Gutless Indianapolis Coach Jim Caldwell Blows Colts' Perfect Season
Sports are more than just playing a game. That's a part of it, but it's also about history when the circumstances dictate.
The 1972 Miami Dophins are the only team in NFL history to go undefeated and win the Super Bowl. You can still hear them tooting their own horn and cracking champagne each season when the final undefeated team loses.
New England almost became the only team to go 16-0 and win the big game a couple of years ago, but they blew their place in history against the New York Giants.
Indianapolis was on the cusp of a chance to do the unthinkable and knock the Dophins off of their pedastal until fate stepped in, or should I say a gutless coach.
Now there are no guarantees that Indy wins this game or wins the Super Bowl, but the opportunity was there.
You don't get to 14-0 and then decide to play scared, but that's exactly what Colts coach Jim Caldwell did. With his team leading 15-10 in the 3rd quarter, he pulled Peyton Manning along with his other starters and inserted rookie QB Chris Painter.
Caldwell's reasoning was, "A perfect season was never our goal."
It's a good thing it wasn't because the New York Jets stormed back and ended not only Indy's perfect season but also an NFL record twenty-three game winning streak with a 29-15 decision.
I can give you all of the reasons why he did it.
The Colts already secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs in the AFC.
He didn't want to risk injury to any key players especially Peyton Manning.
The Super Bowl supercedes everything, so a meaningless regular season game takes a backseat to the ultimate goal.
What legacy do the Colts leave behind if they win the Super Bowl this year? They are one of forty-four teams to win the big game. That's nothing to sneeze at.
But if they go undefeated and win the Super Bowl, they are now legendary and talked about as the greatest team ever.
Was the decision fair to a sellout crowd of Colt fans that was hoping to see their team go 15-0 with only lowly Buffalo standing in the way of a perfect regular season?
How about the bettors that put money on Indy and lost because the coach decided to forfeit the game?
Now I don't gamble and I don't really care about the gamblers, but as everybody knows, the NFL is the most popular professional sport because of gambling.
How does this affect the psyche of the Colt players that had an air of invicibility taken away from them?
You want to go into the playoffs with momentum. Indy had that. They also had the "swagger."
They knew they were good and expected to win every week. Now there is a bit of doubt in the air.
There is also history as I mentioned at the beginning of this article. A few years back, the Colts decided to rest their players going into the playoffs and got knocked off by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
That also happened with other teams that played scared, or should I say were coached by cowards afraid to expose their players to injury and then lost in the playoffs.
Football is a tough game and injuries can happen at anytime, but Peyton Manning has proven to be a guy who dresses and is ready to play every week. If Caldwell pulled him when they had the victory secured; I'm okay with that.
Caldwell's decision to pull him in this game when he did was the same to me as throwing the game. If they were so afraid of injuries, why didn't they just forfeit?
Peyton Manning as usual displayed class going along with the organizations philosophy.
He was asked a question by a reporter if the move surprised or disappointed him. You could see him bite his tounge as he started to answer "I really don't want to say that."
He continued with "Any competitive player wants to stay in there and play."
You could see the disappointment in his body language on the sideline as he stood helpless and watched the Colts' storied season slip away.
It didn't have to be that way if it weren't for a coach that soiled his pants on the sideline.
Instead of viewers tuning in next week and throughout the playoffs hoping to see history made, they instead have to settle for the ordinary.
And that's a damn shame.
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