Living in St. Louis this football season has forced football fans to think, “What if?” When the drama of the Mike Martz situation died down, and the Rams began to lose on a regular basis, many fans turned their attention to the Colts. It’s a natural attraction as the Colts are the closest NFL to our town.
As the season wore on even those who said Peyton Manning couldn’t win the big game were starting to root for the Colts. Whether that was based more in a likeness for the Colts or a disdain for the 1972 Dolphins, no one knows. What was known was that NFL history was getting closer to being broken with each Colts victory.
Not many people thought this would be the game the Colts lost. San Diego is known for the late season chokes, a victim of being coached by Mart Schottenheimer. Most folks put their money on next week against the Seahawks, as they would possibly need that victory for home field advantage. Heck, that might have been a preview of the Super Bowl.
The NFL gods are a fickle bunch. Tony Dungy was wrestling whether to go for the record or rest his starters. On one shoulder he had Peyton Manning whispering, “Let’s do it. Let’s play ball and win them all.” On the other shoulder he had the 1985 Bears and the 1998 Broncos whispering, “Lose a game and you’ll win the Super Bowl.” It’s a decision no coach likes to make.
That decision is a tough one, because if you rest your players in pursuit of an un-defeated season you risk taking their edge off, or sending a message that it’s OK to lose a game. Dick Vermeil did that to the St. Louis Rams during the 1999 season when they were un-defeated. He admitted to a pre-game talk with the players where he told them it was OK to lose a game. They went out and lost.
As a super Colts fan said tonight, “All of this is made up drama.”
Now that the drama of an un-defeated season is over the Colts can move on to planning for the playoffs and resting their dinged up players. Coach Dungy can get the rest he wanted for his players without sacrificing any of the intangibles.