Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

The pursuit of perfection vs the goal of a championship


Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell watches his team play against the New York Jets during their NFL game in Indianapolis December 27, 2009. REUTERS/Brent SmithIndianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell stressed all season that his goal was a Super Bowl victory, not an undefeated season. He felt his team had a better chance at capturing the Lombardi Trophy if he could keep them rested and healthy.

With their place atop the AFC secured, Caldwell pulled many of his key starters in the third quarter against the New York Jets two weeks ago. The result was a 29-15 loss, ending any hope of the Colts joining the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only NFL team to go undefeated for an entire season.

Some said that by pulling his starters, Caldwell was tampering with the integrity of the game. As former Jets coach Herm Edwards famously said, “you play to win the game.”

Others felt the Colts, or any team that enters the final few weeks of the regular season with nothing to gain from a win, earned the right to decide who plays and who rests.