The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for Fanhouse.com

Peyton still a safe bet

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The Redskins are a good point of comparison for the early "demise'' of the Indianapolis Colts.

For as people look at Mike Shanahan's guys and how much they have improved off a 4-12 season, they should remember that they have the same record as the "plunging" Colts and 11 other NFL teams: 2-2. And despite two early NFC South losses -- 34-24 in Houston on opening day and 31-28 Sunday in Jacksonville -- the team that has Peyton Manning has won the division seven of the last eight seasons.

History causes the concern -- this is a team that every year seems to start 8-0, 9-0, 10-0 and cruise home. Manning's not only great, he's scary -- remember that Bill Belichick went for a first down on fourth and one from his own 28 last season with the Patriots leading the Colts 34-28 and two minutes left because he didn't want to give the ball to Manning, even 70 yards away.

New England failed to make it and, predictably, the Colts scored from 30 yards away and won.

Indy's defense has always been a little shaky, especially when Bob Sanders is hurt, as he is now. With Tony Dungy retired, coaching might also be a problem -- as Jim Caldwell's endgame strategy was on Sunday in a game that the Colts tied on with 42 seconds left after, typically, a long drive engineered by Manning that included a fourth-and-10 completion to Dallas Clark for a first down.

The Jaguars' Jack Del Rio seemed ready to settle for overtime when he sent Maurice Jones-Drew up the middle for eight yards on the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff. But Caldwell seemed to want to give Peyton one more shot so he called time out with 36 seconds left -- especially dubious on second and 2.

So Del Rio said "match you and see you.'' Two quick completions out-of-bounds and now the Jags were looking at a 59-yard field goal with a slight breeze at the back of Josh Scobee, who had been making kicks from more than 60 in that direction in warmups.

But first Del Rio gambled trying to get closer and almost lost big -- Kelvin Hayden read David Garrard's pass, had the ball in his hands and nothing but green in front of him for the winning touchdown. But he dropped it, Scobee converted from 59 yards and we're going after Caldwell instead of Del Rio.

Calling a time out to try to get the ball back happens a lot. But before the half, not when the game is on the line.

Tom Coughlin of the Giants does it a lot and has lost at it -- giving the other team a score when he could have let the clock run out. Bill Parcells has done it.

And Philly's Andy Reid, who goes into vapor lock too often, somehow got the clock fouled up against the Redskins so that he incurred a delay of game penalty after a timeout when he was about to go for a touchdown on fourth down from inside the Washington 1-yard-line on the last play of the half.

Instead, he was forced to kick a field goal, making it 17-6 instead of (possibly) 17-10 at intermission. Considering the Eagles lost 17-12 ....

Big mistake.

Back to the Colts.

They're stumbling a bit, but road losses to the Texans and Jaguars shouldn't be shocks. .

Before Sunday, Indy had won five of six against the Jaguars but in four of those five wins the margins were 2, 4, 3 and 7. Yes, the Colts had won 15-of-16 before losing to the Texans but last season the margins were 4 and 8 and in 2008, Houston won one of the meetings and took the other to overtime.

So let's wait.

Peyton is still the safest bet there is.

By Dave Goldberg  |  October 5, 2010; 8:38 AM ET  | Category:  Coaching , Dave Goldberg , Houston Texans , Indianapolis Colts , Jacksonville Jaguars , Peyton Manning , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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