The Internet is a storm right now with comments, criticisms, and complaints about the Indianapolis Colts, who were 20 minutes away from 15-0, decision to bench their starters so they can rest up for the playoffs.
Do I think it's a travesty? Sort of. I know that's a cheap answer, but if the Colts are energetic, healthy, and well rested come playoff time, then what is there to complain about?
Before we go ahead and kill Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian for not giving us something to write about, let's look at the bigger picture;
We know Peyton Manning wanted to go for it, as did Reggie Wayne, and every other Colt we got a close up of. They played their asses off all year, every game, to get to 14-0. Now they're 14-1. But if they win the Super Bowl, they'll still likely be considered amidst the greatest teams of all time: joining the 84 49ers, the 85 Bears, and of course the 71 Dolphins on a very short list.
In 2005 the Colts went for it until they lost to the Chargers and fell to 13-1. From that point on they went all out in resting players and were iced on both sides of the ball in the first half of the AFC Divisional round against the Steelers. The rustiness lead to the Colts being in a hole they couldn't dig themselves out of.
The 2007 and 2008 Colts won 13 and 12 games respectively, but due to injuries couldn't beat a (healthier) San Diego Chargers team. The last thing the 2009 Colts can afford is to lose Dwight Freeney, Dallas Clark, or Joseph Addai like the 2007 and 2008 Colts.
We learned tonight how great Peyton Manning really is, and how much he really does mean to his team. That Manning vs Brady debate? Brady supporters just got another huge kick to the face tonight. That Matt what's his name kid from 2008 did pretty well filling in for (what every uneducated person north of the Long Island sound refers to as) "the best QB ever" if I recall.
We also learned that Curtis Painter is awful, and the Colts defense is better than people think. They dominated the Jets offensive line, and shut down the Jets #1 ranked rushing attack.
I know it stinks that the regular season winning streak ends on a fluke, I know it stinks that the perfect season is lost. This was the Colts front office and head coaching decision though.
If the Colts are rusty in three weeks in the first half, or fall apart in the second half because of conditioning, then we'll look back on this game.
If the Colts win the Super Bowl, then we'll look back on this game.
Either way, whichever outcome prevails, tonight's game will shape the way teams prepare for the playoffs for years to come.