Minshew Mania Marmalizes Colts (Tossing Horseshoes)

%22You+can+take+Philip+Rivers+out+of+the+Chargers%2C+but+you+can%27t+take+the+Chargers+out+of+Philip+Rivers.%22+%28Photo%2FKeith+Allison+from+Baltimore%2C+USA+%2F+CC+BY-SA+%28https%3A%2F%2Fcreativecommons.org%2Flicenses%2Fby-sa%2F2.0%29++%28https%3A%2F%2Fwww.flickr.com%2Fphotos%2F27003603%40N00%2F2310855395%29%0A

“You can take Philip Rivers out of the Chargers, but you can’t take the Chargers out of Philip Rivers.” (Photo/Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2310855395)

Ashwin Prasad

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in September. As I sat down to watch the Colts open their season against the Jaguars, I couldn’t help but feel that annual rush of optimism that comes with the season opener. I mentally ran down the checklist of all the great things the Colts did this offseason: sign a Pro Bowl quarterback, lock in our offensive line, draft receivers and running backs, laugh at the Texans for trading DeAndre Hopkins. The division is always wide open, and there is a new playoff spot for the seventh-ranked team in the conference.

Plus, we’re facing a Jaguars team that may well end up as the worst team in the league this year. Easy W, right?

The opening drive couldn’t have gone any better. Forty yard kickoff return, two passes, three runs, touchdown. 7-0 Colts.

Naturally, I was thrilled. My dad, leaning back in the recliner, gleefully compared this version of the Colts to the Andrew Luck-Peyton Manning glory days (all after one drive).

The rest of the first quarter zipped by in 20 minutes. While the Colts missed an opportunity to score, the Jaguars were off to one of their sluggish starts, barely moving the ball. Their quarterback, Minshew the Mustache Man, completed short passes that didn’t lead to much of anything. They punted the ball to start the second quarter.

On the first drive of the second quarter, Philip Rivers, our 38-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback, reminded me of all the doubts I had about him. While he played 12 years of solid, near-elite football for the Chargers, he famously had a knack for committing turnovers at the most inopportune times. Last season, he threw a whopping 20 interceptions in 16 games, looking for all the world like he was in decline.

On 3rd and 10, Phil wobbled a sidearm into double coverage and the Jaguars picked it off. A classic face-palm moment. Right when the Colts had all the momentum.

The Jaguars rammed their way through the middle of the defense and then tossed a touchdown. 7-7.

Rivers then made up for it by orchestrating a touchdown drive, but the spirited Jaguars answered with a touchdown of their own. As the Colts entered halftime with a 17-14 lead, all of the optimism that I had before the game was slowly dripping away. “We’re struggling against the Jaguars,” Dad growled.

In the second half, another backbreaking mistake killed a promising Colts drive. Our new kicker, Rodrigo Blankenship, lined up a chip shot field goal and bonked it against the left upright. The Jaguars capitalized, as the Mustache Man converted a long third down and the Colts committed a foolish 30 yard pass interference. It was a tie game heading into the fourth quarter, all hopes for a comfortable win extinguished. At this point, I wondered when the Jaguars would stop playing with their food and start eating it.

The Colts made a field goal (after a horrific near-interception was struck down by a penalty), and then the Jaguars went to work. The Mustache Man caught fire and eviscerated the defense. After a horse collar penalty on the Colts, Minshew chucked a 22 yard touchdown to take the lead. Dad demanded to turn the TV off at this point, but I was in possession of the remote, and I refused.

It was not one of my wiser choices.

Three plays later, Phil did it again. He stumbled through the pocket with shaky footwork and sidearmed another sitting duck into double coverage with 4 minutes left. It was like Groundhog Day all over again. “You can take Rivers out of the Chargers, but you can’t take the Chargers out of Rivers,” Dad said.

The Jaguars kicked a field goal to go up 7, and the Colts mounted a last-ditch drive to tie the game. In a fitting conclusion, they zoomed their way to 2nd and 5 at the Jaguars 26, before Phil threw three incompletions and that was that.

In the end, we lost because we let Minshew, a sixth-round draft pick, complete a near-perfect 19/20 passes. 95 percent!

Maybe I should grow a mustache too.

 

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