Well, it’s over. Football season is over. Can I hibernate until September? It’s the day after Super Bowl XLIV, so let the over-analysis begin:
- I’m going to assume that all of you saw the game. If not, you’re one of about 20 people who didn’t. Go watch the highlights.
- The onside kick to start the second half was the gutsiest call I’ve ever seen. Who does that?!? Although the game was close at the half, the Saints hadn’t been able to get into the endzone, and it seemed as though the Colts could take off at any moment and leave New Orleans in the dust. All year long, Peyton Manning & Co. had been doing some of their best work on the last drive of the first half (ask the Ravens and Jets) and on long drives to start the second half. The Saints were able to manage the game in a way that kept the Colts from taking advantage of such possessions, which was huge in keeping the game close until Drew Brees fully ascended into god mode.
- Watch the onside kick again. It gives me chills, you can feel the momentum shifting.
- I’m not going to say Jim Caldwell got out-coached because I’m not really sure what impacts his decisions have on the game. Some people joke that Peyton Manning is the real coach, and while that’s obviously not true, Sean Payton gives the Saints an edge with his willingness to take chances and be proactive, rather than just sitting back at watching. Caldwell has no NFL track record outside of being part of the Dungy-Manning era. It’s hard to image him being apart of this team post-Manning. Even if they won the Super Bowl, there wouldn’t be many teams begging him to come coach their franchise. It’s nothing personal though, he seems like a nice guy and everyone likes a big tipper.
- With yet another playoff loss, Peyton Manning’s legacy takes another hit. I’d never been a fan of Manning, having seen him come up small in the playoffs time after time. But this year, it seemed like things were different. He was leading them on game-winning drives in game after game and they made it through to the Super Bowl with relative ease. But again, their season ends in a loss. Clearly he’s one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but a second Super Bowl would have been huge in as far as moving him up, perhaps to #1. A 9-9 playoff record is far from impressive, especially considering two of his contemporaries, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, boast 14-4 and 8-2 records, respectively. So what’s the problem? It’s hard to say. To call him a choker seems crass, but he couldn’t make the few throws needed to fill the one hole in his otherwise glowing resume and for now he’s stuck amongst a long list of one-time champion QBs in the fine company of Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer.
- Sadly, the 16-0 talk will still live on. Had the Colts won yesterday, a case could have been made for resting your starters the final weeks of the season, and while their playoff success seems to make it clear it had no impact, critics of the Polian/Caldwell decision won’t be going away anytime soon.
- I think most everyone appreciates the sentimentality that comes from having a once-devastated win in all, but it’s time to let the Katrina talk go. The media has created one too many dramatic photo montages. They’re back. We understand. Thanks for letting me know ESPN.
- One more quick link: this is one of my favorite blogs. Awesome photos all the time: Boston.com – Big Shots – Super Bowl XLIV.
Well that wraps up another NFL season. 73 days until the draft; enjoy a steady dose of Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. Thanks for reading.