NFL: Colts get what they deserve: Jets
By Tim Kawakami
San Jose Mercury News
On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts have to meet, greet and try to defeat the monster they could’ve killed off weeks ago.
Is Mary Shelley writing these playoff scripts? Love it.
On one side, the fire-breathing New York Jets, who have gotten stronger, beaten the odds and everybody else lined up against them in the AFC playoffs.
On the other, the established, conservative conference top-dog Colts, who several weeks ago willingly lost a regular-season game to the Jets, which kept the Jets alive.
That was on Dec. 27, when the Colts were sitting on a 14-0 record and chose to pull Peyton Manning and the rest of the starters while leading 15-10 in the third quarter.
The Jets stormed to the victory, then kept winning. Now, fatefully, only the Colts can prevent a billion “J-E-T-S” chants in South Florida in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.
This is destiny, karma and everything else.
(This also reminds me of April 2007, when the Dallas Mavericks gave away a late-season game to the Warriors, which helped guarantee that the Mavs would face, and eventually lose to, the Warriors in the first round of the NBA playoffs.)
The Colts-Jets faceoff will take place in the AFC championship game at the Colts’ home stadium. Despite those happy circumstances for the Colts, I do not presume that they are looking forward to it, especially after watching the Jets grind down the Chargers 17-14 in San Diego on Sunday.
They’re practically reverse-image franchises, which only adds to the tension.
The Colts have Manning touching up his Hall of Fame resume ; the Jets have rookie QB Mark Sanchez. The Colts are speed and finesse; the Jets are power and more power.
The Colts have stoic coach Jim Caldwell; the Jets have Rex Ryan, who loves making enemies and rollicking with his friends.
The Colts gave up a shot at a 19-0 season to protect themselves from injury; the Jets wouldn’t have done that in a million years.
That’s why the Colts were big weekend winners, because they advanced past Baltimore in their typically clinical, calm, control-freak way.
But that’s also why the Colts were also mini-losers—the rowdy, unpredictable, paradigm-changing Jets won, too.
Sunday will be noisy, and there will be taunts, hurt feelings and smashed-up dreams.
I think the Colts will win, but only barely. They have to face down their own monster, and that’s never pretty.
Other winners and losers from the weekend “&
—Winner: Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who unleashed his front four on the Cowboys and covered up the Vikings’ secondary holes in a 34-3 victory.
If he wants the Bills head-coaching job, Frazier has to get it, unless Buffalo brain- locks again. My question to Frazier: Do you necessarily want that job?
—Losers: San Diego coach Norv Turner and Dallas’ Wade Phillips, who both brought red-hot teams into the weekend and left with questions about their job security.
Turner will get justifiable heat for his panicky decision to call an onside kick with just over two minutes and a timeout left.
Phillips will get torched because the Cowboys never seem to adjust (or wake up) once they’re knocked off stride.
I don’t think either guy will get fired, so they’ll have a happy time coaching against each other in the Pro Bowl. Both looking miserable, as usual.
—Winners: The Jets’ Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
They’ve built the team Mike Singletary and Scot McCloughan wish they had (power, personality and defense) and that Al Davis refuses to consider (defensive-minded coach).
—Losers: The Cleveland Browns, who had the fifth pick in the 2009 draft and could’ve taken Sanchez (or Michael Crabtree) and instead traded the pick to the Jets, who took Sanchez.
—Loser: Chargers All-Pro kicker Nate Kaeding missed three field-goal tries Sunday in a three-point loss.
—Winner: The Raiders’ Sebastian Janikowski, who would win an AFC Pro Bowl recount by just a bit right now.
—Winners: The 49ers, who may have received large 2010 aid and comfort from New Orleans defensive lineman Bobby McCrary’s massive hit on Kurt Warner on Saturday.
If Warner retires, the 49ers assuredly won’t be so worried about facing Matt Leinart twice a year. Yep, the 49ers might’ve just turned into the 2010 NFC West favorites, as fate would have it.