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Throwback Thursday: Ghosts of Christmas Past

This Sunday, the Colts will play on Christmas Eve. It isn’t the first time the Colts have played on this day, although the holiday hasn’t been kind to them.

Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans - December 24, 2006 Photo by Bob Levey/NFLPhotoLibrary

Since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, a majority of the NFL games will be played this Saturday (Christmas Eve) instead. This isn’t the first time this has happened, as the same scenario arose in 2011, 2005, and 1994.

There have been a few times prior to this year that the Colts have played on December 24; either because of games being moved to Saturday, or because Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday.

And the Colts haven’t done the best in these games.

The most recent time was actually in 2006. Yes, the league moved games to Christmas Eve in 2011, but the Colts played the Thursday night game against the Texans. That game, a comeback win led by none other than Dan Orlovsky, was 5 years ago today.

So let’s jump back to a happier time: 2006. The Super Bowl year. Of course, Week 16 of that year wasn’t looking great for the Colts. They had lost three of their last five, including a last second field goal loss in Tennessee, and a complete meltdown in Jacksonville.

On Christmas Eve 2006, the Colts traveled to Reliant Stadium to face the Texans, a team they had never lost to at that point.

I distinctly remember this game for a few reasons. One was because Houston got out to a quick 14-0 lead behind two Ron Dayne touchdowns. Which thrilled the Badger football fan in me.

Then I remember Peyton Manning answering with two touchdown passes. I listened to the first half on the radio, and when the Colts tied it, I remember the announcer on Westwood One saying that: The Colts have remember who they are, and so have the Texans.

It looked like the tide had turned, and momentum was on the Colts side. Turns out, that wasn’t the case, as the Colts run defense couldn’t stop Dayne, who went off for 153 yards and two scores.

After tying the game late, David Carr led the Texans on a game winning drive in the final 2:30. The Colts had lost to the Texans for the first time ever.

Of course, that would be the last loss for the Colts in the 2006 season.

If we move back just one year, we come to the 2005 season, where the Colts also played on Christmas Eve.

This time, the Colts were 13-1 and on the west coast facing the 12-2 Seattle Seahawks. At this point in the year, the Seahawks were still fighting for home field advantage, but the Colts had wrapped everything up. Tony Dungy was also absent from this game due to the death of his son during the week.

So, technically, this was the first game of the Jim Caldwell era.

As you can imagine, or remember, the Colts sat the starters for most of the game, and were accordingly blown out by the Seahawks. This was the game, though, where Shaun Alexander (what ever happened to him?) set the single season record for rushing touchdowns. Oh, and Matt Hasselbeck threw two touchdowns in this game.

From there, we have to look all the way back to 1994 to find the next Colts Christmas Eve game.

This was the season finale of the 1994 season, and pitted the 7-8 Colts against the 7-8 Buffalo Bills. And talk about an unexciting game. 10-9 was your final, with the only touchdown coming on a Jim Harbaugh touchdown pass to Floyd Turner. The win moved the Colts into third place in the AFC East, just ahead of the Bills.

The last instance I can find of the Colts playing on Christmas Eve was 1989. Some might argue that this was the worst, and most hurtful, loss on Christmas Eve for the Colts.

Coming into the game, the Colts were 8-7 and with a win would have likely would have been the 4th seed (and hosted the Wild Card round) in the AFC playoffs.

Instead, Indy was blown out in New Orleans by the score of 41-6. With the loss, the Colts missed the playoffs entirely. The Saints win was punctuated by a 63 yard interception return in the 4th quarter.

All in all, Christmas Eve has been less than kind to the Colts as they hold a 1-3 record on the day.

If I missed any Christmas Eve games, let me know in the comments.