The Indianapolis Colts find themselves at 4-5 after pulling off their most impressive win of the season Sunday when they defeated the undefeated Denver Broncos, 27-24 . Under newly crowned offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, the offense finally showed good rhythm and balance with Andrew Luck having arguably his best game of the season, throwing for over 250 yards and two touchdowns (no turnovers).
But it didn't come without a hefty price. Rookie standout Henry Anderson went down with with a severely sprained ACL that will end his promising rookie year very early. And even worse, Andrew Luck sustained a lacerated kidney and an abdominal tear that will leave him sidelined for at least the next few weeks, if not until the playoffs. With those two out, what two players on the team will likely have to step up to fill their void? Lets find out.
Earlier this season, the Colts made a very quiet trade for defensive end Billy Winn from the Cleveland Browns for a conditional late round pick to provide depth to its defensive line. In his limited amount of snaps this season, he's really been good.
Against the likes of Tom Brady and Cam Newton, Winn has shown he can bring a lot of heat up the middle and force the quarterback to move in the pocket. He also has a knack for getting his hands up when the opposing quarterback throws the football and forcing turnovers - he already has two interceptions in his young NFL career. Winn is also good against the run, getting a few tackles for loss this season in limited action. With more snaps highly likely for him, he just has to step in and contribute the way he's been doing it all season and he should be fine.
Andrew Luck went down in the fourth quarter in an ugly tackle by two Denver Bronco defenders after a scramble in what's believed to be where he lacerated his kidney and partially tore his abdomen. This injury will leave him sidelined for at least the next few games until he fully recovers.
With Luck down, veteran Matt Hasselbeck gets the call once again to save the ship. He's 2-0 this season with wins over the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars, throwing for 495 yards passing and three touchdowns. But with tougher competition ahead the next three games (at Falcons, - Buccaneers, at Steelers), it'll be a little bit tougher for him to pull out games. If anyone can do it, he can. He's proven at age 40 he can still get the job done in the NFL.
With no winning record (4-5 overall), defense statistically pedestrian (ranked 26th) and now without Andrew Luck for at least three games, there are so many reasons to say the Colts season is over. But there are reasons to be optimistic.
No, the Colts are not better with Matt Hasselbeck than they are with Andrew Luck. But if there is one thing the Colts have shown is heart and the ability to come together when someone goes down, and excel when their backs are against the wall. Fans should expect more of the same without Indianapolis' leader and quarterback Andrew Luck. There is still six more games left in the season and anything can happen.