Time to close the books on the 2008 Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs with some not-so-keen observations from Aces' "peanut gallery."
1) For MY money, Peyton Manning earned his 2008 MVP award right about the time he caught the entire Chargers' defense napping early in the third quarter, and zinged a 72-yard lightning bolt (pardon the pun) to Reggie Wayne, giving the Colts the lead in the game.
I'm sitting in the stands (if you actually SIT in the 'stands,' shouldn't they be called 'sits?' OK, sorry, that's a question for another time), watching Manning hustle the Colts offense to the line of scrimmage like he always does. Then, I look over at the Chargers' defensive formation for the third-down play, only to find Ron Rivera has instituted a newer version of the "3-4" defense, one i'd like to call the "0-11" formation.
Snap-whap-cha-CHING! Quick pass to Reggie Wayne, and it's 17-14, Colts.
I'm sorry, but that older Manning is really a great QB, and MVP-worthy. Somewhere Sam Wyche, the '80's "King of the quickie-tricky-snap," HAD to be smiling.
If Peyton Manning had never been exposed to professional football by his father, Archie, he would have made a GREAT purse-snatcher. I can just see it now; Peyton hanging around on some street-corner in Louisiana, waiting for some dopey tourist to not be paying attention to his wallet, Manning swoops in, and WHAM! It's another 72-yard pick-pocket job.
Hats off to Peyton Manning. You deserve the accolades, my friend.
You ARE the league's MVP.
2) First play after the opening kickoff by the Colts, it's Chargers' ball, first-down. The give is to LaDainian Tomlinson, who runs through a hole that a daisy-cutter would admire. 13-yard gain for L.T.; first down, San Diego.
Just one problem—Tomlinson's "running style" on that play mirrors just what I look like when I try to run, right after my eight-year-old kicks me in the shins just for laughs. (Oh, and kudos to the movie "Bedtime Stories," for reminding my son that it's really funny when you kick dear ol' dad in the shins. I REALLY appreciate THAT, Sandler.)
Bottom line? Tomlinson's HURTIN', folks.
Which brings us to what people that are MUCH more intelligent than I would call "an interesting conundrum...."
LaDainian Tomlinson—In his current state, do you let him dress, or sit him down?
It looks like the Chargers' faithful are split on this topic. On the one hand, you have the fans that watch the 53-man roster like it's the Wall Street ticker—They'd tell you that, in his current condition, LaDainian Tomlinson's no good to the team, that he can't help the team when he's so obviously injured, and should make room for an extra body on the active roster for special teams, or the like.
Me? I'm on the other side of the fence.
I've watched LaDainian Tomlinson toil for the Chargers for years and I've watched him give it his all. He wants a title REALLY bad.
He probably sees what a lot of other team members, certain media, and some fans have already noticed—That this team looks to be coming together at just the right time, and he wants to be a part of it.
If you know LT, he wouldn't be happy with just "getting that ring." He wants to EARN it. He wants to contribute to the cause, and help his team GET that title.
If it was ME making the final decision on LT's playing status, I'd be right behind him on this. "Get out there, bud. Give until you can't give anymore."
There are some in the media that seem to think that LT is some sort of quitter, a whiner, can't handle injuries, and didn't play in 2007 when he should have been out there.
I'm not one of them. If there has EVER been a man, and I mean a MAN, that gives everything he has for his football team, it's LaDainian Tomlinson. He has EARNED the right to make the call here, in my humble opinion.
If he thinks he can contribute, he's PLAYING.
When he can't go any more in a certain game, well, it's a good thing that the team has Darren Sproles, Jacob Hester, and the newest acquisition, Michael Bennett.
The team has enough coverage at the RB position to make this happen, and I think they'll go with whatever L.T. tells them.
Oh, and it's funny how the NFL works, some times. Do a little research on Micheal Bennett and how he came to be a San Diego Charger in the first place, and you'll find something interesting.
Back when the Broncos had suffered yet ANOTHER catastrophic injury to their already-depleted RB platoon (specifically, the hammy injury to Peyton Hillis), then-coach and GM of the Broncos, Mike Shanahan, was scouring the waiver wire to find another suitable replacement to his corps of running backs.
The Broncos appeared to have their eye on one Micheal Bennett, but unfortunately for Denver, the CHARGERS had first priority in the waiver wire pick-up process, as a result of the Chargers having the worst record between them at the Broncos at the time.
To keep Denver from obtaining Michael Bennett in the waiver draft, and using him against San Diego later on down the road in what would turn out to be a critical matchup between the two teams in Week 17, the Chargers picked up the option on Bennett, and placed him on "the 53."
Gee, funny how things work out, isn't it?
Oh, and just to finish the thought on Tomlinson—I'm with him, whatever he decides.
Just keep away from my eight-year-old, LT—He kicks REALLY hard.