PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 07: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 7 2010 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Being a witness to last night's game must have been similar to being one of Michael Vick's dogs: an experience of pure torture. The way the game was played and called, both offensively and defensively, and the inability of the Colts to either force a stop or create big plays, was slow and agonizing to watch. Right out of the gates with McCoy's 62-yard run to start the night, the Colts were at the Eagles' mercy. The Eagles set the tone and forced the Colts to play their game.
Before we get to the actual game coverage though, there are two game related side notes that added to the suffering last night and need to be discussed.
First, Asante Samuel should be suspended indefinitely from the league. While he is no doubt a good player, yesterday he displayed shameful behavior that has no place in our league.
In particular I am referring to the play on which Collie went down. As most players looked on with great concern, Asante Samuel was running around near the sidelines jumping up and down cursing and trying to draw attention to himself a good minute after the play had been blown dead and as Collie lay motionless. 60 Seconds! That is simply inexcusable. I don't care how absurd or wrong the call is - Samuel was correct, it should have been a fumble as Collie had secured the ball and had made a football move - a player should NEVER EVER do such a thing while an opponent is lying motionless and (for all we knew) could have been potentially paralyzed. At first, a friend tried to argue that Asante was caught up in heat of the moment. No. Not even close. That was Samuel being selfish, egotistical, disgraceful, abhorrent (fill in the blank here). A whole minute after the play and he was still thinking about himself. If he can't calm down enough to realize a player's life is in danger, then the NFL needs to mandate he take anger management courses. Such conducted should not be tolerated. He was still yapping and making a scene as the stretcher was being brought onto the field. It was nauseatingly shocking to see such blatant unsportsmanlike conduct and disregard for another player's well being in such a serious situation. Almost immediately after the play was whistled dead Jim Nantz made the comment that Collie was "frozen solid" lying on the field. Even if it turns out that Collie only suffered a concussion, which would be incredibly great news, the NFL should make an example out of Asante Samuel if they are serious about safety and sportsmanship in the game.
The worst part is that he played well and will be lauded as a hero.
Something a little bit lighter that also got under my skin last night - honestly the way the game went everything seemed to really set me off - were the Windows Seven commercials for phones. For about 30 seconds the commercial humorously used exaggerated examples of how we as a culture are addicted to cell phones and how cell phones are causing us to miss out on the ‘real' world. The commercial makes a strong argument for the daily problems cell phones can lead to and yet then, moments later, proceeds to sell us a new and faster cell phone operating system/data plan. WHAT?!?!?! It made absolutely no sense! Why would you spend 30 seconds convincing us that cell phones are bad only to try and sell us a different brand?? That is like a cigarette company showing you 30 seconds worth of clips of smokers dying from cancer because of cigarettes or a guy getting rejected by a beautiful girl at a bar because he pulls out a Marlboro, only to turn around and try and sell you a ‘better' type of cigarette! The girl isn't saying no because you are smoking Newports instead of Camels, it's the cigarettes she doesn't like!!! The whole windows commercial was devoted to the fact that people are already addicted to their phones! After the commercial we don't want new ones! Everyone I was watching with felt guilty and sheepishly put their phones back in their pockets. It was almost as stupid as... the Colts defensive game plan.
CONTAINMENT CONTAINMENT CONTAINMENT
Before the game, I warned that if Freeney and Mathis kept careening up the field, that Vick would wait, allow them to rush, and then break containment by slipping underneath the two ends and take off. I figured he would maybe break one long run, not several. Yet more than once, including a 24 yard dash on 3rd and 9, Vick dropped back, waited for Freeney and Mathis to go whizzing by, and then turned on the jets and was gone. When you prepare for Michael Vick you have to understand that a sack might not be worth the risk of a couple 30-yard gains. Larry Coyer must not have conveyed this to his defense. Just like its difficult for defenses to simulate playing Peyton Manning, Michael Vick requires special preparation and practice. Fortunately, there is an easy solution. Practice with a running back at QB! Clearly this didn't happen as Vick gained 74 yards on 10 carries. It was hard to watch, but then again so was everything else last night.
Last night's game was like Chinese water torture. The defense couldn't get the offense to stop. Drip, drip, drip - first down, first down, first down. The eagles had drive after drive of 10 plays or more, possession after possession that seemed to never end. At one point they ran 12 plays over 6 minutes yet only picked up 39 yards. How could the defense not get off the field sooner!?! The drive only went 39 yards! Even though we were still in it, buy the middle of the 4th quarter I was just hoping for a mercifully quick end.
The strange part was that overall, the defense played decently. Its not like you could blame any particular player or the lack of effort, quite the opposite actually. Individually, guys defended passes and tackled well, but as a collective unit, especially on 3rd down, assignments were blown and containment was broken and plays just weren't made. It was hard to put a finger on it. Every play something else went wrong.
Offensively too, the Colts game plan seemed better suited for a different opponent. The Colts challenged the Eagles down the field on the first play and then went away from the deep ball for much of the game. Instead, the Colts settled for short underneath throws and balls over the middle, which for the most part the Eagles defended well. The Eagles strength was their linebacking core. Why challenge the heart of the defense? There was a reason, especially near the end, as to why the Eagles were happy to let the Colts pick up short yardage gains on crossing patterns and quick outs. The Colts should have continued to take shots out wide down the field to open up spacing and force the Eagles' corners to avoid penalties (something they couldn't do) and challenge the ball rather than make easy tackles. Reggie Wayne had 11 catches for only 83 yards. Again, how did this happen?!?!
On top of all that, Collie's chilling injury and the fact that game seemed to last 630 hours because of the 999 flags and injury timeouts made the game dreadful to watch (don't forget to include the stupid windows 7 phone commercials). Nevertheless, with 40 seconds left, the Colts had the ball needing only a field goal to win it. Each time the Colts seemed dead the Eagles (and the refs) gave them new life. Whether it was the incomplete pass on 3rd and 18 on the last drive (before the eagles got called for slapping Peyton in the helmet) or the first down after the Desean Jackson reverse with a minute to go, the urge was there to shut off the TV and go home. But I couldn't because the Colts never quit. Unfortunately at the end, they just ran out of time; something that was especially painful to watch.