Colts in Super Bowl? Snow way

January 08, 1996|By KEN ROSENTHAL

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A blizzard hits. The CFL Stallions pack their bags. And the Indianapolis Colts move within one victory of the Super Bowl.

Nervous breakdowns, anyone?

OK, the Stallions' expected departure for Houston is no big deal, except to all those local businesses waiting for owner Jim Speros to pay his bills.

This Colts thing, however, is truly frightening.

They won at San Diego on a 70-degree day. They won at Kansas City on a near-zero day. And now they're headed to Pittsburgh for the AFC title game.

The blizzard, the Stallions, the Colts.

What's next, the Browns staying in Cleveland?

The Colts beat the team with the best record in the NFL yesterday. They beat a team that was unbeaten at home this season. They beat a team that supposedly had a chance to break the AFC's Super Bowl jinx.

"Not bad for a bunch of ragamuffins," quarterback Jim Harbaugh said.

Colts 10, Chiefs 7.

Heaven help us.

No, heaven help the NFL.

"Dead-end kids," that's how coach Ted Marchibroda described the Colts. Such a heartwarming tale, until you remember the team is owned by Mr. Heartless, Robert Irsay.

An Indianapolis-Green Bay Super Bowl, that's what we're rooting for. The TV ratings would be worse than C-Span's. Heck, the Grey Cup final between Baltimore and Calgary featured bigger markets.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, desperate to apply a positive spin, will blather on about the return to prominence of two of the NFL's most storied franchises.

Say it, you creep:

Bal-ti-more.

Colts-Packers would be a rematch of the 1965 playoff classic at Lambeau Field, a 13-10 victory by Green Bay in overtime.

Colts-Cowboys?

A replay of Super Bowl V.

Tagliabue must be bursting with pride: The Colts finished the regular season 9-7, and stormed into the playoffs on a 5-5 rampage.

They'll need to beat Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 1971, but why doubt them?

"If you want to jump on the bandwagon," linebacker Quentin Coryatt crowed, "jump on the bandwagon now."

But first, check the weather forecast and make sure it's snowing in Baltimore. Under such conditions, the Colts always find themselves on the move.

Actually, the Steelers should clobber the Colts, but they didn't look so invincible against Buffalo on Saturday. Meanwhile, Marshall Faulk is expected to return for the Colts, after missing the last two weeks with a knee injury.

What, no more Zack Crockett?

Tom Matte can rest easy now.

Come to think about it, maybe the Colts are better off without Faulk. The Chiefs ranked third in the NFL against the run, but the Colts rushed for 147 yards yesterday -- 76 by second-year back )) Lamont Warren, 48 by Harbaugh.

Their 18-play, 77-yard, touchdown drive in the second quarter lasted nearly nine minutes and tied the score. The Colts converted five times on third down, and once on fourth.

"We were totally winging it," Harbaugh said, "flying by the seat of our pants."

The Chiefs, everyone loved the Chiefs. Turns out they were another AFC fraud, like the four-time Super Bowl loser Bills and maybe even the Steelers, who, in case you've forgotten, choked at home in last year's AFC title game.

Steve Bono? He played like Sonny Bono, throwing three second-half interceptions, then getting benched for the final drive in favor of Rich Gannon. The Colts were so amused, they spent much of the game taunting Bono.

"You're having a bad day," defensive back Ray Buchanan recalled them saying. "You've got a heavy load on you. How do you feel? Do you got that sick feeling in your stomach?"

Chiefs kicker Lin Elliott must have. He missed field goals of 35, 39 and 42 yards -- the last with 42 seconds remaining and a chance to send the game into overtime.

The field was frozen, Elliott missed wide left from the right hash mark -- no easy feat. The bum. If he had made the kick, he could have run for mayor of Baltimore.

"It might have looked like I was shaky mentally," Elliott said, "but I really thought I hit the ball."

He didn't, and now the Colts are 60 minutes away from the Super Bowl. What were the preseason odds of that happening? Buchanan figured a million-to-1.

Baltimore can relate to those odds.

It was White Sunday; it was Black Sunday.

The CFL champion Stallions are leaving. The Colts are in the AFC title game. The stinko Browns are coming -- maybe.

Hey, look at the bright side. The last two times Baltimore had blizzards -- 1979 and '83 -- the Orioles went to the World Series.

Maybe we should just stick to baseball.

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