For the past decade the match up between the Colts and Pats has been highly regarded. Brady. Manning. Enough said.
Both are MVPs, Super Bowl champions, and Pro-Bowl quarterbacks. When these two teams play, all eyes are usually on these two guys. Some people would consider the 2007 AFC Championship game between the two teams a better game than the Super Bowl that year which was largely due to the Brady/Manning match up.
Every season both teams are powerhouses in their division. This year that is not the case.
In July, Peyton underwent emergency knee surgery to remove an infected bursa sac. He missed all of training camp, and most of the pre-season, which some say has affected his performance.
As for his counterpart, Tom Brady was looking forward to starting out strong after leading the Pats to a perfect regular season in 2008 and losing the Super Bowl to the Giants. Brady's ambitions were put on hold after he suffered a knee injury during the first game of the regular season. Three surgeries later, Brady isn't thinking about 2008, he's trying to get healthy for 2009.
For the first time in a long time, New England is looking to a young, inexperienced quarterback (Matt Cassel) to lead an offense that has basically been built around Brady. Talk about big shoes to fill.
The Colts have had their share of injuries too. Bob Sanders, the top defender for Indy has been battling injuries on and off all season. Jeff Saturday, a key part of the offensive line has missed playing time. Joseph Addai, one of the big offensive weapons for the Colts hasn't been completely healthy all year either.
On Sunday night the teams looked like shells of their former selves. Indy went into the game with a losing record for the first time in many years. New England didn't look as intimidating as they normally do and that's because the Colts' defense didn't have to worry about dealing with Tom Brady.
How is it then that this could be considered the best NFL match up of the decade? I'd like to think that John Madden and Al Michaels had all the evidence in front of them before they went on air to suggest that currently this is not the best match up of the decade. The Tennessee/Green Bay game earlier in the day was more highly anticipated than this game because the Titans are undefeated...that's right, the Titans.
I'm left to wonder how many people even tuned into this game? With no Brady and the Colts limping around their division, it is likely that many people were watching "True Blood" than Sunday night football.
The finale score of the game was Indy: 18 New England: 15. 18-15 in a Colts/Pats game? If that doesn't indicate things are upside down I don't know what does.
It seemed like the Colts were heading in the right direction over the course of the game and could still make a play for a spot in the playoffs. Still, both teams had many missed opportunities. At several points during the game I had to remind myself that I was watching the Colts/Pats, the best match up in the past decade.
And while Adam Viniatieri's 52-yard field goal to put the Colts ahead for good was very thrilling, the game lacked a lot of it's normal fireworks. When people think of these two teams, they think the best of the best, and Sunday night they got no where near what they're used to.
If this match up is going to be considered the "match up of the decade" than there are certain components that must exist. I could be wrong, but I would think Tom Brady would be a pretty big component in that match up and without him the title cannot be given. Nor can the title be issued when Peyton Manning is throwing more interceptions than TD passes in a game because he's still recovering from his surgery.
Someone might wanna mention to Al Michaels that before he goes around claiming that this any particular game is the match up of the decade he should double check the rosters and make sure all components are present and accounted for.