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Colts Clinch Division Crown with Titans Loss

Peyton Manning just can’t seem to help himself when it comes to getting the Colts into the playoffs, even while playing for the Broncos.

Despite another crushing loss, this time to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Colts have won the AFC South Division crown for the first time since 2010, thanks to a 51-28 Denver smack-down of the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

The Colts knew they needed a win versus Cincy, or a Tennessee loss, to win the division and the right to host a home playoff game. But that didn’t stop them from falling into yet another half-time deficit. Just ask referee Jeff Triplette, who made one of the most mind-boggling calls of the year.

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Down 7-0 in the 2nd quarter, Cincinnati decided to go for it on 4th-and-goal from inside the 2 yard line. Josh Chapman appeared to trip up running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ foot, rendering him down by contact short of the goal line. This was the ruling on the field. Enter Jeff Triplette. After reviewing the play, Triplette inexplicably reversed the call. Bear in mind that officials must see conclusive evidence to overturn the ruling on the field.

Indy fans were dumfounded. The announcers were dumbfounded. Even Mike Pereira, former NFL VP of Officiating seemed dumfounded as he tweeted, “In CIN, it sure looks to me like he was touched by #96. Certainly can’t prove he DIDN’T touch him.” It was a bad call, no doubt about it, and one for which the Colts will likely receive an apology from the NFL.

But be that as it may, it is not the reason the Colts lost the game. They lost because they once again did too little too late on offense, and virtually nothing on defense.

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Looking at Andrew Luck’s stats, you would think he had a great day. Four touchdown passes, zero interceptions, and 29 of 46 completions for 326 yards passing. Add to that 32 yards rushing, one of which resulted in a huge 3rd down conversion.

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Normally, this would be enough to at least be competitive. But when the defense allows a 50-percent conversation rate on 3rd down, it’s pretty hard to get off the field.

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On the bright side, the Colts saw the emergence of two receivers, LaVon Brazill and Da’Rick Rogers. Brazill had a nice catch on a 19-yard pass from Andrew Luck.

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But it was Da’Rick Rogers that really burst on to the scene, with 6 catches for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns. The talented wide receiver, who played for the Vols before transferring to Tennessee Tech, went undrafted solely due to off-field concerns.

It’s hard to believe this is the same team that beat the Seahawks, 49ers and Broncos, but the reality is this team is probably going nowhere in the playoffs unless something changes. It’s happened before, like in 2006, except then, the team was mostly healthy and was loaded on offense.

Regardless of what happens, it’s important to not lose site of the fact that they are just two years into a rebuilding process. To have even made it this far, so quickly, is a testament to the organization and players, particularly one with the last name of Manning, who did his part by beating the Titans.

Thanks again, Peyton. And here’s to NOT seeing you in the playoffs.