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Thread: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

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    Default Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...simmons/070122

    Peyton giveth and taketh away

    By Bill Simmons
    Page 2

    We had it.

    Those are three words you never expect to say as a Patriots fan. Not during the Belichick-Brady Era, anyway. But after a truly remarkable AFC Championship Game – Colts 38, Pats 34 – those were the only three words I kept saying. We had it when we were driving inside the Colts' 20 with a 21-3 lead. We had it when we kicked the go-ahead field goal with five minutes left. We had it when we stopped Manning three-and-out. We had it on our own 40 with 3:30 to play, needing only a first down to finish the game.

    We had it.

    This isn't sour grapes, I promise. (No, really. I promise.) The Colts deserved to win one of the greatest NFL playoff games in recent memory. They made up an 18-point lead in about 20 seconds. They withstood every haymaker and kept throwing punches right back. They came through in the clutch and so did their much-maligned QB. And the Patriots did just enough to blow the game – they couldn't run the ball in the second half and the defense wilted as the game went along, worn down from last week's slugfest in San Diego, the flu and a glaring lack of healthy bodies. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, cramped pass rushers were getting their legs massaged on the bench, random special teamers were playing key defensive positions and I found myself actually saying things out loud like, "My God, Artrell Hawkins is out, what do we do now???"

    Watching the game in my office and trying to determine how to stop the Colts (who had rolled off four straight scoring drives heading into the fourth quarter), I was so desperate for a momentum change that I hijacked my daughter and brought her in front of the TV for good luck. And you know what? It worked! Indy went three-and-out and Manning banged his thumb on somebody's helmet; CBS even showed a replay of Manning telling backup quarterback Jim Sorgi, "Be ready." Instantly, I remembered Wilt Chamberlain's famous knee injury in Game 7 of the '69 Finals, when Wilt took himself out in the fourth quarter and the Celtics ended up winning their 11th (and last) title of the Russell Era. This was like Wilt, The Sequel. Manning had an out, the Pats would win, and we'd spend the next two weeks making jokes about his thumb. Seemed like a perfect ending to me.

    Even when Manning returned and completed a 50-yard wobbler to Dallas Clark to set up a game-tying field goal (exit: my daughter), he still didn't seem quite right. The Pats responded with a quick drive and go-ahead field goal (in my notebook, I wrote down, "Gostkowski: WATERMELON BALLS"), followed by Manning struggling through a three-and-out series and looking positively A-Rodian. Now the Colts needed the Patriots to self-combust somehow in the final four minutes, even though they owned crunch time in the past (as CBS banged home with a "Bill Belichick is 8-0 in playoff games decided by 7 points or less" graphic right before the drive started). Fortunately for the Colts, all hell has broken loose in 2007 – already, Chris Kattan is engaged to a supermodel, Eddie Murphy might win an Oscar, Steve Nash is headed for a third straight MVP award and Boise State beat Oklahoma in a January 1st bowl game. So really, anything's possible at this point.

    How did the most clutch team of the decade blow the game? They kicked things off with a too-many-men-in-the-huddle penalty to make it first-and-15, followed by two short passes to set up a third-and-4 near midfield with 2:30 left. Naturally, this was the time for Brady to find Troy Brown for a five-yard out for the 10 millionth time … only Brown ran to the wrong spot, Bob Sanders nearly picked the pass off and Brady walked off the field yelling at Brown. (Note: I'm going to have this entire sequence digitally removed from my brain next week.) That was quickly followed by Todd Sauerbrun punting it into the end zone (so much for the Little Things, folks), then Manning jogging onto the field for a career-defining two-minute drive as Jim Nantz made one of those schmaltzy, "You get the feeling so many lives and careers could be affected in the next two minutes and 17 seconds" comments before nearly giving himself diabetes.

    At this point, I was prepared for anything: An interception, a fumble, a long touchdown, an Elway-like drive, Manning's head exploding … you name it. But Manning was ready. Bullet pass to Wayne for a first down. Thirty-two yard strike to Fletcher for another first down. Another pass to Wayne for a first down (which he nearly fumbled away -- a goofy play that didn't even rank among the top-10 goofiest plays in this game), punctuated by a horsecrap roughing-the-passer call that CBS was too embarrassed to even replay. In about 10 seconds, the Colts were on the New England 12 and you could tell the Pats had nothing left. (Note: You know your defense is done when you're rooting for the other team to score so you can get the ball back faster.) Running on fumes of their fumes, the Patriots' defense allowed the last 12 yards on runs and failed to touch Joseph Addai on the winning score -- with backup linebacker Eric Alexander failing to plug the hole and backup safety James Sanders whiffing on Addai completely -- a far cry from the memorable 2003 victory in the RCA Dome when Willie McGinest stoned Edge James on fourth-and-goal.

