John Oehser continues to transcribe The Bill Polian Show and have it up and visible on the net long before Colts.com does so. Here is Polian on the reasons why the Colts lost Super Bowl 44:
Polian said while many have pointed to [wide receiver] Pierre Garcon's dropped pass in the first half or QB Peyton Manning's fourth-quarter interception as poorly-executed plays, he considered two plays far more indicative.
One was the inability of WR Hank Baskett and the Colts' special teams to recover an onside kick on the first play of the second half, and the other was the inability to gain one yard on 3rd-and-1 late in the first half. Those plays led to 10 points that turned a 10-3 Colts lead into a 13-10 deficit.
"You can say, 'Well, Pierre should have caught the ball,''' Polian said. "It would have been a tough catch. I don't think every receiver ought to catch every ball. They're going to drop one or two every now and then. You're going to throw an interception now and then. But when you can't gain a yard when you have to gain a yard in order to go into the locker room ahead, 10-3, with all the momentum on your side, then you didn't execute.
"When you fail to handle an onside kick when there are four positive things you can do to handle it to make it go in your favor and you don't do it, then you didn't execute. That's not a question of preparedness. That's not a question of mental acuity. It's not a question of what hotel you're staying in. It's simply a question of simply executing when the play is to be made and it's in your hands to do it. We didn't do it. It's that simple. The Saints did."
Again, Pierre's dropped pass and the onside kick are not the reasons the Colts lost, in my mind. After the onside kick, the Saints drove the length of the field and scored a TD. Sorry, but why didn't the defense, you know, STOP THEM! And even after that, the Colts took the next possession and scored a TD off that, making the game 17-13. So, all that "momentum" from the onside kick? Yeah, pretty much crushed.
However, after that point, the Saints offense would score another TD, a two-point conversion, and a FG to go up by seven with 5 minutes left in the game. The Saints controlled the clock, gained first downs at will, and scored TDs in the red zone. That's a lock down formula to beat the Colts, and the reason they were able to do it was because the Colts defense could not get them off the field.
A big reason the Colts could not get them off the field in the second half was a lack of pass rush. Dwight Freeney told a group of us after the game that his ankle had tightened up at halftime, limiting his effectiveness in the second half. Injuries happen and they are part of this game, but Freeney's injury was huge.
All that said, with how Polian described "the team" not executing on the onside kick, that is a subtle knock at Hank Baskett, who had the onside kick fly right into his hands only to drop it. Baskett was a good contributor on special teams all season, but right there he wasn't able to make the big play in the key situation. I doubt he returns next year.