What I think they are thinking in the headquarters of the four AFC South teams Monday afternoon.
And so ends our season. What a disappointment. Lots of people will be looking to distribute blame. Gary Kubiak and his staff deserve a share. The “Culture of Close” is an issue for us, one that could mean a new coach and a new staff. But player execution was bad. Chris Brown's allowed to decide it’s not a good idea to throw on the halfback option play. Why doesn’t he know it and have the instincts to abort the play? It was nice to see Matt Schaub tough it out, but it just didn’t translate to the kind of success we crave. We can win four now and finish 9-7 and it will look like an improvement, but we’re not better than we’ve been the last couple years and shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking it no matter what.
That was nice to not have to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter for a change. We played a more complete game, snuffing out a hot team. It’s the sort of effort we hope to put forth in the playoffs. Here’s hoping Robert Mathis is OK, that’s a guy we can’t afford to lose for any important games. Having Kelvin Hayden back was nice, and our nickel package is much improved with him back in the lineup. The 21-game winning streak is nice, but like Jeff Saturday said Sunday, the playoff loss in the middle of it kind of ruins it. Still, a win Sunday against Denver gives us the all-time record for most consecutive regular season wins, and any time we can get ahead of the Patriots, we will take it.
Looming games against Indianapolis and at New England make everyone think we’ll come back to the pack, but they’re making a mistake by writing us off. While all these AFC wild-card contenders are flailing, we’ve managed to maintain a solid position. Even if Baltimore wins tonight, we are in control of the sixth spot in the AFC. Let’s be honest. Nobody believed we’d be here entering the last quarter of our season. It feels pretty good. But we know it can disappear quickly and that inconsistency has been our big issue all year long. Miami’s coming to town and the Dolphins are 6-6 and still in the hunt. We’re 5-1 at home and just played in front of the smallest crowd in our history. Wouldn’t it be nice if people came out to see this one?
We did well to minimize mistakes during our five-game winning streak, but that went out the Lucas Oil Stadium window on Sunday. We gave the ball away twice. We failed on fourth down three times. We produced 17 points in five red zone chances when 35 points were available. We handed the Colts 15 yards with a personal foul penalty to enable a ridiculous 20-second field goal drive at the end of the first half. We’re not in the Colts’ league right now. It’s really disappointing that when we were in great position for a great impact play Nate Washington booted a perfect bomb from Vince Young that would have given us a 65-yard touchdown and a 10-7 lead in the first quarter. What if we got that? What if we didn’t have such a long what-if list from this season?