    (These are the moments when you remember, "Hey, it's really, really, REALLY hard to get a dynasty going." You need to keep replenishing the talent base, you need to replace character guys with more character guys, you need your core stars to stay healthy, and you need a ton of luck in close games. For further explanation, look at the Yankees during 2001-2006. That's why Belichick said about eight words to a quivering Solomon Wilcots after last night's game. He knows. You only get back so many times.)

    That was that. After Brady got picked on a desperation drive to end the game, a slightly stunned Manning kneeled to end the game and kick off a massive celebration capped by the blood-curdling sight of Vinatieri and Manning hugging (around the year 2036, I'll recover from that one). I spent the next 20 minutes making excuses, shaking my head and passing blame around. On the phone, my father was even more distraught, bringing up the offensive pass interference call on Brown – leading 21-3 and driving for another score, when they whistled Brown for the same exact pick play that New Orleans used to spring Reggie Bush for an 86-yard TD earlier in the day (you know, the same pick play that every team uses and never, ever, EVER gets called) – at least 300 times during our conversation, as well as the aforementioned bogus roughing-the-passer call that moved Indy from the 27 to the 12 and apparently isn't allowed to be mentioned ever again. Eventually, we realized that we sounded like the Rams fans in Super Bowl XXXVI, or the Eagles fans in Super Bowl XXXIX, or the Chargers fans last week … nobody cares if you could have won the game, just whether you did.

    Besides, Sunday night was about Manning over everyone else. A lightning rod over the years for sports radio hosts, football experts, talking heads and snarky columnists like myself, Manning seemed profoundly snakebitten after last year's Steelers loss and utterly incapable of carrying his team when it mattered. He had become the A-Rod or C-Webb of his sport, a mortal lock to melt down in every big game. Hell, any football fan has probably attempted an off-the-cuff imitation of the Manning Face at some point. Even last week against the Ravens, Manning was throwing the ball up for grabs and dancing in the pocket like a contestant on "You're the One That I Want." His body language never seemed right, not even during the first half last night, after the Pats scored on a fumble recovery by their left guard and CBS showed a great replay of Manning reacting like a little kid who just had his Big Wheel taken away. Nothing about the guy inspired real confidence. He needed a borderline miracle to turn things around.

    As strange as this sounds, I headed into halftime believing that the 21-6 score removed much of the pressure off him. There were eerie parallels to the Dave Roberts Game in that the Colts (A) were handicapped by their collective history (much like the Red Sox heading into that 2004 ALCS), (B) were battling their long-time nemesis who always owned them (much like the Yankees), and (C) needed to hit rock-bottom to set up the whole "miracle comeback that makes everyone forget that this team was snakebitten in the first place" thing (like the Red Sox being three outs away from a sweep). Nothing's scarier than a home team playing with house money in front of a desperate crowd dying for a reason to jump back into the game.

    Still, Manning needed to come through. He had four legitimate outs last night -- after the brutal Samuel interception made it 21-3, after Wayne's pass interference got overturned right before the half, after the thumb injury, and after the three-and-out with four minutes left -- and didn't take any of them. For once, he got better when it mattered, even if there was never a moment when anyone thought, "Wow, he's cutting the Pats up with a SCALPEL right now." Unlike the famous QBs from the '80s and '90s (Marino, Elway, Montana, Favre) or even Brady right now, Manning never gives you that feeling that he stepped right off the set of a sports movie to save the day. He's exceedingly human, dorky and endearing, the kind of guy who might have a giant pimple pulsating on his forehead during a big game. Even as Brady was trying to save the game in the last minute, Manning remained sitting on his own bench, his head bowed, staring at the ground and terrified to look up. Almost like he was sitting in a hospital waiting room awaiting the results of a blood test. He certainly didn't seem like your typical football hero.

    And if Brady had pulled off a miracle in those final 54 seconds, we wouldn't be discussing Manning for the next two weeks. But that's the crazy thing about sports: One moment can alter the entire history of somebody's career. Ask Tony Romo. Ask Earnest Byner. Ask Kevin Dyson. Hell, poor Dan Marino sits there on the CBS studio show bristling every time Boomer Esiason compares him to Manning, with the implication being, "If Manning's not lucky, he could end up with an unfulfilled career just like Dan the Loser over here." Sure, you need talent over everything else, but you also need timing and luck, and you need to come through when it counts. Until last night, just like Marino, Manning couldn't get all four things working at the same time.

