When the Colts were 13-0 and had clinched the top spot in the AFC playoffs, I did not have a problem if they rested starters. You can read my previous blog entry http://blog.wthr.com/13-sports/rest-or-rust-colts-debate-about-to-begin/ for my thoughts a few weeks ago. The Colts had made it clear that a perfect season was not the goal of this team. They wanted to put themselves in the best position to win the Super Bowl.
But what happened Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium was terribly disappointing. First year Colts head coach Jim Caldwell yanked Peyton Manning out of the game with 5:36 left in the 3rd quarter and the Colts leading the Jets 15-10. The Colts were less than 6 quarters away from a 16-0 regular season, giving them the shot at a perfect season ending in Miami at the Super Bowl.
If the Colts were going to sit Peyton and company, why not do it in Jacksonville 10 days earlier when the Colts were playing on four days rest? The Colts starters went the distance against Jaguars. Why did the plan change from the Jaguars to the Jets?
Coach Jim Caldwell said healthy players would play against the Jets. He said the approach would be the same as the previous 14 games. He led C0lts fans to believe that there would be no resting unless a player was truly injured. If the team didn’t care about the perfect season, the fans sure did. Colts fans have also seen the rest for the playoffs plan backfire in seasons past. So when Curtis Painter entered the game, the crowd voiced its displeasure. I think the fans were surprised, and obviously not happy.
I don’t think Peyton was too happy leaving the game either. He didn’t take his helmet off until late in the 4th quarter. He was either hiding his perturbed face or hoping to get back in the game – probably both.
This would have played out much better if Colts fans had been forewarned before kickoff. Fans would not have been happy to know players were going to rest. But Peyton’s 3rd quarter departure would not have caught them off guard, and left them booing a previously undefeated head coach.
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