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2006 Playoffs, AFC Divisional Round: Colts 15-Ravens 6

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I cannot say enough about this team and how they have continued to defy the odds this post-season. No one, and I mean no one, expected this team to walk into the town they snuck out of in 1984 and shock the Ravens and their fans. And even if they did expect Indy to win, they certainly did not expect the Colts to win in the manner the did. For the second straight week in a row, the Colts defense dominated another team. Like last week, I have never seen this defense go out there and throttle another team they way they throttled Steve McNair and the Ravens.

Before I get to the recap points, I want to point out yet another double standard in the corporate-fed media. Steve McNair played terribly last night. He did exactly what Kyle Boller did the last time the Colts went to Baltimore and beat the Ravens. McNair threw bad INTs, fumbled, and failed to get his team into the endzone. He was god awful bad.

Where are the articles calling McNair a choker? A playoff bust? Where are the articles questioning his acquisition, questioning his legacy?

If Peyton Manning had lost this game with the kind of game he played, the press would have crucified him. Last year, Manning played a great game in a losing cause against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yet, despite throwing for 300 yards and scoring 2 TDs in that game, the press blasted Manning and questioned his legacy. Where are the same questions for McNair? A game like yesterday's was the reason Baltimore signed McNair. If they wanted their QB to throw for fewer than 200 yards and committ 3 huge turnovers, they migt as well have played Kyle Boller. McNair "choked" big time against a much maligned defense known for giving up big plays, and yet the press gives him a pass. Unreal. Here are the recap points:

  • Bob. Sanders. Must. Always. Play. I lost count of how many times Jamal Lewis was greeted at the LOS by Bob. He had 10 tackles in the game, and if he'd held on to another bad throw from McNair, he'd have gotten another post-season INT. It is amazing how different this team is when he is on the field, healthy, and attacking the ball carrier.
  • I am a big Edgerrin James fan. I've made that clear many, many times. Yet, for all the great things Edge did for the Colts, he never really brought anything to the team during the playoffs. I can never remember a single post-season game where Edge went out there and dominated. This post-season, both Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes have played dominant football. Addai last week ran for 122 yards and a TD. Edgerrin never ran for over 100 yards in any post-season game he played. And Dominic Rhodes last night, especially in the 4th quarter, was amazing. That was some very, very hard running against a great Ravens defense. I can't remember ever seeing Edge run like that in a post-season game. Addai and Rhodes are better as a one-two then Edge was as a primary back for the Colts.
  • Colts o-line was amazing. Manning was sacked only once, and on the last drive, which ate up over 7 minutes and ended in a Vinatieri FG to ice the game, the o-line dominated the front seven of the Ravens, and that is not an easy thing to do. Dan Klecko as a FB is an excellent move by Dungy, and it really opens up the running game.
  • Nick Harper has been amazing all year, and yesterday he continued his stellar play. His hit on Todd Heap is exactly the kind of tackling CBs in a Cover 2 is supposed to do. His coverage all game was amazing, and his INT of McNair was a game-changer. Hats off to Nick Harper. All year, Harper has played like one of the better corners in the league.
  • Last week, I did not think Peyton Manning played badly, especially in the second half. Against Baltimore, Peyton was bad... until the fourth quarter. In the fourth, his checkdowns to running plays, and his management of the clock, doomed Baltimore. There are only a handful of QBs in NFL history who could have made that key third down throw to Dallas Clark. Manning is one of them. That throw to Clark was the biggest throw of the game. The scary thing (for other teams) is Manning has not played a great game yet in the post-season.

How fun was it to see Dungy mouthing "Money!" after Vinatieri iced the game with that 35 yard FG? When the game ended, Dungy immediately went over to DT Booger McFarland and hugged him. Why?

"We used to win a lot of games like this," Dungy said. "We kind of went back old school on 'em."

Dungy described the Colts win as winning playing "Buc Ball." Buc Ball is the style Dungy made famous (and infamous) in Tampa Bay. Buc Ball turned the Bucanneers from the worst franchise in professional football into one of the best. Booger McFarland with Dungy during those years.

"Buc Ball might be the reason we got run out of Tampa," said McFarland, referring to Dungy's 2001 firing due to a continual lack of playoff offense. "Today, we played it well. We lined up and it was field goals, it was ugly, it was turnovers, it was punting, but we made enough plays to win the game. That's what Buc Ball is all about."

So, it is fitting that Tony go to Booger and embrace him after using Buc Ball to beat the Ravens in Baltimore. After the game, while being interviewed by press, multiple Colts defensive players were proud that Dungy had described their effort as Buc Ball. Dungy, like all good coaches, knows his team and his team responds to him. He has done a masterful job preparing this team for the post-season and deserves a ton of credit.

Now, as fans, we wait. We wait for the winner of the New England v. San Diego game. If San Diego wins, the Colts travel there for the AFC Championship Game. If the Patriots win, the Colts would host them in the RCA Dome for the right to play in Super Bowl 41. Wow. We'll be blogging the all the way up to the game. Great game and great win for this Colts organization. Go Colts!