    Now he's one win away from putting that "can't win the big one" label to rest and getting to enter the John Elway Zone – loosely translated to mean, "All right, here's my ring, now you guys can all shut the hell up and leave me alone." And if he ends up beating the Bears and winning a Super Bowl, 30 years from now, nobody will remember that the Patriots needed only to convert third-and-4 to win the 2007 AFC Championship Game. They'll remember that Peyton Manning came back from 18 down, toppled his arch-rival and prevailed in one of the greatest playoff games in NFL history.

    Of course, I won't remember this. I'll just remember that we had it – we had it – and Manning and the Colts took it away.

    (And some day, I might even believe that I just wrote that sentence.)

    Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine.

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    Huge Member heywoode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    He sounds like every one of us usually sound after something inexplicable turns the tide away from the Colts (or Pacers) favor....

    If we sound like that, I will certainly shut up the next time it happens to us, because that had to be the most annoying article I have ever read and I don't want to be that annoying. EVER.



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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by heywoode View Post
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    He sounds like every one of us usually sound after something inexplicable turns the tide away from the Colts (or Pacers) favor....

    If we sound like that, I will certainly shut up the next time it happens to us, because that had to be the most annoying article I have ever read and I don't want to be that annoying. EVER.
    I thoght it was pretty tame.

    He could have gone on a rant hating on the Colts and blaming the refs, and while he did mention a few BS calls (I still never saw a roughing the passer but I wasnt looking hard either) he generally did not come across as annoying as I expected him to.

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    By the NFL rules, any time you touch a QB's helmet it's roughing. That's what happened - a defender's hand brushed across Peyton's head. Ridiculous call - but technically correct.

    Though the way the Colts were going right then, what it meant was that Brady had a minute to work with instead of about 20 seconds
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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by DisplacedKnick View Post
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    By the NFL rules, any time you touch a QB's helmet it's roughing. That's what happened - a defender's hand brushed across Peyton's head. Ridiculous call - but technically correct.

    Though the way the Colts were going right then, what it meant was that Brady had a minute to work with instead of about 20 seconds
    Is that right. So even if I just touch a QB's head with my finger technically that is considered "roughing"?

    Wow, that is ridiculous

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    year of the black rainbow obnoxiousmodesty's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    I really don't enjoy Simmons, since he is a Boston homer, but reading one of his columns after beating one of his teams is almost a delight.
    Take me out to the black, tell 'em I ain't coming back. Burn the land and boil the sea, you can't take the sky from me.

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    I think it's as much of a congratulations as to be expected from a die hard Pats fan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sports Guy
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    Of course, I won't remember this. I'll just remember that we had it – we had it – and Manning and the Colts took it away.
    I think this is very telling, he didn't say that the Pats gave it away, but that the Colts took it. I think he's right on the money there and that takes some balls from a Pats fan.

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    Cheeseburger in Paradise Los Angeles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    I've read this guy's crap for so long ... I can't shed one little once of sympathy and I can't give one ounce of respect or appreciation for what's written here.

    Hey Sports Guy: I hope it hurt.

    Hey Sports Guy: I hope it doesn't get better.
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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    See, I respect the guy because he is good at what he does, which is display his homerish New England tendencies with humor. I think that he knows a good deal about sports but I always take him with a grain of salt regarding the Pats. Maybe that's why I'm not as worked up about this, especially since it seems he's eating his crow here.

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    Unauthorized User riverside's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    I quit reading when I got to this phrase about Manning...
    much-maligned QB
    Same old Simmons crap.
    Paddle faster, I hear banjos!

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by vapacersfan View Post
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    Is that right. So even if I just touch a QB's head with my finger technically that is considered "roughing"?

    Wow, that is ridiculous
    It's considered a blow to the head.

    And it is ridiculous. Most refs don't call it that tight - and I don't know why they decided to throw that one in.
    The poster formerly known as Rimfire

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Ever since Larry Johnson got continuation I've quit caring if Indy sports teams got a call from the refs. It happens both ways and to win a game you have to beat the refs too.

    As far as Simons I enjoy him for sporting red carpet events. He's a funnier Joan Rivers of sports.
    "They could turn out to be only innocent mathematicians, I suppose," muttered Woevre's section officer, de Decker.

