OK, a couple comments.
There was a colossal hidden play at the endgame — hidden plays being ones that never make highlight reels, but stop or sustain drives. Game tied with 8 minutes remaining, New England had first down on the Indianapolis 18. Reclamation project Reche Caldwell, who’s had a fine year, lined up right and was uncovered by any Colt. He waved madly for Brady to snap the ball and toss it his way. When Brady finally did — nothing but turf between Caldwell and the end zone — Reche dropped the pass as if it was a live ferret. New England settled for a field goal, four lost points helping determine the outcome.
That’s as true as far as it goes. But this was not a hidden play, it was an in-your-face oh-my-god we-just-blew-it are-we-really-the-Patriots why-don’t-we-pay-for-a-real-reciever play. What’s more, it was Caldwell’s second play like that. Earlier he had dropped another perfect pass when he was wide open. Luckily for him, the Pats scored a touchdown anyhow, so it was quickly forgotten. But when your number one reciever can’t catch a ball that’s right to him, you are in trouble.
I am also annoyed at the Manning is better than Brady talk. Manning deserves every bit of credit for this game, but it doesn’t take away from Brady that the last-second miracle didn’t happen this time. Brady scored 34 points against Indianapolis. That’s a lot of points. Only one other team did better (Jacksonville, week 13, 44 points). Any other week, 34 would have been plenty. The fact that the defense gave up 38 points doesn’t take away from this achievement.
And finally, the Pats defense. Still giving Manning and the Colts their due, but that was not the Patriots defense out there in the second half. That was a bunch of tired old men. The team was still exausted from their upset over the number one team the week before, and they had the flu. Anyone who has watched the Patriots defense play throughout the season could tell this was not the same thing, not at all.
At any rate, no matter how it happens, you got to hand it to the Colts, they finally got to the big one. I have no doubt they will eviscerate the Bears. And if nothing else, I’m going to enjoy watching Prince at halftime.