It's a very special Christmas episode of HBO's Hard Knocks In Season: The Indianapolis Colts.
As the Colts prepare to play the Cardinals in Arizona on Christmas Day, COVID-19 has decimated the team, knocking out three starters on the offensive line, including four-time Pro Bowl guard Quenton Nelson.
Hours before kickoff, three more starters are found to be positive, including All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard.
Between injuries, personal matters and COVID, the Colts are down eight starters.
It's not quite a Christmas miracle, but Carson Wentz comes up clutch in the fourth quarter to put the Colts up 22-13. The Cardinals kick a late field goal to pull to within a score, but it's all over when the onside kick is recovered by the Colts.
As narrator Liev Schreiber says, "playing your best when things are at their worst is more than clutch, it's genuine leadership."
After a dismal 1-4 start, the Colts improve their record to 9-6, on the cusp of the postseason with two games remaining, at home against the Raiders and at Jacksonville.
- Defensive line coach Brian Baker compares scrambling quarterback Kyler Murray to the gingerbread man. "Run, run as fast as you can! You can't catch me. I am the Gingerbread Man!" Cut to defensive tackle DeForest Buckner eating a cookie. BUT IS IT A GINGERBREAD COOKIE?
- Seven Colts players -- more than other team -- are selected for the Pro Bowl, including Nelson, Leonard, Buckner, running back Jonathan Taylor, center Ryan Kelly, long snapper Luke Rhodes and cornerback Kenny Moore II. After the selections are celebrated, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton steps up and delivers an impassioned speech to inspire the team.
- The team's "White Elephant" gift exchange shows that players love Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, wine and cash while Buckner gifts the entire defensive line electric scooters ($3,400 base price according to the PHAT website).
And there's your Hard Knocks recap. Hope everybody is enjoying the holidays and here's to an even better 2022.