    "'Only.'" Woevre was amused. "Someday you'll explain to me how that's possible. Seeing that, on the face of it, all mathematics leads, doesn't it, sooner or later, to some kind of human suffering."

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    I think Simmons is a great writer. He is the most human sports writer around. He is a diehard Boston fan and I respect him for that. In the end he gave credit to Peyton and the Colts. What do you want the guy to do crown us the greatest team ever? Were you guys chomping at the bit to do that when we lost to the Pats or Steelers? I didn't think so. Let the first who has not been a homer on this forum cast the first stone.

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by pacertom View Post
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    their much-maligned QB
    He needs to check himself here. I like his non Celts, non Pats articles but he should be punched in the face for this.

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Simmons
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    their much-maligned QB.
    Quote Originally Posted by bosk View Post
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    He needs to check himself here...he should be punched in the face for this.
    Here are some gems from the game thread. You decide if Peyton was being maligned, even by his own fans, before the second half Sunday night. His second half performance put that behind him FOREVER (IMO), but up until about 8 o'clock Sunday night it was an understandable (though not entirely justified) criticism:

    Quote Originally Posted by forum members in the game thread, and not just Shade!
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    who's the backup
    get Manning out of there
    cause he'll NEVER RECOVER from this

    Manning sacked. This crowd is going to riot soon.
    The city wanted to believe so much this time...
    The team has fallen apart so quickly.

    I didn't know dan marino played for the colts!

    speaking of CHOKING ---------here's PAYTONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN

    peyton looks like a defeated man! and we have almost 9 minutes to go in the 2nd!

    I would have a lot more confidence if Peyton had done anything at all in this postseason so far.

    Keys to the offseason:
    - Upgrade the defense
    - Fire Dungy
    - Trade Peyton for Brady

    Pats are simply a much better team. They have a better QB, and they're better coached.

    Peyton with 0 first half TD's for the third straight playoff game. He has 1 TD and 6 INT's this post-season so far.

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Bill Simmons is a patriots homer and doesnt know what he is talking about. It would disregard just about anything this guy says.


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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by pacertom View Post
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    Here are some gems from the game thread. You decide if Peyton was being maligned, even by his own fans, before the second half Sunday night. His second half performance put that behind him FOREVER (IMO), but up until about 8 o'clock Sunday night it was an understandable (though not entirely justified) criticism:

    fans freaking out during a game (at least first half) where the Colts were getting manhandled is understandable. Also completely different from being 'much-maligned' in the press during the week in between games....

    I'm not against the 'much-maligned' statement, as I kind of agree with it. People have been "maligning" Peyton for not stepping up when it matters for years....of course, until now, he hasn't really stepped up when it matters, so I don't know if justified criticism can even be called maligning....

    I was mostly complaining that Simmons was whining about every call that he didn't agree with and acting more like "if we hadn't have made all these mistakes, we woulda won!".....The reason they DIDN'T win is because they made all those mistakes, and the Colts came through in the clutch finally...That would be like me whining after the last couple Foxboro playoff beatdowns that if Manning hadn't of had a ton of interceptions and they hadn't of made their mistakes they would've won.....

    That is the homerism I can't take....OF COURSE you might've won if your team had not made a bunch of mistakes and had a few questionable calls not go their way! He BARELY gave credit to the Colts, and in just a sentence or two, while spending the majority of the article whining about "if's"......That's all I was complaining about...



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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by heywoode View Post
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    He BARELY gave credit to the Colts, and in just a sentence or two, while spending the majority of the article whining about "if's"......That's all I was complaining about...

    I just don't see that at all. The whole summary of the article is

    The Patriots had the AFC title in their hands and Bill can't believe Peyton Manning took it away.

    He is not saying the game was given away, and isn't blaming
    -the refs
    -the untimely penalties
    -the play calling
    -the poor execution

    but rather he is saying very precisely that the game was taken away by Peyton Manning.


    It seems to me that his past anti-Colts rants have made it impossible for Colts fans to given him the benefit of the doubt on any analysis.

    the very central theme of this piece was that Payton Manning killed them. You may quibble with the idea that Bill Simmons seems surprised that this could happen, but I can't see how people seem to miss the main point. They even put it in the title.

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    I rather enjoyed it. I like Simmons, he's not meant to be Mike Hollinger or someone like that. His stuff is homer-dom at it's finest and that's ok with me because it's amusing.

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by pacertom View Post
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    I just don't see that at all. The whole summary of the article is

    The Patriots had the AFC title in their hands and Bill can't believe Peyton Manning took it away.

