By Tom James
Indianapolis — Youth will be served.
Second-year wide receiver Pierre Garcon and rookie running back Donald Brown certainly proved their worth and importance to the Colts in Monday night’s come-from-behind 27-23 win over the Miami Dolphins.
It was Garcon’s catch and run on a receiver bubble screen that went for 48 yards and the game’s winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. It was his only catch of the game.
Brown, meanwhile, had a 15-yard touchdown run with 10:06 remaining in the game that proved equally integral in the triumph. And his 24-yard catch down the sidelines in the second quarter set up a 48-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
The touchdowns were the first NFL scores for both players and they came at the most opportune times for Indianapolis.
“It was great to see [Garcon] show it out there on the field on game day. He’s been doing it in practice, we’ve certainly seen his promise and I think that we’ve talked about him during that last few months. He had a great [training] camp and you can see what he can do when he gets that ball. He’s big, strong, fast and a very physical guy,” Colts coach Jim Caldwell said Monday night.
Peyton Manning said that the play wasn’t initially called to be a “break out.” Rather, Manning was just trying to inch the Colts a little closer to field-goal range and allow Vinatieri a chance to tie the game. But he’ll take the play anyway.
“We checked and it was an audible. They really sat back most of the game and played a lot of double man coverage. On the last drive, on the first play, they came on a safety blitz so it looked like it was a little change of philosophy. We hit Reggie on a little fade route to the sideline. Then we hit Dallas on a play that was not [against] the blitz but they blitzed two plays in a row,” he explained.
“Once on the takeoff down the right sideline to Pierre and then they came back with it again. I just recognized it and checked to the audible to the wide receiver screen out to Pierre and we were looking for the first down. It was a call to try to move the chains but we got good blocking downfield and Pierre has got good speed and he showed it on that play.”
Caldwell, despite a late night, had a chance to review the tape of the Miami game early Tuesday morning. Garcon’s and Brown’s accomplishments, along with those of rookie wide receiver Austin Collie and rookie punter Pat McAfee, certainly caught his eye.
“We had some of our young guys really step up and play well. I think you’ve probably heard us talking about them, about how well they’ve been practicing and what types of attitudes they have. How diligent they are in terms in preparation. And we were hoping that one day you would see those things sort of manifest themselves during the course of a game. And I think you’re starting to see some of that,” the Colts coach said.
“I think you’ll see it from Donald Brown, who certainly did a pretty good job [Monday night]. … That was a heck of a [touchdown] run. With will and power and desire, he got that thing into the end zone, which was a real tough hard-nosed run.”
Collie hauled in one pass for four yards, which resulted in a first down on the Colts’ next to last offensive possession. And McAfee had three punts for a 48.3 yard average (39 yard net). He also handled kickoffs for Indianapolis.
“There are a number of young guys that are just doing what I think a good job at this stage of the game,” Caldwell said.
• Injury list — Middle linebacker Gary Brackett and cornerback Kelvin Hayden were on the sidelines for most of Miami’s final offensive possession.
Caldwell said that he wasn’t sure of the extent of their injuries. He hoped to know more after meeting with team trainers and the Colts’ medical staff Tuesday afternoon.
Indianapolis will have a quick turnaround after the Dolphins game, practicing today, Thursday and Friday before heading west to Phoenix on Saturday for a Sunday night game with the Arizona Cardinals.
“As I mentioned to the players [Monday night] in the locker room [after the game], they have to get rest and make sure that they hydrate themselves properly. But the recovery time, because we’re on the practice field [this week] sooner than we would ordinarily be. So that kind of takes a toll on you,” he said.
“All of those things in a short week you have to monitor accordingly. I’ll be watching that closely and see if I can see the freshness and life come back into them. And if I don’t, I’m going to reduce what we’re doing until I see that freshness comes back. Sometimes it’s better to sacrifice preparation in some cases than rejuvination. We’ll look at that closely this week.”