"Our goal wasn't a perfect season."
Those were the words of Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell on Sunday after his team played the New York Jets.
Mission accomplished then.
With quarterback Peyton Manning on the sideline for most of the second half, the Colts lost to the Jets 29-15 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The manner in which Indianapolis' pursuit of a perfect season ended was disappointing.
Having been a member of the 2007 New England Patriots team that completed the regular season 16-0, I expected more from an Indianapolis team that I thought would go for an undefeated season. I was actually rooting for the Colts to make a run for perfection.
Manning will more than likely own every quarterback record known to man by the time he's done, so why shouldn't he be the one to complete a season with a 19-0 record?
There's one problem, though. Manning didn't seem to want it either. Just like his head coach, he seemed to be favoring the decision to rest.
My question is: Rest for what? The playoffs?
The Colts already have a first-round bye. That is the time to rest.
There aren't many times in your life when you have a chance to do something that has never been done before. When you are faced with a challenge like that, my feeling is that you embrace it and see if you've got what it takes to conquer it.
That's the way we felt in New England. And yes, we lost the Super Bowl, but let me be clear: We lost the Super Bowl because the New York Giants played better than we did that day. It was not because we were tired and needed more rest.
Maybe Caldwell, being a rookie head coach, didn't want to shoulder the burden of being the coach of the team that surpassed the 1972 Dolphins. Yes, surpassed, because 19-0 in this day and age would be more celebrated than a 17-0 record 37 years ago.
I didn't see much disagreement from the Colts players on the sideline when they were pulled out of the game either. Manning did look like he wanted to play, but looking like it and telling your coach that you're playing (e.g., Brett Favre) are two different things. Maybe the players didn't want the pressure either.
I understand that they are trying to win the Super Bowl and they have decided that resting gives them the best chance. But I always thought the offseason was the time for rest.
Here's the reality: Some teams don't just play for championships, they play to be the best there has ever been. Others are just satisfied with doing what's required. The Colts decided that resting is more important than making a run at history. They are telling us that what they have done up to this point in the season is good enough. They are satisfied with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. 19-0? No big deal. History? Didn't want it.
Should the Indianapolis Colts go on to win the Super Bowl, do you celebrate them or wonder: What if they did want it?
Tedy Bruschi played 13 seasons for the New England Patriots and is a member of the franchise's 50th anniversary team.