I have to take a 30 second political timeout for a moment and discuss some football. You see, it was a very bad weekend for football in Wyoming, at least for me. If I don’t get this out, I won’t be able to move on, stay in a foul mood, say something stupid, and get banned from posting comments again. We don’t want that.
So here we go.
First, the University of Wyoming Cowboys (you are probably now connecting the dots to how I came up with my name at Red State) football team got slaughtered, killed, shellacked, manhandled, whatever by the CSU Rams on Saturday in the Border War, 52-22. Now, I have seen the Cowboys get spanked before. That’s not the issue. The issue is that the Cowboys lost to the Colorado State University Rams in Laramie by 30 points when, on paper, the Cowboys are a much better team than the Rams this year. The Border War is the biggest game of the year for both CSU and Wyo. It is the big rivalry for these two teams in the Mountain West Conference. And, blugh . . . Horrible. I wasn’t at the game (I went fly fishing. Fall in Wyoming, you know.), so I turned the radio off in the middle of the third quarter.
Second, the 6-0 invincible Denver Broncos were handed their first loss of the season at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning wasn’t perfect. He couldn’t pull off the miracle. That’s okay. Again, it was in the manner of the loss that is so upsetting for this diehard fan (I can still name the members of the Orange Crush defense in 1977). Let’s just acknowledge something up front, the Bronco secondary is not very good. They did okay last night, but they tend to make NFL quarterbacks who are fighting to stay in the league look like Pro Bowlers this year. A poor pass rush will do that.
You could see the frustration of the Broncos creep onto the field. “Personal foul, unsportsman-like conduct on the defense No. 99 for removing his helmet. 15 yards, first down,” became a familiar refrain in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter, in the Colts endzone, after a third and 11 incompletion by Andrew Luck (the young phenom QB who replaced Manning), with the Broncos still clinging to life, the defense was called for roughing-the-Luck for 15 yards and a first down which pretty much sealed the game for the Colts. If that wasn’t what sealed the game, then it was running back Ronnie Hillman’s fumble on the Colts three yard-line with three minutes to go that did it. There was a little drama afterward, but there was just not enough time.
The Peyton Manning led offense has proven to actually be human after all. With both starting offensive tackles out with injury (Ryan Clady out for the year and Orlando Franklin out for the Colts but expected to return this week or next), Peyton Manning was running for his life against the Colts pass rush. Having a 37 year-old future Hall of Famer with a bum neck running for his life is not good. Not good at all. As a matter of fact, Manning was sacked and fumbled the ball for a safety in the Broncos endzone in the second quarter. The ensuing Colts’ possession resulted in a Colts TD.
So, the Broncos show they are human. Manning didn’t play a perfect game. The Broncos defense did improve with the return of linebacker Vaughn Miller. At least all that stupid talk about going undefeated will now go away.
Of course, the season for the Wyoming Cowboys and the Denver Broncos is not over. There are still lots of games to be played and to be won. Hopefully these are bumps in the road and not a paradigm shift. The Cowboys still have one of the best offenses in the country in Division I college football. Manning is still Manning. Injured players are returning. There is still strength on both rosters. So, while I throw my temper tantrum today, those good players are preparing for the next fight. Watching film. Rehabilitating old injuries. Studying their playbooks. Practicing the basic blocking and tackling that wins games. In other words, putting these setbacks behind them and focusing on winning the next game.
Yeah, football is just a silly game, but it can teach us a lot about life if we are just willing to learn.
Okay, game on.