Well it has taken nearly two full days to get over it, but I am starting to realize that even when I try to get away from sports, even if it’s just for a day or two, I am sucked back in whether I like it or not. I am like a Head Coach, I hate losing. I cheer for teams when I don’t know anybody that plays for them. A win makes my day or night, a loss and I wanna go to sleep early.
When I went to sleep on Sunday night I didn’t want to wake up the next day. I knew all the hype that was going into the Sunday Night NFL showdown in Indy. The night before, my Leafs were in Chicago; both of those two teams were capable of winning; neither of them did, equals shitty night for me.
Anyways, the NFL continued into Week 7 with yet another plethora of games (and injuries) on the schedule. Tampa Bay nearly beat Atlanta, Cincinnati upset Detroit, the Bills improved to 3-4 win a win over Miami, and the NY Jets stunned everyone by edging New England thanks to a crazy officials’ call on a field goal in overtime. There would be plenty more to be stunned by later too. RGIII got back to some respectability with a four-point victory over the Chicago Bears, Dallas creamed Philadelphia (who should now be praying for the return of Michael Vick, Carolina improved to 3-3 by beating the Rams, the Chargers tamed the Jaguars, like everyone else has this year and the Jags remain winless. The Niners won over the Titans and the Packers beat up on the Browns, 31-13 (we’ve been saying that for a long, long time about the Browns, eh?). Speaking of Cleveland, division rivals Pittsburgh are making their own version of ‘Believeland’ convincing some of those bandwagon fans that they are not done yet. Pitt edged Baltimore with a last-second field goal, and now sit at 2-4.
But, for me, the most disappointing, and somewhat shocking result was what happened later that night in Indy.
On Peyton Manning’s first game back in Indy, most of his teammates had what you’d call an off-night. Some of them didn’t even show up at all. Eric Decker, Julius Thomas, and countless others, especially most of his offensive line.
The only thing I can think of to make me feel better is ‘let’s do this again in the playoffs’.
This was like a huge comedy of mistakes by half the Broncos, only thing was, none of it was funny. Broncos kick returner Trindon Holliday fumbled the ball not once but twice, losing one that turned into a Colts TD. Darrius Heyward-Bey ran it into the end zone for a 10-7 Indy lead
Denver’s defense also had an off-night for the most part. They committed inexplicable penalties throughout the second half, giving the Colts many more opportunities than they should have had. All of that added to the fact that it took Manning seven series to try and move the football out of his own red zone, giving Indy excellent field positioning for a quarter of the night.
But the biggest goat, like Danny Trevathan back in the early going of the season against the Giants, Ronnie Hillman wore the goat horns, and should still be wearing them after screwing up and fumbling the ball inside the Indy 5 with 3:03. What made it even more intolerable was that Wes Welker had made 3 amazing catches, one on a 3rd down from the Denver 15.
The Colts extended the lead to 26-14 at halftime and 33-14 in the third quarter when Luck scrambled for a 10-yard TD during a drive on which four flags came out on Denver defenders.
Then Manning rallied the Broncos, throwing a 31-yard TD pass to Demaryius Thomas early in the fourth and handing off to Knowshon Moreno for a 1-yard TD run to make it 36-30 with 8:44 to play.
Manning finished the night with respectable numbers but I doubt he cares about that. Three hundred-eight-six yards, averaging 7.9 yards on each throw, three TDs and a pick.
Andrew Luck started out with much better numbers but finished the game with only 228 yards and three TDs. After the first quarter, Manning’s QB rating was less than 50.
“This is a game we need to learn from. We, I guess, had four turnovers and still somehow had a chance to win that game,” Manning said. “I would have liked to have seen it go to a two-point game down there toward the end and see what would have happened, but it never quite got to that point. You can go back to different parts of the game and we got behind, mistakes there, but we still had a chance there at the end.
What was most painful about this loss was that Manning did what he has been doing for at least the past 11 years (that I have been watching him). He made something out of nothing. Had Hillman not fumbled the football at the worst possible time, Manning still could have engineered victory. He was still doing fine, albeit a brutal start, he finished strong.
Denver forced a punt, giving Manning another chance as the stadium noise subsided. But on the first play, Erik Walden hit Manning’s arm and Pat Angerer picked it off the pace, leading to Adam Vinatieri’s 42-yard field goal.
“Hopefully we’ll have a chance to play these guys again because that would mean we made the playoffs,” Manning said. “I think if there is a next time it may be a little bit easier just because it was somewhat of an emotional week and it can be a little bit draining, I will say that.”
The Broncos also realized what tends to happen when players are out of action due to injury. Denver sorely missed tackles Ryan Clady (IR) and Orlando Franklin (ankle) on offense, and when the aforementioned Bailey was taken out in the first half, it spelled trouble for the visitors. And that spelled even more trouble for Manning, who was sacked four times Sunday night.
And for what it was worth, and it wasn’t worth much, the guy everyone was talking about when they weren’t talking about the quarterbacks, Von Miller, was useless. All that talk about putting on extra muscle. Nobody anywhere saw any signs of extra muscle. The Colts blocked Miller all night long.
The game, and the games earlier in the day proved to be full of injuries. In the night game, both Reggie Wayne and Champ Bailey found themselves leaving the game earlier than they would have liked. Wayne tore his ACL, while Bailey re-injured the same foot that he hurt back in the pre-season against Seattle.
All we can say now is ‘maybe we’ll meet ‘em in the playoffs’. For Manning’s sake, I’m not even sure he should want that.
Stay tuned for more NFL blogs, plus a review of the Saturday night in the NHL.