Audibles at the Line
Unfiltered in-game observations by Football Outsiders staff

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Bill Barnwell

Each weekend, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching.

On Sunday night, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

Please also note that we do not write the e-mails specifically to produce this column, so we might not discuss every aspect of the game to the level we do in our other articles.

First Half

Bill Barnwell: We (me and Aaron) were surprised here by the Saints' decision to go deep on third and short to start. Think that's reasonable.

Dallas Clark dominating early against Harper/Shanle et al. My choice for Super Bowl MVP. Saints are throwing out a bunch of weird looks -- 3-4, blitzes all on the edges -- but no pressure.

Tom Gower: Saints D showing the 3-4 look the opening drive. They may be bringing extra guys sometimes, but it's not Rex Ryan-style creativity, so Peyton isn't having much trouble with it. Plus, it's extra edge pressure-nothing up to loosen up the middle and bringing extra guys there, which is what I thought they needed to do.

Doug Farrar: Saints seem to be doing to Freeney what they did to Jared Allen -- take the inside rush off of Bushrod and push him into Carl Nicks.

Will Carroll: It's the wrong thing to do - Freeney's more challenged by a hit to the outside. Letting him inside is letting him off the hook.

Doug Farrar: They’re probably going to be better off playing back a bit, allowing the short stuff, and preventing anything after the catch. They have the skill players to make that happen. The completion to Collie on the first drive was off a more aggressive approach – Example #1,786,345 of “If you go after Manning, you’d better get there”. Defense seems more effective when they’re dropping guys as opposed to extra aggressiveness.

Mike Tanier: Yes: Lots of 3-4 look by the Saints. I think they may be trying to get 8 men in coverage at times.

First Colts drive was their typical water-torture drip.

It was cool to see Matt Stover in that commercial with Betty White. I loved Stover in Barney Miller.

Aaron Schatz: Saints seem to be playing primarily 3-3-5, since the Colts generally have Clark flexed or go three-wide. As I mentioned in the preview, Greer always plays on the defensive left, and that means he is playing on Pierre Garcon. Honestly, I'm surprised they've actually thrown to Garcon twice given the drop in quality between Greer and everyone else. Tracy Porter's on Wayne, and colossal black hole seems to be assigned to Dallas Clark.

Also, I forgot to mention in the preview: The Saints don't just blitz a lot. They also rush only three a lot. They rushed only three 13 percent of pass plays, third in the NFL. They're doing a lot of rush-three tonight out of 3-4 or 3-3-5.

Two offensive drives for Saints. Where's all the funky formation stuff? So far, they've only used actual wide receivers at wide receiver. This lack of the unexpected is quite unexpected.

Super Bowl MVP after 10 minutes: Courtney Roby!

Tom Gower: To answer William Butler Yeats' question, the center can sort of hold. The Colts DL is moving the Saints OL and they're getting close to Brees, but it feels like they'll be getting to him later.

Will Carroll: So is it 3-3-5 for the Saints vs 3-4?

Tom Gower: They've been running both, but regardless, three defensive linemen rather than the usual four.

David Gardner: Nice to see that Joseph Addai has been keeping himself fresh all season in preparation for this game.

Aaron Schatz: Joseph Addai's numbers today have are due to "Joseph Addai is fresh" in the same way Reggie Wayne's numbers against the Jets two weeks ago were due to "Reggie Wayne sucks ass."

Bill Barnwell: Early candidate for stupidest Phil Simms quote -- suggesting that Wayne would see single coverage because Garcon had a big game last week. Listen -- I want to believe it when I read about commentators watching tons of film, and Phil Simms knows a lot more about X's and O's than I do. But I mean -- this isn't rocket science. You don't think Darrelle Revis has anything to do with Wayne having a bad day? Or that Greer might line up against Garcon all day because that's what the Saints have done all year? Ugh.

Doug Farrar: The Colts are bashing away at the Saints' Achilles heel (stopping the run) more than I thought they would early on. Would the Saints be better off with more four-man fronts, allowing them to do more things with their linebackers without worrying about inside contain?

Mike Tanier: They are catching the Saints in that 3-man line, with Vilma bailing out in Tampa-2 or other zone assignments. The 3-linemen get washed out (even though they are often in that solid front, one over the center, one over each guard) and Vilma is in no position to stop the run.

This happened several times on second down on the second drive, always after audibles.

Gregg Williams has to call something else. He needs some linebackers in those interior gaps.

Oh, and they don't seem to be sending three. They are sending 5 a lot from those 3-man fronts. It has had a little success -- Manning has had to throw off balance -- but if the consequence is Vilma bailing and Addai and Brown gaining 10-yards, guess what.

Tom Gower: That's been the dilemma the whole time. It bugs the hell out of me to see the Titans never blitz Peyton, but that's the strategy if you have a hope of getting pressure with your front 4. And Grant and Smith against Diem and Johnson seems like a better matchup than letting Peyton find the free guy against the blitz or Addai run for 100 yards.

Mike Tanier: Usama Young looked mixed up. But Harper appeared to be defending gee golly no one as the deep safety.

