I read an article on FanSided this morning that went through each NFL team's most heartbreaking moment of all time. Naturally, this got me thinking about the Colts and the many heartbreaking moments in the team's history. Many of which (but not all) have come within the past 20 years or so.
Plus, it seemed like a good article to run a poll on.
Anyway. FanSided ranked Tracy Porter's pick six in the Super Bowl as the franchise's most heartbreaking moment. I'm not so sure I agree with that. Although that game is still the only Colts playoff loss I've never gone back to watch the highlights on. But let's look at a few prime candidates for the most heartbreaking moment in the team's history.
Super Bowl 44 - The FanSided pick is also the team's most recent traumatizing moment. You all know the story. The Colts team went 14-2 (and let's not get into that) and was the favorite to win the Super Bowl after smoothly navigating the AFC playoffs. The Colts had a 10-0 lead, which was shorted to 10-6 by the half. Then the Saints did that onside kick thing, and took the eventual lead.
Peyton Manning looked primed to lead the Colts down the field for a game tying drive. However, that was halted when Porter intercepted Manning, and returned the interception for a touchdown. The play which really sealed the game for the Saints. Had the Colts scored could they have stopped Drew Brees from rolling down the field for a game winning score? Who knows. But the season, and Super Bowl dream ended with the interception.
2007 Divisinal Playoffs - The moment here, in my mind, is Manning missing Dallas Clark on a 4th down to lose, and go one and done again against the Chargers in 2007. While the game and moment was heartbreaking, I think the overall picture was more disappointing here. The Colts were defending champions, and had a great team in 2007.
Put aside the fact that the Colts lost to a team led by Billy Volek for a moment. But remember how poorly the Patriots played in the AFC title game? While you never know, it certainly looked like a game the Colts would have had a great shot in, especially after nearing beating New England earlier in the season. This one may be more of a "what could have been" moment, but if the Colts take care of the Chargers, I think they have a realistic chance of going back to back as Super Bowl Champions.
2005 Divisonal Playoffs - For me, this is the most heartbreaking moment in franchise history. I maintain that this 2005 Colts team was the best team the franchise has fielded since the 1960s. This is the team that should have won the franchise's first Super Bowl since moving to Indianapolis. But it didn't work out that way.
The Colts started slow, but nearly completed their comeback against the Steelers in the Divisonal playoffs. Heck, this game even had TWO heartbreaking moments. The first (in hindsight) is Nick Harper somehow getting tackled by Ben Roethlisberger. At the time, it wasn't heartbreaking because the Colts miraculously had the ball and a chance to tie or win. Then came the field goal. And I'll leave it at that.
1995 AFC Championship - Another playoff game against the Steelers complete with two heartbreaking moments. You all know the story. The Colts were the unexpected team that rolled through the AFC playoffs. They knocked off the defending AFC champs, and then the top seed in the playoffs. Too bad the Steelers were in the way.
The first of two moments in this game was the dropped interception by Quentin Coryatt. Had Coryatt been able to make the play, the Colts win the game. No question. The second moment is the infamous one for Colts fans. Jim Harbaugh's Hail Mary that fell just incomplete, ending the game. A great playoff run, but no Super Bowl.
1983 Draft - I would argue this is a heartbreaker as well. The Colts were primed to get the legendary John Elway in the draft, but he refused to play for the Colts. Eventually, the team dealt him to Denver, where the franchise was really turned around with Elway under center. Meanwhile, the Colts relocated and we're still a pretty bad team until the championship run in 1995.
1977 Divisional Playoffs - The Colts were back in the playoffs. They were at home. Bert Jones led the resurgent Colts to a division title and playoff berth. There they battled the Oakland Raiders to a 31-31 tie at the end of regulation. The score remained the same through the first overtime. Then it happened. The Ghost to the Post. And the season was over, just like that.
Super Bowl 3 - Yes, this has to make the list. We all know the story, but what is the heartbreaking moment in this game, specifically? I would say it was Earl Morrall missed Jimmy Orr on the flea flicker at the end of the first half, and as instead intercepted. While the game remained somewhat close, this play was a HUGE momentum swing in favor of the Jets.
So what do you think is the most heartbreaking moment in Colts history? Is it one of these options, or is there another one you think should rank at or near the top?