Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts, 1/15/06
Point Spread: Indianapolis -9.5
Pittsburgh was 11-5 this year, Indy was 14-2. Pittsburgh lost 26-7 in their game in Indianapolis this year. I didn't write a preview for this game, simply because I had nothing interesting to say, and I'm picking the favorite. I think the Colts are going to win the Super Bowl, especially now that New England has lost. I actually thought Denver was a little better than New England, but I thought the Pats had a better chance to beat the Colts. Peyton Manning has a reputation as a choker, and his lifetime record is 3-5. However, he's 3-2 in the last two years, and 3-0 against teams that aren't the New England Patriots.
This also might be Jerome Bettis's last game, since he has strongly hinted that he will be retiring after the season.
In other pre-game news, Steelers linebacker Joey Porter complained that the Colts "don't want to play smashmouth football, they want to trick you. Not trick you like that, but they want to go in the hurry-up offense and try to catch you in something. They don't want to just call the play, get up there and run it. They want to make you think. They want to make it a thinking game instead of a football game." He also stated that the Steelers have a simple game plan: they run the ball, and they play good defense. Sometimes they do play-action.
Colts cornerback Nick Harper got stabbed in the knee by his wife. A few months ago, Harper got arrested for punching his wife in the face, so I'm thinking he may have deserved it. Luckily, cornerback isn't one of those positions where running and changing direction quickly is important.
CBS has the team of Dick Enberg and Dan Dierdorf announcing the game today, with Big Armen Keteyian working the sidelines. Our introduction montage features the song, "Time Has Come Today" and a Dick Enberg monologue about the nature of time. Montage themes:
Colts Coach Tony Dungy used to play for the Steelers.
Jerome Bettis might be concerned with the passage of time.
Time inexorably determines the outcome.
Tony Dungy's son died (this theme presented more subtly).
Dan Dierdorf continues the weekend's crowd noise theme by commenting the noise in the RCA Dome is "blowing us off our chairs". There is absolutely no way that Seattle's stadium is louder than this place, as FOX claimed yesterday.
Dierdorf on Manning: "How do you say this guy had a bad year? Well, he threw fewer touchdown passes. Not." Clearly, Dierdorf remains on the cutting edge of contemporary slang and youth culture.
Dierdorf also believes that a running quarterback would help Pittsburgh, but I'm not sure if he's referring to Ben Roethlisberger or if he thinks they should bring in Charlie Batch. (Roethlisberger will be referred to as "Big Ben" from here on out, for typing-related reasons.) Phil Simms would find Big Ben's neatly trimmed beard far more acceptable than that of Jake Plummer.
UPS Reliable Game Points:
Indianapolis: "Back in the Saddle?"
This Game Point refers to worries about Indy's time off, and whether that will result in rustiness. I am more concerned with the mixed mascot metaphor. Indy is the Colts, yet they're getting back in the saddle, in order to ride...themselves.
Pittsburgh: "Play It Again, Ben"
Dierdorf explains that this Game Point is about Big Ben taking revenge on the Colts for the earlier loss. It's a revenge game. You know, just like Casablanca. Technically, the Game Point should be, "Play it, Big Ben. Play 'As Time Goes By'."
Big Armen checks in, looking good on the sidelines. He says that Indy's crowd noise caused five false starts in the previous matchup with Pittsburgh. It seems that we are again going to be celebrating the heroism of yelling at the top of your lungs for no reason. Also, both networks are going with the assumption that the sole cause of false starts is crowd noise, rather than defensive pressure, or, say, your spastic quarterback changing plays at the line of scrimmage all day long.
It is so loud that I can barely hear Dick Enberg. I hope it quiets down slightly, or CBS adjusts their audio. Actually, after seeing Enberg nearly freeze to death in the booth during last year's playoffs in Pittsburgh, I'm glad Enberg is indoors.
Big Ben gets hit by Dwight Freeney on the first play of the game which may or may not be because he is or is not a running QB. Enberg says that Nick Harper is playing with stitches in his knee, "suffered in an accident". Is CBS going to gloss over the stabbing?
Big Ben throws a sweet play-action pass to Heath Miller for 36 yards. He follows it up with another nice pass to Miller, and just like that, the Steelers are inside the Colts' 30. I hate to say this, but Joey Porter warned them about play-action.
