Gut-wrenching. Emotionally draining. Numbing.
This game was an absolute killer. Jim Cadwell has been saying the Colts handle adversity well. Bouncing back from tonight will be the truest and most difficult test the Colts may have ever faced in the Peyton Manning era. How we respond to such a devastating loss with define our season and determine our playoff fate.
We have a short week so we better have even shorter memories.
The hardest part to stomach was that we fought extremely hard and battled well. Ever time we were out of it, we clawed back. Considering we put ourselves in another 17 point hole, the heart and effort showed by both sides of the ball was commendable. We might be injured, we might be in a down year but we didn't quit.
The offensive line gave Peyton Manning time. Wayne and Garcon were excellent tonight. (In fact the energy and feistiness Garcon showed tonight was extremely encouraging. He also made some tough catches). Defensively, we gave up yards but we held strong when we had to. Even our special teams showed fight and determination (Props Taj Smith). In the end, we just couldn't seal the deal.
Tonight was a game of near misses and could-have-beens. Peyton was nearly flawless in the second half save for 2 throws. Reggie Wayne put on a retro 2007 clinic except for that overtime drop. The defense was tenacious on their 6-play goal-line stand, minus that BS penalty (I don't think it was a bad call, I just think the rule is stupid).
Yeah, Peyton threw another 4 picks. He also kept us in it with 365 yards and a game tying TD drive. He's in a slump. Age hasn't caught him, he just can't do it all. Somebody needs to help him out. Our leading rusher can't gain a pathetic 18 yards if we expect to win like previous years.
That being said, the offensive line, the past month's punching bag, kept Peyton upright. Defensively, we gave up 18 points. Not a bad effort at all. The secondary - without Hayden - kept one of the fastest and more talented receiving corps in check. The offense, after we put the first quarter disaster behind us, moved the ball seemingly at will.
Its a game where after you turn off the TV, collect your guts you spilled over you coffee table and make your way to bed, you wonder aloud who is to blame. You expect to curse somebody or something, but at the moment you can't. As a friend emailed me, it was circumstance and misfortune. Bad luck on the call against Eric Foster. Bad luck on the kick off fumble that we nearly recovered. Bad luck that Reggie Wayne dropped the pass off the curl route and bad luck that Peyton's passed was tipped.
It was the ultimate roller-coaster. Taj Smith inspired euphoric highs followed by Tashard Choice induced heartbreaking lows. At the end of the day, we walk away beaten and bruised. We were in trouble before, now we are on life support.
Can we overcome it? Do we, as our coach firmly believes, have the character to fight through and sneak into the playoffs. We will find out Thursday.