Aaron Schatz: They were sending three a lot on the first Colts drive, but yeah, not on the second one.

Tom Gower: Greer being out, if it is for any extended period, is huge. Peyton's absolutely fantastic at spotting those mismatches; did it during the Jets game, did it to the Titans for a score when Pacman went out in a game, does it all the time.

Vince Verhei: Early in the second, it's easy to see the LVPs of the game: the New Orleans safeties. Sharper missed a tackle and on one of Addai's big runs, and Harper didn't react at all to Garcon's touchdown.

On their third drive, it looks like the Saints have remembered that they're really good at running.

Mike Kurtz: The Saints apparently did not read.. well... anything this week, as they have forgotten that Indy is really, really fast throughout the defense, yet they keep calling sweeps and stretches, with predictable results.

Will Carroll: Freeney is flat out at 100%. I wouldn't put it past Polian to find out this was all a setup.

Tom Gower: Jermon Bushrod sucks.

Bill Barnwell: Seems like the only guy getting open for the Saints is Colston against the linebackers.

Aaron Schatz: Wow, Jonathan Vilma just served biscuit justice on Joseph Addai. Whoo-hah.

Bill Barnwell: Saints are trying to mix stuff up, but the only guy getting open is Colston against their linebackers and slot guys. Saints just went max protect and there was nobody getting open deep.

David Gardner: I feel like the Saints fail on those trick reverses a lot more than they succeed.

Tom Gower: I guess both Colts DBs deciding not to cover Lance Moore was so stupid Sean Payton decided he needed to balance out that stupidity with that end around.

Vince Verhei: End-arounds against the Colts: Bad idea. End-arounds against the Colts just outside the Red Zone: Terrible idea.

Sometimes Sean Payton just gets too cute for his own good.

And then Brees bails him out, hitting Colston on a seam route to convert second-and-17 and set up first-and-goal at the three.

Bill Barnwell: Aaron suggested that teams teach players to throw the ball out of bounds on doomed reverses like the one Henderson just went on. I disagree; think players are too likely to fumble.

Mike Kurtz: By the time the end-around/reverse has truly blown up, linemen are already downfield, so you're most likely only gaining a down but still losing the yardage. Plus, the refs would almost certainly be looking out for grounding, which means you're even more likely to lose both.

Aaron Schatz: Peyton Manning has a look on his face like he wants to make his defense go sit in the port-a-let for 20 minutes.

The Saints get stuffed on fourth-and-short inside the Colts 5.

Vince Verhei: That fourth-and-goal. Oh man. That's just... That's... Bad decision to go for it. Bad to run a dive out of a three-wide set. Payton may cost his team the game.

David Gardner: I can't imagine that Brees is happy about three runs near the goal line there.

Bill Barnwell: Disagree. Good decision to go for it; bad decision to run a sweep and even worse execution of that decision. That's +EV there, you're costing your team 1, 2 points by kicking the field goal, and you want as many points as you can get.

Vince Verhei: Going for it on fourth, and failing, took three points off the board, and left them with little time to get the ball back. They did get the ball back, and got one first down, and got the field goal anyway. I think they got lucky, not that they used wise strategy.

Had there been 5 to 10 minutes left in the half, yes go for it. Two minutes, you should kick.

Bill Barnwell: The expectation there is still that the opposition will score negative points, even if it's the Colts. Going for it, you're looking at an expectation of about 4.2-4.3 points considering the likelihood of getting the kick and the Colts turning the ball over on the subsequent possession; that's even without including the idea of getting the ball back and scoring. Kicking the ball, the expectation's about 2.95 points.

Aaron Schatz: Agreed. Only reason you could argue that it is wrong to go for it there is the argument "well, part of the reason you go for it at the goal line is that the other team is in 'negative value' position when they're trapped in their own end -- but you wouldn't really have the time to get the ball back for another drive in good field position." But actually... the Saints are about to get the ball back in good field position.

Tom Gower: Running outside against the Colts D is too much fail, and the Saints did it on both 3rd and 4th down. I'd have been fine either kicking or going for it.

I would have liked to see the Colts take a shot on that possession; I see the logic, but giving the Saints the ball back without letting your best player try something feels wrong to me.

Mike Tanier: I didn't mind the go-for-it or the call. I think they got out-guessed. The Colts just weren't going to spread their defense out no matter how much motion the Saints pulled.

On that drive to the one, the Colts kept getting caught in their little blitz package, the one where they think they are the Steelers two plays per game and can zone blitz. The catch where Moore was open, and one of their other receptions, came on ragged blitzes either from 3-man fronts or 4-man fronts with a defensive end so wide he was in, like, the 13-technique. They should probably scrap those blitzes and just be the Colts.

Finally sent the 7-year old to bed. CJ kept asking me during the commercials what was real. He probably thinks that whales ride in trucks. Or that Roger Daltrey is still alive.

Ned Macey: At halftime, the game has played out like I'd thought, but that means the Colts are up about 4, which isn't much after the hot start. Hard to be too upset about the offense, when the Saints only stop before that weird last series was the Garon drop. Kudos to whoever (Aaron or Bill) highlighted that the Colts were good in short-yardage, and while I know in general you should run there, I agree with the CBS halftime guys that you should have thrown there.