Graphic: Bill Cowher is only 1-3 on the road in the playoffs,and that one win was last week in Cincinnati. He's 8-9 overall, which means Pittsburgh has played 13 of their 17 playoff games under Cowher at home. It's impressive that Pittsburgh has been seeded so highly, and nearly always played at home in the playoffs under Cowher. Incidentally, while researching the above information, I learned that during his playing days, Cowher broke future Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher's leg, and ended his career. In fact, Fisher missed out on playing in the Super Bowl with the 1985 Bears because of Cowher. Bill Cowher: one mean son of a bitch.
The graphic also notes that Pittsburgh is 14-3 on road in the past two seasons.
The RCA Dome plays loud bell sounds when it's third down. Antwaan Randle El is not intimidated, and hauls in a first down catch at the 13. Dierdorf says that there are holes in Indy's zone defense, and that the Colts are shocked that Pittsburgh is throwing. After six passes in eight plays, you'd think they'd start to figure it out.
Incidentally, the stadium is so loud I just false started right here on the couch.
After a Bettis run, Big Ben throws to Randle El for the touchdown. 7-0 Pittsburgh. Indy is down a touchdown on the field, and 16.5 in Las Vegas.
Manning starts off with a pretty crappy pass. His career playoff passer rating is a respectable 89.1. However, the passer rating is calculated using a mystical formula found in the Kaballah, so, hard to say how meaningful that is. Manning throws another bad-looking incompletion, and the Colts have to punt. According to the broadcasting team, Marvin Harrison was "shagged" by safety Chris Hope on the play. Randle El returns the kick to his own 45, and the Steelers start with excellent field position.
The Indy cheerleaders are wearing white vests and white skirts, over these blue sequined sports bra-like tops. I'm not impressed. I think they should have gone with an Indie cheerleader look, wearing retro skirts and cutoff t-shirts with ironic slogans. Also, the Indianapolis cheerleaders are simply not as pretty as those of Denver. Sorry, Indiana.
Just as the fully-bearded Jake Plummer's mini-pic featured his porn 'stache, Big ben's mini-pic features him with a goatee, not the full beard he currently sports.
The Steelers again move into Colts territory, when Dwight Freeney comes in on a rush and we hear the four most exciting words in football: "hit as he throws". Big Ben gets hit, and the ball goes into the arms of Colts safety Cate June. Indy takes over at the 35.
If you're tracking broadcaster jinxes, that INT occurred immediately after a graphic showing that Big Ben had not thrown a first-quarter interception all season long.
Dan Dierdorf is talking so much about the interception that the producer finally gives up on getting a reasonable segue, and we move to commercial mid-sentence.
After some diligent research, I have learned that Jesse Stone: Night Passage follows a Jesse Stone movie from last year, called Stone Cold. Night Passage is a prequel, however, so don't get confused. It's a lot like the Indiana Jones movies, except for the huge difference in production and entertainment value. In the third movie, Jesse Stone will fight Nazis with his dad, in Everybody Must Get Stone.
Disclaimer: I'm watching this game via Tivo, because I stayed up late finishing the Patriots recap and I thought the less consequential Bears-Panthers game started at 10. So, during this commercial break, at about 1:05, my dad called. He said, "Are you watching this game?" I told him, yes, but I was only midway through the first quarter. Dad, unused to Tivo, was taken aback, but said, "OK, call me when you're done. This is a hell of a game." I hang up the phone, intrigued by the teaser.
I am delighted to see that, due to the crowd noise, Big Ben is communicating with his offensive coordinator via telephone, rather than headset. I say, "Big Ben's ordering a pizza," to my empty living room.
Peyton Manning continues to throw the ball like crap. Pittsburgh is getting a decent pass rush, but Manning is not even coming close to his receivers. Another three-and-out for Indianapolis, and another punt. We learn that referee Pete Morelli is from St. Mary's, and on behalf of my sister, I say, Holla! (It turns out, he's the principal of a St. Mary's High, in Stockton. Enjoy later jokes accordingly.)
The Steelers start off with a pitch to RB Willie Parker. Nick Harper stabs at his knee and brings him down. Dierdorf finally acknowledges that Harper's injury was a stabbing in a "domestic dispute".
Many fans in Indy are holding fancy, laminated DEFENSE signs that have a promotional Chevy URL at the bottom. Lazy goddamn fans. CBS keeps accidentally showing the signs, then cutting away abruptly to avoid giving away free advertising.
