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Recap Week Eight: Colts 34-Broncos 31

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I don't believe in bulletin board material. By that I mean I don't believe it is a truly effective means of motivation at the pro level. This is why I didn't write anything about Denver cornerback Darrent Williams comments, guaranteeing he'd get 2 picks if Manning threw at him. Well, Manning did throw at him... often. Reggie Wayne was on the side of the field Williams was covering, and it seemed every big play the Colts needed in the second half involved Manning to Wayne.

Manning and Wayne connected 8 times for 138 yards and 3 TDs. On every single connection, Williams was covering Wayne. On the Wayne TD in the fourth quarter which gave Indy the lead, you could see Williams get visibly frustrated. He turned around and started yelling at teammates. After the game, Williams refused to talk with the media (kind of like Tom Brady after the Colts kicked his butt last season in Foxboro).

There's an old saying that sports does not build character; it reveals it. There is some truth to that phrase. Think of the times Manning has lost playoff games, in some cases played poorly in them (like the AFC Championship game in 2003). No matter the situation, no matter how bad the loss hurt or how badly he played, Manning always faced his critics, unlike guys like Brady or Williams. Now, I'm not saying Brady is the kind of guy that will guarantee anything, and then punk out after getting his rear handed to him (like Williams). I'm saying that Manning is under appreciated for all the stupid criticism he has had to deal with from complete and utter morons like Tom Curran at the Boston Globe or guys like these. Will we see guys like Williams get hosed by the press for his "guarantee" and subsequent "choke job?" Doubtful. When Brady walked out on the media last year after his Foxboro beatdown, nary a word was said. If Manning had done that after a Colts loss, the media would have had a field day.

Corporate media = double standard, folks. Here's the recap:

  • Peyton Manning is the MVP. I said it three weeks ago. I say it now. Manning is playing the best football of his life; better than 2004 when he threw 49 TDs. Mannings' ability to control a football game is best summed up by Broncos DE Ebenezer Ekuban:
    "Remember when (Michael) Jordan was playing and he came into town and everybody wanted tickets, and people stood outside the arena just to see him?'' Ekuban said. "That's (Peyton). He's a phenomenal quarterback. The best quarterback I've faced in my eight years in the league.''

    You can see his confidence grow with each and every game. This season, we've seen more new things from Manning than ever before: He's escaping better from the pocket; throwing better on the run; utilizing his check-downs better, etc. This is from a guy that many considered was the best EVER two years ago. We are actually seeing improvement. That's scary. It could be argued that the loss of Edgerrin James was a blessing in disguise for Manning. The loss forced Manning to re-evaluate himself, and make changes. Plus, you can see he is really enjoying teaching the young guys, like Addai, the nuances of the offense. Peyton Manning is the ultimate difference maker, and he continues to haunt Mike Shanahan.

  • Ron Meeks is on official notice. So is Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and Raheem Brock. You can add Gilbert Gardner into that mix as well. If I see any of these guys overrun, over pursue, or flat out WHIFF on another tackle, I want them benched. Seriously, this is getting dumb. The Colts run defense was outstanding in the first half. Tatum Bell, who led the league in rushing coming into the game, was completely stuffed. The Broncos benched him in the second half for Mike Bell, who ran for over 130 yards on just 15 carries and scored 2 TDs. Most of those runs were on draws or mis-direction. Colts defenders would over-pursue and the Broncos would get gaping runs right up the middle. This defense is far to pre-occupied with sacking the QB. Only Booger McFarland stayed at home in his gap. I know Bob Sanders and Montae Reagor are hurt. I know Doss and Simon are gone. That's no excuse for the bad fundamentals we are seeing out there on defense. I want improvement, or I want heads on pikes.
  • I was asked by one of our community, PaytonManning, to cease and desist my continuous posting of the Adam Vinatieri beef cake photo. PaytonManning said this when I last posted it:
    Dude, quit with the semi-homo-erotic picture. We get it, you've got a man-crush on Adam V. Seriously though, get a picture of him that you wouldn't find hanging on the bedroom wall of a 13-year old girls room.

    Yes, I admit it. I have a serious man-crush on Adam Vinatieri. I freely confess my fondness for our Dakota-born kicker. At least I admit it. It's hard not to. I mean, look at the guy. Forget the fact that he has yet to miss a field goal this season (12-12). Forget that his kick-offs are helping us get better field position. Forget that his presence is actually changing how Manning runs the offense. Forget all that. It's all about the beef cake, baby!
    Enough with the Vinatieri man-love pic!

    I express my man-love for Adam Vinatieri with full confidence in my heterosexuality. It's like the Christian Slater character in True Romance talking about his man-crush on Elvis.

    In all seriousness, Adam Vinatieri is indeed amazing. He made 4 FGs yesterday, and his presence at the end of the game altered how the Colts ran their 2 minutes drill. At the podium after the game, Manning talked about Dungy's pep talk before the final drive.

    "Coach Dungy is so great in these situations," Manning said. "He reminds you of the little things. He said, 'Hey, you got 1:50 left and you have three time outs. You've got plenty of time. And you don't have to go very far for Vinatieri."
    Because of Vinatieri, Manning said he took more time, hit his check-downs, and took what Denver gave him. You never saw this kind of confidence in Manning while Vandy was around here. When Vinatieri hit the FG, Manning was as pumped on the sideline as I've ever seen him. Like Manning, Vinatieri is a difference maker, and New England was completely foolish to lose him. Oh, and I'll hold off on the beef-cake pic for a while, PaytonManning.

For the 3rd time in 4 years, the Colts start the season 7-0. The last team to start two seasons in a row 7-0 was the 1929-1930 Green Bay Packers. Many in the media world, like Peter "Java the Hutt" King of CNNSI, thought Denver would dominate this game. King even suggested the Colts wouldn't score at TD. Over at ESPN, Tom Jackson had to do everything to restrain himself while doing the highlights of the Colts v. Broncos game. He was so ready to crown the Broncos the new 2000 Ravens. Reality has a funny way of making "experts" look like the idiots they are.

I give the Broncos (except Darrent Williams) mucho respect. They do indeed have a very good defense, and Broncos fans need to stop booing Jake Plummer. He's a fine QB. Not a great one, but he gets it done. He's not John Elway. Then again, I'd argue Elway isn't Peyton Manning. Elway was dominant, but from what I've watched of both players Elway is not nearly as dominant as Manning. Denver has a very good team, and they should win the AFC West. The Colts will, most likely, face them down the road in the playoffs.

Special thanks to beester, Marked Hoosier, and bluegirl for blogging during the game. I couldn't post because I watched the game away from any computers. I'd also like to give a very special thanks and shout out to TheSportsGuru and our friends (and rivals) at Mile High Report. They did an amazing job blogging the lead up to this game. These two teams will most likely meet again, and hopefully we'll get more changes to cross-blog this season.

The Colts now take their show to their old house of horrors: New England. It will be a circus this week folks, especially if NE wins the MNF game against Minnesota. Stay tuned.