Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Other Colt QB

Normally when we talk about a Colt QB, everybody just assumes that we'll be discussing Colt Brennan, the Hawaii Rainbow QB who set the NCAA Div. I-A record with 58 TD passes during the '06 season -- or Colt McCoy, the Texas Longhorn QB who tied the NCAA Div. I-A freshman record with 29 TD throws.
Seriously, what other Colt QB is there?

Apparently, there's another Colt QB who wants props during this football season -- only, it's not Bert Jones or Art Schlichter or Jeff George or Jim Harbaugh or Jack Trudeau or Gary Hogeboom or Don Majkowski or any of the lesser-known QBs who wore horseshoes on their helmets and failed to get Baltimore/Indianapolis to the Super Bowl between 1970 and 2006.

There he is ... it's that guy who set the table for Tee Martin to lead the Tennessee Volunteers to the 1998 national championship.

"Peyton Manning" (yeah, THAT Peyton Manning) is the QB on everyone's mind as we're just a few clicks past midnight on this Sunday turnin' to Monday.
Come to think of it, have we ever seen anything as prolific from a Colt QB who was wearing #18 as what we saw a few short hours ago?
Mike Pagel wore #18 as both a Baltimore Colt and as an Indianapolis Colt, but ...
Back here in the present tense, wasn't this AFC Championship the type of game in which the Colts were "destined" to routinely throw away their chances for victory sometime in the second quarter and then spend the second half in a confused, zombie-like stupor?

Did America send out an S.O.S. to the Colts proclaiming that we absotively posilutely did NOT want Belichick tugging on the plunging neckline of his short-sleeve hoodie during Super Sunday?
Seriously, how many times did we turn to our lover seated next to us and ask, "How soon 'til Indy implodes -- or melts down?" -- and how many times did our lover respond by pointing to the TV screen (lo-def) and, upon noticing the Colts team doctor (Dr. Arthur Rettig) standing on the sideline before poiting to the surgical scar on her right arm saying, "He's the one who did my elbow surgery" ?

Okay, so maybe that last part didn't happen to 99.99% of America.
Yet, that doesn't nullify what we learned a bunch of years ago, no matter who we were watching the game with:
Take the "L" out of lover and it's over.
And, this Colts-Pats game was over (for the Colts) aprrox. five or six times.

A nation will remain divided over the following debate-team topics:
A) The Colts came back from the dead.
B) The Pats didn't bury 'em when they had the chance.

Maybe the Pats were lucky to be in the game at all. When you size it up, aside from that 4th-down, 35-yard scamper by Corey Dillon (which set up the first TD); that 4th-down, 27-yard jaunt by Troy Brown on the quick slant (setting up the second TD); and that INT TD by Asante Samuel (on a pass-pattern -- the quick out -- which Merril Hoge warned us on NFL Matchup that a Colt QB or any QB should never, never, never, EVER throw against Samuel 'cuz he sits on that route and he'll jump it), the Pats' offense was a model of inconsistency.
And, who the frick is linebacker Eric Alexander?

America will spend all of this Monday re-hashing the game and the many turning points in what was either A) The greatest AFC Championship Game ever played or B) The greatest AFC Championship Game we can remember, post 1998.

As per "the" turning point in a game which seemingly had three dozen, this Planet is selecting the point in the second quarter, 4 1/2 minutes 'til halftime when Brady completed that 9-yard pass to Watson for what would be an apparent first down at the Indy 19 as the Pats nursed their 21-3 lead.

Going into the locker room, up 24-3 or 28-3 woulda been more than "huge."

It woulda been "mega-huge."

Alas, Troy Brown was flagged for offensive P.I. on a pass-play in which the spirit of the law and the letter of the law merged and a penalty was assessed in a judicious and fair manner. The Pats almost always get away with that chicken shit, but, this time, they got flagged.

Instead of 1st-and-10 on the 19 with the chance for Brady to hand off a few times and eat some clock, NE was shoved back to a 3rd-and-16 at the Indy 38.

Then, there was an illegal motion penalty which made it 3rd-and-21 at the 43.

Then, Brady got dumped for a 6-yard loss on a sack.

Such are the mistakes and mishaps which have plagued the Patriots' opponents thoughout most of the past six seasons (particularly the opponents coached by Marty Shittyheimer or his protege, Bill Cowher).

Yet, after Steroidbrun punted and bottled up the Colts on their own 12 with 3:06 to play 'til halftime, 84 percent of America was just cringin' for the pass that Manning would throw which would bounce of Joe Addai's hands, carom off of DT Vince Wilfork's helmet, ricochet off Dallas Clark's shoulder pads and nestle soflty into the tender embrace of LB Mike Vrabel, who would cradle the INT and tiptoe his way down the sideline for the 37-yard TD for the 28-3 lead which would prompt Boomer Esiason to whisper to Dan Marino, "Am I the only guy in America who can that he's seated next to a Hall of Fame choker while watching a Hall of Fame choker?"