Big Ben completes a long bomb to Hines Ward, the greatest half-Korean player in NFL history. Ward stiff-arms an Indy DB for about ten yards, and then manages to draw a face mask penalty to get another ten. On the play, Nick Harper suffers a knee injury after being hit by his own man. The slow-motion replay makes it look awful - not quite Napoleon McCallum-bad, but possibly Willis McGahee territory. But, jeez, injured by a member of his own secondary - someone he trusted, someone he dined with, someone he never expected to hurt him. This isn't just an injury; it's a betrayal.
A quick pass to Heath Miller makes it 14-0, and it's 24-0 in Vegas. Bill Cowher...still looks pretty angry.
The Colts get the ball back, and don't look a lot better. Marvin Harrison is sufficiently recovered from his gang bang to catch a 25-yard pass. The Colts follow this up with a false start penalty, and then a sack. Dan refers to the false start as "the most subtle dropping of your hips", and then tells us that, "Peyton Manning is just another guy when he's on the ground." Indy punts for the third time this quarter.
A big sack of Big Ben takes us to the end of the quarter, and Dan talks over the outro again.
Harrison Ford is starring in a movie called Firewall, which to my untrained eye looks a lot like, The Net, Part II.
Nick Harper is getting treatment on his injured knee, "which is the opposite of the knee that had the knife wound". I am pretty confident that is the first time I've heard that phrase during a sports telecast.
When Indy gets the ball back, they again block poorly and throw a series of crappy passes. So far, Manning has completed two of his nine passes, and he's also been sacked twice. One of those completions would have been called back by penalty if it hadn't fallen well short of a first down. The Colts now have one first down and four punts.
Pittsburgh takes over on their own 44. On the first play, Antwaan Randle El is blatantly interfered with by the Indy CB. After being shagged by his defender, Randle El is then shagged by the referee, who fails to call the obvious penalty. Dierdorf concurs: "Normally, that brings a flag. That...is blatant." Possibly the refs have been spooked by the controversial PI call in last night's game. Or they've been bribed by the Colts.
There is a hilarious shot of Colts "idiot kicker" Mike Vanderjagt waving a white towel furiously on the sdielines. He has an enormous earring in one ear, comparable to jewelry Terrell Owens used to wear in his 49er days. Speaking of ex-49ers, the Colts have signed the worst 49er of all time, kicker Jose Cortez, to handle kickoffs, because Vanderjagt's leg is so weak. Dierdorf says, "All kickers should do that," hopefully meaning the towel-waving and not the earring-wearing.
The Steelers more across midfield, but then have to punt. We hear, yet again, that Pittsburgh punter Chris Gardocki has never had a punt blocked. And before the last 500 of them, an announcer has mentioned the no-block streak. This one goes off cleanly, and Pittsburgh downs the kick at the 2.
Starting from their own 2, the Colts begin to run the ball. And, with the ball safely out of Peyton Manning's nervous, sweaty hands, they begin to pick up some first downs. Edgerrin James runs for ten. Two plays later, Manning throws to Dallas Clark (best porn star name on the Colts) for 23. Then James runs for another 15. James is really carrying the team on this drive. Manning even converts a third down on a blitz, throwing to the spot that the blitzer just vacated. James runs for another 9, and it's first-and-goal. On second down, James catches a pass at the 1. The Colts have gone 97 yards, and James has accounted for about 50 of them (Ed. note: actually 52).
A touchdown run is negated by tackle Tarik Glenn's false start, which is really more of a false fall. Dierdorf yells, "You're at home", because crowd noise is the only thing that ever causes a false start. Pitttsburgh generously jumps offsides to give Indy three yards, but James is stopped at the 2 on the next play. After a ten-minute, 96-yard drive, the Colts settle for a field goal. Dierdorf praises Pittsburgh's "stout run defense", ignoring how badly Edge James kicked their asses that entire drive. So far, Pittsburgh has stopped the pass fine; the run is the only thing to give them trouble.
Pittsburgh decides to run out the clock after the kickoff, making no effort to advance the ball. Peyton is also ordering pizza on the sidelines, or possibly calling Kenny Chesney. There's a fan who has the standard D + Fence setup - the most common instance of a rebus in our society - and they've written the names of the Colts' D-Line players on the fence pickets. We go to halftime with the score Pittsburgh 14, Indianapolis 3.
Montage: Red, white, and blue paint. Feet on hash mark. A Colt blocks the camera with his hand. Willie Parker dances. Edgerrin James. Cheerleaders. Eagle (?). Cowher. Cheerleaders. Big Ben. Randle El scores. Crazy fan. Heath Miller scores. CBS.
Champ Bailey gives a boring answer about his crazy interception return. I fast-forward past the studio show.
