“You forgive, you don’t forget.”
– Red Auerbach, 2004
As the sports world salutes the now-departed king of all things basketball in Boston, it’s appropriate to dredge up that statement, which he made to The Boston Globe in a 2004 story and encapsulated his long-standing bitterness towards all things Madison Square Garden, which he felt spurned his George Washington University team from a National Invitational Tournament trip back in the 1940s.
When one forgives, one move on. It doesn’t mean that anger and frustration over a certain circumstance fades; it’s simply an item that’s caught in the folds of one’s cerebellum. To forget is a different matter. Maybe it’s an ex-girlfriend who dumped you in the most dehumanizing fashion imaginable; on the rare moments you cross paths, you offer little more than a stare so cold that it could freeze an erupting volcano.
Forgiveness isn’t an issue with the Broncos and the Colts, who ended their seasons in 2004 and 2005 and also dealt them a heartbreaking overtime home loss in 2002. But to forget such defeats at the playoff losses — that’s something defensive coordinator Larry Coyer can’t do.
“They dominated us in every phase. Every phase. It was hard to get over,” Coyer said. “We were not competitive. But that’s in the past, this is a new deal, and you remember that, but you can’t let that affect what’s happening now. You learn from what happened, and you go forward.”
And for Coyer, it meant going forward with the memories in his mind as motivation for all the late nights year-round spent in his office, studying tape.
“Certainly it drives you,” he said. “It drives you crazy, but it drives you.”
And between the playoff losses, the Colts’ unbeaten status and the need to win for position in the AFC’s standings, there’s plenty to drive the Broncos on this Sunday.
A quick three-and-out of key issues on this game:
1. Offensive Line: Denver hasn’t endured the season-ending loss of a starting lineman at midseason since Tom Nalen tore his anterior cruciate ligament in 2002. The Broncos responded to Nalen’s injury by moving Ben Hamilton from left guard to center and sliding Steve Herndon in at Hamilton’s vacated slot. What will the Broncos do this time? The possibilities of using Erik Pears as they did last week and moving Cooper Carlisle to left tackle — at which he started for some games in college — and inserting Chris Kuper at Carlisle’s then-vacated right guard slot were brought up at Head Coach Mike Shanahan’s press conference last week.
2. Ground Game: Indianapolis has allowed a league-worst 5.2 yards per carry this year and ranks 31st in rushing defense with 158.0 yards against them per game. The Broncos’ average of 4.5 yards per carry ranks sixth in the league, and their per-game average of 143.3 yards a game is fourth. The Broncos have also been consistent, never rushing for less than 116 yards in a game this year with each of their other efforts ending with between 144 and 161 yards.
3. Indy’s No Huddle: John Lynch says that this is the game where the fans can have an impact. As he said Thursday: “People ask me all the time, ‘Can we really make a difference?’ Absolutely, this game, because the whole game’s called at the line of scrimmage, and it’s hard to communicate when they can’t hear, so if there’s ever a game that fans can help, this is the one.”
That’s three thoughts, and I’m out. Talk to you from the stadium.