It was cold. It was gray. And the Indianapolis Colts had their collective horseshoe helmets handed to them.
But hey, congratulations on that division title!
Was the glass half empty or half full Sunday for the Colts? The good news came a thousand miles away, where Tennessee's loss in Denver clinched the AFC South for Indianapolis. But here in this zip code, another shredding. And once again, reason to wonder what has happened to this team since October, besides the obvious injuries.
"You never like to backdoor your way into the playoffs," Robert Mathis was saying after the Cincinnati Bengals blew past the Colts 42-28. "You want to build momentum, get things on the right track and keep them on the right track. But I'm not going to sneeze at a division title."
Nor should he. Indianapolis is champion of the South — but with issues.
This was the Colts' chance, against a fellow AFC contender, to show they were nearing postseason form. They didn't. For the third time in five games, an opponent put up 38 or more points. So what if Andrew Luck's passing arm went nuclear the second half? Seldom are 326 yards and four touchdowns so irrelevant.
"The Bengals beat our butts fair and square. There's no way to really mince those words," Luck said. "I don't want to get into where we are, who we are as a team. But I do know we are what we put on film, so we'll have to go back and look at that."
It was an afternoon of reward and punishment. Sunday gave the Colts the South, but also very likely stuck them with the No. 4 seed for good. Unable to go forward or backward in the playoff pecking order, Indianapolis' final three games will likely be academic.