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Diner morning news: No chance for perfection

Colts cheat the game and the fans by not trying to go undefeated. Michael Lombardi

Print This December 28, 2009, 11:00 AM EST

QUOTE: “History never looks like history when you are living through it.” -- John W. Garner

I knew it was coming, but no matter how the Colts try to justify what they did Sunday, I still think it hurts the NFL. Making the fans pay for meaningless preseason games is one thing, but tanking a regular-season game is another. I know the ‘72 Miami Dolphins are popping Champagne corks for keeping their streak alive, but deep down, this has to be bittersweet.

Don Shula issued a statement: “While the Jets win today ended Indianapolis’ streak and showed once again how difficult it is to go undefeated, I want to congratulate the Colts on a great run.” Can he really mean that? Yes, he’s happy the streak is alive, but the Colts tanking the game puts doubt in the validity of his statement. No real champion wants to win on a decision. A real champion wants to remove all doubt about their own immortality, doubt that can only be removed if the Colts lose in the playoffs or lose in the Super Bowl. But if they win their postseason games, then the Miami Dolphins streak will be alive -- but I’ll be left wondering, filled with doubt about who had the more perfect team.

The Colts have every right to prepare for the post season -- they earned that right by reeling off 14 straight wins. However, watching the game live and seeing the body language of their players, it just seemed all wrong — very wrong. It was not fair to the competitive balance of the NFL, not fair to the history of the game, not fair to league or its partners who pay big money for the rights to the games. Most of all, it was not fair to the fans. Once the Colts played to win in Jacksonville, why not keep playing to win in every game? Were they concerned about proving a point to Jacksonville and didn’t care about proving one to the New York Jets? Those 14 straight wins earned them the right to rest their players, but it also earned them a chance to chase perfection — an opportunity few teams ever have. How can you just walk away from that opportunity? How can you go from the best quarterback who has ever played the game to one who has never played? How can they just toss away that chance like the game was in August, not December?

But that’s what they did. So now I’m left wondering – are the Miami Dolphins are the most perfect team? For me, if the Colts lose in the playoffs, then the answer is yes. If they don’t, then the answer is that I wished the Colts would have kept playing for the good of the game.

RANDOM GAME THOUGHTS…

1. How can the Giants be that inconsistent? From a very good team to a very bad team in one week’s time means there’s something wrong with them on every level – coaching, playing and schemes. They bid farewell to Giant Stadium with their worst loss ever in the stadium’s history. It will take a detailed analysis in the coming weeks to fix the problems in N.Y.

2. Matt Moore has played well as Carolina’s new starter the last two weeks. What makes his stellar play so amazing is that the Panthers have lost both starting offensive tackles. What appeared to be the strength of the Giants — both lines -- turned out to be their biggest weakness. Allowing Jonathan Stewart the third most rushing yards against them and the most since 1978 is an indictment of their inability to control the lines.

3. Conversely, the Ravens, who did not have starting left tackle Jared Gaither for their game and were forced to move Michael Oher to left tackle and start Oniel Cousins at right tackle, cost themselves the game. Lamar Woodley of the Steelers dominated Cousins, and this made it hard for the Ravens to make critical plays. Of course, besides Cousins, the Ravens made too many mental and physical mistakes at crucial points to win.

4. Did you realize that with the Bengals win yesterday, head coach Marvin Lewis is in second place on the club’s all-time wins list for head coaches? He passed team founder Paul Brown with the victory over the Chiefs.

5. We get a bonus playoff game next Sunday in Dallas as the Eagles and Cowboys will have to play like there’s no tomorrow. The loser of the game will be on the road throughout the playoffs and will need three wins to get to the Super Bowl.

6. In the last two games against the Jaguars, Tom Brady has thrown only five incomplete passes in 54 attempts. He might be 100-percent healthy right now.

7. Some teams have stopped fighting, but Cleveland and Tampa aren’t among them. The Browns deserve credit for their winning streak and for still playing hard. It might save Eric Mangini his job — maybe.

8. What’s most impressive about the Bucs’ win is that they held the Saints scoreless in the second half and rallied from 17-0 down. Normally, I would feel there was something really ailing the Saints with this second consecutive loss at home, but last year the Cards did the same thing and got hot at the right time. So I reserve judgment until after I watch the tape.

9. The Seahawks better think about how they’re going to rebuild their team, not repair it. They stink, and coach Jim Mora might want to give real thought to what he must do to change on all three levels, just like the Giants -- players, coaches and scheme.

10. How about Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski booting a 61-yarder in the cold at Cleveland? Amazing, considering that kicking a cold ball is difficult and it travels less distance.

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Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

For more on the Colts' first loss of the season, check out this article from Bleacher Report.

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