(Actually, Norman Esiason did spend part of the CBS halftime show spouting some rhetoric about how, if Peyton didn't lead the epic comeback, choking Peyton could go live in ChokeTown and live a choking lifestyle with the choking A-Rod. Marino had to suck it up and take it like a man, but, even for those of us who are mostly middle-of-the-road about Marino, we were itchin' for him to yell across the studio set to Norman, "Hey! Hasn't your kid died from cystic fibrosis yet?")

So, Peyton Manning went out and betrayed Norman Esiason.

Beginning with that punt with 3:06 to play in the second quarter, Manning led scoring drives on six of the Colts' eight possessions thereafter. This from a QB who spent the first 2 1/2 games of these playoffs directing two TD drives and 10 other drives which ended with Vinatieri FGs.

A QB who, to the point, had thrown 1 TD pass and six INTs in these playoffs.

"They're not saying 'boo!' -- they're saying 'mooooo-vers!' "

Maybe when it comes to the unappreciated Peyton Manning and the maligned Colts' D, we're 'sposed to expect the unexpected. It's been a bitch tryin' to figure out Indy in '06-'07. They began 9-0, then went 3-4 to end the regular season -- all four of those losses on the road, including a defeat to the 6-10 Texans and a 44-17 thrashing at the 8-8 Jags.

They were 'sposed to be dead meat vs. K.C.'s ground game and then they frickin' shut down Larry Johnson. Despite completely dominating the first 2 1/2 quarters of that game, they were leading by only a 16-8 score late in the third (though they'd played well enough in some areas to be up, 28-3).

Then, Indy went to Billickmore and not only derailed the Super Bowl plans of the Super Genius Playcaller and God's Linebacker, but created insurmountable anguish for ex-Colts fans who still cry, "They stole our team!"

(Sidebar: Addressing "choker" labels, how come the guy with the horseshoe on his helmet -- Johnny Unitas -- always got off scot-free? Sure, he won those back-to-back NFL championships in '58 and '59, but, what about '64 when his powerhouse Colts team got skunked, 27-0, by Cleveland in the NFL title game? What about his 11-0-2 Colts losing on the final Sunday of the '67 season and missing the playoffs? And what about his Colts being 18-point favorites vs. the upstart Jets in SB III? In two Super Bowls, Johnny U. was 14 of 33 for 198 yards with 3 INTS ... what's the efficiency rating for that ... 45.8?)

Well, there won't be a Dreamboat SuperHunk Named Brady in the Super Bowl (although there will be a "Sexy Rexy"), so, unless Tom's scheduled to perform the ceremonial coin toss (as he did last year), he'll have nuthin' to do but enjoy the funnel cake at the carnival whilst everyone else throws the football through the hole and wins a prize (that SNL sketch was mighty classic).

Oh, and when he isn't enjoying funnel cake, Tom'll be killin' time awaiting Puppy Bowl III on Animal Planet as he has a front-row seat for a private session of Giselle modeling her shiny, lacey, sheer Victoria's Secret undergarments.

Relax, America ... Tom's gonna always be terrific.

Except maybe when he's at the county fair. Seeing Mr. Clutch/Tom Terrific toss that INT in the final seconds, jeez ... that looked worse than when he set down his funnel cake at the county fair/carnival and was totally incapable of throwing the football through a hole and winning a giant, stuffed animal.

Kinda made ya think that maybe Super Genius Hoodie shoulda called for the hook-and-ladder TD magic -- not that Reche Caldwell's magic hands were gonna be much help.

Tom's failure, well ... once again, America decided that it did not want Vinny Testaverde to have a Super Bowl ring.

But, that's what happens indoors sometimes.

There's always sumthin' crazy going down inside the RCA Dome, isn't there? Oftentimes, this involves a fumble -- and the moment when Reggie Wayne (who'd been tripping all over his own feet all day) allowed himself to get hit inside the final two minutes and watched the ball squirt out of his grasp, go straight up and then gently fall back into his arms as if it was on a string, good gravy ... that was weird.

Almost as weird as when Jerome Bettis had his fumble squirt up in the air near the Indy goal line (again, inside of two minutes) in the Colts' final game of last season.

It's a head-scratcher when we play football indoors (where Mom told us never to play football, though we did anyway). Dallas Clark ... isn't it some sorta law where ya've gotta salute that dude, even if you're not into white-boy tight ends?