I think the Colts' last drive was really interesting from a clock-management perspective on both sides. I think, actually, that both guys played it right, but it was interesting how the Saints were floating between using their time-outs and not. Hard to know what would have happened if they'd called their timeout after the first-down run; would that extra time have allowed them to go for a TD?

I like Michael Lewis; I liked the Blind Side. But, the thesis takes a bit of a hit when you have two offense-first teams in the Super Bowl playing Bushrod and Charlie Johnson at left tackle.

Doug Farrar: You could extend that to last year’s Super Bowl as well, though the Steelers certainly had a matching defense. Maybe elite left tackles aren’t as important in the new era of mega-shotgun/short-drop offenses.

Aaron Schatz: Well. Ned, at least for your sake, Johnson is better than Bushrod.

What a shock, this game is close. It's almost as if these teams are evenly matched! My only surprise, I guess, is that the score is relatively low. Would have expected something more like 20-17 at the half, not 10-6.

Vince Verhei: I'd like to thank the Saints for wearing their gold pants and not the black. From a uniform standpoint, this may be the prettiest Super Bowl ever.

Part of the reason for the low score is that the game has been very short, possession-wise. Colts only had the ball four times in the first half: A long touchdown drive, a long field-goal drive, and two three-and-outs -- one of which they were inside their own five inside of two minutes, just trying to kill the clock. They only have ten points, but they've done OK.

Saints, same thing -- they've got a long field-goal drive, a short field-goal drive, a long drive ending on fourth down, and a couple of punts. They're moving the ball, just not getting into the end zone.

Boomer Esiason said it's time for the Saints to abandon the run and let Drew Brees win the game. Ignoring that the Saints are best when their offense is diversified, and that the Colts' run defense is poor, They've already got 23 pass plays and 12 runs. How out-of-whack do you want them to get?

Halftime Festivities

David Gardner: This stage is one of the coolest things I have ever seen in my life. I'm mesmerized by it.

Vince Verhei: Oh, and I agree with David Gardner: That stage was amazing, and the Who were pretty cool. I have a feeling they were told, just stand there in the middle and play your songs, and for the LOVE OF GOD do not step outside the speakers, or you'll get blowed up.

Bill Barnwell: I turned into the Puppy Bowl at halftime expecting puppies. I did not get puppies. I got kittens. This is highly disappointing.

Second Half

Doug Farrar: Oh, wow. And there’s Sean Payton, winning the All-Time Balls of Steel award for that onside kick.

Vince Verhei: Yes. Sometimes he gets too cute for his own good and sometimes his cuteness gives his team another possession. Especially there, where the risk of giving your opponent a short field is lessened, since the Colts are likely to score from anywhere anyway.

David Gardner: Guys, according to Phil Simms, the Saints were NOT -- I repeat NOT -- playing pat-a-cake before this game. Please alert others in the media.

Mike Kurtz: May actually be wrong (Will would know), but I always thought that training staffs tried to put off taping/shots/etc as long as possible before throwing the player in. If true, Payton not only got his team a possession right off the bat, but also kept Freeney off the field. CBS showed him being quickly taped up on the sidelines as New Orleans marched down the field.

Will Carroll: Very true. Can't do injections on sidelines though - against rules.

Tom Gower: Backside pursuit from Muir and Johnson was slow on that screen, else they had it stopped. Disappointing effort, or maybe I'm reading more into that than was there.

If the Colts lose this game because of giving the Saints the ball back without letting him throw, that Garcon drop, and not being ready/Baskett flubbing that onside kick attempt, Peyton is going to get dinged for it and he and I will both be throwing things.

David Gardner: That Clark catch was over four defenders. Wow.

Vince Verhei: I thought the Saints just did a great job of setting that screen up, and then threw a bunch of great blocks.

Your note about Manning is spot-on.

Will Carroll: Seriously. I love Joseph Addai.

Tom Gower: Great design, great execution, good grab, that whole play was just amazing. I think that play was the first time they put Wayne on the right side this game-pretty sure he was in the slot with Garcon outside and Collie split wide left. One thing I was definitely wrong about was the Saints minimizing TEs and Clark not having a good game-he's really been a big part of the gameplan tonight, even when the Colts are in 3WR.

Addai's a really good player. The game I went to in Indy he ended up with like 3 ypc but must have had 3/4 of his credited yards after contact. Best OL in the league whatever.

Aaron Schatz: I think we may have discovered why Jabari Greer was much better in man coverage than in the Bills' Cover-2 scheme. Not so great with the tackling.

Mike Tanier: Another great play by Courtney Roby on the kickoff return.

I wish I had a Hank Baskett "Hands Team" joke, but I just don't. It really is the end of the season.

Collie and Peter Boy are both doing a nice job cracking safeties on running plays. They are getting Addai a lot of extra yards by mixing it up in the middle of the field.

Should I call that phone number Neil Patrick Harris keeps holding up?

