by Kent Sterling
The ball is shaped funny and because of that football games don’t always end as they should. Remember Jackie Smith dropping the Roger Staubach pass in the 1970s in one of those delicious Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl losses? The guy plays 15 years – 14 with a terrible series of St. Louis Cardinals teams. He gets a shot to make a huge catch in the end zone for the Cowboys TD, and drops it. When you combine the shape of the irregular shape of the football with the odd emotional state of the players weird things happen, and those weird things did in the blue and white.
The first bad thing was the Pierre Garcon drop in the second quarter. If Garcon hangs on, the drive continues, and maybe the Colts go up 17-3. At that point, the Saints start thinking that it’s been a nice run.
Bad thing number two immediately followed the best play of the game for the Colts. Right after the Colts stone the Saints on fourth-and-goal from the one, Peyton Manning and the offense run it three times and fail to get the first down.
They got the ball back with just under two-minutes to play in the first half, and that is their bread and butter. They played it “smart” and decided that not attacking gave them the best chance at winning, and at that moment, the game changed. The Colts failed to get the first down, and gave the Saints excellent field position.
The last play of the half was a Saints field goal to bring the score to 10-6, and the Saints had life.
The third, and most obvious awful game-changing moment for the Colts happened on the very next play, right after the thoroughly excellent halftime performance by The Who. Sean Payton decided that he needed to reach into his bag of tricks to beat the Colts, and tried an onside kick.
The kick was directly at the guy with the worst hands on the team – Hank Baskett. I would rather see Jeff Saturday in open space running under a Manning pass over the middle than Baskett. As you might expect, Baskett took the kick right off his face mask, and the Saints rolled from that point forward.
The Saints never showed an ability to get to Manning, and minus a terrible throw to Wayne that IU grad Tracy Porter took back for the touchdown that iced it, he was locked and ready throughout the game.
The reason the Colts pay Bill Polian a lot of cash is to put as much thought into the 53rd guy on the roster as he did when the Colts drafted #18 in 1998. I’m sure Baskett was the best player available when Anthony Gonzalez went down in the season opener, but it was the miscue of that 53rd guy that really turned the game around for the Saints.
You never know in football. Sometimes, we think we know, but we don’t. If you told me that Joseph Addai was going to run like a man possessed, and that Manning would be laser sharp, I would have bet everything that the Colts would pummel the Saints. It looked as though exactly that was going to happen when the score was 10-0.
The sickening thing will be that Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams will be asked the secret of the Saints defense stopping Manning and the Colts offense when they did nothing of the sort. Williams, who looks like Mike Martz’s ugly daughter, did nothing but allow the Colts to march from one end of the field to the other.
If not for the Garcon drop, the decision not to attack at the end of the half, and the late game drop by Reggie Wayne, the Colts would have basically been able to do whatever they liked. Gregg Williams is an oaf.
In Super Bowl history, this game slots somewhere in the middle for excitement, but right toward the front in terms upsets. I know the line was 5.5 points, but the Colts showed tonight that if they had been able to make routine plays, they win by two touchdowns.
That’s life. The ball doesn’t always bounce the right way. So many tipped Brees passes tonight, and not a single one landed near a Colts defender. It sucks that they need to wait an entire year for another shot. These chances don’t come along very often.
One note…I told you on Monday that Dwight Freeney would play and be very effective. He was. All of the nonsense during the week about the ankle keeping him out was just that. One media outlet reported that Freeney was fine, and that was 1070 The Fan. Who Dat Gonna Beat Dem Fan?
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