Go COLTS!!! The Colts jugernaught keeps on rollin'!
Go COLTS!!! The Colts jugernaught keeps on rollin'!
I really wish I was more of a football fan - but congrats you guys. I'll cheer for your Colts even though I don't know much about them other than Peyton and Marvin
But I have to go for the Indy team I guess
It's already started. Journalists are saying that Peyton can't win out side. That he can't win in hte cold. That the Colts don't stand a chance of beating the Patriots. I'd rather be the underdog and win than be favored and lose.
For Colts, nothing's proved until next weekend
Jan. 9, 2005
By Pete Prisco
SportsLine.com Senior Writer
Tell Pete your opinion!
INDIANAPOLIS -- We've seen this before, and that's the problem. We've watched the Indianapolis Colts roll up gaudy offensive numbers to win playoff games, their quarterback playing pitch-and-catch to a record-breaking tune and their fast-break style making some wonder if this offense can be stopped.
Peyton Manning can't celebrate long with the Patriots on deck. (Getty Images)
So when the Colts win a wild-card game in grand fashion as they did Sunday against the Denver Broncos -- blowing them out 49-24 at the RCA Dome in a game that really wasn't that close -- it might be a pretty thing to watch, but the reality is that it also brings to mind this thought:
That might seem a bit cruel, a bit callous, considering the dominance the Colts displayed against the Broncos, but anything short of a Super Bowl for this team will be a failed season.
It's that simple.
The skeptics will always be lurking until the Colts can have a summer ceremony to slip on those Super Bowl rings. Out-of-this-world passing numbers by Peyton Manning are nice. MVP trophies look good on the mantle, and it's wonderful to put more Colts names in the NFL record book than there are Smiths in a city phone directory.
But none of it really matters if there's no Super Bowl trip. To get there, the Colts will have to beat the defending champions when they travel to Foxboro, Mass., next Sunday to play the New England Patriots. It was the Patriots who beat them in the AFC Championship Game last season, keeping alive the thoughts of the legion of doubters who insist anything short of a Super Bowl is failure for this team.
"That's a valid point," Colts receiver Brandon Stokley said. "People can bring it up all they want, and we really can't say much about it. It's a valid point."
Manning put on a passing clinic against Denver for the second consecutive year, completing 27 of 33 passes for 457 yards and four touchdowns, proving once again that he can indeed play well and win big games, the idea that he can't a criticism that somehow won't go away.
For the second consecutive year, the Colts opened the playoffs with an offense-dominant performance against a Denver team that seemed helpless to stop them, so helpless that coach Mike Shanahan sent a we're-done message to his team in the second quarter when he tried an onsides kick down 21-3.
This was deja poo for the Broncos.
Manning once again turned the game into a 7-on-7 passing drill, throwing for 360 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. The yards were the most by a quarterback in the first half of a playoff game since the merger in 1970. His 457 total was the second most in playoff history behind Bernie Kosar's 489 against the Jets in 1986.
"It was outstanding execution throughout the entire game," Manning said.
The Colts game plan was simple, really. When they went to three-receiver sets last week in their season-ending loss to the Broncos, a game that was more like a preseason game for the Colts since their seed was locked in, they noticed the Broncos played star corner Champ Bailey on Marvin Harrison and put Kelly Herndon inside on Stokley, which left rookie Roc Alexander on Reggie Wayne.
A real rock might have been better in coverage on this day. At least it would have held its position.
Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley step up to answer Denver smack talk. (Getty Images)
Wayne was more open than a carnival barker's mouth, catching 10 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns, nearly all of that against an overmatched Alexander.
"It's nothing against Alexander," Manning said. "Reggie's had an outstanding year all season long. Whoever's been guarding Reggie is always in for a challenge."
Colts coach Tony Dungy admitted his team expected the Broncos to blitz a lot and play plenty of man behind it. With Bailey on Harrison, limiting him to four catches for 50 yards, it was natural that Manning picked on the rookie.
In fact, the Colts led 21-0 before even Harrison or Stokley caught a pass, which is significant since both went over 1,000 yards receiving this season with more than 10 touchdowns.
Harrison's ability forces teams to roll coverage to his side, which helps open things up for Stokley and Wayne. It also helps when tight end Dallas Clark, who did not play in the playoffs a year ago because of a broken leg, chips in with six catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.
It was on Clark's touchdown that Manning said the safety cheated to help Bailey, which left Clark alone in the middle of the field for a 19-yard score.
What made the Colts receiving group gloat a little more Sunday was they made the Broncos, and maybe some of those doubters, eat some words. Some Broncos came out last week and said the Colts receivers were soft, a reputation the team has as a whole.
"They don't like to be hit," Denver safety Kenoy Kennedy said. "They're small guys. Any time they can, they jump on the ground. You've got to be physical with them. They don't like it."
The Colts receivers heard the comments, and then came out and made the Broncos pay for them. Not only did they put up the big numbers, but they had some crunching blocks on those same defensive backs.
Broncos safety John Lynch was fined $75,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Clark last week, but it was Lynch and his mates who took the beating this time. Stokley nailed Lunch with a key block on one of Wayne's touchdowns, while Harrison got Bailey with one on another.
"I wasn't going to back down," Wayne said. "I wasn't going to fall to the ground or whatever they said."
Said Stokley: "We wanted to let our play do the talking for us."
It did, loudly. Not surprisingly, the Denver players did little talking.
"We didn't hear much from them," Stokley said.
Now comes the tough part, winning at New England. It's the game the Colts have been waiting to play, even if they didn't say so Sunday. It's a validation point.
Win, and they're for real.
Win, and they aren't soft.
Win, and Manning can kick to the curb all those who doubt his ability to win the truly big ones. He played poorly last year as the Patriots corners beat up his receivers.
"I played like an absolute dog in that game," Manning said.
It is something that has eaten at him for 12 months, from his now-legendary workouts through a regular season that saw him break the single-season record for touchdown passes.
Anything less than a Super Bowl just won't do.
"We've still got a lot to prove," Colts tight end Marcus Pollard said.
Do they ever.
Wild-card victories are nice and all, but if the Colts can win at New England next week, the doubters will scatter like ants on a stepped-on ant pile. If they lose, those doubters will be heard louder than ever.
Like I said, they beat up the Broncos again Sunday.
Peyton can win outside if the conditions are reasonable.
In the 30's and wind at 10mph or less and no precipitation.
If it is in the 20's with snow and gusting winds, I think we are done.
Pats still need to fear one thing however. Each and every game against the Pats that Peyton plays he is always hindered by the one cornerback who out plays him. Ty Law.
This time there is no Law and Peyton is coming in hot and the Colts are coming with Bob "Big Hit" Sanders.
I'm really looking forward to the game. It's going to be a shootout.
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.
This is the time for the Colts to make their move and get the monkey
off their back. I believe that they have been playing at a higher level than
the Pats for the past several weeks, plus the Pats appear to have a couple of
key defensive players injured. Now is the time, not to put too much pressure
on the Colts though.
I really think this is the year that we beat those guys. No Ty Law is really gonna hurt them. And DiamondDave I've been really impressed with Bob Sanders too. He could turn out to be one of hell of a player.