Aaron Schatz: As long as we are celebrating good run blocks, Dallas Clark also getting some excellent run blocks on Scott Shanle.

Vince Verhei: Stupid record of the day: Garrett Hartley is the first kicker with three 40-plus-yard field goals in a Super Bowl. So he gets a record because hits team's offense kept stalling once it crossed midfield. Yippee.

Will Carroll: Oh, Francisco's taking a fine for that elbow.

Vince Verhei: Fourth-and-2 with Porter one-on-one against Wayne? We'll take that first down, thanks.

David Gardner: Manning didn't even seem to look over to Jim Caldwell before going for it there.

Bill Barnwell: That's because it wasn't up to Jim Caldwell, regardless of what Phil Simms thinks.

Mike Kurtz: Incidentally, that was all Manning. Shifted formation to test the saints short run D, nothing changed, moved into a quick slant and just blew it up. Beautiful.

Aaron Schatz: I'm blown away by how non-existing the Colts blocking has been on these WR screens to Collie.

Tom Gower: The WRs doing this spin move after catching the screen and that time the DB read it and made the play. I hate that part of the design for that play.

Vince Verhei: Well, on that one, it looked like Collie ran right when the blockers were to his left.

Mike Kurtz: How many tackles has Session screwed up or just flat-out missed? The guy's been a disaster all game.

Will Carroll: Game? Why stop there?

Vince Verhei: Attention mainstream media: This guy picking apart the Colts defense and throwing a go-ahead touchdown to Jeremy Shockey is named Drew Brees. And he's not a good story because he hurt his shoulder, and he's not a good story because he hangs out with sick children. He's a good story because he's maybe the best quarterback in the league, and has been for a few seasons.

Doug Farrar: If Sean Payton threw a challenge flag on that two-pointer, I wouldn’t call him crazy.

Tom Gower: I HATE this challenge by Sean Payton. There's NO way the booth overrules the call by a ref in perfect position like that. If you do, you're basically admitting nobody, not even the best officials in the league, has any f---ing clue how to call that play.

Bill Barnwell: Consider it admitted.

Vince Verhei: Don't like that reversal on the two-point conversion. Video wasn't conclusive one way or another. Call on the field should not have been changed.

Aaron Schatz: I'm a little confused as to why that doesn't follow the "must control ball all the way through the catch" rule, the Louis Murphy thing from the first week that PFT has been harping on all year. Yes, he got the ball over the goal line, but he still has to control the ball all the way through the catch, right? If he does that in the back of the end zone without having to "stretch it over the line," and the same thing happens, is it still a good conversion?

I don't think it has to do with video... I think they're saying the guy on the field misinterpreted the rule. That's the only reason to overturn there...

Tom Gower: It is, it's the same damn rule, only the official on the field thought he lost possession before completing the catch and on review they decided he had indeed completed the catch and that the DB had knocked the ball loose.

Rob Weintraub: Whatever one might think about the 2-point conversion, the macro is this--super-duper-slo-mo, microscopic frame by frame examination of plays to overturn calls is not what the replay rule was ever intended for.

Vince Verhei: Phil Simms says the Saints will start to play defense differently with a touchdown lead. Nope, they keep rushing five and Manning has no trouble with it.

Aaron Schatz: He had one nice PD on Dallas Clark, but Scott Shanle is just not good in coverage.

The Pick That Broke Twitter

Aaron Schatz: OH MY F-----G GOD.

Actually, I take that back. MON F-----G DIEU.

Tom Gower: Will Smith blocked Peyton in the back at midfield. Naturally, there was no call.

The annoying part about the SB is it's almost all new commercials, so I feel like I should watch the commercials instead of rewinding the play to get another look at what happened.

Bill Barnwell: Bad throw by Manning, just ahead of Wayne, who also didn't come smoothly out of his cut. Wow.

Vince Verhei: Manning had trouble with the six-man rush.

Aaron Schatz: Tom's right. I was going to say "see, I told you that Scott Green didn't call roughing the passer," but then we saw the replay, and yes, Will Smith blocked Manning in the back on the interception return, and the touchdown should have been called back, Saints ball around midfield.

Tom Gower: The play I want to see again is the second down pass to Collie. I strongly suspect Jenkins should've been flagged for contact/DPI, but of course he wasn't and CBS didn't show us a replay to check.

Will Carroll: Hargrove should be ejected for that blatant spear.

Vince Verhei: The run on third-and-goal was madness. And now the clock is running. And now the fourth down pass failed and the Saints have won the Super Bowl.

Aaron Schatz: Well, here we are. Game over. Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints. Great season. I have so much respect for what Gregg Williams did with this defense, and for the creative and fearless way Sean Payton coaches, and for the great way that Drew Brees plays.

Sorry to Ned, our resident Colts fan, for his team losing, but it was a great season, man. The Colts are in it every year. They will be again next year.

And every national columnist who says that this loss somehow "tarnishes Peyton Manning's legacy" gets a slap across the face. Seriously, both quarterbacks played well tonight. Manning threw one pick. You are allowed to throw one. If your defense plays well, and you play the way Manning played tonight, you usually win. Manning is still one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. Careerwise, better than Brees. Who is better right now, I must admit, I'm not sure.

