FOXBORO MA - NOVERMBER 21: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts calls a play against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 21 2010 in Foxboro Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
The loss for the Colts is on Garcon's hands.... O wait, he dropped it. Figures. In a game in which the Colts almost pulled off a heroic comeback, Garcon is the one guy that left a bitter taste in what otherwise felt like a valiant effort.
He's like the guy at the airport counter who tells you your flight home has been cancelled and then doesn't put forth a good enough attempt to help you make sure that you get on a flight and make your connection. An otherwise great vacation still feels ruined because you did everything you could to get home and couldn't. Instead of reminiscing about how awesome the trip was you are left feeling frustrated and emotionally drained by the time you finally arrive. The worst part is you know that guy could have made the difference (or at least helped a great deal). One click of the button and viola, you are flying home relaxed and feeling great.
Garcon's play easily changed the outcome of the game and was one of the factors that contributed to the Colts losing what could have been a season setting morale-boosting win. With the Colts trailing 21-14 earlier in the second half and having just forced their first stop on defense, Peyton and the offense looked primed to strike. On 2nd down just inside the Patriots territory, the Colts set up a screen to Garcon... who dropped it. The very next play, Peyton went deep down field to Garcon, who slipped coming out of his break and.... dropped the ball. Again. For the 999th time this season.
Peyton's second interception - another drive killer - in which Garcon broke off his route, was also Garcon's fault. Peyton admirably defended Garcon and took the blame, but on a fly pattern the receiver should NEVER BREAK THE ROUTE. That play is all about timing. If Peyton sees a favorable defensive coverage at the line of scrimmage, he is throwing that pass no matter what happens after the snap. It's a quick drop and bam. Garcon breaking off his route is a bad mistake. With number 18 throwing, you have to trust his instincts and not try to over think it. If he had, Garcon might have been able to make a play on the ball or at least knocked down the pick.
Later, on Downfield Donald Brown's long 39-yard run in the 4th quarter, Garcon had a chance to atone for his mistakes. After reversing the field, Brown stampeded down the field and looked as if he were going to score until....Garcon gave a weak effort, couldn't finish his block and allowed McCourty to push Brown out of bounds. A@V$#F!#IWE*%
In fairness to Garcon, none of the throws were easy catches, its hard holding a block way down field and he did make a crucial catch on the last scoring drive. But enough is enough! With Gonzalez done for the year and Collie out the last few games, Garcon has had every opportunity to step up. So far though - yep, you guessed it - he's dropped the ball. This blog has said it, Bob Kravitz has said it and I agree: If the Colts want to win the AFC and advance to the Super Bowl, Garcon has to play better.
Kravitz went as far as to challenge his effort. I disagree. For the most part, the heart and effort (minus the block) seem to be there, especially taking into consideration his troublesome hamstring. It's the focus that is sorely lacking. I really do like Garcon, I believe he can perform better and I think he will, but time is running out and Blair White is playing well.
Hopefully, for his sake, for the fans and for the Colts playoff fortunes, Garcon turns it around.
Moving on, the rest of the game was typical Colts-Pats. A classic showdown in which the Colts started slow, battled and rallied. Only this time the ending wasn't as sweet. As porous as the defense looked in the first half, give them credit. When stops were needed the defense hung tough and came up big. They managed to hold the Pats to only 7 plays on their last two drives. That was unexpectedly sweet and gave the offense a chance. After those stops, how many people out there - Pats fans included - didn't think the Colts were going home winners. Peyton Manning was so good, so methodical, that it almost seemed like a done deal. Unfortunately, and probably rightfully so, the magic ran out. There are only so many times a team can stake the Patriots a 15 plus point lead and recover, especially on the road.
One thing is for sure though. As Phil Sims said, the Colts are one of the most resilient teams. What makes them dangerous, and so easy to root for, is that they play the whole 60 minutes. It's a Dungy-Cadwell trademark: The Colts will always fight.
What scares me going forward is not the injuries (the defense is finally starting to heal), not the record (everyone else in the AFC South is imploding and the Jags are not for real), but the issue of home field advantage. True, the Colts won in Arrowhead and beat Baltimore on the road on their way to the Super Bowl in 2006. The difference was though, that we drew the Pats at home. Yes we proved last night that we could beat the Pats in Foxboro, but at 2-4 on the road, and with the haunting memories of years past, this remains one of the biggest concerns.
Overall, you have to like the effort. As I said in my preview, if the Colts didn't win it was going to be a dogfight. Well now we in the midst of one. Given our resiliency, toughness and incredible determination, I like our chances. O, and we do have number 18.