Monday, February 08, 2010
SUPER BOWL RECAP
What a game, much closer and more exciting than the final score suggests. In fact, the last three Super Bowls have all been instant classics.
Coming into the game, the primary storyline and general consensus was that this would be Peyton Manning's coronation as King of QBs. And while the Saints had a more compelling backstory, their mere presence in the Big Game was victory enough for the City of New Orleans. The Saints were definitely David against Goliath.
During the postgame malarkey, the media kept talking about the Saints' "comeback." But they only fell behind 10-0. Their offense struggled to get going, but give credit to their defense for keeping it a 10-0 deficit.
The Saints adjusted their passing routes, and took advantage of the ample time Drew Brees had in the pocket. Apart from Freeney's one-handed sack, Brees was hardly ever rushed, always had a clear line of sight, and had excellent passing lanes. A Saints field goal, combined with the Colts going 3 and out, was the turning point of the game. And it came 7 minutes into the 2nd quarter.
The Saints were a 4th & goal at the 1, off tackle rushing play away from tying the game as early as the 2nd quarter. But even after that failed, the Saints' defense stopped Manning in the 2 minute drill, giving Garrett Hartley another chance at a long field goal.
Garrett Hartley is a bit of an unsung hero in this game. Not only was he a clutch in the NFC Championship, but he all three of his field goals, all over 44 yards. Kickers have really struggled this postseason, but Hartley was 5/5, with all of his kicks 40+ yarders.
The Saints were super aggressive to start the 2nd half. They were also extremely confident in their defense, which had adapted to Manning and the Colts.
Going for it on 4th and Goal, trying a random onside kick, I was reminded of Bill Belichick. In 2005, the Patriots tried an onside kick in the 3rd quarter of an eventual loss to the Colts. And we all remember 4th & 2. It's amazing how much execution can make a coach look good.
The onside kick set up a Saints touchdown, which was good because the Colts' offense woke up on the next drive with a touchdown of their own.
The Saints answered with a field goal to retake the lead at 17-16. It was starting to look like this would be an offensive slugfest, with the last team with the ball winning. But it wasn't. The Colts were shutout in the 4th quarter.
The New Orleans defense, unsung heroes for the 2 weeks leading up to the Super Bowl (for the whole season really), and still unsung heroes, stopped the Colts, and forced a long field goal attempt, that was short and to the left. The game was over, even though nobody yet knew it.
Brees engineered a 58 yard touchdown drive that consisted of 2 runs and 7 short passing plays. Only one play of the drive was longer than 10 yards, and that was a Reggie Bush run. The Saints' offensive adjustments were complete, they took advantage of the time Brees had in the pocket to send their big receivers on complicated and involved patterns. This left players open underneath or on comeback routes, and with room to advance once they caught the ball.
But the outcome was still in doubt, down by 7 with 5:42 left is supposedly when Peyton "Best QB Ever" Manning shines. And he did advance the ball into Saints territory. But as I've mentioned, the Saints had adjusted. Tracy Porter smelled the ball, and picked off Manning. It was vintage Ty Law.
To put an exclamation point on the 31-17 win, the Saints defense came up with a goal-line stand as the clock ticked away.
The Saints deserved this win, as a team, not just because of Katrina or anything. They played well, and actually wanted to go undefeated, unlike the Colts.
Brees was the MVP of the game, but the Saints won as a team. From Hartley to Bush, to Colston, Henderson, Shockey, and the entire defense. And Sean Payton, too, who wasn't afraid of being second guessed. He knew that winners are aggressive, losers are passive. He went for the win and his players executed.
Fuck Tony Dungee