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Colts take interesting path to Super BowlPosted Thursday, January 28, 2010, at 4:54 PM
It was a funny thing, but I could swear I heard no boos through my TV while watching the AFC championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday between the Jets and host Colts.
Wasn't it just four weeks ago when a large number of fans, not I as I was lucky enough to be in attendance that day, were booing when the then 14-0 Indianapolis pulled their starters leading the Jets 15-10 late in the third quarter on Dec. 27. The Jets went on to defeat the Colts 29-15 as the junior varsity was no match for the Jets varsity, the start of Green Nation's run to the title game in the AFC.
How dare architect Bill Polian or first-year coach Jim Caldwell even think about not going for a shot at an undefeated season and a shot a history? Some fans were so outraged that they're going to give up their season tickets and never come back to the "Oil Drum" again to watch Indy, their choice and their loss.
Sports talk on radio and TV were filled with outraged fans and pundits that could not believe the Colts shrugged off a shot at going 19-0 and earning a place in history beside the 1972 Dolphins, the only team to go undefeated and win the Super Bowl.
For the life of me, I could not find one of those so-called experts or disgruntled fans on Sunday evening when the Colts scored 24 unanswered points and beat down the gallant Jets 30-17 to advance to their second Super Bowl in four seasons.
As I suspected that snowy and bitterly cold Sunday evening in late December while being totally dismayed by Colts fans booing their own team, Polian knows best. The powers that be within the Colts organization knew their team needed rest more than they needed to worry about a meaningless win against the Jets or a week later in the regular-season finale in snowy Buffalo, after they had already clinched home field advantage for the playoffs.
The rust verses rest theory was put to rest with the Colts defeated the professional football team from Baltimore 20-3 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, after having earned a bye for owning the best record in the AFC. It may not have worked out so well earlier for the Colts, but it did this time.
I realize that some fans and experts will not forgive what the Colts did. But if history teaches us anything, it is that 16-0 and 18-0 does not necessarily mean 19-0. Just ask the New England Patriots who had a perfect regular season and two wins in the playoffs two years ago, but came up short in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. So much for the pursuit of perfection, I guess. I hate that phrase by the way.
Little did I realize when my good friend Rich, who was responsible for our tickets (my Christmas gift) on the Colts sideline at the 10-yard line, 14 rows up in the lower section, and I would be even more personally involved in this year's playoffs.
You see, Rich is a Jets fans, God bless his sole.
He was wearing his Jets fleece back in December when New York took advantage of the Colts' gift. He was proud as a peacock that day and I must admit I took it like a man. I even put together a birthday present of pictures for him from the game, complete with the outcome, printed in green no less.
I congratulated him and even though we discussed it briefly, neither of us thought there would be any chance for a rematch, especially for the right to go to the big dance.
When the Jets were ahead 17-13 at halftime in the AFC championship game Sunday, Rich called me and left a voice mail to tell me to get the consolation cigar he gave me a month earlier ready to burn.
But what he didn't know is that I turned into the great prophet B.J. and just minutes earlier had told my sister in Tennessee that the Jets were done and would not score again. The 24 unanswered points, including that beautiful drive to end the first half, by Indy left the Colts with a 13-point victory and a trip to the Super Bowl and Rich with his Jets' key ring in his hands.
New York quarterback Mark Sanchez was very good but no match for Peyton Manning. The great Jets defense and running game also were no match for that of the underrated Colts, who outrushed New York and stifled the Jets run game.
(Darrelle) Revis Island is still a place you don't want to visit often but Collie's Corner and Garcon's Guillotine were too much for the Jets to overcome, as rookie Austin Collie and second-year player Pierre Garcon combined for 18 catches, 274 yards and two TDs against a secondary that was clearly overmatched.
So as the Jets are now just a part of Indy's rearview mirror, the Colts can now turn its attention to the New Orleans Saints, who defeated the Minnesota Vikings in overtime in the NFC title game Sunday.
The Saints, led by former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees, will be a formidable foe come Sunday, Feb. 7 at about 6:25 p.m. in Miami.
The Colts will not be the sentimental pick as the Saints are making their first appearance in the Super Bowl and people still remember dreadful Hurricane Katrina that hit Louisiana some four-plus years ago. When the president is rooting for the opposition, you know are the underdog, but not with the bookies.
But the "speak softly and carry a big stick" Colts will be competing to be called the best in football again. It has a been a great ride, win lose or draw in a week and a half.
Fans of the Colts should be thankful that almost every year they have to wonder when players will start to be pulled, after clinching a playoff spot.
Oh by the way, Rich, who's birthday is Feb. 4, the anniversary of when the Colts won the Super Bowl three years ago, is taking a trip out west with the lady in his life at the end of this week.
He was planning on leaving a day early to make sure he got back in time to watch the Super Bowl. You can just stay as long as you want, Rich.
B.J. Hargis is the sports editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jets on the ground
(Sung to the tune of Pants on the Ground, from American Idol).
Jets on the ground, Jets on the ground, lookin like fools cause the Colts put em down. Turf in your mouth, helmet turned sideways, thinkin you could rule then lookin like a fool. Walkin around town with your heads hung down, WHO DAT?!?!?! Jets on the ground,... Jets on the ground, lookin like fools cause the Colts PUT EM DOWN!!!!
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