Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Noodle in a Haystack

This year’s salary and signing bonus: $25 million

Off the field endorsements: $10 million

Beating the Patriots in Foxboro: Priceless

That was the message of from ABC with 1:03 remaining in last night’s game between the Colts and Patriots. In today’s society Mastercard might be as good as cash, but tonight the Colts proved that they are money.

Throughout the history of sport, there have been many instances of teams facing their tormentors one final time before finally cresting the mountain. The Jordan led Bull took their lumps from the Pistons, losing to Detroit in 1988, 1989 and 1990 playoffs. The following year they blasted though the Bad Boys with a 4 game sweep in the conference finals en route to their first of 3 consecutive titles and 6 in 8 years.

The Boston Red Sox took second to the New York Yankees too many times to count over the years. 25 years after Beantown’s finest lost a one game playoff to the timely homer of Bucky “F***king” Dent, the Sox lost another heart breaker to the Yanks when Aaron Boone hit a pennant clinching home run on the first pitch of the 11th inning in game 7. The following year Boston finally ended the curse of the Bambino by rallying from a 3-0 deficit to beat their hated rival from New York. The ensuing World Series was anticlimactic, nothing could stop the self described Idiots from closing the deal against the Cardinals.

That brings us to the present. Over the past 2 seasons, the Indianapolis Colts have been one of the most explosive teams in the league, unless they happened to be facing the New England Patriots. Despite coming into last night’s game as the only unbeaten team in the NFL, the Colts still had something to prove. “Beat the Patriots,” the critics said, “and we’ll take you seriously.”

From the opening possession the Colts sent a message to the Patriots as well as their doubters. This is a team to be reckoned with.

After a weekend filled with the drama of T.O, Marvin Harrison came right out and let his hands do the talking. A 48 yard bomb from Manning set the tone and 3 plays later Harrison scored on an uncharacteristic one yard jump ball, giving the Colts a lead in a game that they would never trail. Marvelous would finish the night with 9 catches for 128 yards and 2 scores, the second of which brought about a challenge from New England Coach Bill Belichick that has to rank among the most desperate red flags in recent memory. In a celebration befitting of the classiest wide out in the game, Harrison hugged his teammates, a breath of fresh air after the endless saga of Owens and the Eagles.

By the end of the night, the Colts had not only conquered their demons, but decimated them. Had it not been for a handful of plays in which Jason David looked more like Larry David, the score would have been far more lopsided than the 40-21 that it ended up. It was the type of dominating performance that left ABC sideline reporter Sam Ryan asking Peyton Manning about his team’s chances of matching the 1972 Dolphins unbeaten season. As though he had been preparing for the question for his entire life, Manning simply replied that he was focused on playing Houston next Sunday. He added, with a straight face, that it would be an important game because it is a divisional foe. If Manning and the Colts can devote their full attention to the enemy at hand, even when it’s the hapless 1-7 Texans, the just might have a shot at the unthinkable feat that Ms. Ryan suggested. While going unbeaten might be a unrealistic, there is no doubt that the Colts have proven themselves the team to beat in the NFL.

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