As I prepare to board a flight for DC (and then on to Buenos Aires) with my wife, two kids, and everything I own, I was stunned to see a large bearded figure standing at the service counter for United. There, preparing to board my flight was the unmistakable Jeff Saturday. As I passed him on my way back to my seat, I debated saying something subtle like, “I love Penn Station.” or, “My, you are exquisitely groomed”, or just “Go ‘Heels” but instead, I thanked him for playing a great game on Sunday and told him we are all proud to have him. He laughed and was appreciative. It was brief exchange largely becuase I didn’t want to be “hassle the celebrity guy”. Still, I was decked out in Colts gear, and figured if I didn’t say anything as I passed, it might be deflating for him. If a Colts fan can’t recognize you as an O-lineman, you really must be a second class citizen. Anyway, it was a great start to what was a long trip with four and two year olds.
I’m not fully back up on my feet here, but there were a couple of things I wanted to comment on that came up in the comments:
1. It’s awesome to see so many people saying that they rewatched the game or studied the highlight tapes. This is the key to being an informed fan. Watch the game once for enjoyment, and then rewatch it for knowledge. Just doing that raises your level of understanding beyond say, Bob Kravitz who watches it once live and then basically forgets what he sees.
2. I haven’t had time to hit the tape of this game yet, but I have zero trouble believing what Westside Rob wrote about the linebackers. This is consistent with what always tends to be the problem with the Colts run D. Columnists say dumb things like, “We need more DTs”, when it’s usually the backers fault that plays aren’t made. Hagler being out has hurt this D. The good news is…he’s coming back (eventually). I’m willing to be that when I do watch the tape, I’ll see what Rob saw. Sessions and Jennings failing miserably.
3. Seriously, lay off the “why didn’t we run on 1st down at the 2″ talk. Saying that is a coaching mistake ignores one key fact:
WHEN WE RAN, WE SCORED.
If the Colts had run the ball on first down, they probably would have scored. The Jags didn’t stop the run once all day. Unless you advocate Indy taking a knee down 6 points, don’t beg for a run play to kill the clock. A run play on first down would most likely have resulted in a TD on first down. You could argue that the two pass plays wasted more time than a first down run would have. The Jags likely would have tried the “Green Bay” defense of letting the runner score so as to preserve time. At the time, I was begging for a run too, but mostly because I knew it would result in a TD. Which it did.
4. Blaming the coaches for a loss like this isn’t appropriate, especially for the failed offensive drives. Manning calls the plays. It’s always worked before. Did he screw up by throwing deep in third quarter when the D needed to stay off the field? YES. Was that anyone’s fault but his? No, although Mathis certainly helped by yanking Harrison’s shoulder pads. That’s the way the Colts offense has always worked. It’s all on Peyton. We were a 51 yard FG away from that working again. Peyton threw two picks, both of which were at least partially the result of blown pass interference calls. The second pick shouldn’t have been thrown anyway. He almost won that game on one of the sickest drives I’ve ever seen. Instead, he lost it in the third quarter with a dumbass pick. It happens. It’s not the coaches fault, unless you want to question the entire foundation for the Colts offense under Peyton. It’s almost always his call. I can live with that.
5. I’m glad it’s the bye week. It gives me a chance to adjust to live down here, and the team a chance to heal. I’m not worried about this season (yet), but the game at Houston is beyond a must win.
Demond Sanders: I agree it is difficult to criticize any drive that ends in a touchdown. The Colts had one mission in the final two minutes: score 7 points. Mission accomplished. Criticizing how they scored those points is very picky. Still, I think the Colts should have run on first down. They probably do score, in which case this argument is moot. But maybe they don’t score. The Colts lost because the Jags had three timeouts. They needed to force them to use at least one, if not two.
JDR isn’t smart enough to let the Colts score ala Green Bay. Those three timeouts ensured that the only way the Jags wouldn’t get the field goal was for the D to force a turnover on downs. Which they nearly did. In summation, I am always in favor of running the clock on potentially game-ending drives, but the Colts were trying to score a touchdown and clock strategy was a distant second priority at that moment. Were we complaining when the Colts scored so amazingly quick (leaving a full minute on the clock) against New England in the AFC Championship game? No, we were just really glad they found a way to score. The same should apply here.