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JUDGE: Without ground game, Colts were grounded

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Clark Judge

 
   
 

INDIANAPOLIS

The Indianapolis should be ashamed. They had a chance to clinch a playoff spot at home, and they blew it ... not with one play but with two series. For all the attention given the ' flea flicker that produced an 82-yard touchdown to open the second half, it was two Indianapolis calls — one at the beginning of the first half and one at the beginning of the second — that finished the . In essence, the lost because they couldn't run, and don't take my word for it. Look at the numbers. The ran 19 times before giving up, and they produced 50 yards. "We didn't play well enough to win," said losing coach Tony Dungy. No, they didn't run well enough to win. They couldn't run when they had second-and-goal at the ' 3 at the end of the first half and when they had third-and-goal at the ' 2 one play later. Both times the put the ball in the hands of second-string running back , and both times he was stuffed — the second for no gain. But that wasn't the exception. It was Mungro who was hammered again on the ' first series of the second half, this time on third-and-1 and later on fourth-and-1 at the Indianapolis 49 — with linebacker belting him for a one-yard loss on fourth down. At the time, the led 17-3. At the time, it was a ballgame. But that changed when New York scored on its next possession, opening a 20-point lead and burying the . "Those are the types of plays that win games and take a lot of confidence away from teams," said New York defensive end . "I think that's what we did. That goal-line stand was huge, and guys stepped up and made plays. All it takes is one guy to be out of his gap, one guy to fall down and it's a touchdown. To do that consecutively for three downs is huge." But let's look at it like this: If you're facing second-and-goal or third-and-goal, down 10-0 and trying to make a statement just before halftime, why not put the ball in the hands of your best playmaker? In other words, why not put the ball in the hands of wide receiver ? The chose not to and paid for it, settling for a field goal. "I thought they might try to pass," said safety , "because they couldn't get their running game going. But those stops were crucial. It could've been a 10-7 game, but instead it was 10-3. That was important, because I think they came in trying to establish a rushing attack." Good luck. On ' first three carries he gained zero, zero and zero yards. Then, on his fourth try he was stuffed for a one-yard loss. It was that kind of afternoon. Until Mungro ran nine yards to end the game, the had only one rush longer than four yards — and that was a 16-yard end-around by . Yet they tried to run when it mattered most. They even tried Mungro on a two-point conversion, and you can guess what happened there. Uh-huh, he was stopped a yard short. "They never got their running game going," said Strahan. "We wanted to be physical, and I think it worked for us." Heck, everything worked ... for the . And nothing worked for the . They should have known better. "I thought our defensive game plan was good," said coach Jim Fassel, "and I thought our guys played well. We just need to get ready to go out and play another football game this week." Senior writer Clark Judge can be reached at his e-mail address, cjudge@foxsports.com.
Tagged: Colts, Giants, Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Short, Shaun Williams, James Mungro

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