Doug Farrar: Deal. You slap all the morons who inside that this tarnished Manning's legacy, and I'll whack the goons who will insist that Drew Brees wasn't truly great until this game. Most likely, it'll be a bunch of people who haven't really WATCHED him in detail until this game (after all, he was "the other guy" to Kurt Warner and Brett Favre in the playoffs). Well, welcome to reality, guys. Drew Brees is amazing. And he was before, too

Mike Tanier: I am not worried about an interception breaking Twitter. I am worried about a Super Bowl parade the week before Mardi Gras breaking New Orleans. AND I WISH I COULD GO.

What's the Special Teams DVOA going to look like for this game? Before you have an onside kick, you have 3 long field goals for the Saints, a long miss by Abe Vigoda, the typical non-punt returns by the Colts, a Colts kickoff return from 8 yards deep that winds up around the 8-yard line, and a long kickoff return by Roby.

Drew Brees' kid is wearing a headset. Is he the Patriots' new offensive coordinator?

The just showed Bourbon Street. I am afraid that Bushrod is going to flash people for beads.

Ned Macey: After our pregame Audibles went up, my brother called me to chastise me for the massive jinx I put on the Colts. I'm not sure he's going to speak to me for a month or so. Obviously, Aaron and Bill were right -- these teams were basically equal, so no reason to favor one over the other.

As for the game, I think all Colts fans after so many playoff failures are sort of immune to overreaction. The Saints made a couple more plays. The Colts offense played well throughout, but Manning got out-thought by Porter (very reminiscent play of the Samuel pick-6 against Harrison in the 2006 AFCG). The Colts could have won the game, but it didn't happen. Congrats to the Saints.

What surprised me is that the Saints managed to stay patient and take the underneath stuff, but I think Manning got a little impatient. On the drive that ended in the missed Stover FG (and asking a 62-year old man to kick a 51-yarder is a bit much), Manning went deep unecessarily. Quite simply, the Saints could not cover all those guys underneath, and Manning should have stayed patient. The Stover FG was a tough call -- team should have gone for six on third down and then either gone for it or had an easier field goal.

The onside kick was big, but it didn't really change the game, just got the Saints an extra possession. (My wife, however, is blaming Hank Baskett for the loss--we'll turn into "Kendra" for a full apology.) The Colts regained "momentum" and were driving with the lead in the fourth quarter. Really, the Colts stalled twice in the maroon zone, once returned for a TD.

Maybe someone else noted it, but did Powers get hurt? Brees just abused Jennings in the second half, and I think that was obviously a factor. Still, all credit to them because they were able to stay patient. I will note, however, that the Saints only two offensive TDs came on drives under 60 yards--bend but don't break is harder when you have less ground to cover.

Also, good work by Hartley who hit three long field goals that would have been good from 60. Pretty impressive to keep the Saints in it until their great fourth quarter.

Bonus points to the first writer who calls Manning a choker after the universal consensus was that Manning was suddenly the greatest QB ever when they assumed he'd win. I'll take Don Banks; he's usually good for that.

Bill Barnwell: Average Saints drive started from NO 32. Average Colts drive started from IND 16.

Mike Kurtz: The other thing to watch for is people who kinda knew about or didn't know about Brees jumping whole-hog onto the Brees bandwagon and trying to up their Brees-cred by trashing Manning.

Bill Barnwell: I guarantee nobody criticizes Peyton's move to go for it on fourth-and-goal at the end of the first half tomorrow. And that's just pathetic, because there sure were plenty of people criticizing it when it happened.

Vince Verhei: I think it was on Bill Simmons' show that Aaron said that if the Saints won, it would be via the big play. And that's really about that. Aside from the stop on fourth-and-goal, pretty much every big play went the Saints' way. The onside kick, the pick-six, the field goals they made, the field goal Indianapolis missed ... this may be a stupidly obvious thing to say, but it was basically a tie game if you take those out.

Rob Weintraub: Garcon's drop up 10-3 really turned the game around. He holds on to it, that's 20-40 yards depending on YAC, and Indy is almost assured at least three. So they maintain a two score lead, and they play much differently on D.

Having said that, the Saints made a lot of little, critical plays, like the wrestling match for the onside kick, stuffing the 3rd and short near the end of the half that forced the punt, and even denying Indy at the end to snuff the miracle finish. It's a cliche, but they did seem to want it more.

That's one of the best blocked games in recent memory. Both O-lines were tremendous, although the Colts had a couple of missed blocks on stretch plays/bubble screens that could have been big.

Bad moment for Phil Simms to declare himself with Easterbrook right before the Saints blitz and pick six. Great point by Nantz mentioning the injury to Hargrove threw Manning out of rhythm right before the pick. New stratagem to defense Manning?

I think we can all agree that everyone will have the Saints as favorites to win next season, and they almost assuredly won't--but so long as Brees is healthy they could another in the next three seasons.