    He is not saying the game was given away, and isn't blaming
    -the refs
    -the untimely penalties
    -the play calling
    -the poor execution

    but rather he is saying very precisely that the game was taken away by Peyton Manning.


    It seems to me that his past anti-Colts rants have made it impossible for Colts fans to given him the benefit of the doubt on any analysis.

    the very central theme of this piece was that Payton Manning killed them. You may quibble with the idea that Bill Simmons seems surprised that this could happen, but I can't see how people seem to miss the main point. They even put it in the title.

    Quote Originally Posted by the Pats homer
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    And the Patriots did just enough to blow the game – they couldn't run the ball in the second half and the defense wilted as the game went along, worn down from last week's slugfest in San Diego, the flu and a glaring lack of healthy bodies...

    ...How did the most clutch team of the decade blow the game? They kicked things off with a too-many-men-in-the-huddle penalty to make it first-and-15, followed by two short passes to set up a third-and-4 near midfield with 2:30 left. Naturally, this was the time for Brady to find Troy Brown for a five-yard out for the 10 millionth time … only Brown ran to the wrong spot, Bob Sanders nearly picked the pass off and Brady walked off the field yelling at Brown....

    ....That was quickly followed by Todd Sauerbrun punting it into the end zone (so much for the Little Things, folks)...

    ...punctuated by a horsecrap roughing-the-passer call that CBS was too embarrassed to even replay....

    ...with backup linebacker Eric Alexander failing to plug the hole and backup safety James Sanders whiffing on Addai completely -- a far cry from the memorable 2003 victory in the RCA Dome when Willie McGinest stoned Edge James on fourth-and-goal....

    ...they whistled Brown for the same exact pick play that New Orleans used to spring Reggie Bush for an 86-yard TD earlier in the day (you know, the same pick play that every team uses and never, ever, EVER gets called)...

    ...as well as the aforementioned bogus roughing-the-passer call...


    ...Even as Brady was trying to save the game in the last minute, Manning remained sitting on his own bench, his head bowed, staring at the ground and terrified to look up....
    Nah. You're right. Must just be ME...



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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Here is another good take on the game, from the same ESPN edition as the Simmons column, by Tuesday Morning Quarterback Gregg Easterbrook. He thinks the Colts' clock timekeeper stopped the clock on an out of bounds pass at 2:01 to play, thereby giving the Colts an extra play (which they ended up not needing). Also, interesting commentary on the Pats' well-known penchant for roughing up our receivers:

    New England at Indianapolis Analysis: The big play of this contest was the Indianapolis field goal with 11 seconds remaining in the first half, making it New England 21, Indianapolis 6 at intermission. The Colts had fourth-and-goal on the Flying Elvii 8 when they sent in the kicking unit. Kick Early Go For It Late! Indianapolis absolutely had to score at the end of the first half. The field goal made it a two-touchdown game and gave the hosts realistic hope; had Indianapolis tried for the touchdown and failed, the contest would have been over. A field goal might not seem like much when you're behind 21-3, but these three points -- plus the fact that the Indianapolis cheerleaders changed outfits at halftime and appeased the football gods, see below -- let the Colts know victory remained possible. To the point of the last-second first-half field goal, Indianapolis had gone 20 consecutive postseason possessions without a touchdown. The next three Indianapolis possessions? Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown.

    The Colts' epic comeback exemplifies a point TMQ often makes about comebacks -- when you're way behind in the second half you are probably toast, but when you're way behind in the first half, you have just as much time remaining to come back as your opponent took to get ahead. Let's christen this the Law of Remaining Clock. The biggest comeback in NFL history, Buffalo back from 35-3 to beat Houston in the playoffs, began two snaps into the second half; the key point was that the Bills had just as much time to come back as the Oilers had expended getting ahead. In the second-greatest comeback, San Francisco back from 35-7 to beat New Orleans in the regular season, the comeback began on the first play of the second half; the key point was that the Niners had just as much time to come back as the Saints had expended getting ahead. My sons badly wanted Indianapolis to win, and when it was 21-3, their hearts sank. "Look at the clock, it's still the first half," I told them. Most likely Colts' coaches were rallying their players with the same words.

