Friday, January 15, 2010

Baltimore gets another shot at Colts

David White, Chronicle Staff Writer
(01-15) 21:34 PST -- There are ordinary playoff games, like the Jets-Chargers in the "Umm, Do I Know You?" Bowl. There are memory-laned playoff games, such as the Cowboys-Vikings in the "Hail Mary Reunion" Bowl.

Then, there's the "We Hate You for Stealing Our Team, So Just Die" Bowl. That would be the Ravens vs. the Colts.
Just ask John Ziemann, president of Baltimore's Marching Ravens. He joined the Baltimore Colts' Marching Band as a percussionist in 1962, but the band's namesake marched to Indianapolis some 26 years ago.
"March 28, 1984," Ziemann said without having to look it up. "That did it for me. When they left, it tore my heart out."
Now, Ziemann and an entire city want to see the Ravens rip the cardiac out of Indianapolis, something they failed to do in the divisional round three years ago (visiting Colts 15, Ravens 6 in the "" Bowl).
Oh, you thought Baltimoreans got over the Mayflower journey? As if. They remain as crabby as their cakes. They want nothing more than to make one-and-dones of the top-seeded Colts.
"They say time heals all wounds, but I think we'll always have the wound about the team leaving," Ziemann said.
Here's the twist in all this bitterness: To beat the team that stole away in the Baltimore night, they'll use the team they stole away from Cleveland in 1996.
So, let's get this straight: The old Baltimore management is evil for leaving but the new Baltimore management is gloried for coming. Wonder how Cleveland feels about its short end of the stick.
"Things worked out for us," Ziemann said. "We have a new stadium and we beat the Colts to the Super Bowl."
Good luck beating the Colts back to the Super Bowl. Indianapolis is 14-2, with indifference to perfection all that kept it from 16-0.
Peyton Manning is the best Colts quarterback since Johnny Unitas. He has zoomed past all his childhood hero's passing numbers while winning a league-record four MVPs.
And by the way, Manning has beaten the Ravens seven straight times. That includes the 2006-07 playoff win at Baltimore.
But this game isn't in Baltimore, where Manning never will be Unitas and the horseshoe helmet never will be the same. This is in Indianapolis, and that gives the Ravens a chance.
The Ravens are 6-2 on the postseason road since their 1996 rebirth. No NFL team has a better postseason winning percentage with away jerseys than that.
And so what if the Colts are the No. 1 seed? So were the Titans last year, and the wild-card Ravens won at their place in the divisional round. Their road to the 2000-01 Super Bowl went through the house of a No. 1 seed.
Indianapolis' version of the Colts has held the top seed just once, in 2005. The Colts lost their first playoff game, one of three home losses in the divisional round under Manning.
Ziemann and the Marching Ravens won't be there to see if the Colts finally get theirs. He'd love nothing more than to see the Colts get sent packing on Baltimore's terms.
Maybe then, Baltimore can get over it.
"Oh, hell yeah," Ziemann said. "There's no way two ways about it."

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