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Ravens 24, Colts 10
4. The Colts should be more than a little embarrassed with the way they've quit on this season.
I've seen a few people claim in recent weeks that, if they had a vote in the NFL MVP balloting this season, they'd vote for Peyton Manning, ahead of Aaron Rodgers. All you have to do, they reason, is look at how bad the Colts have been without him. That proves he should be the MVP every season.
I'm sorry, but to heck with that line of thinking. What's happening in Denver with Tim Tebow should embarrass the Colts. The Broncos had every reason to quit playing hard after five games. In fact, I think it's obvious John Elway figured that playing Tebow might actually help him get rid of the guy. The Broncos clearly thought they'd throw their fans a bone by throwing Tebow out there, show them he couldn't play, and at the same time put themselves in a position to draft Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley. It totally backfired. They're probably going to win that division.
But you know why it backfired? Not because Tebow is an amazing quarterback. He's fascinating to watch, and I'm loving every minute of this, but he's not the sole reason Denver is winning. They're winning because the entire team rallied around him. The defense is playing superb football, Willis McGahee is running hard, the kicking game has been superb, and the coaches have played to Tebow's strengths. Tebow gets a lot of the credit, and he deserves a lot for the way he's been able to finish close games, but it's still a total team effort. They're proof adversity is sometimes an opportunity.
What has Indianapolis done? The exact opposite. They undermined Curtis Painter's confidence by bringing in Kerry Collins at the start of the year, then eventually quit on Painter (even though they have nothing to play for) and signed Dan Orlovsky, who has never won an NFL game. A few players on defense are still playing hard -- Dwight Freeney for one -- but some of the skill position players on offense checked out weeks ago. I'm not saying the Colts should be in contention for the playoffs, but the fact that they couldn't muster three or four wins this year is absurd. On Ray Rice's 6-yard touchdown, Jacob Lacey gave one of the most pathetic efforts I've seen all season when Ed Dickson came out to block him. He didn't even try to shed the block. He just let Dickson walk him backward into the end zone.
The Colts seem more determined to finish the season 0-16 than they were determined to finish 16-0 a few years ago. Before their final drive, they had 91 yards of total offense. It's ridiculous. If there's any justice, Andrew Luck will stun the world by deciding he wants to be a fifth-year senior at Stanford, making the Colts look even more foolish for throwing in the white towel so quickly.
December 4, 2011