Friday, January 3, 2014
Colts deserve sellout against Chiefs
By Mike Wells
INDIANAPOLIS -- This is not about blaming fans for not buying playoff tickets, pushing the possibility of having Saturday's wild-card playoff game between the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs blacked out on television locally to the six-hour mark.
I don't fault those who didn't want to spend the money on tickets during the Christmas season, especially since fans had to buy them for all possible home games in the playoffs. It's a long shot that the Colts will host the AFC Championship game if they beat the Chiefs on Saturday.
All concerns were put to rest when Colts owner Jim Irsay turned to his favorite avenue -- Twitter -- to get the news out that corporate sponsor Meijer purchased the final 1,200 tickets for the game, ending the possibility of a blackout. The best part of that is that Meijer will donate the tickets to military families in the Indianapolis area.
This game deserved to be sold out, and it's not because the Colts have sold out 137 of their last 138 home games. It's because they deserve the support after overcoming season-ending injuries to five key players to win the AFC South and earn at least one home game in the playoffs. As I pointed out Thursday in a story on coach Chuck Pagano, the Colts could have easily fallen apart during the regular season.
"I would say we have the loudest stadium in the NFL," Colts linebacker Robert Mathis said. "When our crowd is rocking and they're all ready to go and giving opposing offenses a hard time, that helps the defense. That helps our defense tremendously."
I recall having a conversation with Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck earlier this season about fan support after the Seattle Seahawks beat the New Orleans Saints 34-7 at CenturyLink Field. Seattle's "12th Man" has an argument for being the loudest fans in the NFL.
"It obviously takes talent to win, but it does help when you have your fans behind you cheering and making it difficult for the opposing offense to communicate on the field," said Hasselbeck, who spent 10 seasons playing in Seattle, said at the time.
Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's wife, Laurie, sent him a video from their Week 5 game against the Seattle where "everybody was yelling and it was so loud. That energy and passion."
Longtime Indianapolis Star Colts beat writer Mike Chappell, who has covered the team since 1984, said he's never heard Lucas Oil Stadium as loud as it was when Peyton Manning came back to Indianapolis with the Denver Broncos in Week 7.
The Colts won both of those games. They deserve -- and need -- that same kind of support Saturday against the Chiefs.
"The 12th man, best fans in the National Football League," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "We're going to need them more than ever come Saturday. Have the opportunity to have a home game in the tournament means a lot."