Wrap-up: Jets 29, Colts 15

December, 27, 2009
12/27/09
7:20
PM ET
As the Colts pulled Peyton Manning and other key starters in the third quarter, the debate over at “NFL Nation Live” heated up.

We’re sure to hear plenty more formal analysis about it Sunday night and all week.

Did the Colts blow it by giving up their chance at a perfect season? Or were they wise to pull back and allow key guys including Manning to catch their breath?

With a 15-10 lead, why not let Manning direct one more drive, potentially going up two scores and then see what happens?

I had a hard time watching how it unfolded. I don’t see how the durable Manning is at any extreme risk for injury by playing an additional 20 minutes. Coach Jim Caldwell and the Colts put Curtis Painter in a terrible spot. While it’s his duty to be a sacrificial lamb if that’s what his bosses want, it goes against the coaching credo that you don’t ask a player to do something he can’t.

This argument about how Indy will trade 16-0 for a Super Bowl title carries this giant hole in it: A 15-1 or 14-2 season does just as little to ensure a team gets to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

The big beneficiary is, of course, the Jets. They are now in line for an AFC wild-card berth if they beat Cincinnati in the final regular-season NFL game at The Meadowlands next week.

The Colts head for Buffalo. Those sideline ponchos will be ready for Manning & Co. on the bench, and it won’t take until the third quarter for them to give the coats full-time work.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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