If you watched the Monday Night Football Game last night, you saw the 2008 season in a nutshell. New England, fresh from getting their butts handed to them against the Chargers (who lost big time Sunday to the Buffalo Bills), hand the AFC West leading Broncos a crushing loss. New England dominated Denver a week after being dominated by San Diego, who is supposedly worse than Denver.
Welcome to the 2008 season, folks!
Factor in that no marquee team is playing well now. Hell, no QB is even really playing well. The #3 scoring team in the league is the Bears, whose WRs are as close to a JV pro squad as one can get. One week we see teams like the Giants beat up on the Redskins, and the next we seem them get crushed by the inept Browns.
Now, the Colts.
Now, take this and apply it to our beloved Colts, who were blown out by a Green Bay Packers team coming off snapping a 3 game losing streak and playing in Lambeau Field. Like so many games the Colts have played this year, they are facing a desperate opponent willing to gamble anything to win. And, unlike playing on the road, gambling at home is a much, much safer bet. Green Bay had to win this game to get back on track. They were embarrassed at home against the Falcons two weeks ago, and just got back from a road win against the now-hapless Seahawks. The Colts, meanwhile, have not played in Green Bay since 2000, and have not played the Packers since 2004. Most of the players currently on the Packers weren't there in 2004, including their QB Aaron Rodgers.
Desperate opponent. Unfamiliar setting. Unfamiliar team. Road game. Lambeau Field. It all equals a recipe for disaster.
Now, I say all this because, just like after every loss, there needs to be a voice of reason. I, personally, am not built to be such a voice. That's why guys like shake n bake and mgrex30 are here. Me? I'm the nutball who flies off the handle, accusing the Colts of lying about Peyton Manning's second knee surgery. But in regards to this loss to Green Bay, I feel I have to step in and state the obvious:
Calm down. Take four deep breaths. Go kiss your kids, your girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever. Shake the crazy talk from your system.
The Colts are a very good football team. They still are. But just like every other really good football team this season, they are playing inconsistent football. Part of it is injuries. Part of it is new players. Part of it is veterans, like Peyton Manning, who are not playing well. Eventually, and this will likely happen very soon, this team will get itself together and start playing consistent football. They are too good, too smart, and too well coached not to. It is literally that simple.
The Colts lost to the Packers because of turnovers and penalties. It wasn't their run defense (3.3 yards a carry allowed) or their pass defense (186 yards allowed). It wasn't their o-line protection (zero sacks) or their special teams. They lost because they committed 112 yards worth of penalties, and Peyton Manning played one of the worst games he has played as a pro. Again, that simple.
First, Peyton. You've seen me furiously defend Peyton when morons love to blame him for games where he actually played very well in, like the San Diego regular season game last year. In this game against Green Bay, Peyton was awful. The offense spurted because Peyton was not throwing the ball accurately. Two INTs returned for TDs... that's on the QB. Peyton himself took responsiblity after the game because he knows he sucked and, like a real leader, he owned up to it. Peyton is God, and even God can screw up now and again.
Unforgivable are the penalties.
Part of the penalties were just more bad officiating. The zebras flagged everything the Colts DBs did. When they sneezed, he threw a flag. However, Green Bay's defenders dry humped the Colts WRs all game long, and they did not get flagged as often. Fine. It is in Green Bay. It was the offsides, the holds, the other things that irked me. These were mental mistakes, and you can't have mental mistakes against a desperate team in their house. Green Bay gained several key first downs by penalties.
Take those and the two mental mistakes by Manning away, and you have yourself a Colts win folks.
What accounted for these uncharacteristic mental errors? Who knows. Maybe the John McCargo fiasco distracted them, and it would be understandable if it did. But now that is over and the Colts must move on. The mental mistakes will decrease and Peyton is going to bounce back. He always does. And if there is one victory we can take from this game it is that NO ONE GOT HURT! This is the first game in God knows how long where the Colts did not have a season-ending or season-altering injury to a significant player. Finally, for one damn game, we didn't lose anyone (that we know of).
As players like Ryan Lilja and Bob Sanders slowly return, this team will round back into shape. Get used to the roll coaster, folks. This is how the season has been for everyone, every team.