Wow, we will get to the Colts game in a little bit, but believe it or not there were other games this week. Believe me, the Pats-Colts classic will be covered in depth, but how about a swing around the league. One brief aside before we move on, I was 7-0 on my picks this week for the weekend. Props to me.
Denver suddenly sucks. Yeah, I know it is kind of surprising, but they have effectively given up that cushion in the AFC West and with a key game coming up against the Chargers, they cannot be feeling good. The losers of three straight now face a total free fall if Chris Simms cannot lead the Broncos over the Chargers.
Tampa Bay, St. Louis, and Oakland all almost won this week, which is miraculous in itself. Unfortunately, all lost and restored order to the universe. For a while it was looking like all might win, in which case the gambling world would implode.
Atlanta and Dallas both flopped on the road. Green Bay is at least talented even though their offensive line is one of the worst i have seen out of a decent team, but Carolina is not on par with Atlanta. The Falcons may as well have just given the game. No plays in the clutch on either side of the ball, and no consistency. I am still high on Atlanta’s hopes, but that is a game they have to win.
Cincinnati is not the finesse team everyone pegged them for. Even after losing Cedric Benson to injury, they grinded out a win, and as usual in a game with such closely matched teams, special teams was the difference. I could not be much more impressed with Cincinnati. My only question about Pittsburgh is their play-calling. Big Ben threw the ball 40 times on 46 dropbacks while Rashard Mendenhall got 13 carries. What are they doing? You need to run the ball! Here is a stat for you: The Colts, who trailed for most of the game and were forced to throw, ran the ball as many times (18) as Pittsburgh did in a close game. Come on Steelers, get back to your roots at least a little bit. Maybe Big Ben would not get treated like a tackling dummy if you had a running game.
To my estimation there were not any other really big games this weekend unless you really want to talk Saints-Rams, and I know you don’t. You know what that means: Pats-Colts Time!
Patriots 34, Colts 35
How does a Colts fan put this game into words? Ecstatic relief? Euphoric escape? Christmas come early? I don’t know how I can put it into words, but I came away from this game with a few things. First, the Colts did not deserve to win. Given that Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden and Bob Sanders are all out, and that the Colts started two rookies against Tom Brady, the Colts secondary played ok, but they got torched in a way I have not seen in a long time. The Colts
generally do not give up yardage or points through the air, but Tom Brady had them on the ground. The second thing I learned is that Peyton Manning is the NFL MVP. Yeah I know it seems a little early to make that proclamation, but he might be the clutchest man on the planet. You know the Dos Equis commercials with the “Most Interesting Man in the World”? Well they should feature Peyton Manning as the guy because he lives vicariously through himself and can speak French in Russian all while crushing the entire New England area’s souls. You cannot say enough about him. He will retire as the greatest quarterback of all time, bar none. Keep in mind I am a Colts, fan but I think none of this hyperbole is undeserved. Wow.
Ok, let’s talk about Belichick’s call on 4th and 2. I supported this call initially for a couple of reasons. Peyton Manning just had the ball a few moments ago and drove the Colts down the field with such remarkable ease it was scary. He was in a groove, and whether he had to drive 30 yards ot 70 yards he was not going to lose. He was in that Jordan Zone where it does not matter what you do, he is going to punish you. The only way to avoid it is to not give the ball back. The Patriots have a great record of 4th down conversions under Belichick and the Colts had been giving up lots of short passes. You have a big guy in Moss, a waterbug in Welker, the clutchest member of the Patriots in Kevin Faulk (you heard me) and Tom Brady throwing the ball. The Colts secondary is depleted and every Colts fan was scared witless when we saw Brady getting waved back on to the field. Granted it was risky, but isn’t that worth the risk. In Scenario A,
you give Peyton Manning the football in a two minute drill and in Scenario B, you take a chance where success means game over and failure means only 30 yards for Manning. Maybe I am elevating Manning too much, but if you give the ball to Manning anywhere within reason in the fourth quarter, you had better be ready for the consequences. With the way Manning was moving the ball, 70 would have been well within reason. I would not have complained if they had punted but I had absolutely no problem with the call.
What a great sports weekend. On Saturday, we witnessed Brandon Jennings drop 55 and on Sunday, we witnessed one of the better regular season games of recent memory. College Basketball got under way this weekend, NCAA football kept marching toward the BCS and a few teams took another step toward the World Cup. Great weekend for sports considering it is November and not October. Just awesome, can’t wait to do it again next week.