It was hard to sit and watch Sunday Night Football’s Broncos-Colts game and not feel overly excited about what was happening on the TV. I usually jump in excitement every time Peyton Manning makes an opposing defense look silly. I usually jump in excitement every time Robert Mathis takes the roundabout way of forcing a fumble on an opposing team’s quarterback. Last night it was nothing. Last night it was weird.
As I mentioned in Friday’s story “Coming Home: Peyton Manning Makes His Return to Indianapolis” I didn’t know how I’d feel when watching this game. Was I a Manning fan or a Colts fan? Turns out I’m a little of both.
I came into the game excited to watch Manning’s return. I looked forward to the tribute the Colts were going to do for him. I anticipated some tears (from myself), and a flashback of some of the nice moments. I was disappointed that NBC didn’t show more of this, or that maybe the Colts really didn’t do as much as they had talked about doing.
It was great that the crowd applauded Manning running in with the Broncos. I did well up a bit when he took off his helmet and thanked the crowd after the video tribute played on the big screen (why couldn’t we see this?). But where were Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison? Oh, there they are in the luxury suite. I thought we’d see them with their former teammate.
I liked that afterwards Manning stuck around and visited with some of his former teammates, chatting it up with Colts personnel, especially cornerback Antoine Bethea, but I was wanting more celebration and I received little of it. What can I expect though, there was still a game to play and he was still the “enemy”.
Who did I think would win? The spread had the Broncos by 6.5. I took the Colts. I like the home underdogs, plus Manning would be feeling emotional and the Colts, well the Colts are tough.
As it often does, fantasy football plays a part in who I root for. I entered the game down 120-119, with me having Demaryius Thomas left to play and he having both Reggie Wayne and Darrius Heyward-Bey. That didn’t end so good for me.
What did I take from the game?
I was never one to use the “Manning can’t win big games” excuse. He didn’t give up that ridiculous touchdown to Jacoby Jones in the Ravens win over Denver in last year’s AFC Divisional Round. He didn’t allow a long return from Antonio Cromartie that set up a game-winning field goal against the Jets in 2011. He wasn’t responsible for the poor field position thanks to the punting of the Chargers Mike Scifres that put the Colts within their own 10-yard line a ridiculous five times. And he didn’t yank a field goal attempt against the Steelers back in 2005.
I know, I know. He didn’t muff a punt that turned into a Colts TD, and he didn’t fumble on the 3-yard line in the waning moments of the game, but he did toss an interception late in the fourth quarter and he did lose a fumble that turned into a Colts safety. However, last night Manning didn’t seem like Manning. His tosses, were just that, tosses. They often fluttered, were often under-thrown, and never seemed to have any zip to them. He looked flustered. He seemed rattled. He looked un-Manning-like. Maybe, just maybe, this game was in his head too much.
Am I really dogging my Man Crush? This is so unlike me! Who have I become?
Meanwhile, Andrew Luck looked every part the No. 1 pick he was. The dude has poise. He steps up in the pocket. He moves sideways in the pocket. His eyes are continually moving. He doesn’t look to run unless he needs to, and when he does, he can (another rushing TD, his third). His throws are fierce, on-target, and he’s not afraid to unleash the deep ball. Sure, “it was just another game” but you know Luck wanted to prove that it was in the best interest for the Colts to move on.
After a tough win over the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars and Sunday night’s hard-fought loss to the Colts, the Broncos need to regroup and get their high-flying offense back on track. Manning is still on pace to take out Tom Brady’s TD record, but the Broncos are now a game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West (that means no first round bye), and the Chiefs D looks like one that can create havoc for that high-flying Bronco offense.
On the contrary, the Colts look like legit Super Bowl contenders after having knocked out arguably the three best teams in the NFL (Broncos, Seahawks, 49ers). Their defense looks nasty, and their offense looks potent, though news breaking today is that veteran wideout Reggie Wayne is out for the year with a torn ACL. This sucks! This sucks big time! Not just for the Colts offense, but for leadership and for Wayne’s future. Argh!
A couple of other tidbits from the game:
What a hit by Colts’ punter Pat McAfee on the speedster Trindon Holliday! That had me out of my seat. I had to explain to my wife that punters usually don’t tackle people, so that was kind of a big deal.
Did Vontae Davis really say that the Colts “prepared really hard for Tom Brady”? Again, my non-football-loving wife was like? “Say WHAT?!” I thought it was hilarious, especially after Jim Irsay’s name-dropping of Brady earlier in the week when he said that the Patriots quarterback had three Super Bowl rings. Bob Costas’s had an amusing retort immediately afterwards.
Oh, and in case you don’t know, Indianapolis defeated Denver, Colts 39, Broncos 33, Still Confused KJ 1.