421 yards and 5 touchdowns.
That's what it would have taken to beat the Patriots yesterday.
The post game talk seems to center on Manning's final interception, and I can understand why. It was a shocking, deflating play. After all, 17 point comebacks happen all the time for Colts fans. We've come to treat them as commonplace, a sort of birthright. Get us down double digits on the road? Good. That's just the way we like it.
However for a third straight road game, the Colts have rallied only to fall agonizingly short.
The final throws for each quarterback summed up the night. Tom Brady, who played far and away his best game against the Colts in a long time, hit Tyjuan Hagler in the face with his 26th throw and it fell incomplete. Peyton Manning threw his 52nd throw with a man in his face, and Sanders pulls off the man he's doubled and makes a nice leaping catch to end the game.
I'm in no mood to take solace from anything, though there is plenty to take. Ironically, there is still a real chance that if these teams meet again, it will be in Indianapolis.
Yesterday, the Colts defense put the offense in a position where they had to be perfect to win. Manning responded time and again with spectacular throws on the run. For the final quarter, Tom Brady paced nervously on the sideline. He knew. He knew a 17 point lead with 8 minutes to play might not hold up.
421 yards and 5 touchdowns.
All Manning could give us was 396 and 4.
What a choker.
- Yes, this hurts way worse than the Super Bowl loss. That's four losses for the worst loss list in less than 12 monts (NYJ, SB, Jags, this). That's too many. I hate running this site after a loss like this. I hate wading through the angry emails, tweets and comments. I hate reading and putting up links. In the old days, I'd shut myself off from sports completely for a few weeks after a game like this.
- I don't think the season is going sideways (just the opposite), but if it does, this game will be remembered as Indy's last stand. Here's hoping that doesn't happen.
- All the people who have been ripping Reggie Wayne need to stand up and be counted. He played an incredible game yesterday. I'm not sure his leg is right, but he is giving everything he had.
- On the final interception, it looks like Sanders is dropping down to double Tamme. Garcon is coming back to catch one of those low throws just off the turf. Sanders leaves Tamme and leaps up to pick off the ball. It's a good play by him, and you can see what Manning was seeing. One of two things is true: either Tamme ran his route too deep or the routes were poorly designed. Tamme and Garcon were too close together, allowing the safety to simultaneously defend them both. At the moment he let the throw go, it looked like there was a window to fit the ball into. It's easy to talk about White coming free underneath, but Diem was giving up a strong rush right at him. Yes, if Manning had pulled it down, and stepped up, maybe White is still open, but he wasn't open at the moment and at the angle Manning had to throw. It was a good play by them. It was not a particularly terrible pick (unlike the first one of the night). Sanders disguised his coverage and made a nice play. It happens.
- Don Brown had 108 yards from scrimmage and averaged 4 yards a carry. I'm just saying.
- I thought Brady played a spectacular game. People need to realize that part of the reason that Colts' fans often disrespect him is that he typically doesn't play great against Indianapolis. Since 2003, his rating against Indianapolis was 88.4. It's always been the Pats defense that won the Indianapolis games. Yesterday, he was nearly flawless until the fourth quarter when suddenly the Colts' defense played tight on his wideouts.
- I thought Cornelius Brown interfered with Branch. Lucky no call.
- The real heart of this loss falls on Larry Coyer. I've never seen a less prepared defense in my life. For the second consecutive year, the Pats ripped right through the Indy defense to open the game. The Colts' scheme had Pat Angerer lined up to cover Wes Welker. That's a stupid scheme. I know Coyer is working with one hand tied behind his back, but still. He didn't do his job yesterday. Three punts and four touchdowns allowed won't get it done. Whereas the Pats forced some turnovers in part because of creative design (it sure wasn't the quality of their DBs), forcing the WRs and Manning onto different pages, all three of the Indy stops were the result of great physical plays by individual players (Freeney's sack, for instance). Everyone hated on the Tampa 2 for being too vanilla, but I sure didn't see Larry Coyer confusing anyone out there yesterday.
- Aaron Francisco is absolutely killing this team. What can you do. He should be Jamie Silva, who should be Melvin Bullitt, who should be Bob Sanders. He is who he is. This team isn't going anywhere in the postseason with him at safety. If Sanders doesn't come back and stay healthy for the end of the year, this team is done.
- Angerer has learned much for a young guy, but he's not a middle linebacker yet.
- The Patriots should be very concerned. That is a terrible defense in general. I see zero improvement from them.
- Collie was cleared by an independent neurologist after sitting out two weeks. He lasted less than a half. He should sit for a month at least. Honestly, knowing what we know now, he should probably sit the rest of the year. I wouldn't blame him.
- Special teams were ragged, but what can you expect at this point?
- The Colts are still in good shape, but it's going to be a tough win to get this week against the Chargers. At least they are coming off a short week and playing on the road. Phil Rivers is going to eat Fransisco alive.
- The Jaguars are the mirror image of last year. Remember when they were 6-4 last year and lost 5 of their last 6? Yeah, they were -37 in points at that point, and now they are -50. They've won on a 59 yard field goal, a hail mary, and now a 60 some yard screen pass. Don't worry about them. With the Texans reeling and the Titans in turmoil, the Colts are going to win the South. To win the Super Bowl, this team will have to get a lot healthier, and win a road playoff game.