LOPRESTI: 2013 Horseshoe memories give way to anticipation

January 18, 2014

mike lopresti sportsNow that the Indianapolis Colts have put away the footballs and the blocking sled and Jim Irsay’s Twitter account for another season, let’s look at the photo album from 2013.

Actually, it’s more of a guide for 2014. Look at the past, think of the future.

Here’s a shot of Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning together. One of the 3 million taken back in October …

Since they will forever be joined at the horseshoe, might as well put their early careers side by side and inspect for any hints of what is to come.

Manning threw 26 touchdowns his first season, and 26 his second. Luck threw 23 and 23.

Manning’s completion percentage improved from 56.7 to 62.1 and his interceptions dropped from 28 to 15. Luck’s percentage improved from 54.1 to 60.2 and his interceptions dropped from 18 to 9.

They seem as similar as two kernels in a popcorn popper, don’t they? But then there’s this: Manning’s offense produced 33 points in his first three playoff games. Luck’s offense produced 76. It took Manning six seasons to win a playoff game. It took Luck two.

So No. 12 is moving right along on the proper path. Now comes the hard part, of course. Manning required nine years to win the Super Bowl.

Here’s a group picture of John Elway, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw and Troy Aikman. Looks like a foursome at an old timers’ quarterback golf tournament …

A total of 13 Super Bowl championship rings are represented in that gathering of passing elder statesmen. But know how many playoff victories they had combined after two seasons in the NFL? Zero. In other words, Luck is a little bit ahead of the curve. Might bode well for what’s ahead.

None of them, however, ever threw seven interceptions in two postseason games. But we’ll call that an anomaly. For now.

Here’s a picture of three veterans. Adam Vinatieri, Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis, their value as plain this season as the beard on Andrew Luck’s face . . .

From left to right, Vinatieri will turn 42 next season; Wayne, 36; Mathis, 33. It’d be altogether fitting and proper that they get one more taste of the Super Bowl, before they go on Hall of Fame ballots. But the Colts better hurry.

This is a photo display of the NFL’s Final Four this season. Denver, New England, San Francisco and Seattle …

Notice something ironic about that picture? Sure. The Colts beat three of them.

Here’s an overhead shot from the blimp of New England’s Gillette Stadium …

There might as well be a sign for the Colts, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” They are 0-3 there in January this century, by a combined score of 87-40.

This picture should serve during the regular season as a warning to never let the quest for home-field advantage waver. The alternative might be Foxborough.

This is a photocopy of the Colts’ final postseason statistics …

Notice, please, the eight rushing first downs in two games. The 36:16-23:43 deficit in time of possession. The minus-7 in turnovers. All of that comes from the manual, “How to get beat in the playoffs.”

The Colts somehow went 12-6 this season even though they outscored their 18 opponents only 458-453. They lived on the margin, and that never lasts forever, especially in January. Upgrades are needed. Ryan Grigson is on the clock.

This is an official team photo of the Kansas City Chiefs …

They should be on Jim Irsay’s Christmas card list. The Colts can claim 12 playoff victories as an Indianapolis franchise. Four of them—one-third—came against the Chiefs.

This is a snapshot of next season’s schedule …

RG III is coming to town to face Luck Year III, so everyone can chew on the 2012 draft again. Tom Brady will be in town, too, so Luck has a chance to get even, sort of. The Colts have to go to Denver. A chance for Peyton Manning to get even with them.

This is an official NFL photo of MetLife Stadium, site of Super Bowl XLVIII …

The Colts won’t be there, but what happens in the first northern outdoor Super Bowl still might matter to Indianapolis. If I were in the civic group trying to lure a Super Bowl back to town, I’d have a dilemma.

I’d want it cold that week, so when the Super Bowl high-rollers are shivering (except when they’re sampling the shrimp in luxury suites, of course), the climate control of Lucas Oil Stadium will sound pretty nice.

But I wouldn’t want it too nasty, lest the NFL owners get frightened of awarding Super Bowls to northern cities by the sight of too many snow plows. Indianapolis still has those, right? Just wondering after the last storm.

So as we close the album on 2013, this question has the floor: What comes first, Indianapolis back to the Super Bowl, or the Super Bowl back to Indianapolis?•


Lopresti is a lifelong resident of Richmond and a graduate of Ball State University. He was a columnist for USA Today and Gannett newspapers for 31 years; he covered 34 Final Fours, 30 Super Bowls, 32 World Series and 16 Olympics. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at mlopresti@ibj.com.

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