Apparently calling the decision to bench starters when the Colts were up 15-10 "cowardly" is damning myself with my own words. Whatever. I'll simply post a great quote from one of our readers, Reds_Colts1975:
The Big Picture is that we had a chance to make history, but we chickened out. Fear of Success masquerading as Fear of Failure.
When you make a decision based on fear rather than strength or courage, that is cowardice defined. Pulling starters because of the fear that they would be injured in a game management deemed "meaningless" is a decision based out of fear, especially when the fanbase, media, and likely the players all thought the game meant something.
Thus, the decision is cowardly.
I don't know any other way of making that sound more logical than it already does, and if I'm damned for sounding logical, then it's better to rule in Hell than serve the blind, deaf, and dumb.
Another point I'd like to make about the cowardly decision to sit starters and throw the game against the Jets: If the threat of injury was such a concern, why not just have Manning hand the football off from the third quarter onward? At least his presence on the field would have provided the threat of a pass. With Curtis Painter in there, the Jets loaded up the box and torpedoed the Colts putrid attempts to run.
With Curtis Painter in the game with other back-ups against the Jets #1 ranked defense in football, the Colts went three-and-out on four of their final five drives.
The one drive where they didn't go three-and-out was because of Painter getting sacked and fumbling on the Indy 20 yard line with 1:29 left in the third quarter. The Jets recovered the fumble in the endzone to score a TD and take the lead for good. Caldwell tried to challenge the obvious fumble in a hopeless attempt not to look foolish, but ended up looking even more stupid by challenging the call and wasting a timeout.
So again we go back to benching Manning.
If the issue was avoiding injury, why not bench Manning at halftime, or two series in, or possibly just let him hand the football off from the 5:36 point in the third quarter onward? The offensive production would have been about as affective as Painter's, likely sans turnover. And without that turnover, the Jets likely lose and the Colts stay undefeated while also avoiding injury.
Best of all words, right?
Or, did the Colts simply want to lose this game to avoid the "circus" of an undefeated regular season. If that is indeed one of the reasons, it doesn't get more cowardly than that.
The more I examine this decision, and the more arrogant Bill Polian gets when confronted with its obvious stupidity, the more I feel these two gentlement will rue the day they ever made it. It was a cowardly call based out of irrational fear, and like all decisions made with this justification, the result breeds anger, frustration, and confusion.