On one play, the defense played fantastic, and the next they'd look like they couldn’t stop an 80-year-old man in a wheelchair.
The offense fared no better. Manning and company came out on fire, and then looked like the St. Louis Rams for the majority of the game. However, when it looked like they might lose, the switch went on for Manning and the offense, and they won the game.
Colts fans have undergone an excruciating experience this year. Every game has been like this. Each contest has been has been a heart-stopping mixture of mediocrity and brilliance, all jam-packed into 60 minutes.
The Colts are nowhere near a dominant team, and the stats back it up.
Other than a passing game that ranks second in the league, there’s nothing special about this team. Just looking at the stats, you might think them a .500 club; definitely not a team that is 13-0, the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and the holders of an NFL-record 22nd regular season wins in a row.
Yet each week the Colts show us they’ve got the proverbial “will to win”. Week in and week out, no matter how dire the situation, guys come up with big plays when it matters most.
If Manning throws three interceptions in one game, it doesn’t matter because he’ll put together enough 75-yard drives to win the game. The defense will do their part, and get the big stops, the big interceptions, the big sacks, and the big fumbles that the team needs to win.
Colts’ fans have learned to expect the unexpected, maybe to even embrace it. Or maybe they have just resigned themselves to it. They don’t know when the big plays are coming, they just know they will; and somehow the team will just keep winning.
The question is, can this injury-riddled team, made up of a hodgepodge of vets and rookies who seem to revel in winning by the seat of their pants, make it to the Super Bowl and win?
Oddly enough and against all logic, the answer is a resounding yes.
The Colts have something special going on this year, more so than any other year in the Manning Era (including the year they won the Super Bowl). From Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell to the coaching staff to the guys throwing blocks on kickoffs, this is the most unified team in football this season.
The Colts are made up of 53 guys, and while each individual may not be the greatest at his position, when they come together they play as one. They exemplify what it truly means to be a “team”.
As a team, they have three goals each and every week: play for 60 minutes, play hard, and win.
The rest doesn’t matter: if a guy misses a tackle or if Peyton throws three interceptions, all are superfluous. As long as the team has won the game, the stats, the analysis, and all the rest are meaningless.
You never hear players bitching and moaning on this team. You never see guys with big egos making silly touchdown celebrations. You just see a team.
When you face guys like this, that have no quit and don’t even know the meaning of the word, guys that know they will win every game they play...how do you defeat them?
Well there is one way, and one way alone. It’s not by having more talent than they do, or having a better game plan than they do. Or any other conventional answer to the question.
The answer to beating the Colts is simple: you must have the same psychology that they do. "We are a team, we believe in each other, and we believe that we will find a way to win".
Well that, and a future first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback.
Looking over the NFL landscape this season, there is no team like the Colts. There are plenty of other teams that look better on paper than they do. But that’s why you can’t use conventional thinking when analyzing them.
There are plenty of teams with better stats, ones that you could argue are superior to the Colts. There’s only one problem with that: the Colts are undefeated, and are setting records every week.
Even though the Saints haven’t lost a game, they have not had to overcome the adversity that the Colts have.
So as you listen in the coming weeks to former players and the professional media, regarding all of the Colts’ flaws, and why such and such a team is going to beat them in the playoffs, just ask yourself this one simple question:
Can Indy’s opponents play the perfect game?
If you’re honest with yourself you already know the answer to that question.