Am I dissapointed? Sure
Am I angry? You bet.
Am I surprised? No, not really.
Am I panicking? No.
This decision will not decide our season. This decision will not "enrage starters, make them lose hope" et al. No, let's remember who we are dealing with. We have a team that played 9 straight elimination games last year, depleted and all, and won every single one of them. We have a team that, when at full strength, was one quarter away from 15-0. We have a team that I trust can beat every team in the NFL. We have a class operation, with players who will not dwell on this for long. The 1998 Broncos lost two straight after a 13-0 start. They ran away with a Super Bowl. The 85 Bears lost to Miami, and ran away with a Super Bowl. If anything, those two teams had something to dwell on: The played EVERYONE and lost. We didn't. Honestly, is the shroud of invincibility gone? Yeah, fine it is. However, my feeling that this team is the best team in football, a team capable of beating anybody, anywhere, anytime, has not changed one bit. We saw Peyton play magnificent last Thursday, in a hostile environment, playing for everything. We saw this team make a miraculous, brilliant 4th quarter comeback against the Pats. We saw this team put the hammer down with a 14 play 8 minute TD drive against the Broncos. Let's not forget that team.
If anything, this will allow whatever 19-0 pressure to go away. I would say that a majority of us supported the rest theory, and even more of us said "I don't care if we rest, if we go 16-0. I just want a second Lombardi". Just because they did what we all thought they would do all along in a way that was surprising, if not maddening, let's not forget that we (including me) supported it. It was not pretty, seeing those boos rained down upon the Luke turf, but at least they were not rained on Peyton, Reggie or Dwight, they were at the coach and the GM. They can both handle it, I'm sure, as can a locker-room full of proffesionals. They came back from three straight devastating Super Bowl losses, and won a Super Bowl.
I'll finish with these two questions.
Would you rather have been the '06 Colts, who entered the postseason with a swiss-cheese run defense, finishing the year 3-4 (let's all try to permenantly delete all footage of the 44-17 game, please), or this team who has yet to lose when playing to win?
Would you rather be the Saints, losers of two straight at home, when they openly played to win, and lost, including one to decrepid Tampa Bay, or would you rather be the Colts?
I would take the '09 Colts in both.
We still have Manning, Wayne, Freeney, Clark, Mathis. We love this team Polian created, drafting unknowns from Who Knows Where U and plugging them in. We love how Caldwell has gotten this team focused and motivated for everygame. We love the way that Manning and the other leaders are class proffesionals, who can put everything aside and play the game. Sure they burned us in '05 and '07. But, we rested in 2004, and had a 31-3 halftime lead against the Broncos. Historically, teams have rested and done fine (last year's Steelers). It's not like playing for 16-0 helped the Pats in '07.
We all have loved this team for 14 weeks. They have done everything for us for this whole time. Are we really ready to throw it away now, to get a divorce, or seek team counseling? I'm not. I'm ready to fight through the inevitable medi firestorm, and lay low till Jan 16-17. Why? Cause we got 18 on our side, and let's never forget that.