CBS does their Fantasy Notebook. It's the playoffs! Fantasy football leagues don't even play Week 17!
A possibly relevant pre-game quote from Joey Porter: "When you take a lead, you force them to play your game. If they have the lead, you have to play their game. If we put them in a situation where they have to chase us, the gameplan changes. Now they have to stop the run when they know we're running. If we get them in our game, they have to play our style."
Bill Cowher gives some Zen wisdom coming out of the tunnel: "To put the game away, we have to pretend it's just beginning." Yes, sensai.
The Colts move the ball a little on their first possession, with a few runs and short passes. Troy Polamalu nearly intercepts a pass on second down, kind of pretending he caught it cleanly when he actually scooped it off the ground. Dierdorf is obsessed with the near-INT, even though Polamalu doesn't even argue the call. He's also obsessed with Polamalu's hair, or as he says, "his long, flowing locks." Indy punts.
Would they really fire you for spreading the Pink Slip Virus? That seems really harsh. I think the IT department has to take a little responsibility as well.
Steeler coach John Teerlinck is the fattest coach in the league. With Charlie Weis leaving the Patriots, I don't think Teerlinck even has any rivals. He's on the All Space-Eater Team, that's for sure.
Willie Parker ran for 1200 yards this year? I did not know that. Enberg says Pittsburgh signed him because, like our clients in Eureka County, "coaches love speed." Pittsburgh loves moving the ball, and they get all the way to the Indy 31 before a sack pushes them back to the 37. Since it's 4th-and-16, and their place kicker kind of sucks, Pittsburgh punts. Indy gets it at the 9.
And they don't do crap. Manning throws two incompletions, and then an unblocked James Farrior sacks him at the 1 on third down. It looks like a safety, but Manning got his knee down at the 1. I wonder if avoiding the safety was actually a good thing for Indy - they'd still be down two scores, and they could kick it a lot deeper. They punt out their own end zone, and Randle El takes the kick back to the Colts' 30.
Dierdorf: "How can you have a worse drive than that?" Maybe actually getting the safety, I guess. Or losing eight yards, and then your wife stabs you in the knee.
We go to our obligatory shot of Jerome Bettis's parents in the stands. They've attended every game Jerome has ever played, a streak Dierdorf calls "beyond belief". Dude, it's one game a week, four months a year. They don't have to play or anything. At this point in his career, Jerome's job is to carry the ball in short-yardage situations, and help run out the clock. He's the John Smoltz of the NFL: the former workhorse who, late in his career, cuts down on his workload and becomes the closer.
Homoerotic Sports Commentary, Dierdorf Division: (regarding Bettis's legs) "Those thighs will shatter your face mask." So that means your face is...never mind.
The Steelers run the ball six times in a row, the last five all going to Bettis. Did Big Ben hurt his arm? It doesn't really matter, since the last run reaches the end zone, and the Steelers are up a shocking 21-3. The Vegas line is officially irrelevant, with Pittsburgh up 27 on the spread with 16 minutes to play.
Peyton Manning is 11/21, for 109 yards. Those are similar to Brady's stats at a similar point in Saturday's game, and while I was surprised Brady looked so bad, here I'm shocked Manning looks as good as he does. Those stats don't take into account his sacks, I guess.
Ballsy play of the game: 4th-and-2 from their own 32, Tony Dungy sends on the punt team, and Manning waves them off the field. Manning is probably going to get a lot of crap for this in the press for overruling and pretty much emasculating his head coach, but this is absolutely the correct decision here. No matter where the Steelers get the ball next, the Colts are going to have to stop them right away to have a chance. So, the way I see it, Manning can't afford to worry about Dungy's pride here.
Or, it's an elaborate ruse to confuse the defense, specifically Joey Porter. Regardless, the Colts gain 13 yards, and Peyton Manning has huge balls. The third quarter ends with Indy at midfield and the score 21-3.
I bet the players are psyched when the ball's at the 50 when the quarter ends. No walking around, no hassle, just switch sides and move on. The ball barely has to move.
There is a big delay where CBS announces the winners of the Punt, Pass, and Kick competition. This seems like...really poor timing. Was there so much going on at halftime that they couldn't fit this ceremony in then? I don't have anything funny or mean to say about the kids because I fast-forwarded it, but I think it's funny that the vast majority of football fans hate 2/3 of the components of this contest.
