Defensive Gem Wasted In Loss

From Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

Sometimes Jon McGraw was a safety. Sometimes he was a linebacker. Always, McGraw was on the field as defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel reached deep into his defensive playbook Sunday and went out to stop Peyton Manning and the Colts.

That’s just what the Chiefs defense did. Playing two different versions of the nickel defense, Crennel’s crew was set up to limit the Indianapolis passing game. There’s no way to stop Manning in his tracks, but they made him look mortal.

Yet the effort went to waste as the Colts grabbed a 19-9 victory.

“We had a good plan,” said FS Eric Berry. “Coach (Crennel) doesn’t just know Peyton Manning, he knows a lot about defense against all kinds of teams and people. He put us in positions where we made sure we didn’t give up anything deep.”

It was a classic bend-but-don’t-break defense. Indianapolis had 341 yards, but they didn’t reach the end zone until four minutes remained to be played in the game and averaged 4.5 yards per offensive play. They managed just 97 rushing yards, even though the defense was set up to basically beg the Colts to run the ball.

Manning threw for 244 yards, but he also had an interception, completed 59 percent of his passes and averaged 5.6 yards per attempt. The longest pass play of the game for Indy was 24 yards. All of those numbers were far below the weekly averages that No. 18 had been putting up all season.

“They did a great job,” said Colts WR Reggie Wayne. “They gave us a lot of looks. They did a lot of double-teaming on Dallas (Clark). They did some cover-two, cover-two man on me, forcing Peyton to go elsewhere. Crennel has been there before. He’s seen us numerous times and our offense really hasn’t changed that much. You just have to take your hat off to them.”

What Crennel did was go to a base defensive alignment on Sunday that was a 2-4-5. That group had Glenn Dorsey and Ron Edwards playing defensive tackle positions, with all four linebackers on the field, cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr, and then three safeties – McGraw, Berry and Lewis. That’s when McGraw played defensive back.

When the Colts were in passing situations, Crennel switched to a 2-3-6, with ILB Jovan Belcher going out of the game and nickel CB Javier Arenas came in. Generally, the defensive linemen were Dorsey and Wallace Gilberry.

“As players we executed the play the coaches put together pretty well,” said McGraw. “At the end of the game, we gave up a little bit too much and couldn’t get off the field and give our offense another chance. It was a strong showing, just not strong enough.”

McGraw got a big takeaway when he picked off a Manning pass intended for WR Pierre Garcon. That interception in Colts territory set up what was then a game-tying field goal for the Chiefs.

“I think we had them a little confused with our coverage,” McGraw said. “We were trying to move around a little bit and give them some problems there. I think I confused them a little bit by the way I was moving around and I fell back into that little sweet spot and he threw the ball right to me. He doesn’t normally do that.”

Said Manning: “A disappointing turnover. Poor decision, poor throw on my part. We really thought we could move the ball. It was frustrating getting down there close to the goal line and we thought we had a good red-zone plan, but just a couple Chiefs made some good plays down there.”

The Chiefs seldom rushed more than three guys on Manning when he went back to pass. OLB Tamba Hali was a machine, as he moved from side-to-side as the Colts moved their tight end around. Hali always went to the weak side, away from the TE. He tormented both LT Charlie Johnson and RT Ryan Diem, getting Manning on the ground once and hitting him several other times just as he released the ball. He also forced a Manning fumble that Indy recovered.

“We were pretty basic when it came to rushing him,” said Dorsey. “I think having some pressure on him and then we had a lot of guys in coverage, he had to take some extra time holding the ball. We wanted to affect his rhythm and I think we did.”

2 Responses to “Defensive Gem Wasted In Loss”

  • October 11, 2010  - Brandon says:

    McGraw is my hero.

    That is all.

  • October 11, 2010  - Ernie says:

    There is a lot of debate about being merely being competitive in this game but if you think back about our record on the road for the past several years and how our D usually allowed the other team to score early and often I’m encouraged by the thought of how much improved we are on the D side of the ball and how that might play out the balance of the year. 3 and 1? I’ll take that.

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