My ears are still ringing. You'd think I had front row seats directly in front of the speakers at a Metallica concert. Nope, I had nearly back row seats for the Colts-Chargers playoff game on Sunday. The final game in the RCA Dome (nee Hoosier Dome). If you don't already know, the Colts lost 28-24. Not exactly the way anyone (except Chargers fans and maybe some Pats fans) wanted the final game in the Dome to end.
The stage was set perfectly. Two good teams battling in a back and forth game and just enough time left at the end for Manning to engineer a game winning touchdown drive as time expired. San Diego punted with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter and the stadium was electric with hope and just waiting to explode when Reggie or Marvin or Dallas or Joseph crossed that goal line. Unfortunately, the Colts weren't able to convert on fourth down and gave the ball back to the Chargers with no timeouts. All the Chargers had to do was kneel down to run out the clock. The tension built up in the crowd never got to explode and we all left feeling unfulfilled.
I've been to two Colts games in the last three years and each time I've been surprisingly impressed with the Colts crowd. Of course, you have to remember that before 2005 the last time I'd been to a Colts game was when Mike Pagel was their quarterback. At that time, the crowd didn't have a whole lot to cheer about so there wasn't much opportunity for me to be impressed by the atmosphere of an NFL game. My, how things have changed in Indianapolis. Since Manning arrived, the Colts faithful have had something to cheer about and they make the most of it.
If you've ever watched a Colts game on TV, you've certainly heard the announcers talk about how loud the stadium gets. What you don't hear them talk about is how quiet the stadium is when the Colts are on offense. As soon as Manning & Co. step onto the field the crowd gets quiet as a mouse and you barely hear people talking. When the offense hits for a big play, the crowd goes nuts but then settles right back down again so that Manning can go through his gyrations and audibles. However, the moment the other team touches the ball the place erupts.
I have never heard anything louder than the RCA Dome on Sunday just after the Colts took a 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter. As soon as the Chargers got into their huddle, the crowd stood up and began to roar. Everyone was clapping, everyone was screaming or whistling. My chest was reverberating with the sound of 57,980 people screaming together in an attempt to will the defense to make a stop. Unfortunately, our best efforts were not enough. The defense couldn't make a stop and the offense couldn't put one last scoring drive together and now the fucking New England Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl.
Not that the Colts would have stopped them without Dwight Freeny.
Check out the pictures here.