Colts have the Edge and the right Manning to get into
the Super Bowl
The Indianapolis Colts
are one of the franchises that help set the standard of success
for lesser organizations. The team has had many great players
on their team that did it the “right way” while it
was popular to be the anti-hero or the rebel. This was most apparent
during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Those were the
days that players like the New York Jets’ over the top quarterback
Joe Namath was out living it up on the town in New York City.
During this same period the Colts, then in Baltimore, were led
by the traditional type of leader, quarterback Johnny Unitas.
Unitas was stoic, modest, and hard-working, everything the United
States had symbolized itself to be. He led the right way without
partying, without herds of women following him, without being
out on the town every night. He did it with a level of class that
is hard to find now a days. The Colts hope they have found it
in their new franchise leader quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning
seems to have modeled himself after the late great quarterback
Unitas. He’s very soft-spoken almost to the point of a fault,
well at least to a sound byte hungry media it’s a fault.
Manning is just the kind of “aww shucks” kind of guy
that a great deal of the country can get along with and tolerate
on national ad campaigns without questioning his lifestyle. Since
the 1999 season the Peyton-led Colts have averaged 10 wins a year
and have made four postseason appearances.
Last year the Colts were one of the best teams
in the National Football League. They finished out the year with a very above
average 12-4 record and their first divisional title since 1999.
The team had a number of exciting games but none of them quite
measured up to their week 5 Monday Night Football match up with
the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Colts found themselves down 21 points
with less than seven minutes left in the game after a Tampa defender
picked off a Manning pass and scored. That’s when the fun
started. On the ensuing kickoff, the Colts took it back to the
12 yard line and set up a James Mungro three yard run. The Colts
then converted an onside kick and scored on a 28 yard pass from
Manning to wide receiver Marvin Harrison. The Indianapolis defense
held the Bucs on their next possession and they got the ball back
with 1:41 left in the game. Manning and Harrison hooked up once
again this time for 52 yards and was stopped at the six yard line.
Running back Ricky Williams then ran in a one yard touchdown to
tie up the game and send it into overtime. In overtime the Bucs
got the ball first and punted to the Colts who were able to kick
a field goal and win the game 38-35 in one of the greatest comebacks
in NFL history.
In the off-season the Colts looked to build
on last season's success and to keep Colts tickets a hot buy in Indianapolis. The Colts elected to build
their team through the draft and it showed when they didn’t
sign a single free agent before the draft. With their first pick,
which was in the second round, the Colts selected Iowa safety
Bob Sanders. The only real knock on this kid is that he isn’t
the prototypical safety. At 5’8” and 204 pounds he
isn’t the biggest guy on the field but he hits like a linebacker
and still runs a 4.3 40-yard dash. With their second pick of the
draft the Colts nabbed Ohio State tight end Ben Heartstock. Heartstock
is a big blocking tight end that also happens to be a good receiver.
He doesn’t possess the speed that most NFL tight ends have,
but he makes up for it by punishing defenders with his size and
On the offensive side of the
ball the Colts are one of the scarier teams to line
up against. They, like the Cowboys dynasty of the ‘90s,
have built their team around three All-Pro guys, quarterback
Peyton Manning, running back Edgerrin James, and wide
receiver Marvin Harrison. All three of them are arguably
the best at each of their positions. In 2002, Harrison
set the single season record for catches in a season
with a mind boggling 143 catches or 8.9 catches a game.
Manning is the only quarterback in the NFL that will
run the no huddle in non-two minute drill situations.
He will call the plays form the line of scrimmage which
is amazing in this day in age with such complex defenses.
The defensive side of the team has been much improved
in the last couple of seasons. They finished 10 th overall
in total defense but only managed to finish 20 th against
the rush. Defensive guru and head coach Tony Dungy knows
that the defense will have to be able to stop the run
to get to the Super Bowl.
All Images, Content
and Design © 2004