What a wonderful afternoon and evening of football watching ! I thoroughly enjoyed it and not just because both the Colts and the Saints won. They were the the teams I was rooting for but even had they lost I’d still have enjoyed myself. Both games were absorbing for different reasons. In the first, the Jets gave the Colts all they could handle for 30 minutes before Peyton Manning put on a clinic . In the second game, the outcome was in doubt until the end. Minnesota had a great chance to win it in regulation but first a silly penalty and then a Favre brain-freeze saw the Saints book their tickets for Miami.
Jets @ Colts : The Jets have to be proud of their performance yesterday. For awhile it looked like they were going to win as they used trick plays to jump out to a 11 point lead and twice held the Colts to FG’s. Down 17-6 , the Colts seemed to be in serious trouble but Manning showed why he is considered one of the greatest QB’s of all time as he spread the ball around delivering pinpoint passes to his receiving corps and took the Jet defense apart. Who needs Marvin Harrison when you ‘ve got Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie in addition to Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark ? Even Indy’s weak running attack was not a liability yesterday. I was very impressed with the demeanor of Indy coach Caldwell who never even seemed to break a sweat. His coolness under fire and his low key persona were very reminscent of Tony Dungy, his mentor and predecessor.
Peyton Manning’s greatness is such that we expect him to perform as he did yesterday but the stellar play of the Colt defense was a bit of a surprise. The pass rush, with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, is always relentless but the secondary really came through yesterday. After the early TDs that it gave up, it stiffened and held the Jets at bay the rest of the way. Shonn Greene’s departure with injury hurt the Jets but I don’t think that it had any effect on the final result. The Colts would still have won had Greene been in for the entire game. There are several things Jets fans can be optimistic about. For one, Mark Sanchez ( 17/30. 2TD, 1 Int ) looks like a franchise QB . He played with poise and discipline and the late interception was not his fault. The defense was inspired and Darrell Revis was all that he was cracked up to be. Rex Ryan (I hate his personality) is a very good coach and has the team playing together in a way they haven’t done for years. The future looks good for the Jets.
Vikings @ Saints : I expected a shootout and a narrow Saints win but not the way it happened. For one thing, the potent Saint offense was stymied most of the game by the Viking pass rush which gave Brees little time to react. For another, the Saints defense played unexpectedly well though some of their hits on Favre were questionable. All credit to Favre ( not one of my favorites) for standing tall and almost pulling of the game. If it hadn’t been for the turnovers , Minnesota should have won going away. The stats reflect their dominance as they marched up and down the field only to make critical mistakes. The Saints were playing from behind most of the game and I thought for sure Minnesota was going to pull it off when they were threatening at the Saint 35 with just over a minute to go. The ensuing Vikings penalty for too many men on the field was inexcusable , espescially since it occured immediately after a time-out. The penalty put them just out of FG range. Even so, on third down , Favre missed a chance to win the game when he scrambled and threw the ball across the middle rather than run for 8-10 yards more . Those few yards would have allowed the Vikings to go for a FG and , with Ryan Longwell waiting on the sidelines , it would have been a game-clincher. Instead Favre ‘s pass was intercepted in an play eerily reminscent of the Packers- Giants playoff game two years ago. Then too, Favre had thrown an interception as the Giants proceeded to win the game in OT.
This is the first game in which Drew Brees and the Saints offense looked ordinary. The Viking pass rush hurried him all day and Reggie Bush was of no help. A glaring failure was their repeated inability to convert on third and short. Meanwhile, Favre and the Minnesota offense were gaining huge chunks of yardage only to cough the ball up in crucial situations. I’ve got to admire Favre for standing tall, absorbing the punishment from the Saints pass-rushers , and still delivering strikes again and again. Now that the Vikings are done for thhe season, there will be the inevitable questions about Favre and whether he will head off into retirement. After seeing the crunching blows his 40 year old body had to absorb yesterday, I hope he calls it quits . It’s not as if he hasn’t won a Super Bowl. Based on his career thus far , he is a lock for the Hall of Fame , and there is nothing left to prove. Whatever he decides, whenever he decides, I hope that he sticks by his decision and spares us his soap opera of ” Will he ? Won’t he ?” That’s getting old.
Super Bowl: I see that the Colts have been installed as early 4 – point favorites for the Super Bowl. Based on yesterday’s game, the Vikings might have provided a sterner test for the Colts. For the Saints to win, their offense will have to click on all cylinders to offset Peyton Manning. No matter how well the Saints defense plays , I can’t see them shutting down Manning. Will the Saints offense be able to put a lot of points on the board against the Colt defense ? I don’t think so.( With or without the points) , I think the Colts will win the Super Bowl for the second time.