“Our offensive line, by our standards, did not have a good game,” Polian said of Sunday’s performance. “They were outplayed by the Saints’ defensive line. Our special teams, in terms of handing the ball — both in the return game and on the onside kick — were outplayed by the Saints. Therein lies the result. It had nothing to do with strategy or preparedness or toughness or effort.”
This, of course, isn’t the first time the Colts’ offensive line has been criticized after a playoff loss. QB Peyton Manning said there were “problems in protection” following a loss to the Steelers in the 2005 AFC divisional round.
The Colts’ offensive line even went through some changes before the season started. Former left guard Charlie Johnson moved to left tackle, sending Tony Ugoh to the bench, and Ryan Lija shifted to left guard. But the unit played well enough for the Colts to go 14-0 when which the offensive starters played the entire game, plus two impressive playoff wins.
Polian said the Super Bowl simply came down to execution.
“… There were certain situations throughout the game where we didn’t execute — most notably, the failure to get the first down and run the clock out at the end of the first half after a magnificent goal-line stand and then, of course, the failure to handle the onside kick,” Polian said. “We had four things we could have done positively on that play. We didn’t do any of them. That absolutely changed the game. It went from our getting the ball on their 40-yard line to having them march down for a touchdown. Then, our inability to punch it in from first-and-goal on the 3. Those situations, we did not execute.”