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Indianapolis Colts Recap: Wild Card, at Buffalo Bills

We've reached the end of the road.

This fall, the magazine recapped (almost) each week of the Colts’ strange, pandemic-hobbled season. This week: digital editor Derek Robertson, with contributors Derek Schultz and Nate Miller talk about the Colts’ disappointing close loss to the Bills and their still-bright future. Also, Nate plans to overthrow the NFL.

Derek Robertson: So here we are at the end of the road, with this team playing in their AFC Wild Card game, for better or worse, exactly how they did the entire season – gritty, smart, and a little bit lucky, right to the exact point where some missing X-factor prevented them from getting to the next level. When you look at what happened in this game against a Bills team that had been on a tear in recent weeks, there’s honestly not much to complain about, as the Colts came within just a few plays of kicking a game-tying field goal. And yet, they came up short. Let’s start with something simple: in the immediate aftermath of the game, Reich expressed his desire for Rivers to return as the starting QB next year. How do we feel about that?

Nate Miller: We feel CHEATED, Derek, goddamnit! Robbed! Bamboozled! Victimized! We feel… violated. I was watching “One Colts America News” and Cucker Tarlson was on talking about how both the refs and the Bills are a part of this deep-state conspiracy involving sex-trafficking, Satanism and punching baby seals in the dick. They are all literally evil. For real: this game was rigged. Cucker laid out a rather convincing set of facts which have led me to believe that the Colts WON, despite math and numbers and reality. We just need to fight for the truth. Cucker isn’t ready to concede this victory and neither am I. The Colts play at Kansas City next week and if you hear otherwise then you are SHEEPLE. For more information, please come to my press conference at the Harry & Izzy’s Chimney Cleaning Service in Ellettsville Wednesday at 1:30. Hold on to your hats!

Derek Schultz: This is weird, but I’m actually going to agree with ColtFREEDQMfghtrN8… er, I mean, Nate. The Colts scored SO many points. They won by hundreds, easily. 1st and Goal at the one-yard line? Come on. Who doesn’t score there? A chip-shot, 33-yard field goal? Guaranteed points!!! It’s ridiculous how much they won by. They couldn’t have lost!

Okay, fine. They lost. Luckily, this is football, so hopefully people won’t be bringing zip-ties to 56th Street. That was an insanely winnable game, which makes it an insanely frustrating loss. Way too many mistakes and unforced errors. There’s no harm in an 11-win season, playoff berth, and many positives, but this one is going to sting for a while. It was there for the taking (in a non-insurrection-y way).

NM: I have filed 58 different state and federal lawsuits including, but not limited to, Erie County Superior Court in New York, the Northern District of New York, Marion County Circuit Court, and the Southern District of Indiana, to name only a few… all of which have judges who were appointed by Jim Irsay. The thrust of each of these lawsuits is that the Colts WON. (Please send me money so that I can keep fighting!) Long story short: each one of those lawsuits has failed due to a quote-unquote “lack of evidence,” and also I have been disciplined by numerous state bar associations for filing frivolous lawsuits, but only because THEY ARE IN ON THE SCAM TOO. (Seriously, send me money.)

So put “the judicial system” in the column of “institutions who have stolen this Colts playoff win from us,” along with the NFL, the refs, math, reality, and God Himself. Shameful. Just shameful. We will burn this place down unless our very reasonable demands are met! (Send $$$$ plz).

DS: To get back to your original question, Derek (at least, I think there was an original question?): I think the Colts bring back Rivers because it’s what they’re best-positioned to do. Rivers already knows the offense and has a rapport with the personnel. Barring a blockbuster trade, the Colts won’t get a shot at drafting an upper echelon QB. Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson will all be long gone by the time they select in the early 20s. I’m not convinced any of the likely available options are significantly better: I’m all the way out on Carson Wentz and Sam Darnold, and hesitant about committing major money/years to Dak Prescott immediately coming off that injury. The potential option I’m most open to is Matthew Stafford, but even then, that’s still not a long-term solution. Risky as it may be at his age, I believe Rivers can be a competent placeholder for one more year, but the Colts need to figure out whoever their next guy is… and do it soon.

DR: The prospect of re-signing Rivers eats up an uncomfortable amount of the team’s remaining cap space unless he takes a pay cut, which I’m skeptical of given his high level of play this season and the gaping holes in some other teams’ depth charts. That aside, I’m optimistic about this team might fare next season: This roster is young and exciting with real anchors at most of the important positions. You have to be thrilled at the prospect of watching Taylor, Pittman, and this defensive line for the next few years at least (as well as Darius Leonard, should they take care of business with his contract). Also… how much do we think is too much for Taylor Heinicke? $35 million? He’s not signing anywhere for less than 30, I’m sure.

DS: The QB options are aplenty, but I still think you’d have to install Rivers as the heavy favorite for QB1 in 2021 (-400, for you betting line sickos out there). At the very least, this off-season will give Nate some much-needed time to rest and, hopefully, reset his brain to the factory settings.

DR: It’s been real, it’s been weird, it’s been real weird — and a joy to chat through these games with you guys, see you next season.

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