Since I went and compared this game to Super Bowl XXXII beforehand, I was very bummed that Indy didn't punch it in to match the exact final of Broncos-Packers, 31-24.

And it seems appropriate the Saints win by virtue of nutting up and going for broke over the most conservative, risk-averse team in the league. Fortune favors the bold, or something.

Congrats to all my friends in NO, and the city itself--it's trite but it's also one of my favorite places on earth, and they deserve it.

Aaron Schatz: The funny thing is that we didn't quite know the Colts had a special teams advantage going into this game. During the regular season, as I pointed out in our preview, the Colts actually had better special teams value in our ratings this year, although it would be equal if we took out John Carney's performance as field-goal kicker in the first half of the year.

But in this game, as a couple of you surmised earlier, the difference was special teams. In fact, according to DVOA, that was the entire difference in this game. Before looking at these ratings, remember that DVOA does not consider the onside kick or the two-point conversion -- otherwise, the Saints' special teams rating would be higher. We also credit the Tracy Porter pick as an average interception return based on all interceptions of similar passes at that point on the field, so the Saints don't get "full credit" for the touchdown there.

DVOA (with opponent adjustments)
IND 17% 25% 1% -7%
NO 31% 24% 3% 10%
VOAf (no opponent adjustments)
IND -5% 23% 20% -7%
NO 14% 23% 20% 10%

Ned Macey: These numbers are thoroughly depressing. The only time the Colts have been thoroughly beaten in the past five years in the playoffs is the 2007 loss to SD. Otherwise, I believe they've been better on offense and defense (according to DVOA) in their other three playoff losses.

Anyway, I have a few more thoughts. Sorry if they're too late, too repetitive or not responsive. I haven't had the heart to read everyone else's comments.

I'd like to rethink my earlier diminishing of the onside kick. That kick didn't win the game or motivate the Saints because it showed they were aggressive (had they not recovered it, it would have been a symbol that Payton didn't trust his defense). Still, it was a huge play because if the Colts offense had scored (admittedly not a sure thing), the game would have been very different. The Colts were able to respond to the play, but it still very much changed the complexion of the game.

As for the Colts' defense, (this is now their third-worst performance in DVOA since 2005, with two of the three coming this year), Freeney obviously makes an enormous difference. He played at 85-90% in the first half, and the Colts defense looked good -- not great but good. In the second half, he had nothing, and Brees had all day. With Randle entering the HOF shorty after Derrick Thomas, the precedent for one-way players is made, and I think Freeney (assuming a couple more productive years) will join him some day. He just dictates how opposing offenses have to play, and the Colts aren't the same team without him (or with him diminished).

Finally, I think Payton/Williams deserve credit for leaving Greer on his side. I always think Payton is a bit of an over-thinker and thought with two weeks and with the Colts having such a clear # 1 who always lines up on the other side, they'd move Greer over there. Sometimes, you don't need to adjust to the other team. I think Porter, coming off a very hit-and-miss game against Minnesota, played well throughout and responded to the challenge. Plus, they could keep the one safety to that side and leave the other safety to play the middle of the field. I couldn't see how much help Porter got, but even before the Int, he was playing a heck of a game.


Aaron Schatz: When I was in the radio business a decade ago, we knew you don't put similar commercials back to back. Nobody at CBS thought, "Hmmm, maybe the two commercials about people wearing no pants should be split up?"

Will Carroll: Now we have two midget commercials back to back ... damn CBS!

Rob Weintraub: Best ad for me (didn't see all of them)--the Kia (I think) ad where the stuffed animals do Vegas.

Bill Barnwell: I was amazed at how well the Google ad stood out among all the overproduced junk. Simple and classy (e.g. no search for "motels in Paris" with "I'm Feeling Lucky", as my friend suggested) on a night full of bad puns.

Mike Kurtz: GoDaddy needs to be killed. With fire.

Also, the theme for the night's commercials seems to be "men are only real men if they're hideous jerks," which while sadly normal in our society, really got hammered in this Super Bowl's commercials. Very disappointing.

Vince Verhei: Loved the Doritos ads -- the four-year-old laying down the law to the paramour, and the Doritos samurai at the gym. I liked the house made of (full) beer cans. Leno and Letterman and Oprah sitting on a couch and sniping at each other was pretty funny. But on the whole, pretty disappointing. I was waiting for a Super Bowl-caliber "Too light/Too heavy" spot, but never got one.

Bill Barnwell: In all fairness, Doritos had an ad every break.

David Gardner: Tebow's ad was far less egregious than I expected. And I agree that the four-year-old in the doritos ad was the best. Also, the new E-Trade kid was funny for the first time. "Milkawhat?"

Vince Verhei: There I disagree. The E-Trade ads make me hate babies.

Bill Barnwell: As Vince sets the blogosphere alight. "Football Outsiders: We Hate Babies"


258 comments, Last at 14 Feb 2010, 7:52pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

A great game to watch all around. I loved the going for it on 4th early, and the onside kick. Hated the IND FG attempt. Of course chance happened to make those beliefs look pretty good, but even if I had been wrong in the event all three times, the decision making still made for an interesting game.

