Watching the Indianapolis Colts defeat the Green Bay Packers in Week 5 of the 2012 NFL season should be etched in the memories of all Colts fans. The importance of the victory expands well beyond the impressive individual performances of players like Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne.
It expands well beyond the importance of a 50/50 record for the team's chances to find its way into the playoffs. This victory -- and the performance of the young team who managed to complete an 18-point second half comeback against the reigning NFL MVP, against one of the most well respected franchises in the league -- proves to a nucleus of young players and players new to the Colts organization that they are able to beat anyone, even now.
Imagine the impact on the psyche of players on both sides of the football. The defense has been asked to learn a completely new scheme. The players have most certainly experienced growing pains and difficulties in their efforts to get there -- and I'll save you the suspense, they're not there yet. Still, they came out in the second half against one of the most powerful offenses in the NFL and held them to six points.
The defense accomplished this despite being banged up, including losing Mathis during the game. Players like Moise Fokou and Cory Redding, both new to the team, played an important role in the performance. Cornerback Jerraud Powers played inspired football. The defense has a reason to believe that it can match up against anyone -- not just in their heads but from results on the field as well.
The offensive performance is also fantastic. Andrew Luck has gotten better each week. His ability to stretch plays outside of the pocket, avoid pressure, and allow his receivers time to get open is stunning to watch. His confidence as a decision-maker, even in the face of making numerous rookie mistakes, is not supposed to happen.
Dwayne Allen's role in the offense started to show itself. Donnie Avery continued to show that he is a deep threat teams will have to respect. Reggie Wayne is on pace to break major records, and is currently on pace to have the best season of his career -- after putting up his best single game receiving yards performance. Donald Brown and Vick Ballard showed excellent vision and used their different skill sets to get the most out of their carries and effectively use an offensive line that is still developing.
More importantly, at no point did anyone on the field give up. They believed they could win. They stuck with their game plan and refused to lose. Their efforts were rewarded with a win in storybook fashion. They won for their coach. They won for themselves. They won the right to believe they can play against the best.
The short-term impact of this win for the fan community, for the coaching staff, and even for the players isn't even the half of it. The long term implications of what this has done for a young team's psyche is far-reaching. A win over Green Bay in Week 5 of Andrew Luck's rookie season will likely be pointed to as the catalyst for a team-wide breakout under Luck's on-field direction.
The new generation? The beast? It just created its identity. It just started its own history. It just set the bar for itself. It will be fun to see how these players, coaches, and this franchise moves forward from here.
Now we all know they can do it, they know they can do it. As a Colts fan or a Colts player, that has to feel really good.
I think it could be boiled down to an even simpler concept. Everyone was essentially focused on a single goal, winning the game for Coach Pagano. In the future, coaches and players can point to this game and say if we all focus on the same goal, we can win. It won't always be to win for coach, but use the same mindset on winning a Super Bowl.