Yes, I know it's late, but I don't care. The holidays, travel, and all sorts of NFL news have prevented me from posting my Dolphins game recap.
First off, I'd like to apologize to Phinatic at Phinsider, SB Nation's Dolphins blog. I didn't get a chance to cross-blog with him, and he did a great job writing posts leading up to the game. I also agreed with his recap. Phinsider is also doing a good job covering the Nick Saban saga, which concluded today with Saban acting like a bitch and bolting Miami for the University of Alabama. Class act that Saban. Takes after his mentor (Bill Belichick).
The Miami game, like many Colts games this season, forced Peyton Manning to bail out the defense and the special teams. His quote after the Houston game ("We are what we are...") rings true now more than ever. This team, as it is now, cannot stop the run and cannot cover kicks. Weaknesses of this nature often sick NFL teams. Yet, despite a run defense that surrenders 173 yards a game (which is close to an NFL record folks), the Colts won 12 games.
A big reason why is Manning. The Dolphins games summed up the 2006 regular season perfectly. Run defense was crap. Special teams coverage was garbage. Manning and the offense dominate a very good defense. Colts win. 2006 season defined.
2006 has to be the best regular season of Peyton Manning's career. His offense had the fewest snaps of any offense in football. This is a direct result of the defense's ineptness at getting other teams off the field. Yet, despite this, the Colts scored 26 points per game. They converted an astonishing 56% of their third downs (8 percentage points ahead of the second team: the Cowboys). They had the fewest penalties and were fourth in the league in committing turnovers (only 19 for the whole season). Manning threw for over 4,000 yards, put the ball in the air 557 times (fourth most attempts in the entire league) and only threw 9 INTs. Two of those 9 were on the receiver. The ball hit the receiver right in the hands, bounced out, and was picked.
Manning is a focking GOD, folks.
Yes, yes, yes there will always be a fair share of losers, morons, and Patriots fans that will bash Manning, call him a choker, etc. These people are nothing more than mindless, gibbering trolls and their opinion means nothing. If, as a football fan, you cannot appreciate Manning's greatness, then STOP WATCHING FOOTBALL! Putting the ball in the air 557 times and only having 9 picks is legendary. Like all great players, Manning gets better and better even though he was already the best. His 11 yard TD run against the Dolphins is a perfect example. Manning's new found scrambling is something he specifically worked on last off-season. It has served him well all year.
I also need to give props to the offensive line, especially Tarik Glenn. Jason Taylor is, in my mind, the defensive player of the year. Glenn neutralized him all day with little double teams. Dungy also deserves some credit for putting DT Dan Klecko at FB. Klecko made some great blocks to spring Addai and Rhodes, and he caught a TD pass. Klecko is a better FB than Reid, and he may come in handy in the playoffs.
It has been a wild and crazy regular season. Despite losing Corey Simon, Montae Reagor, Mike Doss, Brandon Stokley, James Mungro, and not having Bob Sanders for much of the season, this team won 12 games. They played the toughest schedule in the NFL, matching up with playoff teams like the Patriots, Jets, Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys. They went 4-1 against those teams. They also played the Titans, Jaguars, Bengals, Broncos, and Bills who all had legitimate shots at the playoffs. The Colts went 5-2 against them. The Colts managed to eek out 12 wins with myriad injuries and a grueling schedule, and yet no one on God's green earth is going to give them a chance against Larry Johnson and the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs this Saturday.
Regardless of what happens, this team has performed well, especially the offense and Manning. We'll be covering the playoffs all week with our rival blog: Arrowhead Pride. The second season is upon us, and we will see if these Colts can dig deep and find the will to get this franchise to a Super Bowl.