Indianapolis Colts, Coach Jim Caldwell Find Perfection Worth the Work
The Indianapolis Colts are 14-0. This is a fact.
The team has been at least 12-0 seven times during Peyton Manning's career.
Only once have they sealed the deal and won the Super Bowl, the lone title coming in the '06-'07 season. This is a fact.
Peyton Manning, regarded as one of, if not the best quarterbacks in the NFL, has led the 2009 squad to comeback after comeback after comeback, nine in total.
With this type of "will to win" and lady luck on their side in some of these comebacks, it's hard to say anything is working against the Colts' pursuit of a perfect season. If they were to continue winning, they would (with a victory in the Super Bowl) be the only team in NFL history to complete a perfect season of 19-0.
The closest any team has come to perfection were the New England Patriots in the 2007-08 season. Not only did Tom Brady have the best season of his career, his new teammate Randy Moss did as well, breaking Jerry Rice's single-season record of 21 receiving touchdowns with 22 scores of his own.
It took two miracles on one play by the Giants to upend New England's perfect season: an escape of a sack by Eli Manning, and as true of a hail mary as ever, to David Tyree, who had more tackles than catches during the regular season. Tyree's catch continued the drive, with a finishing blow from Manning to Plaxico Burress in the end zone to take the lead and the W.
Not that you needed a history lesson, but for anyone watching that game, perfection seemed as impossible as finding "the meaning of life." However, perfection is possible. Just ask the 1972 Dolphins, who completed the only undefeated season (14-0) in history.
For the Colts, and, for any team pursuing a perfect season, the toughest call is one that is hotly debated. Sit 'em or start 'em. At what point do you decide perfection is nice, but a Super Bowl is more important? The players from the undefeated regular season New England squad would all tell you they'd rather have a ring and be 13-3 instead of being 18-1.
What history has taught us is that perfection (post-1972) will take the exact combination of rest and drive. Rest your defense, and they will be fresh in the later parts of the postseason. Rest your defense, and risk losing a close game. Play your starters, and risk injury.
Push all your chips on black, Indy. A perfect season, and the Super Bowl ring to go with it, would make them the greatest team of the 2000s.
If for no reason other than the fact that the Colts will be back in the playoffs for years to come, regardless of 2009-10s outcome, do it for your team. No team in NFL history can say they ran the table in a 19-game season, and that would look nice on the resume of rookie head coach Jim Caldwell.
The transition from Tony Dungy to Caldwell has been flawless.
This Caldwell-led team is a success, because of the never-say-die swagger it has. Manning has always been a leader, and that wasn't about to stop with the coaching change, but where the greatest difference has been for the Colts is on the defensive side of the football.
Playing with conviction, making key stops, and executing (dare I say, "perfectly") will go a long way in the finishing weeks of the regular season, and pay off great dividends for the Colts in the postseason.
The Colts need the perfect season. The Colts need the Super Bowl. Why not accomplish both? With an offense firing on all cylinders all season long, who can stop them? So far, no one.
Perfection is worth the effort.
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