    Resisting the urge to panic helped the Colts' comeback. Taking the second half kickoff and trailing 21-6, Indianapolis coaches called eight rushing plays on the 76-yard touchdown drive that turned the game into a tense, close contest. Then on the next possession came the play that Colts players, coaches and front office people, especially Bill Polian, have been waiting for since the 2004 AFC Championship. In that game, New England was never called for defensive pass interference, despite numerous obvious muggings of Colts' receivers. Bill Belichick, knowing officials tend to call defensive pass interference and offensive holding (the two most damaging penalties) less as the postseason progresses, had instructed his defensive backs to interfere with Colts receivers mercilessly until such time as a flag was thrown -- and a flag was never thrown. Polian complained bitterly after that game, and should have; the league changed its officiating procedures, instructing zebras to end the traditional practice of switching to "let the boys play" in the postseason. Then in 2005, New England beat Indianapolis again in the playoffs, and again was never flagged for defensive pass interference. Now it's the third quarter of the 2007 AFC Championship, and once again New England has not been flagged for defensive interference. Eleven consecutive postseason quarters between the Pats and Colts and we're supposed to believe New England has never once interfered with an Indianapolis receiver? Finally the yellow flies -- Ellis Hobbs called for pass interception in the end zone. Polian must have yelled, "Finally, FINALLY!" Ball spotted on the 1, and on the next play, Peyton Manning threw a touchdown pass to defensive tackle Dan Klecko, lined up as a blocking back. Putting a big defender in as a blocking back at the goal line, then throwing to him, is one of Bill Belichick's favorite tricks. How the football gods must have chortled to see Belichick's own trick used against him.

    The RCA Dome was weirdly quiet when the Colts took possession on their 20 with 3:49 remaining, trailing 34-31. I'm thinking: Now's your chance, go win the game! The crowd was obviously thinking: Ohmygawd they're gonna lose again. The RCA Dome was again weirdly quiet when the Colts got the ball back, again on their 20, with 2:17 remaining and one timeout, still trailing 34-31. I'm thinking: The football gods just gave you a second chance, go win the game! The crowd was obviously thinking: Ohmygawd. First Peyton Manning threw a short out to Reggie Wayne, who stepped out of bounds to stop the clock. Then Manning threw a perfect strike to Bryan Fletcher, the Colts' third tight end, who was on the field owing to an injury to someone else -- coming into the game, he had 18 receptions on the season. Fletcher promptly dropped the ball as if it was a live ferret. On the next snap, Colts' coaches or Manning or both did something beautiful and inspired that, of course, the announcers utterly missed. They called a play for Fletcher -- the same backup who had just dropped the ball -- and what they called was a deep pass. Fortune favors the bold! Thirty-two yard completion to Fletcher, and a few snaps later, ecstasy in the RCA Dome.

    The home timekeeper had a big play on Fletcher's reception, too. The ball snapped with 2:08 showing, and as Fletcher strove out of bounds the Indianapolis timekeeper stopped the clock with 2:01 showing, thus handing the Colts an extra play before the two-minute warning. It turned out the extra snap had no role in the outcome, as the home team scored the winning touchdown at 1:02. Had the Colts scored to win on the final down, today a huge controversy would be swirling over the mysterious clock-stop at 2:01. (There's no way the play in question took only seven seconds.) Reaching first-and-10 on the New England 11 with 1:53 remaining, the Colts acted very New England-like by rushing three straight times to kill some clock before scoring. The winning touchdown came up the middle behind a Hall of Fame block by undrafted center Jeff Saturday, who shoved out of the picture the huge, first-round defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Saturday is the kind of guy who could be the Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP.

    As for the Patriots, they vary game plans week-to-week more than any NFL team, and opened on offense with something they hadn't showed much lately -- "bunch" formations as opposed to spreads. Two early Flying Elvii touchdowns resulted, and the Patriot offense continued to perform well -- 27 points on the road in a championship game is a good day. New England always runs a creative play that causes you to say "Wow, that was sweet." Games scoreless, the Patriots had third-and-9, and lined four-wide with receiving-downs back Kevin Faulk on Tom Brady's left. The Colts looked like they would blitz from the offensive right; Tom Brady madly motioned Faulk over to the right, as if instructing him to blitz-block. Then Brady handed off to Faulk running left behind pulling right guard Steve Neal. The eight-yard gain set up a 35-yard run by Corey Dillon on fourth-and-1, in turn setting up New England's first touchdown. Later, game tied at 21, New England facing third-and-goal on the Indianapolis 6, Brady threw a perfect strike to Jabar Gaffney at the back of the end zone, and the latest Belichick reclamation project made a perfect catch. Brady openly tells people that he looks to the back of the end zone in this situation because defenders lose track of the back of the end zone, and they did on this play. Brady tells people where he's going to look and still fools them!

