Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I know a thing or two about having a chance to succeed despite a string of monumental failures. Maybe I get it from the football teams I cheer for. Consider the Denver Broncos, who were 3-5 before yesterday's game and had lost their last game by 37 points to the Detroit Lions. Still, they actually had a chance to end the day in first place, albeit tied with two other teams. The team had received some bad news: quarterback Jay Cutler's leg was merely bruised, not broken, and he would start. Nevertheless, Cutler and mysterious rookie running back Selvin Young led the Broncos to a 27-11 win.

So far, so good: now the Indianapolis Colts, still smarting from being outsmarted by New England last week, just had to beat the 4-4 San Diego Chargers. The Colts, who some once said were the best team in the league, played a bizarre game, doing their best to hand San Diego the game. San Diego returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and also returned a punt for a touchdown late in the first quarter. In that same first quarter, Peyton Manning threw four interceptions against eight completions.

San Diego was eventually staked to a 23-0 lead and, despite the Colts' best efforts to let the game become a blowout, they nevertheless stayed competitive. Indianapolis was down by 16 late in the third quarter before cutting the lead to 23-15, and then Philip Rivers was so kind as to fumble the ball in the end zone, allowing the Colts to cut the lead to 23-21. Manning drove down the field yet again, making it inside the Chargers' 10. An apparent first-and-goal became a fourth-and-short play, and then it become a fourth-and-five after a penalty.

The radio announcer made a point to describe the coming kick in detail, including the name, age and cholesterol levels of the long-snapper. In a play reminiscent of a playoff game last season decided on a missed 21-yard field goal, Adam Vinatieri, who was signed especially for his ability to make high-pressure field goals, missd the field goal. And that's how the Colts displayed a steely resolve to lose last night, and why the Broncos aren't in first place.

By the way, at the risk of sounding like a blowhard, is anyone noticing the season that Antonio Cromartie is having? Two weeks ago, he had two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown. Last week, he returned a missed field goal for a touchdown from about a mile away without being touched. Last night, he had three interceptions, which means he caught as many balls as anyone else on his team.

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