After Backbreaking Playoff Defeat, Uncertainty Lies Ahead (Tossing Horseshoes)

The+Colts+have+not+won+a+Super+Bowl+since+moving+into+Lucas+Oil+Stadium+in+2008.+%22Buildings+-+Lucas+Oil+Stadium+-+John+Wright+Restricted+-+0745_12246_10_08_HUN1.jpg%22+by+Primerica%2C+Inc.+is+licensed+under+CC+BY-NC-ND+2.0

The Colts have not won a Super Bowl since moving into Lucas Oil Stadium in 2008. “Buildings – Lucas Oil Stadium – John Wright Restricted – 0745_12246_10_08_HUN1.jpg” by Primerica, Inc. is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Ashwin Prasad

Let’s get this straight: The Indianapolis Colts were the better team last Saturday. In their rough-and-tumble nail-biter on the road against the Buffalo Bills, the Colts held the ball for 34 minutes to the Bills’ 26. They won the yardage battle quite comfortably, 472-397. The Colts converted five more first downs and committed zero turnovers. The first half in particular clearly trended the Colts’ way for 28 minutes.

The turning point came right there, with the Colts up 10-7 and with a first and goal at the 4. Two short plays brought them to the 1. They were one plunge away from taking a 17-7 lead against a superbly talented Bills team.

Then, star running back Jonathan Taylor got knocked back three yards, and Philip Rivers missed an open Michael Pittman in the back of the end zone. Bills football at their own 4.

Even against dangerous quarterback Josh Allen, I expected the Colts defense to hold them off with a scant 1:47 left in the half. Allen, however, worked his magic and zoomed 96 yards down the field, capping it off by charging in himself. Bills up 14-10 at the half.

Buffalo stayed on that higher gear great teams have throughout the second half. Field goal, touchdown, field goal. The Colts were once again the scrappy underdogs, furiously clawing and scratching. Two touchdown drives took a combined 4:33. We were still alive, down 27-24, with six minutes to go.

Finally, the Bills cracked. Allen fumbled during a super-long sack, and the Colts secured one last possession with 2:30 to go (with more time and fewer yards than the Bills stampede to end the first half).

This drive, however, was nothing like those previous touchdowns. It was slow and grueling. Time dripped off the clock, and there were no timeouts remaining. The Colts converted not one, but two fourth downs (the second requiring a fortuitous call by the refs). With 13 seconds left, the Colts were only at the Buffalo 47, ten yards away from field goal range (the Bills scored their touchdown by now). The drive, and the season, ended with a whimper: A Rivers Hail Mary that fell far short of the end zone.

 

Overall, I’m fairly satisfied with the state of this team. The roster assembled is young and talented, with few weaknesses. However, the biggest question remains outstanding: Who will the quarterback be?

Rivers delivered a fine season at age 39. The ultra-durable future Hall of Famer will get a starting job if he wants it next year. However, I doubt he has the firepower to lead us to a championship in a brutal AFC. If he couldn’t do it in his prime with those stacked Chargers teams, he can’t do it now. I wouldn’t complain if he signed with someone else in free agency.

Beleaguered Eagles passer Carson Wentz reportedly expressed interest in Indianapolis. He was a solid quarterback for three years, but suffered serious injuries in all of them. This season, though, he was arguably the worst quarterback in football. With major questions surrounding his leadership, and an outrageous albatross of a contract, the cost of a trade for Wentz may be disastrous.

Matthew Stafford, on the other hand, would be a pretty good fit. The cesspool that is the Detroit Lions are diving into another rebuild, and age-33 Stafford has four years of dynamic football left. He seems like the most reasonable candidate to acquire in a trade.

Keep an eye on Texas too. Burgeoning superstar Dak Prescott doesn’t have a long-term deal. That means he’s still on track to become an unrestricted free agent. Texans wizard Deshaun Watson may want to escape the blatant incompetence of his front office. If these two are available somehow, the Colts must exercise every option possible to bring one of them on.

As we put a bow on this tumultuous season, the Colts are in the tantalizing position of being one quarterback away from Super Bowl contention. Even with the squandered promise of the Andrew Luck era, the Colts have a feasible path towards the top of the mountain.

Next season can’t come fast enough.

 

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