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Colts’ Defensive Success Like Kandy at the Cash Register
I think I have this Indianapolis Colts defensive mystery figured out, and it all relates to a life lesson my late father taught me about 30 years ago.
All of the national media who picked the Colts to get pecked to death by the Ravens, who in turn would also trample the horseshoes’ hapless defense with their running game, have acted pretty surprised by the success of the defense once the playoffs began.
While winning two playoff games, the Colts’ defense has allowed just 14 points, giving up one touchdown, a two-point conversion, and two field goals. Opponents have rushed for just 127 yards in the two games and converted only three of 22 third downs.
In just one game during the season, the Colts allowed 375 rushing yards, while in those two playoff games the team has allowed just 370 yards of total offense.
So how did this defensive unit get turned on like a light switch?
Some of the national media will tell you it was the return of Bob Sanders, but they are wrong. Sanders didn’t come off the injured list and miraculously recover overnight like those guys in the World Wrestling Federation. They supposedly have a broken arm, two fractured legs, spinal chord injuries, and storm into the ring to beat up the bad guy straight from their hospital bed. That only happens in the WWF.
The Colts didn’t suddenly figure out how to play defense when the playoffs rolled around. They were simply too bad during the second half of the season, so that would have also meant they were that stupid, too. That only happens in politics.
What happened to the Colts defense is the exact same thing that happened to me in 1977 when my father taught me another one of those life lessons. I was a part-time meat cutter and stock boy at Patton’s IGA in Knightstown, and my classmate, Kandy Lawrence, was a part-time cashier. Anyway, when we had limited staff on hand during evening store hours, Kandy would need to take a break.
Rather than having customers wait for her to return, my father made me learn to run the register. That worked out all right if the customer had a few items. But as luck would have it, I would get a customer with an entire grocery cart full of stuff. Not all that thrilled about my chances of getting through that grocery stockpile without a major screw-up, I would wait for her to return.
Then Kandy, the darling teenager she was, would occasionally get distracted by a customer or some pretty things in an isle, and the checkout customer would wait longer. That prompted my father to make me accept the challenge presented by customers like Sylvia Grimm, Shirley Richardson and Carolyn Myers, who always had a cart full of groceries.
The lesson, my father said, was to step up to the plate and attack a serious challenge with all of the confidence of the simplest of problems. And, of course, not screw it up.
“When you have to have a home run, you’d better hit a home run,” he would say.
Translate this philosophy to the Colts, and you have a professional football team that has been extremely successful during the season, and a failure in the playoffs. They started out 13-0 last year, and then fizzled when it counted.
This season, they started out 9-0, realized that it meant nothing because of their history, and coasted the rest of the season until it really mattered. That’s why they looked so bad during the regular season, and so good in the playoffs.
They stepped up to the plate and hit the home run when they had to have one.
I frequently talk in this column about the girls and boys varsity basketball teams, and despite their records, how entertaining those games can be.
Well, if you haven’t checked out the Knightstown junior high teams, I highly recommend them. We all know the seventh and eighth grade boys are full of talent and very competitive, but Monday night I caught the girls junior high teams in action.
Neither team disappointed. Playing against New Castle, the girls swept the Lady Trojans in convincing fashion. In the seventh grade game, Knightstown’s Kaelee Kuhn was by far the most talented player on the floor, scoring 19 points and dominating the game. The seventh graders won easily, 37-27, and were up 31-14 after three quarters.
Then in the eighth grade game I was even more impressed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more dominating performance, and that was by the bench players. When the starters were in, it was more of a joke.
The eighth graders won 55-4, and if you’re willing to believe it, the game wasn’t as close as the final score. New Castle got one field goal, and that came with 1:15 left in the first quarter. They then went scoreless over the next 17 minutes before getting a free throw with 2:12 to play.
I couldn’t help but wonder how I’d write that up if I were covering the story for the losing team. “Then the Trojans rallied and went on a 1-0 run to cut the Panther lead to 51-4….”
Nine different Lady Panthers scored in the game, and Megan Hiner looked good enough to get a significant number of varsity minutes if the IHSAA only allowed eighth graders to dress at that level.
A Tip of the Chrome Dome to coaches Lisa Roberts and Susan Crowe, and all of the Optimist Club youth program volunteers who are doing a great job in teaching these kids those fundamentals.
I recommend catching a junior high game sometime, because you won’t be disappointed.
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