Indy begins the quarter with a 51-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Clark, and the Steelers are officially worried. Good thing they didn't punt, huh? Dierdorf does his favorite thing, besides prefacing a comment with, "If you're like me...", and asks himself a rhetorical question: "You think Dallas Clark can't run?"
This will be interesting, as just about everyone in the stadium knows the Steelers are going to run the ball over and over. Can Indy stop the run when they know it's coming? Generally, they're good against the run, so we'll see. The first run goes for 13 yards, which can't be encouraging for Indy. Three more runs take Pittsburgh to 4th-and-inches on their own 48. It's close enough that the refs have to measure.
I think going for it is the right move here, just because the potential reward seems to outweigh the risk. Shanahan and Belichick would go for it. Marty Schottenheimer would punt. Herm Edwards would accidentally call timeout and then take a delay of game penalty. Tom Holmoe would call for a fake punt. Cowher decides to go for it.
Before this dramatic play can go off, we have a big showdown. Three Indy guys jump across the line, frantically pointing at a Pittsburgh lineman. When they come across, everyone else stands up, and the refs come running in, but no one throws a flag. No one knows what's going on. Both teams lobby frantically. Pitt wants offsides, Indy wants a false start. The replays don't show anything conclusive. For some reason, the RCA Dome is playing the Rocky theme. The refs continue to huddle. Dierdorf: "The refs have to do something."
Actually, they don't. Morelli calls...nothing. He says, no infraction, replay the down. An NFL ref has just called a do-over. I rescind my Holla. Shame on you,
Moraga Stockton. This sparks another five minutes of arguing, mainly from Cowher, who understandably wants to know how Indy wasn't offsides when three different guys, you know, jumped offsides. Dierdorf: "Morelli just wants this play to go away." Two wretched non-calls so far from this crew.
When we finally do get a play, Big Ben sneaks it across for the necessary yard, as Bettis does a Reggie Bush-style push to help him. Enberg says, "Bush Push", which is proof of my psychic announcing skills and also sort of dirty.
Big Ben throws an incomplete pass, which ends a string of eleven straight runs. Cowher realizes his folly and goes back to Bettis. He gains nine, zero, and then two yards on another fourth-down conversion. Clock-wise, it's better for the Steelers that it's taking four downs each time.
Bettis might be tiring, as they go to Willie Parker on third-and-five. He loses two, so Pittsburgh faces 4th-and-7. Cowher doesn't feel that ambitious, so he takes a delay of game penalty, then punts. Gardocki again avoids a block, but he kicks it into the end zone. I understand the thinking on the punt, but the Steelers gained only 17 yards of field position. it might have been worth a pass on third or fourth down. Regardless, they ran eight minutes off the clock, and Indy is at their own 20, trailing by 11.
Manning comes out throwing, firing to Reggie Wayne (who has two first names) for 24 yards. Then, after two near-misses, Troy Polamalu intercepts Manning right on the Colts logo at midfield. And...that's the game. Dungy challenges, because the game is over if this play stands. His (weak) argument is that Polamalu dropped the ball after rolling over twice, and then standing up. Last week Polamalu made another game-icing interception, but made an ill-advised lateral on the return. The lateral went fine; it was just dangerous. Next time he makes an INT, he should lie in the fetal position to avoid trouble.
Morelli comes out and...the call is reversed! The announcers are aghast, as am I. I think this is the worst call in NFL history, because this was seriously not even close. Polamalu caught it with both hands, rolled over, still holding the ball, and then got up and took a step. As he took his second step - probably three full seconds after he caught the pass - his knee knocked the ball loose. It would have been a bad call to say "incomplete" on the live play, but after watching replays for three minutes, it's inexcusable. Seriously, worst call I have ever seen, and that makes three terrible calls for the game.
A reborn Manning takes command. Pass to Clark for 9. Marvin Harrison for 20. Wayne for 24. Then Edge James takes it in from the 3, and it's 21-16. Indy has to go for two here, and they do, even after an inopportune false start from a lineman. Wayne makes a fantastic catch in the end zone, dragging his toe on the blue paint and creating a little cloud that looks like a miniature version of the Lost monster.
4:20 remains. Indy has three times out, so Pittsburgh reasonably needs two first downs to ice the game. They take over at their own 19, and Nick Harper stabs his team in the knee with an immediate pass interference penalty. Bettis makes little yardage on two runs, and then Big Ben throws incomplete. I agree with Dan that they should have thrown on second down; they needed to get one more first down, then run it three times. Peyton Manning will be getting the ball back with two-and-a-half minutes to go.
