Game 7: Colts-49ers, Uncharted Waters Edition

AnvilHI, COLTS FANS. Beloved sports talker Derek Schultz and legal beagle Nate Miller are up a river without a paddle as co-captains of this week’s recap of the Colts game (sans editor-in-chief Michael Rubino). In no-coast Indiana, these waters get a bit choppy, so grab your life vests!

SCHULTZ: We promise he wasn’t washed away in the BOMB CYCLONE last night in the Bay Area, but actual Indianapolis Monthly full-time employee Michael Rubino is not able to lord over us peons oversee the recap with Nate and me this week, so …

*best Barkhad Abdi voice* Look at us … We’re the captains now.

MILLER: Yeah, we’re the ca–[accidentally shoots the GPS unit with a harpoon gun] … Carry on.

SCHULTZ: After a hilariously incompetent first few minutes, the Colts rallied from a 9-0 hole and pretty thoroughly controlled a disheveled 49ers team in a rain-soaked 30-18 victory.

Nate, before we set sail on this atmospheric river, and completely pillage a booty-filled Indianapolis Monthly vessel, what was your biggest takeaway from the win? 

MILLER: Not to beat a dead anvil here, but watching this Colts team is a good return of investment of my time, which is so painfully dad-onian that I am ashamed and embarrassed. But like L.L. Bean’s sensible style and the vital importance of clean gutters, it’s true. Actual Football Guys enjoy analyzing the intricacies of the game—the subtleties—and how their ebb and flow factors into the ultimate outcome of the game. Me? I just enjoy watching Wentz huck passes all over the hemisphere and Jonathan Taylor going all Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson and a defense throwing haymaker punches at the ball’s face any chance they get. There is no subtlety to these things. No intricacies. Only radness. And if it’s all occurring under a biblical flood? Even better! The 49ers thought the atmospheric river was their ally. But they merely adopted it. Michael Pittman Jr. was born in it, apparently, molded by it, and that game-sealing touchdown deserves its own interactive exhibit at Newfields.

This is a wildly fun team to watch, is where I’m going with this. That’s my takeaway. You?

SCHULTZ: Contrary to what I was told in Sunday School, biblical floods are kind of quirky and fun! In all seriousness, I’m about as encouraged as one can be about a 3-4 football team. I actually think this offense has a lot of potential—the most potential a Colts offense has had in several years. The offensive line has plugged the leaks and isn’t getting BOMB CYCLONED by opposing D-lines anymore. Jonathan Taylor is already special and we’re not even halfway into Year Two. As you said, Pittman is beasting as well, and after cycling through underperforming and/or injured high draft picks (Moncrief, Dorsett, Campbell, etc.) he may actually, finally be a young wide receiver the Colts can count on. While I’m still not as enamored with Carson Wentz as others, his ability to throw deep and mobility are two attributes the Colts haven’t had since Andrew Luck. His warts from Philadelphia (turnovers, poor decision-making) have yet to really show themselves in Indy. 

So, I think we’re in agreement: The Colts seem pretty fun/pretty good … but, uh, does it matter when Derrick Henry is pulverizing opponents into a fine dust and the NFC superpowers are stuffing everyone into a locker?

MILLER: I guess that’s my point, kind of. Whether they’re good or great—whether they make the playoffs or they don’t—is not as important to me anymore. Maybe this is the natural progression of old age. Maybe it’s due to the unyielding chaos of four kids and my incapacity for more stress and/or disappointment. Whatever it is, I’m in the market for three or four hours of entertaining escapism—nothing more—and by God, this Colts team keeps delivering the goods, win or lose. Of course, this concept does not jibe well with the hyper-masculine, QAnon-adjacent, WINNING IS ALL THAT MATTERS! meathead sports folk in this town, but they can all go pound sand or storm the Capitol or keep not-coaching West Virginia.

Alright, go ahead, Derek. Let’s bring the lights down a bit here. Let’s kick some puppies in the spinal column. Tell me why I’m wrong …

SCHULTZ: If I have to be glass half-empty, they still have yet to beat anyone good. Houston and Miami are a disaster, and San Francisco is grossly mediocre. Beating up on crap teams is good and fun! But I’m worried that just puts the Colts back in that 2012-14 range, where they’re fun and competitive and fine, but not true contenders. And in this “WIN RINGZ OR U SUCK” era—the owner keeps spouting off about multiple Lombardis, so it’s hard to blame fans for that approach—is that good enough? Would that appease a fanbase that has zero division titles and one playoff win in six-plus seasons? I don’t know the answer to that.

SCHULTZ: The division likely rests on Sunday’s home game (what could go wrong!), but even if the Titans emerge triumphant, it still appears an AFC Wild Card berth is extremely doable. 

[sirens wailing] Well, it appears this pirated Indy Monthly ship is getting pulled over. Grab the golden Mellencamp statue and Patachou gift cards. Gotta jump! *SPLASH*