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A loser mentality

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  December 28, 2009 10:58 AM

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I admit it. I enjoyed the Colts losing more than I did the Patriots winning yesterday.

You probably did too.

Sure, there was more satisfaction in New England's 35-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. There's more pride in the Patriots' first AFC East crown since 2007. But the game had about as much excitement as a traffic light. I was packing up the boy's Christmas gifts by the third quarter in lieu of my Sunday afternoon cushion groove.

The Colts-Jets game, on the other hand, was a delicious serving of Schadenfreude, and I'm not ashamed to admit it one bit. Watching Curtis Painter (get your jerseys now while they're hot, kids) and the Colts offense go from efficient to downright embarrassing was a thing of joy, tempered only by the tiny matter that I was rooting for the Jets.

As Jim Caldwell stood on the sideline, showing all the animation and intensity of a beanstalk, the Colts willingly and defiantly spit on their fans, the NFL, and the goal of an undefeated season

It was awesome.

Patriots fans were doing virtual high-fives with Mercury Morris and the loser '72 crew, which, I guess sort of makes us all losers now. Still, I imagine Bill Belichick's head would downright explode should Peyton Manning complete the perfect season his team choked away in the desert of Arizona two seasons ago.

Nobody is going 19-0 this season. The Colts can only match and better the Patriots' 2007 18-1 mark, which they likely won't do because Manning, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark have about as much chance of seeing the turf at Buffalo on Sunday as Cookie Gilchrist does.

It seems a little early in Caldwell's career to erect a statue of the guy, but who would have thought though that the Colts would erect it on the sideline? Still, I suppose it was Caldwell's decision to inexplicably pull his star players with a five-point lead. Either that or Bill Polian's marionette strings reach all the way up to the press box.

There's something to be said for forgoing a pursuit at history. You don't have to spend January and all of Super Bowl week answering stupid questions about it. You have only one goal in mind, which exactly what Polian and Caldwell have decreed is the ultimate prize at the end of the tunnel. Perfection was never an issue.

Granted. But the way the Colts went about it was all kinds of messed up wrong. They took a close game and essentially handed it to the Jets. They not only insulted their fans, they basically tossed the middle finger at the likes of the Steelers, Ravens, Broncos, and anyone else fighting for a wild card by throwing the red carpet out for New York.

If the Jets beat the Bengals Sunday night, they're in. Ironically, Pats fans will find themselves rooting for Rex Ryan and Co. for a second-straight week, as a New York victory could affect the No. 3 seed for the Patriots, as well as possibly set up the Jets as New England's first-round opponent.

Had the Colts, I dunno, played to win the game, the Broncos might have had life, something they have very little of today, all because Statue Jimmy didn't want Peyton to get a boo-boo. If the Super Bowl is indeed the ultimate goal, are they going to rest him in the first two rounds of the playoffs too?

Had the lead been one of a sizable margin, nobody should have had a problem with Caldwell lifting players. But in a five-point game, in front of your paying customers, it's laughable. The way Roger Goodell's hammer goes these days, who would be surprised if he doesn't levy a fine for conduct detrimental to the NFL? It would make more sense than half the punishments whatever Chad Johnson is calling himself these days has had to deal with.

The fans are angry. The players have to be angry, denied the shot at perfection by their coach, and you have to wonder if that means they may have lost some semblance of faith in the management of the team. After all, what does it say for the intensity of a team that doesn't want to go full-throttle? How hard do you want to work for those guys?.

You have to love Bob Kravitz's line: "Maybe an organization that has lost its first-round playoff game four times in seven years knows a better way." Sure, but did you see that CBS graphic about Indy having the most regular-season wins in the decade? Yeah, Colts!

This time though they only have one goal in mind: To be the best 18-1 team out there. Maybe they will be. But that's a gloomy prospect for a much later date.

Today, the Colts are in the headlights of every Monday Morning Quarterback in the land, getting hammered for handing the Jets a Christmas gift, while dishing out coal to every other wild card contender. Some integrity.

In the aftermath, we have Colts fans booing their Super Bowl-favorite team, Polian telling the fans they're too stupid to understand football, and the oddest of companions, the '72 Dolphins and the '07 Patriots shaking hands and clinking champagne glasses like the losers they are.

The Colts' game plan was despicable but it was classic loser mentality, which I guess shouldn't surprise us. January is right around the corner and the Colts were just showing off what they do best this time of year.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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