    There was a colossal hidden play at the endgame -- hidden plays being ones that never make highlight reels, but stop or sustain drives. Game tied with 8 minutes remaining, New England had first down on the Indianapolis 18. Reclamation project Reche Caldwell, who's had a fine year, lined up right and was uncovered by any Colt. He waved madly for Brady to snap the ball and toss it his way. When Brady finally did -- nothing but turf between Caldwell and the end zone -- Reche dropped the pass as if it was a live ferret. New England settled for a field goal, four lost points helping determine the outcome.

    Good as New England always is, its offensive strategy in the endgame seemed puzzling. Leading 34-31 with 2:39 remaining, facing second-and-8, the Patriots came out empty backfield. This is a clock-killer situation, run the ball! Short pass, Indianapolis timeout. Now facing third-and-4 with 2:30 remaining, the Patriots came out empty backfield. This is a clock-killer situation, run the ball! Incompletion stopping the clock, and the home team gets possession back with plenty of time.

    The New England defense had a fine season, finishing second-best behind Baltimore in points allowed, then had two good playoff outings versus Jersey/B and San Diego before finally running out of steam against a Colts' offense that was due for a breakout. Ty Warren, Asante Samuel, Mike Vrabel and other Pats defenders had Pro Bowl caliber years, though only Richard Seymour received a free ticket to Hawaii. For the last two seasons, Samuel has been the best cornerback in the NFL, but shut out of Hawaii because he's not the flashy, boastful type of corner the Pro Bowl voters favors. Now that Samuel has returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the same postseason, he should get his due in ink. (Warning to Colts' coaches -- three of Peyton Manning's six postseason interceptions have come on short turn or hook passes to the right intended for Marvin Harrison; corners have noticed some cue that tips them this action is coming.) But bear in mind that concentration and fundamentals, not flashy plays, are the best aspects of Asante Samuel's game. Samuel is the kind of guy who could be the Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP.



    Small puzzle: Why didn't Belichick challenge the Saturday fumble recovery ruled a touchdown for the Colts, tying the game at 28 early in the fourth quarter? Replays clearly showed Saturday was down before the ball broke the plane, and New England had all three timeouts. A successful challenge would have made it New England 28, Indianapolis 21 with the Colts facing third-and-goal on the Pats' 1. Probably the hosts would have scored anyway, but something might have gone wrong for Indianapolis on third-and-goal at the 1, too. This seemed a rare case of Belichick showing less than complete attention on a small detail. (The Colts would not have gotten a first down from Saturday's recovery; if the offense recovers its own fumble shy of the "line to gain," a first down is awarded only if the loose ball was in the possession of the defense at some point during the down.)
    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...t&lid=tab1pos1

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Am I the only one that didn't read Bat Boy's article because I thought it would somehow end up praising the current administration's policy in Iraq? I keed, I keed.

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by Los Angeles View Post
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    I've read this guy's crap for so long ... I can't shed one little once of sympathy and I can't give one ounce of respect or appreciation for what's written here.

    Hey Sports Guy: I hope it hurt.

    Hey Sports Guy: I hope it doesn't get better.
    I agree. And on top of that he doesn't exactly pass up chances to allude to how the Pats were robbed or list the excuses (ahem, injuries...yeah, because Sanders felt great, Utech made that last TE catch, and Manning didn't need an Xray after the game, just for starters).

    Don't be fooled, this was still him whining, but with the smug air of "we've won so much that it doesn't really matter, parity caught up with us".

    He even covered Brady's butt with this lame excuse - Brown ran the wrong route, it was supposed to be an out route. Hmm, funny thing that, Brady threw the ball to the inside slant anyway, right to Bob Sanders. In fact when you watch the replay you see that had Brady thrown the ball to the outside (to Brown's left hand) instead of to the inside, Sanders wouldn't have got to it and Brown probably would have had the 1st down. Brady freaking choked that play big time, it's pretty obvious actually. That cost them the game. And then Brady does what he always does after stuff like than happens...he blames others, and a lot more than Manning mentioning the OLine's shoddy effort one time when it was deserved.

    He threw a bullet right for Brown and if it wasn't for Sanders it would have been a completion and the first down. He also had to throw because Freeney was breathing down his neck. The Pats play "machine ball", 3 steps and fire, bam, bam, bam, right down the field in tiny chunks. No long progressions taking tons of time. In this case Tom looked at Brown the entire play, which is exactly why Sanders read it and almost stole Manning's moment.


    See, Simmons is just the reason I wanted the Colts to win by 30. He's the type that needs to see that his team is done. Otherwise it will be more articles like this one.



