Football is back, and back with a bang as Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos eviscerated the Baltimore Ravens en route to a 49-27 victory over the Baltimore Ravens and ELITE QB Joe Flacco
It was one heck of a game to open the season and no day gets me excited like the regular season opener.
But this year, the season opener seems, well, bittersweet.
I'm looking forward to the regular season, anticipating Andrew Luck's sophomore season even more, perhaps, than I did his rookie year.
I am all-in on Andrew Luck. I've spent the last eight months analyzing him, praising him and being amazed by him. I think the Colts have their quarterback of the future, and his ceiling is higher than any other quarterback in the league. Luck has a legitimate chance to be the greatest quarterback of all time. I'm not saying it's going to happen, not in the least, but it certainly could. I'm not exaggerating.
Whether it's as an analyst or a fan, I absolutely love watching him play, and have faith that he will be great.
But... there's nothing quite like watching Peyton Manning, at least, not yet.
As I watched Peyton Manning against the Ravens tonight, it brought back so many memories. It was as classic a Manning performance as there could be.
It was Peyton finding the matchup pre-snap and then matching it with a subtly good pump-fake before hitting a wide-open tight end for his first touchdown, all while getting hit. It was Manning visibly "warming" as he figured out the Baltimore defense.
It was the lead building in the third quarter, setting up the defense to feast on a Baltimore offense desperately trying to catch up.
It was throws that looked awkward coming out of his hand, but ended up going exactly where and when Manning wanted them to.
It was Manning's awkward wobble as he moved in the pocket, which turned into an even more awkward waddle when he was forced out of the pocket.
It was everything.
I'm not mad at Jim Irsay, Ryan Grigson or anybody else for the choice they made in 2012. I know that some fans still are, and that's their right. Manning is busy being as impressive as he ever has been, and had the Colts traded the first-overall pick, they could have been loaded with talent. I understand the argument.
But Luck is in a class of his own as a young quarterback. I've never been as impressed with a rookie as I was with Luck last season. The way he handled the pressure was unbelievable, his ability to make others better almost Manning-like. He dragged the Colts, kicking and screaming, to wins last season, and I expect he'll do it again in 2013.
It was the right move, long term.
But watching Peyton play again tonight was... painful.
It brought up all those old memories, which, as cherished as they are, also remind me that it won't ever happen again in a Colts uniform.
Luck is the future, but Peyton is the past, and the past is where we find sentiment.
In time, Luck will build up his own legacy in Indianapolis, his own bond with the fans. He's already started that, to some extent.
But one year, as magical as it was, can't match up to a decade and a half of emotion, emotion that ranged from ultimate disappointment to climactic elation. We have a connection with Peyton that doesn't just go away. We'll see Manning check into a play, make his hand motions and throw a subtly-brilliant pass and just nod at his expected genius.
With Luck, we're excited, excited to see what he'll do next. With Peyton, we knew what he was going to do, and we loved it.
In time, Luck very well may grow into that role. We've already seen some tendencies and lovable traits that we relate to. But it's not Peyton. Not yet.
It's like transitioning from a long-time girlfriend to a new one. You really like the new girl, you are excited to see her, but when you see the old one... there's a history there. It's just a little bit different. Not that you necessarily regret moving on, or that you want to give up the new relationship, but it's painful.
You see somebody who used to be your best friend, somebody that you knew better than anybody, and you recognize all the little things in them that you used to love.
Maybe you even see things that you didn't always like, but after it was gone, you missed.
Sometimes, you start irrationally making up flaws in the old girlfriend to convince yourself that you're better off now.
And too often, you wonder if the connection with the new girlfriend will ever be the same as the old one was.
In the end... you're probably better off now. Long-term, it's probably for the best. When you take a minute to think, you know that. When you spend time with the new person, you usually know that.
But sometimes it doesn't feel that way.
Sometimes it's bittersweet.
P.S. I know that a lot of you probably don't want to hear about this. That's fine. But I know that some of you feel a similar way, and for me, tonight's game hit me hard in a way that I didn't expect. You won't hear another word on the topic from me for a long time.
I understand the sentiments, but for me, last night was just sweeet! My favorite player ever giving one of the best performances ever at his position against the hated Ravens. I miss having him on my team, but I love rooting for the young and exciting Luck. This way, I have two teams I can really get behind and it's double the fun for the season. Of course, come October 20, it's all Colts.
Great read, everything very well said Kyle.
Here's my feelings. Last year, Peyton was Peyton. He was coming back into the form that we knew, and it was uniquely great that we had a surprisingly amazing season to watch as well. Problem with last night was that Manning had the type of game that COULD have been in Indy....the first time since his departure that we saw what we were ultimately afraid to see: a better-than-before Peyton.
That's what hurt about the game. Not that he succeeded, that he succeeded in a way that Colts fans truly missed out on.
//Now for Luck to throw 8 on Sunday and make it all go away....
Another comment. Odd seeing good o' Dallas Clark, who played pretty well. He dropped that one sure touchdown pass that was right in his hands, and walking back after that playing repeated "F--- me!" And he got walloped and got back up. Then you see Brandon Stokely who is definitely getting long in the tooth, but a familiar face.
