Screed #27

December 28, 2009…

Even though we are longtime Dallas Cowboys fans here at The Federation, we feel sorry that the Indianapolis Colts’ chance at a perfect season was ruined by such a bad decision by team president Bill Polian and head coach Jim Caldwell to deliberately bench their top players in the 3rd quarter against the New York Jets yesterday, in order to “rest” them for the playoffs. That decision cost them not only the game, but a chance to be the first team to potentially go 19-0. The New England Patriots came within a minute of achieving that distinction two years ago, only to lose the Super Bowl to the New York Giants in one freak play.

We think it is disgraceful to practically “throw” a game that the Colts clearly should have won. It is never acceptable for teams or players to lose on purpose. It’s one thing if the team had already lost a game during the year. But they hadn’t. They were on the road to perfection. And their leadership let them down. The decision would have been the correct one if the Colts had been up by 3 TDs, perhaps, but not when the game was as close as it was. They should have let QB Peyton Manning & co. stay in the game and fight it out.

No matter how much Manning or any of the other players toe the company line and say that this loss isn’t a big deal, and that winning the Super Bowl is the real goal (which, ultimately, it is), there is no way that they cannot be disappointed to have their chance at perfection taken away from them in such a manner. They have worked extremely hard all year, and deserved their shot. It is so difficult for any team to be perfect throughout an entire season (again, think of the 2007 Patriots) but to lose in this fashion is disgraceful. What kind of message does it send to their players? That it’s sometimes okay to deliberately lose?

We also feel sorry for their fans. They were clearly angry and disappointed with the decision, and rightly so. It must be very discouraging for them to see the head coach of their team decide that being perfect is not really important. It doesn’t inspire much confidence or inspiration. Plus, they pay good money to see players of Manning’s caliber on the field, and to do everything they can to win every game — not to play the final quarter and a half as if it’s nothing more than an exhibition game.

The question now is whether this will help the Colts to win the Super Bowl. But “Coltsthink” has failed by making boneheaded decisions like this in the past.
The Colts tried this end-of-season “preservation” approach in 2005 and 2007, and then lost their first playoff game each time. In 2006, though, when they were forced to fight to the end, they won the Super Bowl. Coincidence? Perhaps.

We realize that there is a chance that they could have lost anyhow to the Jets, or could lose next week against Buffalo (highly doubtful), and therefore their shot at perfection would have been lost one way or another. With their president and head coach making the decision for them, though, they will now never know what might have been.


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