Somehow, some way, despite a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals (and with a little help from an old friend), the Colts checked off goal number one on Sunday: to win back the division.
No, it wasn’t the way we had hoped. The Colts could have beaten the Bengals and won it outright. Instead, they left the battle for the AFC South right where they’ve left it so many times before…in the hands of Peyton Manning.
I know. The Colts set themselves up to take back the South with strong play in the first half of the season. But since the bye week, they’ve been anything but convincing. And after the loss of Dwayne Allen, Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Reggie Wayne, the Colts could really use the help.
So, accept it (thanks, Peyton). And don’t complain. The Colts are the AFC South champs once again! And they will host a home playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The other good news coming off the Bengals loss…the Colts’ patchwork offense seems to be coming together. A bit. Andrew Luck found help from wide receivers LaVon Brazill and Da’Rick Rogers on Sunday, both with a handful of catches and two touchdowns apiece.
And just when you were ready to throw Trent Richardson out with the Pep Hamilton bath water (and I know you were), he had some catch and runs from Andrew Luck for decent yardage. That’s something we knew Richardson could do all along. And it’s something I wish they would have tried sooner. But, better late than never. Which is the story of the Colts’ lives this season.
The problem is, on Sunday (and several Sundays this season)…late was too late. And it turned into never.
Yes, there was a bad call. But there were also bad plays, missed opportunities, and silly, uncharacteristic penalties. So, if you’re going to blame Sunday’s loss on anything…blame it on that.
The Colts had a chance against the Bengals. They had a chance to win the AFC South on their own and to write their own playoff story. And they can still do that, to a point.
But, from here…they’re on their own.
The Colts are going to have to dig deep, figure out who they are, what they want, where the plays are, when to execute, why the slow starts, and how to stay focused and disciplined for sixty minutes.
And no one can help them do that. Not an old friend. Or a player not on the active roster.
Even with all that’s gone wrong this season, the Colts are still right where they want to be.
And it doesn’t matter how they got here.
Because, where they go next…is all up to them.