Like many of you, I feel let down by the Colts decision to rest their starters and let NY Jets walk out with a win. It would have been a perfect Sunday had the Jet loss yesterday. Instead now they are likely to have another 'lay down' game by the Bengals and get into the playoffs without earning it. I would like to look at the all around decision and not just the affects it had on the Steelers.
Face it - whether you liked it or not - the Colts didn't owe us anything. So we can't really been mad them as Steelers fans. But I am mad at them as a fan of the NFL. Anyone that knows the history of the game knows that the elusive undefeated season is one of the few hallowed historical marks a team can achieve in the NFL. It is distinguishable because only one team has ever done it. So to say that going undefeated isn't a big deal - to me - is a slap in the face at history. If it wasn't a big deal, the remaining members of the 72 dolphins wouldn't care and I wouldn't have to hear Mercury Morris' annoying voice every time someone gets close. This record means a lot to the fans that the NFL is catering too. When I say NFL fans I mean colts fans too. I couldn't imagine being a colt fan right now. They booed the decision and rightfully so. What they witnessed yesterday was basically a pre-season game. Anyone who attended the game or watched the game was robbed of either time or money or both. You at least play the game for your fans - who after all are the reason why their salaries are so large.
Secondly you should do it for the players. Players are highly competitive. You could tell Manning wanted to go for the undefeated season. You see the '72 dolphins and how their players cherish the undefeated season. They talk more about that than winning the super bowl. The idea that in one season no one was able to beat you is very appealing at all levels of competition. So why take that away from the players? I don't suggest that there will be locker room problems but I believe you play to win the game. If not then what was all the preparation for, the hours of practice, weight room, and film study. That is a complete waste of time if you are not going to play to win the game. Plus it cheapens the rest of the games you already played, you won every single game to set up this unique opportunity to go undefeated. The players have played hard and deserve to be rewarded the distinguishable honor that comes with having an undefeated season if they can accomplish it. I think a lot of those players in the locker room will be asking themselves - could we have done it?
Can anyone please help me understand this? Is there any data to support sitting your players in the 20 mins of a football game. Is there any reason to believe that Manning would have been in more danger by playing at the end of the game than he was playing at the beginning? You could say that the Jets would have been doing anything to win and desperate people do desperate things. I really don't buy that. We know through experience that a QB can get injured on the very first play - just ask the Bengals. So what is the logic behind playing manning for two and half quarters and taking him out the last quarter and a half? I believe they would have been better off just not playing him. The two ideas contradict each other. You say you don't want Manning to be rusty - well play him, but you don't want him to risk injury - well don't play him. Last time I checked they played 60 mins in the playoffs so why play the game any different? They won't have the luxury of taking the starters out in the playoffs so why get your players accustomed to that now?
As for the big picture, I think this is not good for the Colts. Look at the last 5 super bowl champions the last team to win the super bowl while resting their starters were the 2004 Patriots. The last four super bowl winning teams have had to play their starters the final two games of the season. This is especially true for the colts because the only time they have won the super bowl was win they had to play their starters throughout the game int he final two games of the season in 2006. I personally hope they lose now because I feel like they did the league a disservice. I feel like they basically handed the Jets a playoff spot, they didn't earn it. Not that the Jets could help the fact that the Colts rested their starters but still it doesn't mean they had to go and win a game against the starting unit of an NFL squad. It cheapens the meaning of the playoffs because now you have other teams, Pittsburgh for example, who won their games playing against teams who are playing hard basically go to waste. Of course life isn't fair and all that nonsense but this is how I feel. Let's not forget Houston either, they have played spirited football and if they win New England they finish their season nicely - although from what I've seen it would take a lot for them to get into the playoffs since they lose tie breakers to Denver. Of course you can say the Steelers don't deserve the playoffs because they lost to the Browns, Raiders, and Cheifs. But who does deserve it then? The Broncos have some bad loses, the ravens have some bad loses, the Jets have some bad loses, Houston has some bad loses, all of the teams fighting for this Wild Card slot are fighting for the Wid Card slot because they have some bad loses, otherwise they would have won their division - right?
At least we know our team didn't quit. At least we can go into next year - if we don't make the playoffs - knowing that if we draft the right guys on defense we will be contending for a Super Bowl next year. I for one hope they make the playoffs somehow. I hope that Mark Sanchez has another terrible performance and throws 5 ints against the Bengals and that New England assist the Texans in choking. There have been stranger things to have happened.