Troy Walters muffs an excellent, unblocked Gardocki punt, and recovers on the 18. That's also Manning's jersey number? Symbolism? Fate? Random chance?
Graphic: Manning has 25 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. None of those have come in the playoffs. Fair or not, this drive is going to define how people see Manning.
On the first play, Manning is nearly sacked. He dumps it off to James for two yards. The clock runs down to the two-minute warning.
Fan sign: "Colts Bound Super". Lame that sign is.
On the next play, Joey Porter comes in unblocked and sacks Manning for an eight-yard loss. Smashmouth football, he mutters. The Colts O-Line was very accommodating in not trying to trick Porter by laying a hand on him or impeding his pass rush in any way.
By the way, Porter has not to my knowledge ever been stabbed, but like Forrest Gump, he has been shot in the buttocks.
On 3rd-and-18, Manning throws an incompletion. The Steelers are blitzing the hell out of him.
On 4th-and-18, Joey Porter and James Farrior just maul Manning. It's almost a safety. I'm not sure either guy was blocked. The Steelers take over at the 2, with 1:20 left.
Here my notes just say "OH MY GOD".
I had started to write, "Should the Colts let them score quickly, and get the ball back?" but before I could, Jerome Bettis fumbled at the goal line. Stabby Harper picked up the loose ball and took off. He had plenty of blockers, and only one Steeler between him and the end zone, but he cut back from the sideline, and somehow, Big Ben tripped him up. Big Ben managed to backpedal about 30 yards to make the play, but Harper got all the way to the 42. I can't believe how quickly the game just turned. The Colts were absolutely dead, and now they have the ball with a minute to go, and all three times out.
Manning hits Wayne for 22, and the Colts are at the Steeler 39. He hits another pass to Harrison for eight yards, and the Colts take their first time out. Thirty seconds left, 2nd-and-two, and they're in field goal range already.
Jerome Bettis is being comforted on the sidelines by Tommy Maddox, which I find touching and also slightly hilarious. Man, if this is his last game, it's really a shame he goes out like that.
On second down, Manning goes for the end zone, where CB McFadden does an excellent job covering Wayne. It almost looked like Indy was just trying to draw a pass interference flag. Maybe the reasoning was, the refs haven't let them down so far, so why not give it a shot?
On third down, Manning throws a deep-ish pass to Wayne, also incomplete. I wonder why they didn't just get the two yards they needed for the first, to get a little closer for Vanderjagt. They had two times out, so they could have even run the ball. Once they had a first down, they were free to take a shots into the end zone.
Vanderjagt comes on to kick, and Cowher ices him with a time out. We are reminded that statistically, Vanderjagt is the most accurate kicker in NFL history.
The 46-yard try goes up, and it's not even close. It barely stays in bounds, much less goes through the uprights. And just because he hadn't quite shamed himself enough yet, Vanderjagt draws an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taking off his helmet and slamming it onto the turf before he leaves the field.
Since the Colts had two times out left, Big ben has to kneel down three times, but then it's over. Steelers 21, Colts 18.
While I was rooting for Indy when the game began, I am pleased, because Pittsburgh completely deserved to win the game. They got screwed by the refs, stopped the Colts when they had to, and converted some huge fourth downs. Plus, Jerome Bettis just shouldn't go out like that. Bettis makes a hilarious face of relief when he sees the camera on the sidelines, as he avoids the infamy of Scott Norwood, Earnest Byner, and referee Pete Morelli. His team won, so he will remain more than famous, rather than infamous.
Manning again had superficially good stats, but he got sacked a lot, and if the refs had upheld the Polamalu interception, his stats would have been terrible - something like 16/29, 205 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. The Colts have a reputation for being all-offense, no-defense, but in Manning's six losses, they've never scored more than 18 points. In the two losses to New England, the Patriots scored 20 and 24 points. You'd think the historic Indy offense could put up three touchdowns in a big game.
I also find myself disliking Peyton Manning, which is odd because I normally root for him. I think my feelings toward him might have changed due to the Patriots loss. My pro-Colts stance may have just been anti-Pats: "The enemy of Tom Brady is my friend".
The CBS crew is unusually harsh on the officials. Boomer Esiason says it was "highway robbery averted." Shannon Sharpe calls Pete Morelli "Archie Manning", which is really funny. I call my dad and we marvel at the game and rip on Dungy, and then he lets slip that in real-time, the Panthers are up 16-7 on the Bears. Tivo: Both curse and blessing.