Hey guys, if you're anything like me, you've spent pretty much the entire week looking for an article, a post, a thread, a conversation...*anything* that could make you feel better about the collapse of our beloved Bolts last Sunday. After all, it was supposed to be "our year", right?
Well, for me, nothing really helped. None of the articles made me feel like we were going to have any better chance next season than we had this season. And with LT's imminent departure, it seemed as though the disappointment was going to sting even worse.
That is, until I broke open the 2009 NFL Record & Fact Book prior to the AFC Championship Game, and found a team's very recent history that actually is eerily similar to ours...the Indianapolis Colts. The breakdown, and a glimmer of hope for Chargers fans, after the jump.
So here it is, and it's actually fairly simple. Prior to the 2006 season, when the Colts finally put it all together and won Super Bowl XLI, they had made trips to the playoffs in 6 of the previous 7 seasons. And each of those was with Peyton Manning.
In 1999, they won the AFC East (prior to re-alignment) with the second best record in the conference at 13-3. They were bounced in their first playoff game, 19-16 by Tennessee.
In 2000, they got into the playoffs as a wild card, and once again lost their first playoff game, this time to Miami.
They failed to make the playoffs in 2001.
In 2002, they returned to the playoffs as a wild card, and got drilled in their first playoff game, losing to the Jets 41-0.
In 2003, they won the AFC South with a 12-4 record, and lost the AFC Championship game to New England.
In 2004, they again won the AFC South at 12-4, but got bounced in the Divisional Round, again by New England.
In 2005, the year they must have thought was their year, they finished with the best record in the NFL at 14-2, but lost their first playoff game in heartbreaking fashion, missing a game-tying FG at the end of regulation, and falling to eventual Super Bowl XL Champion Pittsburgh 21-18.
I personally remember watching that game and thinking how awful it must have been to be a Colts fan at that time. Continued failures in the playoffs despite having a great QB and incredible regular season success. And oh, by the way, 2005 was the last year that Edgerrin James was seen in a Colts uniform. They won the Super Bowl the year after they allowed him to go play for Arizona.
So...4 straight trips to the playoffs (6 of 7 seasons overall). Multiple losses in the Divisional Round, with a lone trip to the AFC Championship in that time. A franchise QB, with an aging RB that was finally let walk the season before they won it all.
I know that the similarities are not exact, but as I looked it over before the Colts attempted to get to their 2nd Super Bowl in 4 years, I came to believe that the window is NOT closed. With Oakland, KC, and Denver all still trying to find themselves, the AFC West title is still very much a possibility (if not a probablility) next season. And with the Colts having set the precedent, it's very possible that next year could finally be the year that the Chargers deliver on the promise of seasons past.