Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Saints

- Everyone's calling it an upset, but even though yes, I did pick the Colts to win yesterday, I wasn't surprised at all that the Saints were able to take down the Colts yesterday. do not lie, and if I run 3 sims that all tell me the Saints win that game, I pay attention.

The game was pretty entertaining, although not on the all-time classic level that Giants/Patriots and Steelers/Cardinals had given us the last two years. Unlike those other 2 games, there really was no doubt at the end of this one who the better team was. The Saints went on a 31-7 run after falling behind 10-0 early, and when you're able to get off the mat in your franchises first Super Bowl ever, knowing that only team had ever before come back from a 10 point deficit to win in the Super Bowl, and go on a 31-7 run, then you deserve to be the Super Bowl Champs.

No matter how exciting or boring the Super Bowl is though, it's always interesting to see for this one game how the stars align and how individuals perform. It's interesting to see how the superstars are able to deal with the intense spotlight of the season's ultimate game, and which no-names will be suddenly thrust into key roles (David Tyree hellooooo).

So here's a rundown of who I felt the key cast of characters turned out to be yesterday, and why.

Sean Payton
I guess I have to question the wisdom of coaching the Super Bowl the same way I would coach a game of Madden after 3 Coronas at 2 in the morning, but hey, Sean Payton has a Super Bowl ring now and in the media's mind it will always be mostly due to him doing an onside kick to start the second half. Never mind that really the move made no sense from a risk/reward standpoint. If it doesn't work, you're giving the Colts the ball on the 40 and your now down at least 7 points instead of 4 and maybe down 11. If it does work, which it did, you're getting the ball on your own 40 and there's no guarantee of anything. But hey, it worked so he's a genius I guess.

Jim Caldwell
The Colts rookie head coach had the reputation all year long of being nothing but a headset wearing cipher who only had the title of head coach because the Colts couldn't just officially recognize the reality that Peyton Manning is their head coach. Can't say he did anything to refute that here. In my mind, the moment this game really went in the crapper for the Colts was the moment Caldwell decided to send 51 year old Matt Stover out to kick a 51 yard field goal with the Colts up by 1 in the second half. There is no way Stover is going to make that kick. So basically you're giving the Saints the ball at midfield and conceding the lead to them. That decision changed the whole face of the game and the Colts never recovered from that. The smart thing to do would have been to have punted, pinned the Saints back deep, and make them earn the lead. Aside from this, how do you go up 10-0 and then just completely fall apart and let the other team outscore you 31-7 the rest of the way? It was like he tried nuthin and was all out of ideas.

Garrett Hartley
I think you really could make a case that the Saints' kicker was the MVP of this game. The Saints scored only 1 TD for the first three quarters. Hartley kept them in the game by just absolutely drilling 3 40+ yard field goals. All of them were right down the middle and all of them would have been good from another 10 to 15 yards out. Having a reliable kicker that could hit from long distance gave the Saints an air of confidence when they were on the Colts side of the field.

Matt Stover
Conversely, the Colts kicking game was absolutely the opposite. Everytime the Colts had the ball, it felt like they thought it was touchdown or bust because they had absolutely no confidence in their kicker. I don't think it's a coincidence that after Stover missed that 51 yard field goal attempt that under no circumstances should he have been made to attempt, the Colts did not score again. They'd drive down the field, then seize up because they felt like they had to get in the end zone to get any points at all.

Drew Brees
Brees won the MVP, but it really wasn't a dazzling performance. He had all day to throw, and the Colts' back 7 was giving the Saints anything they wanted underneath. It was like the Colts had absolutely no hope of keeping the Saints from moving the chains, and in reality they didn't, not when you let the opposing QB complete 32 of 39 pass attempts. The Saints are known as a big play offense, but they didn't have a gain of more than 27 yards in this game. Instead it was just death by 1000 cuts for the Colts.

Peyton Manning
Manning didn't play bad, I mean he threw for 333 yards. It was really disappointing though that he's expected to be a cold blooded assassin in situations like the one he was presented with at the end of the game, down 7 in the Super Bowl with plenty of time to tie it. I fully expected him to take the Colts right down the field, get them in the end zone, and either send it into OT or give Brees a chance to bring the Saints quickly down the field and win it in the waning seconds. Either way, it would have given us our third straight classic Super Bowl. Instead, he threw a pick 6, and that was the end of the game with a little under 5 minutes left.

Reggie Wayne
I hold Reggie Wayne more than a little responsible for Manning looking less than fantastic. You can argue that Wayne ran a shitty route on that game ending INT, and that he could have done more to break up that pass. He didn't really go balls out on the last pass of the game that could have been a TD either. You don't have to argue at all though when you look at his stat line and see he caught just 5 passes for 46 yards and was pretty much a non-factor.

Reggie Bush
It's funny how along with Brees he's the face of the franchise, but usually he doesn't do all that much. He had 9 touches for 63 yards in this game, so at 7 yard per you have to say at the very least he was effective. You also can't argue that he had a much better day than the other guy on the field with a reality star girlfriend/wife.

Hank Baskett
The one chance this guy actually has to do something notable on the football field that justifies him marrying one of the ex-Girls Next Door, and what does he do? He has an onside kick bounce off his face. He couldn't have looked more unprepared for that if he was out there texting Kendra and sipping a beer margarita.

Joseph Addai
One of the few Colts to show up. He ran hard, breaking tackles finding holes. He had 130 yards from scrimmage and a TD. Of course, this being the Colts they abandoned the running game even though it was obvious the Saints had no intention of stopping it. Wouldn't it have maybe been a good idea to play some ball control and keep the ball away from the Saints and keep your shitty defense off the field? I think if Addai got 20-25 carries yesterday, the Colts win. And yes, I know everyone runs more when they win, I'm talking about the Colts making a point of getting Addai those carries regardless of the score.

Pierre Thomas
Undrafted guy beats media star Reggie Bush to be the Saints feature back, and scores a TD in a Super Bowl win. That's a nice story.

Dwight Freeney
After 2 weeks of breathless updates on the status of his ankle, he was able to numb it enough to make it thru the first half and get a sack. After halftime the pain came back and he may as well have been running on his hands.

Jeremy Shockey
Ugh. The one feel-bad moment was this throbbing palacio can now say he scored the winning TD in the Super Bowl.

Tracy Porter
Taking a cue from his head coach, he took a gamble and it paid off big when he jumped Reggie Wayne's half assed route, picked it off and took it all the way to seal the Super Bowl win. It's moments like this and like Larry Fitzgerald's breakaway TD in last year's Bowl that really make me wish I could be a football player too.

Pete Townshend
I'm not a huge Who fan, but I loved that he refused to smash the guitar at the end of their set. Just paused and then set it down. I thought that was pretty cool.

So that was the Super Bowl in all it's bloated glory. Tomorrow I'll run down Sunday's futbol action, but figured the Bowl deserves a stand-alone entry today.

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