Monday, December 19, 2005

It's only the beginning

INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 18 --- Well, maybe this is a good thing.

Yes the quest for perfection is over. But the Colts season marches on. Thirteen wins in a row was a hell of a streak. And the important brass ring still hangs in the balance.

Indianapolis just didn't look sharp today. The first half was mostly a snoozer as the San Diego Chargers seized control.

They lead 13-0 at intermission. Before too long, the Chargers were up 16-0 and appeared headed for more.

But there was a glimmer of hope. Six delicious minutes in the third quarter saw the Colts go ahead 17-16 following a Gary Brackett interception and a Drew Brees fumble after Dwight Freeney stripped him of the ball.

Fans slumbering up till now woke up. The rafters shook at the RCA Dome. Fans gave each other hugs. There was a wink here, a nod there. Peyton would find a way. We're going to win.

But disappointment ruled the day, as it often does when any mortal tries for perfection. Brees hit Keenan McDardell on a third and nine play from the Chargers' nine yard line for a 54-yard pass. It set up the go ahead field goal and put San Diego ahead, 19-17.

Then the Colts forgot about the run, threw a bunch of incompletions and had to punt. Michael Turner scampered 83-yards with 2:09 left in the game to seal the deal, 26-17.

Peyton Manning was stoic and professional in defeat. He was quoted in the Indianapolis Star giving the Chargers all the credit for the win.

It wasn't so easy for the faithful. Many dejected fans simply sat and stared out onto the field. Others hurried for the exits.

It was a deflating loss. But, if they'll let it be, this is only the beginning for the Colts.

Bigger prizes remain. The AFC Championship. That Super Bowl date in Detroit. Get there and win it and this game will only seem like a bad dream.

A light snow fell throughout the day in and around the city. The white blanket brought with it the peaceful hush that always accompanies it. It was as if somebody was saying, "Relax. Don't worry. All is well."

So let Larry Czonka and those obnoxious 1972 Miami Dolphins toast their still-safe unbeaten season. At the end of the day, who really cares?

The best, it seems, could still be yet to come.

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