    Nah. You're right. Must just be ME...
    Not just you. Nice presentation of exactly what I'm talking about. He peppered the whole article with those off the cuff comments, just enough for him to say "but I did give the Colts credit". This is the best he can muster.

    He didn't mention how close the fumble TD for the Pats was (in the hands of 3 Colts on the ground before becoming free again) or how close the TD in the back of the endzone was to being invalid...as in if they called it the other way the replay wouldn't have overturned it. He didn't mention how Wayne's foot clearly hit the Pats DB which made it come forward awkwardly into his other foot and sent him tripping to the ground (check the replay, it's clear as day).

    Riche drops a pass and its a big problem, Harrison drops one right in his hands due to his nagging hand injury and it's not worth mentioning (and again, the Colts didn't have the injuries that the Pats did, even though Harrison sat out the rest of that drive before returning to catch the 2pt conversion).

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    I'm thinking: Now's your chance, go win the game! The crowd was obviously thinking: Ohmygawd they're gonna lose again. The RCA Dome was again weirdly quiet when the Colts got the ball back, again on their 20, with 2:17 remaining and one timeout, still trailing 34-31. I'm thinking: The football gods just gave you a second chance, go win the game! The crowd was obviously thinking: Ohmygawd.
    I'm thinking some nimrod hasn't been the Dome recently. Shutting the F up when the offense gets the ball is just as much a priority as yelling when the defense comes out is. When the Colts got the ball to the 5 the crowd stayed just as quiet. After every catch or good run the crowd got briefly loud before shutting up again for the next snap. That wasn't worry just before Addai scored, we all knew that the FG was certain and that a TD seemed likely. We just don't yell when Manning is calling plays at the line because we aren't a bunch of idiots.

    NONE of us were thinking "Oh my god, not again". We were thinking "here's your moment, go take it" and saying things like "10 yards at a time". Literally, many people around me said those exact words, not just me. You could feel an Elway/Montana moment coming, it was long overdue and the offense had been rolling most of the 2nd half and had more than enough time to get into FG range at least. Downs would run out before the clock did.


    The home timekeeper had a big play on Fletcher's reception, too. The ball snapped with 2:08 showing, and as Fletcher strove out of bounds the Indianapolis timekeeper stopped the clock with 2:01 showing, thus handing the Colts an extra play before the two-minute warning. It turned out the extra snap had no role in the outcome, as the home team scored the winning touchdown at 1:02. Had the Colts scored to win on the final down, today a huge controversy would be swirling over the mysterious clock-stop at 2:01. (There's no way the play in question took only seven seconds.)
    Dude needs to buy a Tivo, or maybe he thinks CBS was part of the trickery too. You can time it yourself if you trust neither source. He steps out of bounds almost more on 2:02 even.

    Good as New England always is, its offensive strategy in the endgame seemed puzzling. Leading 34-31 with 2:39 remaining, facing second-and-8, the Patriots came out empty backfield. This is a clock-killer situation, run the ball! Short pass, Indianapolis timeout. Now facing third-and-4 with 2:30 remaining, the Patriots came out empty backfield. This is a clock-killer situation, run the ball! Incompletion stopping the clock, and the home team gets possession back with plenty of time.
    This is just retarded, seriously. First he complains about a COMPLETION, which was identical to a run. It was a short POSSESSION style pass meant to avoid a clock stoppage. And the 2 passes were due to the penalty which required them to gain decent chunks of yardage on all 3 plays.

    And that magic run on 3rd. If it doesn't get the first down then the Pats still lose, except that Brady gets less time to throw the ball to Marlin at the end. Considering what the Pats had done well all game (short passing) vs what they'd struggled with (the run after that big run early in the game on 4th and 6 with the line stacked tight) I'd say it was a good call and bad execution.

    Complete that pass and the game is OVER. Not some time off the clock but over. Time for knees almost.

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    Default Re: Sports Guy: Peyton giveth and taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by Naptown_Seth View Post
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    He didn't mention how Wayne's foot clearly hit the Pats DB which made it come forward awkwardly into his other foot and sent him tripping to the ground (check the replay, it's clear as day).
    To be fair, whether or not their feet touched is irrelevant. The ref didn't come out and say it, but he did say both were playing the ball. It was incidental contact, and that isn't considered passing interference.

    As long as the DB is making a play on the ball, there can be some contact as long as it isn't blatantly obvious they were holding/pushing/tripping. That's why pass interference was called later in the endzone when there was little contact. The DB was face guarding Reggie all the way.

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