colts coming away with this victory, at least pre-Richardson.
Some brushed off the impact of Richardson by merely looking at the stat-line, but after Richardson landed in Indy, you could see that his arrival had programmed a mindset into this football team that was absolutely needed to beat the Niners.
That mindset? “Ground-and-pound,” baby.
With Richardson having roughly only three days to learn his new team’s playbook, Mr. Ahmad “I Run Angry” Bradshaw steamrolled into the Niners offense, over and over, collecting 95 yards, a brilliant 5 yards per carry averaged, and a touchdown against one of the most highly-touted front seven arrangements in the league.
If you know Bradshaw, you know that he always runs with a chip on his shoulder. Always. That’s just the type of back he is. He’s fiery, competitive, and you won’t find him quitting on a play. He also absolutely loves punishing those who doubt or try to slow him down, and that’s exactly what he did on Sunday.
So where did this vintage Bradshaw performance come from? Was it Richardson-inspired?
Bradshaw undoubtedly made the statement that he could carry the workload for the Colts, but he also understands that this is a two-back league, unless you’re the Minnesota Vikings. What running back wouldn’t be thrilled with the opportunity to pair-up with Richardson to form one of the best backfield tandems in the league?
Not only did the tandem combine for over 130 yards and two touchdowns on the day, but it provided the Colts with an offensive identity of diversity.
Oh, so your defense wants to load the box to stop Richardson and Bradshaw? Have fun watching Luck cut up the middle of the field.
Oh, so you’re going to bring pressure and force the Colts to beat you on the ground? Ask Bradshaw and Richardson how they feel about that.
The addition of Richardson is not only a big win for the trader-of-all-traders Ryan Grigson, and the Colts goal of securing another Super Bowl post-Peyton Manning, but it also proves that splash moves can provide more than just talent.
On Sunday, after Richardson charged into the end zone for his first carry and touchdown as a Colt, you could just feel the team’s energy had skyrocketed.
Welcome to the Indy, TRich.
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