Colts Bench Manning, Suffer First Loss

Today the question on everyone’s mind was would the Colts bench Peyton Manning or would they take a shot at the undefeated season? The decision had a big impact on anyone that bets on games for fun or money, and for fantasy football owners (most leagues had the championship week today). In the 3rd quarter, the Colts had a 15 – 10 lead and the decision was made to bench Manning for the rest of the game.

Peyton Manning on the Bench with Head Down
Manning has no choice but to watch as Colts blow lead and lose first game

Well, after that decision the Colts were outscored 19-0 and lost the game. Curtis Painter, came into the game and fumbled on the Jets’ 20 yard line. The fumble was recovered in the end-zone for a Jets touchdown. Later, the Jets got a field goal and then it was over when Painter threw an interception that set-up a Jets’ touchdown drive. You can clearly see the common theme here- two turnovers lead to two Jet’s touchdowns. Once can reasonably state if Manning was in the game, both turnovers would have been avoided (Manning’s quicker release would have avoided the fumble, and the interception was just a bad decision, which Manning would not make).

But the decision is bigger than just losing the game to the Jets. The Colts are 14-1 and clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs. What they set out to do this season in the regular season is accomplished, the playoffs remain to complete all their goals. So, this decision was not a big deal and one can now confidently state with no perfect season on the line and nothing to play for, Manning will be benched again next week and then they get the first week BYE in the playoffs. That will make 3 consecutive weeks without playing an entire football game- that is my problem with the decision.

The Colts have been in the playoffs nine times since Peyton Manning was drafted in 1998. In 1999, 2005 and 2007 the Colts had wrapped up a first round BYE early and in all three season they decided to bench the starters in the last couple games. The result in each of those seasons- a loss in the first playoff game that they played. The Colts have one Super Bowl in those nine playoff appearances. Yes, they are good in the regular season, but it doesn’t mean much. Coach Caldwell should have played Manning to keep his team fresh. What are the chances of Manning getting injured? He has started 191 regular season games, which is every single game he has ever been apart of. This decision will comeback to hurt the Colts as I feel the Chargers are the team to beat in the NFL.

Maybe Manning should have pulled a Favre and refused to be benched?

[Photo Credit: NBC Sports Media]

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