I have been watching games from earlier in the 2006 season for the last few days. I watched the Jets and Broncos games because they represented two of 18's finest performances. Here's some random things that occured to me:
1. Nick Harper was hurt A LOT this year. I was surprised by how much Kevin Hayden played. Harper was out for large chunks of the Jets game, and limped off briefly in the Denver game. His strength was that he was a solid open field tackler in the run game. Considering that he was not available for the AFC Championship nor for the Super Bowl (ok, he limped through part of the first half of both), I'm not torn up by losing him. If you don't think Peyton is happy to torch him twice a year, you're nuts. I think that there is a reason that in a weak FA market where even mediocre players get huge money that June and Harper were left for the end.
2. Gilbert Gardner was WORSE than I remembered (and I already called him one of the worst Colts ever on this blog). Against Denver, he came in UNBLOCKED and hit Mike Bell at full speed. Didn't wrap him up, Bel left cleat marks on his face and scored from 11 yards out. PATHETIC. On Bell's HUGE run for like 50 yards to set up Denver's tying figgie, Gardner inexplicably ran away from the gap (he did that all year), sprinting almost horizontally to the sideline. They ran right at where he had been. He tried to reverse field, but by then he was pancaked. Garnder spent the whole freaking year overrunning plays and not staying in his gap.
3. The Colts used Fletcher a LOT more than I realized in both those games. He caught a big TD against the Jets (on a freaky amazing play by 18), and caught 2 straight first downs on the winning 2 minute drive. He has a knack for making big catches.
4. Winning a Super Bowl changes EVERYTHING. I swear, watching those games felt like something out of 2004 or 5. Next year will be totally different. No agnst. Just excitement. I can't wait.
5. Cato June made not one play that came to mind in either game. Just saying.
6. The visible difference between Addai and Rhodes was startiling. It seemed like everytime Joe Addai had the ball, it was a sweet 5 yard run. Dom was repeatedly getting blasted for losses. Like I said, I'm happy for Dom that he got paid, but friends...we aren't going to miss him.