I was slightly surprised by the decision in Game 15 to pull the starters. But the decision in Game 16 to play those players and risk injury was shocking. It was even more bizarre move when considering the specific situation in which Wayne and Clark were placed. The field was icy and rock hard. Manning was dumping very short passes to Clark and Wayne where they were extremely vulnerable to getting hit hard, not by smaller cornerbacks and safeties, but by linebakers and defensive lineman. It would be hard to design a more hazardous situation for the receivers, especially for Reggie Wayne who doesn't even weigh 200 pounds.
After the game, Coach Jim Caldwell and Manning disputed that there was a deliberate strategy to force feed Clark and Wayne to get their 100 catches:
Those guys' records, we don't go into any ballgame looking to achieve anything in terms of individual records," coach Jim Caldwell said after the team's meaningless 30-7 loss. "If those (marks) get close in the natural flow of hings, we will address those issues . . . We got close, so we decided to let them finish it."Yeah, right. Anyone who saw that game knew exactly what Manning was doing. Manning's last pass, a third down screen pass to Clark which lost several yards, speaks volumes about the strategy. It is one thing for Colts' management to lie to fans, do we also have to have our Hall of Fame quarterback also spinning tall tales?
"It's not something we set out to do," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "Face it: Pierre (Garcon) is out, G (Gijon Robinson) is out, Joseph Addai -- who do you think I'm going to throw to?
"Those guys are our two main weapons. I'm just trying to find ways to move the ball down the field. I have the freedom to move guys around and get the ball into our playmakers' hands. The goal and the intent was to get some flow for our offense."
The Colts management allowed key players to be put at great risk for injury yesterday solely for the purpose of pursing personal stats. Yet the week before those same players were yanked out of the game at home in the midst of pursuing a team mark, a perfect season. Hypocritical? You betcha.