Colts at Ravens: The Intangibles Bowl

by @steven_lebron

The main storyline was clear heading into the divisional round match-up between the Colts and Ravens: #CHUCKSTRONG.

It went from a hashtag, to a movement, to a full blown playoff rally cry for the Indianapolis Colts, who really did win 11 games this season. Curtis Painter, we barely remember you.

But by mid-week, with news that Ray Lewis will be retiring after the season, the whole intangibles meter swung a bit back to the home team. Here stands their leader, win or lose this week, likely playing in his final game in Baltimore.

Despite the inconsistency of the Ravens all year, and a defense that is more reputation than performance at this point, you have to figure that Lewis’ swan song and the home field advantage will matter.

Everyone’s excited for this one, except for Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, who continues to just stare at something in the far distance, we’re just not sure what.

Speaking of legacies, welcome back to the spotlight Joe Flacco. He is elite, in a fleeting, once in a while type of way. He can amaze. He has amazed. But he’s incredibly frustrating as well. Which kind of describes the last decade of Ravens football. A few solid regular seasons, a couple of divisional titles (back to back AFC North champions), but whether it be the Steelers, their own kicker, or the Steelers again, that second Super Bowl appearance has eluded Lewis and crew.

But under John Harbaugh, they have yet to go one-and-done in the post-season.

The Colts have been a wonderful story, but they’re also faced one of (the?) easiest schedule of the season and been incredible in close games. I’m starting to sound like Bill Barnwell.

But it feels like this is what happens: Joe Flacco shows glimpses of being great again, the defense rises one more time, the rookie quarterback gets an important road playoff lesson for the future, and yes, Jim Caldwell will even crack a smile at the end of the game.

Ravens win 34-10.

Happy Endings
I spent all week convincing a friend that the Cowboys were the right bet for tonight’s game against the Redskins, for no reason other than the fact that sports rarely provides the happy endings that we want.
Excuse the pessimism, but especially in a year where the negative side of things reared its ugly head in sports, I was expecting the final week of football of 2012 to deliver much of the same. It feels alright being wrong too.
In Indianapolis, the #Chuckstrong story of coach Pagano and the upstart Colts got one more chapter to their brilliant season, upending the previously top seeded Texans at home, and gave us the victory dance of the year. No matter if this team is confronted with a new reality when the playoffs start next week, the entire turnaround coupled with Pagano’s return has more than made up for the forgettable season in 2011. Oh, and by the way, Andrew Luck is your quarterback for the next decade and some. Not too bad at all.
In Minnesota, the Vikings and Packers went 12 rounds, before Adrian Peterson decided to finish things off at the end. He came just shy of breaking the all-time rushing yards record, but after the performance that he just put on, are we suppose to doubt that he will challenge for it again next season? We need more nicknames for All Day. I suggest New God Flow, because he’s the God of everything else.
And tonight, in Washington, the Skins capped off Robert Griffin III’s rookie season with a win over the Cowboys for the divisional title, and a home playoff game next week. A season that started with a road win in New Orleans, stalled with a 3-6 record, ultimately ended with a seven game winning streak, and hope that things are changing for the franchise. For now. For later.
So if you’re in Detroit, Cleveland, Jacksonville, New York (both, but more so the Jets), Buffalo, or any other city where there doesn’t seem be much hope on the other end. Just remember today. No one could’ve foretold the stories above when the season started.
Sometimes sports is really the most fun when we get reminded of how little we know, then when it reaffirms what we think we know.
Next time, I might be a little less skeptical, and just let the stories play out to their happy endings.
@steven_lebron

Happy Endings

I spent all week convincing a friend that the Cowboys were the right bet for tonight’s game against the Redskins, for no reason other than the fact that sports rarely provides the happy endings that we want.

Excuse the pessimism, but especially in a year where the negative side of things reared its ugly head in sports, I was expecting the final week of football of 2012 to deliver much of the same. It feels alright being wrong too.

In Indianapolis, the #Chuckstrong story of coach Pagano and the upstart Colts got one more chapter to their brilliant season, upending the previously top seeded Texans at home, and gave us the victory dance of the year. No matter if this team is confronted with a new reality when the playoffs start next week, the entire turnaround coupled with Pagano’s return has more than made up for the forgettable season in 2011. Oh, and by the way, Andrew Luck is your quarterback for the next decade and some. Not too bad at all.

In Minnesota, the Vikings and Packers went 12 rounds, before Adrian Peterson decided to finish things off at the end. He came just shy of breaking the all-time rushing yards record, but after the performance that he just put on, are we suppose to doubt that he will challenge for it again next season? We need more nicknames for All Day. I suggest New God Flow, because he’s the God of everything else.

And tonight, in Washington, the Skins capped off Robert Griffin III’s rookie season with a win over the Cowboys for the divisional title, and a home playoff game next week. A season that started with a road win in New Orleans, stalled with a 3-6 record, ultimately ended with a seven game winning streak, and hope that things are changing for the franchise. For now. For later.

So if you’re in Detroit, Cleveland, Jacksonville, New York (both, but more so the Jets), Buffalo, or any other city where there doesn’t seem be much hope on the other end. Just remember today. No one could’ve foretold the stories above when the season started.

Sometimes sports is really the most fun when we get reminded of how little we know, then when it reaffirms what we think we know.

Next time, I might be a little less skeptical, and just let the stories play out to their happy endings.

@steven_lebron

Look who is back on the field.

Look who is back on the field.

362 yards. 2 TDs. 1 INT. 81.0 Passer Rating.
Game winning drive over Green Bay.
CHUCKSTRONG indeed.
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

362 yards. 2 TDs. 1 INT. 81.0 Passer Rating.

Game winning drive over Green Bay.

CHUCKSTRONG indeed.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Chuck is unorthodox. He’s like the Joker. You never really expect what he’s going to do, and everything has a motive.

Terrell Suggs, on new Colts coach Chuck Pagano. Pagano plans to begin his tenure in Indianapolis by making a pencil disappear into Joseph Addai’s forehead, burning half of Tony Dungy’s face to make him turn to evil, and by picking up Peyton Manning’s contract option - in other words, lighting a giant pile of money on fire.