The last time NE invaded his RCA Dome space, Dallas Clark tumbled to the RCA Dome FieldTurf, writhing in pain with a broken fibula (which the Mrs. correctly diagnosed mere seconds after the play occurred ... thus cementing her reputation as The Fibula Whisperer).

This time, Dallas Clark had two frickin' gnarly plays -- the time when he skillfully extended himself and dragged his toes just inside the sideline for a key catch to keep a drive alive -- and then, his 52-yard, runaway rhino rampage through the Pats' secondary to set up the field goal which tied the game, 31-31, yes ... that was cool.

So, while an outdoor team (N.E.) went indoors and got knocked out, an indoor team (N.O.) went outdoors and lost its SB XLI bid (no dome team has ever won outdoors with a Super Bowl berth on the line ... right, Houston Oilers?)

Anyway, there's a Man Law out there (not one that's on the books, per se) wherein it's wisest to exercise caution when sizing up a Super Bowl which pairs one of Jim Harbaugh's ex-teams and another of Jim Harbaugh's ex-teams, especially when that game is played within the three-month window of Jim Harbaugh leaving one college coach job to take another college coaching job.

Speaking of the Bears vs. Indy, we seem to remember Bob Swersky and his pals conversing about Da Bears -- and one of the guys at the table pondering what would happen if Da Bears Bus was entered in the Indy 500 against the likes of Rick Mears.

Meerce? Or Da Behrse?

"Is Dittt-kuhh driving Da Behrse Bus?"

Hang on? What about America's team ... the Ain'ts? Well, despite the fairly-repetitive nature of it, we kind of admitted to liking that fight song ("The Saints! Are coming! The Saints! Are coming!").

Other than that, though, there was a historical hurdle which the Ain'ts found to be insurmountable -- something more rare than the Two-Black Head Coaches paradigm.

The Ain'ts, as it was, were attempting to reach the Super Bowl with three white linebackers.
Now, it is true that some of the Patriots' Super Bowl winners had three white linebackers (Ted Johnson, Mike Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi), but those three were often three-fourths of the linebacking crew (depending on whether Willie McGinest and/or Rosevelt Colvin were in the game).

The Saints, however, had 100%, white-boy linebacker coverage -- but, more than that, it was "three white-boy linebackers that they didn't draft."
Yup ... Scott Fujita (Chiefs castoff), Mark Simoneau (Eagles reject) and Scott Shanle (Rams/Cowboys evacuee) were the Big Three Anomaly.

That threesome did NOT have anyone conjuring up images of the days of our youth when the heart of the New Orleans' D was the quartet of LBs -- Pat Swilling (#56), Sam Mills (#51), Rickey Jackson (#57) and Vaughan Johnson (#53)

Some say it's a sad commentary upon those of us who aren't exactly Ain'ts fans but can name those LBs and their jersey numbers when we can't remember the street address of our previous residence and we always forget our spouse's Social Security number.

As long as we're in the time-travel void, when most of us are asked to name the most-recent team to win the Super Bowl with three-out-of-three white-boy linebackers, it's a no-brainer.
The Pittsburgh Steelers in SB XIII, of course.
Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and (here's the kicker) ... Loren Toews.
Toews started in place of injured Robin Cole, who, by the way, was a fantastic bad-ass and one of the most-underrated Steelers ever.
(To keep your files up-to-date, remember that Ham was injured for SB XIV vs. the Rams, so Dirt Winston saw most of the action)

In recapping FOX's broadcast of the Bears-Ain'ts game, it was kinda cool when America caught a very brief glimpse (too brief, in fact) of Sean Payton lined up in shotgun formation as a strike-replacement player for the '87 Bears.
That was a terrifically-wobbly pass that he completed down the right sideline.

Again, this shows us the glaring weakness of the Winter X Games Network when it attempts to report on the NFL.
It's Sean Salisbury this, Sean Salisbury that, Sean Salisbury's unit here, Sean Salisbury's package there -- and then the Winter X Games Network brings down the hammer and fills yer TV screen with that cartoon character named John Clayton.

Those are the times we thank God that we don't have hi-def.

Still, we wish there was less Sean Salisbury, more Sean Payton on our TV screen. After all, Sean Payton was playing in those '87 strike games, then he was gone and Walter Payton was back in his Bears gear.

'87 was Sweetness' final season. Then, he was gone ... forever.

Of course, Walter Payton wore #34 -- the same number worn in Ain'ts lore by the inimitable Ironhead Heyward. Remembering how Ironhead lost his battle with brain cancer last May, it seemed kinda empty havin' Mike McKenzie wearing #34 so cluelessly.

So, forget Sean Salisbury.

Bring back Fred Edelstein!

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