In the Pittsburgh-Indy AFC divisional playoff game, a classic battle of who wanted it less, Indy kicker Mike Vanderjagt
proved the biggest tool
in a game that would have given any mechanic an erection.
- Indy's Marvin Harrison was his annual postseason no-show (3 catches, 52 yards, 0 TDs).
- The Colts offense did its annual ostrich imitation, sticking its head in the sand once again in the biggest game of the season.
- Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis tried to throw away his last shot at a Super Bowl, fumbling at the goal line with a second straight AFC title game staring him right in the face.
- Peyton Manning, of course, struggled against a good defense in the playoffs – and, no, even the dome that everyone (but us) said all season would be his salvation did nothing but send his soul to rot once again in pigskin purgatory.
- The refs blew so many calls that the game's going to be on a Girls Gone Wild video next month.
But nobody coughed it up worse than Vandershank, who once again failed his team when it absolutely needed him. (By the way, you have to read this truly awful interview with Vanderjagt on IndyStar.com. He says his hair highlights bring out his "feminine side" and talks about another time he's missed a game-winning kick. Notice a trend here?)
He is, in fact, just one of the many Sunshine Supermen that make Indy the most fraudulent franchise in the history of football.
Listen. Folks out there think we have it in for the Colts. We do not. We were just aware of their true nature long before anyone else and we've been saying the same thing for years. No matter how good they look in the regular season, they just don't play the same way in the postseason. So, to all those who call us out – even those who don't follow the site specifically because of our take on the Colts – will you finally admit that we've been right all along?
Resistance to the Cold, Hard Football Facts is futile.
We're not trying to be spiteful. We're not trying to piss off fans in Indianapolis. We're just calling it like we see it. And, when you look at things only through the pigskin prism of the Cold, Hard Football Facts, you see everything so clearly.
Give the Colts perfect conditions and they perform like a flawless machine. But put them in a little bad weather, or ratchet up the pressure in the postseason, or put them up against a tough, hard-hitting team, and they wilt like week-old lettuce.
We'll have much more on this Monday. But for now, let's just focus on Vandershank.
He has, in fact, converted a record 87.5 percent of his field goals over the course of his career (217 for 248).
But twice in the past two seasons Vandershank has lined up for a do-or-die kick.
Twice he missed.
He shanked it.
In the entire 42-kick streak, he had never attempted a do-or-die field goal. But, when he finally did – when he finally faced a true pressure kick – he failed to come through.
We saw the same thing again today.
Vandershank had never attempted a do-or-die kick in the postseason until today. A 46-yard kick with seconds remaining and Indy trailing 21-18. The conditions in the dome were perfect.
But Vanderjagt was not.
He shanked it again. In fact, he shanked it badly. The kick was wildly off target to the right, missing the goal posts by several yards.
It was not the first clutch kick Vanderjagt has shanked in the postseason. Back in 2000, the Colts battled to a 17-17 tie with Miami at the end of regulation. Vanderjagt lined up in overtime to make the kick. He shanked it.
Miami went on to win, 23-17.
Vanderjagt was 23 of 25 (92 percent) kicking field goals in 2005, but the most accurate kicker in NFL history missed the one kick his team absolutely NEEDED him to make.
Back in 2000, he was 25 of 27 (92.6 percent) kicking field goals. But when his team needed one to win in the postseason, he missed it.
He's now 11 of 14 (78.6 percent) kicking field goals in the playoffs. Notice a drop in performance already? Of course you do. This is the Colts. This is the postseason.
Two of those three misses were devastating. One was in overtime. The other would have forced overtime.
It's typical of the Colts team during this run. Any kicker in the NFL would be fairly successful if he kicked indoors at least eight times a year. The cities Indy visits each year for AFC South divisional games – Jacksonville, Nashville and Houston – aren't exactly hostile to kickers, either.
But we don't need to talk. The Cold, Hard Football Facts speak for themselves. Year after year, Indy wows the football world in the regular season. Year after year, the "pundits" declare that this is the season for Indy to succeed. Year after year, one Indy player after another fails to come through when the team calls on him in the postseason.
And year after year, the Colts end the season with all the hype, accolades, awards, public acclaim ... and excuses.
But there are no excuses. It's a team that's weak in intestinal fortitude and weak under pressure. If we're Indy fans, we're sick of the same old story. We know how this one ends every season and we want some new authors of our team's destiny.
We want new faces – a clutch kicker would be a nice start – and we want a happier ending.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts aren't spiteful. They're just telling the truth that people don't often want to hear.