The Indianapolis Colts lost (again) to the New England Patriots. I can’t say I expected the Colts to win, but I hoped. It’s kind of like when a storm front moves in. You can hope the snow will miss, but you still stock up on milk, just to be safe.
As soon as the camera revealed Bill Belichick clad in his gray cut-off hoodie, Indy fans summoned a sense-of-humor shield. Then fans were free to appreciate the irony of the former New York Giants combining for 26 yards and one alleged fractured ankle, rather than rekindling any Super Bowl XLVI magic. Fans could giggle at Blue (the mascot) inexplicably waving around a giant Jimmy Fallon head and joke about whether or not the “premature confetti cannon” operator was related to Peyton Manning‘s embattled scoreboard operator.
Despite the carnage, fans delighted in Anthony Castonzo‘s brilliant touchdown dance, which had clearly been in tech rehearsal for some time. And, possibly most hilarious of all, the emergence of Coby Fleener, Downfield Threat (seven catches, 144 yards, average of 20.6 yards). If I’d known that releasing him from my fantasy team would light this fire, I would have released him a lot sooner.
Colts-Patriots 2014 was a grab-bag. There were two interceptions of Tom Brady, but only 19 rushing yards (and 15 of those by Andrew Luck). Fleener looked like an outlet mall version of Rob Gronkowski while the other receivers were stranded on Revis Island. At least the Colts still have Adam Vinatieri (raise your hand if you just knew he was missing that 53-yarder, until he made it).
The Benny Hill-ness of the proceedings led Indianapolis columnist Bob Kravitz to write that this was a team of “pretenders.” A team that competes well against mediocre competition, but then losses to “real” teams, like the Patriots, Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles (though some might see a flaw in this argument after yesterday).
Losing to the Patriots is the worst, and for those of us still clinging to Peyton, we’ve already had the pleasure twice this season. But despite its flaws, this Colts team is delightful. It has everything a fanbase could ask for: personality, character, a chance to win on a weekly basis. Yes, fans can wish they’d stop making stupid mistakes and show a weekly crescendo of improvement, but every fanbase feels that way. If ever I encountered an article titled “The Hardships of Being a Colts Fan,” I’d assume it was from The Onion. The next three weeks feature Jacksonville, Washington (The Luck vs. RG3 Bowl!) and Cleveland. To paraphrase the great philosopher Swift, “Shake it off (haters).”
Maybe the Colts are 2014 Super Bowl “pretenders,” but there’s a lot of fun to be had between now and then. The unexpected wins are the best wins; just ask anyone who saw the Indiana Pacers beat the Chicago Bulls with Roy Hibbert and the Replacements on Saturday.