After Improbable Colts Win, The Bleach Stays On Ice

AnvilWELCOME BACK to another grounded and rational Colts recap on IM! Alongside Nate Miller, who has never regretted anything he’s ever said and/or done on here, I’m the perfectly calm and reasonable Derek Schultz. After citywide overreaction (we would never do that here! *laughs nervously*) to last week’s debacle in Jacksonville, the Colts predictably held Patrick Mahomes and a Chiefs offense averaging over 35 points per game to just 17 in a thrilling, potentially season-turning victory.Now at 1-1-1, the Colts trail only the vaunted Jaguars (we told you last week how great that franchise is, too!) for first place in the loaded AFC South and still have everything on the table for them with 14 games remaining.See, Colts fans? Everything is fine! Since they pumped the bleach out of your stomach from last week, how are you feeling, Nate?MILLER: This was the Rorschach test to end all Rorschach tests. Whatever you wanted to see, in the end, you saw. Whatever you wanted to feel, you felt—and not unjustifiably so. This was pointing out farm animals in the Cover-3 clouds on the field. Farm animals or omens of our eminent demise. Your call.There will be those who view the Colts win as fluky, and nothing more. They did not like Frank Reich or Chris Ballard or the direction of this franchise heading into this game, and their minds are not changed today. In fact, they may have more evidence to buttress their arguments after that quote-unquote “win.” These people are my dad, and probably yours too, and every coach you ever had in any sport, ever. These people are the Karens of the Colts Extended Universe, and they would very much like to speak with football’s manager. They are quietly seething today. SCHULTZ: It was a very Colts type of win. Over the last decade or so, we’ve seen this franchise after a) an embarrassing defeat, b) fans/media have given up hope for the season, or c) both weirdly rally for odd victories. After losing to the mediocre Raiders at home in 2019, they shocked these same Chiefs as a 10-point underdog at Arrowhead the next week. In the midst of a 3-5 start in 2016, the Colts went to Lambeau and blitzed Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Chuck Pagano’s teams, who were routinely trounced at random moments, followed up 36-, 35-, 30-, 29-, and 26-point blowout losses with wins in the 2012–14 seasons. It absolutely made sense that the Colts would find a way to win yesterday. What didn’t make sense was how they did it: The pass rush magically roaring to life, holding Patrick Freaking Mahomes under 20 points, overcoming several 4th-and-short calamities (will they ever convert one of these again?), and a previously comatose offense slapping together a 16-play, 76-yard, 8-minute-plus drive with the game on the line.MILLER: See?! The improbability of it all is warping our perception. Because that turnaround—that high level of execution in those critical moments—is EXACTLY what some people needed to capital-B Believe again. They are STILL beaming with delight, even today, high on the Vibes of the game and maybe also some Michigan hybrid vape carts. Those people are my friend Tim, and also probably all the other Tims in your lives, too. They just booked tickets to wherever the Super Bowl is this year. (Tim will forget about this purchase in two days, though.)Derek, that is all a long way of saying that I am somewhere in between Tim and my dad on the Shawon-O-Meter. Jazzed but cautious, as Ronald Reagan so famously said, I think.SCHULTZ: Weirdly, the Colts now have a tie, a loss, and a win, yet all three felt … kind of fluky? In Houston, they dominated the front and back of the game, were hilariously awful in the middle, and yet still would’ve won if they had a competent kicker. Not discrediting Jacksonville, who may in fact be good, but the Colts played the worst game I’ve seen them play in years that afternoon. Finally, yesterday was just as much about the Chiefs losing as the Colts winning. KC missed a sure touchdown toss (something Mahomes rarely misses) on the second drive of the game, fumbled on their own 4 yard line, biffed two short kicks and made a reckless fake decision later in the third quarter, and Chris Jones handed the Colts a first down on 4th and 14—via a ridiculous penalty—to continue the game-winning drive. So it’s difficult to assess this team when everything that’s happened through the first three weeks seems extremely flimsy.But, regardless, to borrow from the poster that hangs in IM editor-in-chief Michael Rubino’s office, Never Apologize For Winning. (Thanks for the inspiration, Michael!) (Editor’s note: needlepoint, not a poster.) The Colts now face a critical home game with Tennessee with the chance to finally notch a W in the division-win column and solidify their footing in the AFC South race. After a weeklong tempest swirled around this team—Chris Ballard, Frank Reich, and even Jim Irsay himself—the Colts found a way. There’s a ton to clean up with the offensive line (and offense in general, honestly) and it’s unlikely the Colts will get another opponent who self-destructs as violently as KC did yesterday, but Win The Day (another Rubino poster)! (Editor’s note: actually a framed quilt.) And the Colts did that on Sunday, style points be damned.