The One for Pagano

Week five of the NFL season had many interesting scenarios.  But all paled in comparison to a young Colts team with a rookie quarterback trying to win one for their coach.

The Colts were at home in Lucas Oil Stadium amongst a sea of blue and pink, with a little orange mixed in (and some green and gold too).  A little too much green and gold for my taste, but what are you going to do?

Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano was just a few miles away at Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, watching the game from his hospital room where he is being treated for leukemia.

The ChuckStrong banners hung in the end zones.  But even if they didn’t, you could feel this game was about more than football.  Players wore ChuckStrong t-shirts during warm ups and under their jerseys.  And not just Colts players.  The Colts and Packers were opponents, but united in cause.

The Packers came out strong and by halftime had a 21-3 lead.  Colts fans hung in there, figuring they were outmatched, but hopeful that somehow a game would ensue.  “Just put up a fight.  That’s all we ask…”

And then, there was an interception.  A couple of field goals.  A long third down conversion.  And the Colts were back in the game.  They were better than in the game, they were in the lead.

With 30 seconds left, the game was not over.  Far from it.  Aaron Rodgers drove the Packers down the field and put Mason Crosby in position for a 51 yard field goal attempt.  He had missed one earlier.  The snap was perfect, the catch was perfect, the setup was perfect, the kick was perfect.  From where I was sitting, it looked perfect.  It looked good.  But somehow, some way…it wasn’t.  The roof was closed.  The window was closed.  It was not the wind.  It was the will.  Of the fans.  That made that ball veer left.  Wide left.

It’s never happened before and it may never happen again.  But on Sunday afternoon, in Lucas Oil Stadium, I witnessed the fans take the game.  That’s right…the 12th man became the only man on the field and it was sheer will.  And love.  For their team and their coach.

It wasn’t the Super Bowl.  It wasn’t even a playoff game.  It was more.  It meant more.

It is now my favorite Colts win.

Ever.

XO

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