And penalty/review free mostly (which seemed like a good thing). I think Manning could have really used another SB win to cement is place as the GoAT with the silly people who actually get to determine such things in the popular mind, but I am happy for NO, and Brees et cetera, and especially for Payton who was not afraid to coach to win!

My wife even enjoyed the actual game.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Agree about the officiating: the teams (mostl) played clean, and the referees let them get on with it. Learn from them please, Packers!

While it wasn't a bad Superbowl, I wouldn't say it was great either. The Colts' tackling was dubious at times. The young receivers finally looked overmatched. And it became clear early in the third quarter that Indy had no answer on defense for the Saints' short passing game. Thus it turned into the Dink-n-Dunk Bowl.

One under-estimated factor win was the Saints' pass coverage. Aside from Jabari Island, the safeties and nickelbacks regularly forced Manning to check down. But they didn't play with the sort of cushion that Tim Jennings and Jacob Lacey were giving Colston and Meachem. That took away some of the quick slants. In the end, what frustrated Manning was not the pressure, but the lack of receiving options downfield.

My fiancée enjoyed the game too — she's a Saints fan. My mother (an Indy fan), not so much. I just stayed very quiet.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

lots of crap commericials like every eyar.

SB commercials always overdone and corny.

never saw T Tebiw commercial. maybe happened when went to bathroom. Did the tebow commercial make it on?

very happy with game. said in preicidtion thread gamne would come down to one Qb having to tie the score to send to overtime and thats really wat happened.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

thought biggest plays were:
-onside kick
-Vilam breaking up pass intended for A Collie on post pattern on 3rd down
-51 yard FG try by Stover; codultn believe Clots tried 51 yd Fg with old goat kicker
-T Porter intercpetion ret td

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Vince Verhei: I'd like to thank the Saints for wearing their gold pants and not the black. From a uniform standpoint, this may be the prettiest Super Bowl ever

Saintz end zone painted gold loked really good. one f best end zones ever. not even regular saints end zone paint job becuyase at superdome have green end zone. Saimts dont fill in end zone with paint. maybe easier to paint grass than paint fieldtirf?

thught super bowl 11 (vikes vs Raiders maybe bets lookign sb based on uniforms. Vikes in purple, Raiders in white (best white unfirom in league)). Cards-stelers nice lokking too.
other nice oens- steelers vs vikes sb 9
Raiders vs eags super bowl 15

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

The Raiders' current white are nice, the Raiders' OLD whites (see game one this year) are divine.

I agree with Vince that this was one of the most aesthetically-pleasing Super Bowls ever. The Saints' white-on-gold look complemented the Colts' classic blue-on-white. The only other recent contender would be the Bears' navy-on-white against the Colts' all-white, three years ago.

In my opinion, other good-looking Super Bowls would be any Steelers-Cowboys game, Dolphins-Redskins, and Packers-Raiders.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

On a slightly random note, there's something a bit weird about what Americans view as aesthetically pleasing uniforms. Most of my friends agree that the vast majority (in all 3 major sports) look blood awful.

Not trying to say that anyone's right or wrong, it just seems to be a completely different standard. I remember Peter King writing about the Chargers powder blues in an awed tone and just thinking "are you mental?".

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I can't speak for all American sensibilities, but I like simple, clean-looking uniforms and color combinations. I also value long-term consistency, though not as much as actually having a good look (that is, if a team had neon green jerseys, but had them for 80 years, I would still considered them bad-looking).

Therefore, the Bears, Colts, Packers, Raiders, and Cowboys score well for me. The Falcons, Broncos, Titans, and Vikings (current, not old), with jersey stripes and/or "streamlined" logos, don't look good to me.

What do you and your friends like? (I mean this as an honest question, not to be snarky, as it's obviously a matter of personal taste.)

225 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I'm with you on the Chargers powder blue. I live in San Diego, and most people absolutely love those powder blues. I think they look ridiculous.

As for good-looking jerseys, I think football jerseys look best when there is a strong contrast between the shirt and pants and when the look is kept clean and simple.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

To Ned's comment, I was going crazy about Jennings out there. I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on and no one reported anything on it at all. Some plays it looked like Hayden was out and some plays Powers. Unless they both were kinda hurt, I just don't get it. I find it hard to believe that they were tired and needed breathers. Jennings was getting abused, they threw to whoever he was covering a LOT. I still don't know what was going on there. Not to take anything away from Brees, but that and Freeney's effectiveness dropping off as the game wore on really seemed to make his life easier down the stretch.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

hjavent read enter thing yet will do so tomorrow so maybe will find answer to quetsion

but if FO writers didn't mention it, maybe somebody will respond to this

after onside kick , clots and Saints piled up, looked like a Francisco and U Young had punching match. eyesight pretty good so did think really was seeing this.

accoridng to rule both shoudl have been ejected. But no flags thrown or ejectitons. Were refs blind? Or too sissy to throw players out of Super bwol?
Rememebr in reglar season cards-beras game T Harris pucnhign Cards lineman (think was Wells, but if not him then one of other lineman) on 1st ir 2nd play of game and then kicked out of game by ref. Punching guy suppsoed to equal ejetcion, so why fighters in Sb44 allowed to stay in game?

