Colts’ winless season adds meaning to Pats’ dynasty

Jeff Fish
Journal Staff

The Colts have gone 0-7 this season without their star quarterback Peyton Manning (above).

Of all the contentious rivalries the New England Patriots have accrued over the last decade and many playoff runs, one appears to be conspicuously absent this year–the Indianapolis Colts.
It’s pretty safe to say that the Colts won’t be a serious threat this year, as their star quarterback, Peyton Manning, is likely out for the season.
The team has unraveled rapidly without Manning at the Helm, so far with an abysmal record of 0-7, something Colt’s fans are not accustomed to. The Colts have had a nine-year streak of ten or more wins during the regular season and unless a miracle happens, that streak is likely to end. This was evidenced in Sunday’s 62-7 slaughter from the Saints.
As a New England fan, watching the Colts’ fall from grace has been satisfying to say the least, but it also got me thinking about a dark time in the Patriots’ past when we lost Tom Brady in 2008 after he suffered a torn ACL and MCL.
All hope seemed lost when we found out Brady would be out for the season and we had to bring in backup quarterback Matt Cassel, but the Patriots did not fall apart as many expected.
The Pats went a very respectable 11-5 that season, the same record they had the season they became the Super Bowl XXXVI Champions, but were gypped out of going to the playoffs.
The Miami Dolphins, who had the same record but beat us at home, advanced to wild card weekend. Meanwhile, the 8-8 Chargers made it to the playoffs because they were on top of the extremely uncompetitive AFC West.
At the time, I was annoyed that an 8-8 team made it into the playoffs over an 11-5 team and I remember complaining about how the NFL should change the rules about how a team got into the playoffs. But really what I took away from that season was pride in my team.
The worst had happened when Brady was injured, but the team rallied and had a successful season. It proved something I had always known. The Patriots are more than just a collection of players. They truly are a team that can step up when something goes so terribly wrong.
The Colts’ season thus far has demonstrated the opposite. Without Manning– and to be fair a few other key players like Joseph Addai– the team has fallen apart.
The Patriots were able to pull off a winning season with a largely untested quarterback in Casell, while the Colts took Kerry Collins, who had past experience starting for the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, and Tennessee Titans. This is even more telling of how just how shallow the team is without Manning.
All of the shake-ups this season should lead to an interesting post season. It could leave room for other teams to advance into the playoffs and will definitely eliminate a bitter playoff rival for the Patriots (assuming they make it to the playoffs.)
It’ll be a little disappointing to know that the path to the Super Bowl definitely won’t include a classic game between the two teams. The Patriots have suffered some tough losses, but gained some amazing wins.
Either way, the Patriots and Colts have produced some pretty stellar games, and now we know that this will most likely not be a possibility this year. But anything that makes our playoff prospects a little easier is OK with me.