I recently looked up Joe Addai to see what happened to him, and the article says he was with the Patriots but then gave up or walked out during endurance training?
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is why this is my favorite Colts blog. It's mature and intelligent with great stories and intelligent comments. And it speaks to me in terms of my feelings on Peyton. Seeing him interviewed I remembered how funny and cordial he was. Watching him play - oh man - great seeing him out think the Raven's defense, even when he realized they were reading his hand signals and he was able to change it up to completely mislead them. Just a master.
Compared to Tom Brady, who is a good quarterback, Brady is cold and efficient, bland and limp. No question of his talent but just blah. Did I mention pouty and anger-prone.
Even when Manning loses, you see the hurt in his face but he tries to maintain a sense of pride. Cool stuff.
As Doug England said, I also think this is the way all the Colts fans should feel, or afford to feel. That's because Luck is so good and he made the transition from Peyton to him so easy. I am personally very confident that Andrew is going to carry this team just like Peyton did. I can't wait for the Denver game and I am confident that Colts will win it. That's because I trust Luck as much as I trust Manning.
Nice work, Kyle. The girlfriend analogy is spot on. For me, the turning point was when I decided I just wasn't going to compare 12 and 18. It's just not fair to compare Luck to the greatest of all time. Maybe one day, but not now. For now, the future is bright in Indy, and I can still enjoy a side dish of watching Peyton be Peyton. And if the Colts can't take home the Lombardi, then I sure as hell hope 18 does so he can cement that legacy.
Nicely said, but I enjoyed last night's game more than most Colts fans, I guess. No bitterness at all. As has been said often by many, I'll continue to root for 18 so long as he's not playing the Colts (and beating the Indy-hating Ravens--at least some loudmouth fans are--, the SB champs, just made it sweeter). There are complicated times I may not root for him, when a Den loss might shift playoff seeding to our advantage (because the Colts come first), but I'll leave that complicated calculus until December or so.
And, then I'll be preoccupied with two junior football games with my sons on Saturday. (My tiny 8 year-old's first tackle game ever. Man, I hope he doesn't get hurt.) Which will leave me only a few hours to get really excited for, of course, the Colts win over the Raiders. So PFM's historic romp was a great way to start the season for me, and of course, for him.
Nice post. Well said.
I was in the keep Manning camp, but harbor no ill will. I'll root for Manning until he retires, as long as he's not playing the Colts.
Good stuff. Peyton is must watch TV, no denying that. I'm trying not to think about our game against Denver now, except to try to convince myself to watch both QBs and enjoy what they do. Bittersweet, yes. Incredibly blessed to be a Colts fan, absolutely.
Yeah, I think you captured it about right. Around dinnertime I was telling people that I wanted to go home, open a couple beers, watch Peyton take apart the Ravens, and cry a little bit.
Thanks for at least acknowledging it. We're all in on 12, everyone knows that. But Peyton is still my man in every game the Broncos play...except one.
That said, 18 is going to wreck the Colts shit eight ways from Sunday. Its the same D that he just spent four quarters humiliating, but with less talent. Luck had better strap on his sixgun, because it's gonna be a shootout, have no doubt about it.
Great piece, Kyle. Bittersweet sums it up. I loved watching Peyton play that game and I hated the damn orange jersey at the same time...and the stupid Broncos fans that wouldn't STFU when Peyton tried to get them to quiet down! Can't you see the man is trying to work!?!
Does "You won't hear another word on the topic from me for a long time." mean until around October 20th or 21st?
Kyle, I loved this article. And I am truly happy that you feel this way. Because I think your reaction is the way all Colts fans should feel.
But it is not me. I have moved on from blaming Irsay or Grigson or Wormtongue Kravitz. And I happily went crazy with each improbable win last season and got caught up in Chuck Strong.
But P-Money is in my DNA. I will never be able to quit him. (No Brokeback Mountain jokes.) I still symbolically live and die with everything he does. Part of me wishes it weren't so... but I know myself well enough to know it is never going to change.
That being said, I am getting a little agitated at the seeming lack of respect Luck is getting nationally. It's all RGIII or Kapernick (sp.) or Russell Wilson or even Cam Newton. I will be rooting hard for #12 this season to lay waste to his fellow age group QBs. (it's just that a part of me won't die with every interception or failure.)
Excellent article. It sums up how I feel to a tee. Now I'm just waiting for Sunday so Luck can make me forget...for awhile.
That is some high praise, man. Not that Luck, doesn't necessarily deserve it, but I'm not there yet.
@Bobman1 I get that. I like seeing Manning succeed, don't get me wrong. And I'm definitely rooting for him.
@lezmaka Well, not a sappy piece about how much I miss him. Hopefully.
@DougEngland Cosigned, because as Kyle so insightfully wrote, the past is where emotions live. A beautiful piece of writing, Kyle. And yeah, I find myself quite incredulous whenever sports pundits extol the virtues of every single young QB but Luck, seemingly, as if he was second best to the excitement they bring. Russell Wilson is the only other one besides Luck, in my opinion, who has displayed the kind of vision that truly enables long-term QB domination, as Peyton just proved.
@DougEngland The lack of respect for Luck helps to get on board with him, actually similarly to how it did with Manning.