The Indianapolis Colts had a shot at history.
But the Colts had already clinched home-field advantage throughout, and wanted to rest their key players.
So, on Sunday afternoon at home against the New York Jets, rookie head coach Jim Caldwell pulled quarterback Peyton Manning—along with several other starters—in the second half, with Indianapolis ahead 15-10.
The Jets rallied for a 29-15 upset victory, ending the Colts' 23-game regular-season winning streak.
The big play came in the third quarter, when Curtis Painter, Manning's replacement at QB, was hit while trying to throw from deep in his own territory, and lost the ball. The Jets' Marques Douglas fell on it and got into the end zone to put New York ahead for good.
Clearly, Manning, standing on the sidelines, was not happy. But afterwards, he supported his coach's decision to rest the starters.
“It was the plan, the organizational philosophy that we were going with,” Manning said, “and, as players, we support that” (AP, Dec. 27, 2009 ).
Again, the Colts were chasing history, so it must have been disappointing for Manning to be taken out.
At least he was a man about it.
He didn't argue with his coach on the sidelines.
Favre said afterwards: “(Coach) Brad (Childress) wanted to go in a different direction. And I wanted to stay in the game. It’s not 70-6, but we were up 7-6. I said I’m staying in the game. I’m playing…No way being up 7-6 and getting banged around a little bit would I consider coming out” (AP, Dec. 21, 2009).
So, when coach Childress considered pulling Favre, with his team ahead, his QB wouldn't let it happen.
No, the Colts don't have a shot at that perfect season anymore in 2009.
At least Peyton Manning should have respect from all the football fans out there.
He did as his coach said, didn't question the decision to pull him, and thought more about the team than himself.
And don't tell me the Colts had nothing to play for, while the Vikings—trying for the top seed in the NFC—did.
Manning, however, is a team guy. He did what the coach said.
Good job, Peyton.