Sunday, January 24, 2010

and the Super Bowl contenders are set

The first game today was for the AFC title, between the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets, in Indianapolis. There was no scoring in the first quarter, and the half ended with the Colts trailing the Jets, 13-17. Definitely not the game that was expected. But 17 points was all that the Jets would get, as they were shut out for the entire second half. And Peyton Manning showed why he was the MVP this year. The Colts scored two touchdowns and a field goal in the second half, giving the Colts a 30 to 17 victory over the Jets. It was a nice run, Jets, and you had a terrific year, and you defeated a lot of good opponents along the way. But running into the brick wall that is Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts does have an effect on teams. And this was *so* not the Manning and Colts that the Jets defeated earlier in the season. So the Indianapolis Colts advanced as the AFC participant in the Super Bowl in two weeks.

The second game was for the NFC title, between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings, in New Orleans. And it was a battle, a dead heat between the two teams, trading scoring drives with each other. The Vikings had two touchdowns in the first quarter but were shut out in the second. The Saints had a touchdown in each of the first two quarters, so at half-time, there was a 14-14 tie. Each of the teams scored a touchdown in each of the third and fourth quarters, locked in a 28-28 tie with about 19 seconds to go in the game, but the Vikings were driving, just about within range of a game-winning field goal. And on third down, the Vikings had 12 men on the field and were penalized. And on 3rd and 15, the inevitable happened - Brett Favre got hurried and hassled, and he made a bad decision, and he threw an interception, bringing the Vikings' drive to a screeching halt. And the game went into overtime. The Vikings called the coin toss and loss, so the Saints got the ball. And they drove, starting with a good punt return that ended on their own 39, and they kept marching their way across the field, including going for it on a 4th down and getting it, extending their drive. And they ended up at 4th and 3 on the 22 yard line of the Vikings. And the kicker came out to try a field goal. And he made the 40 yard field goal, giving the New Orleans Saints the win over the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 31 to 28. The Saints are the NFC participant in the Super Bowl, up against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, February 7.

And the part of me that's angry at Brett Favre for not being able to decide what he wants to do, at the expense of holding an entire team hostage (ok, well, actually, three teams over the past few years), rather enjoyed that the demise of the Vikings came directly at his hands, that it was his customary bad throw for an interception that cost the Vikings a potential game-winning field goal attempt. And when the game went into overtime, the Vikings never had the ball, so Brett had to just stand on the sidelines, watching the Saints march down the field, and there wasn't a damn thing he could do to help his team. I wasn't ever a huge fan of Brett Favre, but I respected him for what he did, even when I also knew about and saw the many times he had a penchant for really horrible passes that were then intercepted and caused his team to lose. But, when he retired from the Green Bay Packers, I gave him his due as one of the best that had ever played the game, even as I'd been unhappy about his waffling for the prior couple years about whether or not he was coming back each year, and each year, the Packers put their team on hold for him. And finally, one year, they didn't want to put their entire team on hold anymore. And they gave him time, but they asked for a decision. And he chose not to return, to retire, and the Packers moved on. And then Brett started claiming that the Packers pushed him into making a decision too fast, into a decision he didn't want to make, and he wanted to come back. And he was stunned that they weren't bowing at his feet. And in the end, he went to play for the New York Jets. And he played horribly. And again, he was retiring. And then not. At the last minute, he decided to play for the Minnesota Vikings, another team that decided to put their entire team (and their then-quarterback) on hold for him. And he ended up doing really well, which made me madder that I couldn't be happy for him because of his prima donna antics. OK, he didn't want to go to training camp because he's such a veteran, he doesn't need it. But what about the new teammates, people who mostly had never played with him before? Didn't they need time to get used to their new quarterback, to develop a rhythm and a rapport? Where was his sense of team spirit in doing what was best for the team, not just what he wanted to do? I was sorry that the Dallas Cowboys crumbled so easily in their playoff game against the Vikings, but at least now, for the last two weeks of the season, I don't have to hear about Favre anymore. Well, at least other than another round of "will he retire and stay retired" roulette. Be done, Brett, and let me try to respect you again for your accomplishments.

But, otherwise, it's onward to the Super Bowl. I'm a total fan of Peyton Manning, so I will be rooting heartily for the Colts, but if that doesn't happen, I'd still be fine with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints winning, so it's gonna be fun either way.

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