So I was one for two in conference championship games, almost perfectly nailing the Colts 10+ point win with the Jets scoring less than 20 points, and just missing on the Vikings pulling out a close game. First, the Minnesota-New Orleans game. For a conference championship, that was one sloppy game. Neither team looked particularly worthy of a trip to the Superbowl. The Vikings fumbled, fumbled and fumbled some more, and the Saints took advantage of Minnesota’s inability to hold on to the ball, but their offense, particularly in the second half, was far less than overwhelming.
One thing I don’t get, however, is why no outcry about how that game ended. The Saints game winning overtime field goal was set up by not one, but two consecutive really bad calls. Now they may have won the game anyway, but they hadn’t been moving the ball in the second half at all, so quite possibly the worst pass interference call I’ve ever seen and a “completed” catch that was bobbled and pretty clearly hit the ground before the receiver had control of it set them up nicely without actually having to make a play. Nice clutch kick by a young kicker, by the way. Both of those calls were really bad, yet I haven’t seen anyone out there questioning them. Maybe it’s because the Saints are such a great story of redemption, and that’s more fun to write about that another Brett Favre gushing party; or maybe it’s because the Vikings didn’t really deserve to win with all the bad turnovers, I don’t know. But come one. Those were two really bad calls, back to back, that handed a win and a trip to the biggest game of all to the Saints. It’s still a victory, but a somewhat hollow one in my mind.
And here’s another question I had while watching the game. During Favre’s first interception in the third quarter, the Saints defender went low and hit Favre below the knees, hurting his ankle. Favre had to have it re-taped and was hobbling around the rest of the game. I was under the impression that this was supposed to be a 15-yard penalty. In fact, here’s the rule:
“The fifth provision of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 12 (roughing the passer) says that: “A rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting in the knee area or below a passer who has one or both feet on the ground, even if the initial contact is above the knee.”
Go back and watch the replay and tell me the defender didn’t go low, directly at Favre’s knees. But again, no call that would have nullified the interception, and set the Vikings up better for another score. The announcers didn’t even address the play, even after Favre was clearly hurt during it, and I have yet to see one word written anywhere in the press about it. I’m not suggesting anything untoward here, it’s just seems like the press is playing favorites, as in the great redemptive Saints rather than the annoying and self-indulgent Brett Favre. Still, the Vikings gave up too many chances in a game that, without all the fumbles, they could have won by two touchdowns, at least.
Anyway, here’s my take on the Superbowl.
Indianapolis Colts vs New Orleans Saints
If the Saints don’t play much, much better than they did at home in the NFC Championship Game, they’re going to get steamrolled. They won two playoff games that were essentially given to them by the opposition. The Cardinals fell apart and played no defense whatsoever, just like the second half the week before against the Packers, and the Vikings put up nearly 500 yards of offense, but kept coughing up the ball. The Colts on the other hand, basically shut down the Ravens completely, and did the same to New York in the second half. They’ve allowed all of 20 points in two games combined, beating two of the best defenses in the league fairly handily. Dwight Freeney’s injury may be a problem, maybe not, but I just don’t see the Colts losing this game.
But watch closely. The before-mentioned bad calls that helped the Saints beat Minnesota may rear up again in the Superbowl, and if they do, and if they help the Saints win, I’ll be very interested in seeing the media’s response to them this time. Winning one game set up by really bad calls is one thing, but for it to happen twice in two big games, if the press ignores that, then they will lose any and all credibility. I like the Saints, it’s great to see this long-suffering franchise have some prime-time success for a change but they have to win legitimately. Otherwise, it looks like a giveaway by the league.
Colts win in a blowout. Two rings for Peyton Manning and a trip to the top echelon of the best QB of all time discussions.