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

This was a crew of refs that called few penalties all year (primarily offsides and illegal procedure); very few roughing/violence type flags. I thought I saw fists flying, but wasn't fully focused on the game yet. (Much like Hank Baskett) They also punted, I think, on the clear spearing of Addai--hey, leading with your head is a 15 yard flag, diving at a guy on the ground with your hat should be a little worse.

Pussies? Maybe, but probably they adhere to a "just let them play and decide it on the field" philosophy, which is generally preferable to every little gray area being flagged.

Despite what the FO staff thought were a handful of non-calls or wrong calls late (that would have helped my Colts--sorry, I meant Clots), I didn't have a major problem with the officiating. That 2 pt conversion goes against everything I saw this year (when your guys got screwed in Week 1, for example), and against the rule book according to profootballtalk.... not that it tilted the game much, but it seemed wrong.

195 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

you weren't the only one seeing things. i swear the guy on his back started kicking his legs up in the others face, while the other one was trying to punch him. one of the weirdest scuffles i've seen...
armchair journeyman quarterback

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

"Mike Kurtz: The other thing to watch for is people who kinda knew about or didn't know about Brees jumping whole-hog onto the Brees bandwagon and trying to up their Brees-cred by trashing Manning."

I remember that kind of bashing during the Bledsoe/Brady debate of 2001. Remember you can't point out the positives of one without bashing the other.

Three thoughts about the game:
I've never been this happy for a non Boston/New England sports team. It reminds me of the Pats first SB victory. Enjoy it Saint's fans.

My fifteen year old cousin said right after Manning's INT that it would be his legacy. I told him that was ridiculous, and I'm a Pats fan. Sure enough reading some of the wrap ups tonight I'm not sure if Archie Manning is still on the Peyton Manning bandwagon. For some reason I've seen this quote a lot recently, but it's so true. "Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan."

Will PK write about Manning for the first page of MMQB like he did for Favre two weeks ago?

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

It was a remarkably well played game on both sides. The only big mistakes I saw from either side in the game were Manning's pick, Hank Baskett trying to field an eight yard onside kick, and Caldwell sending 84 year old Matt Stover out for a 50 yard field goal (which gave the Saints a short field for the go-ahead touchdown). I thought the replay reversal on the two point conversion was both vital and incorrect (or the Raiders got screwed in that early season game against San Diego which started the whole 'scoring plays have different rules of possession than in field plays controversy), but, though it didn't seem one-sided watching the game, the Saints outscored the Colts 31-7 after the first quarter. The Saints had a strategy of keep away, and it worked well enough for them to seize the initiative. Judging by the eyeball test, the Saints were consistantly the best team all season, and they're obviously a deserving champion

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I thought so, too; Baskett touched the ball on the Colts' side of the 40, which means it was more than ten yards from where it was kicked.

Even worse was Phil Simms, who, immediately after the play, was wondering if the result would hold up because he wasn't sure the kick went ten yards; even if it hadn't, a Colt touched the ball, rendering the ten-yard factor irrelevant.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Well, to be fair to Simms, he was asking that based on seeing it live. As soon as he watched the replay, he said that it went 10 yards, and that it hit a Colt first. (He may have even said the Colt part before the replay.)

He also immediately owned up to the fact that the Saints blitz worked on the interception, even pointing out that he had said that they shouldn't do it.


94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I was a little surprised that this wasn't challenged (possibly because of the years of the Dungy wishful-thinking challenge).

I don't think there was anything conclusive, but the last reply looked like Baskett put his hands around it while it was under the NO player (I forget who). Disclaimer: Colts fan, and I didn't feel like going through it again, so I may well have seen that wrong. And again, I didn't think it was conclusive, just that it could have been interesting if challenged to see reviews from more angles.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Yeah, what they all said.

Attempting a 51 yard FG and the on-side kick yielded two Saints TDs off short-fields. Yes, the D had a chance to stop them, many times, but the Saints should never have gotten the ball in great field position twice like that. Add in the pick-six because Manning was pressured into mounting a late-game comeback, and there's a 21-pt swing.

Essentially it was a tie game the Saints would have won in OT, not the 14 pt romp the score looks like.

The Colts had a ton of small errors that all added up eventually--missed 3rd down catches, missed tackles, mental errors (the FG, the onside kick). Addai was a thing of beauty--I wish he had an OL that knows how to run block.

I predict that with Gonzo back in 2010, the Colts field the first ever NFL team with four 1,000 receivers. Now THAT would be bitchin'. (yet another chance for people to say the Colts can't run! and Addai is a bust! and Brown is a bust!)

Thanks all for a good season.

Oh, David Gardner, that was "milkaholic." Awesome insult for an infant, no?

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I thought the reversal on the two-point conversion was an outrageous call that was a secret, hidden game-changer. Awful. It was the Louis Murphy call. If they hadn't reversed the ruling there, the Colts are slow-playing their final drive, trying to milk the clock and score with as little time left as possible, like against the Pats in the 2006 AFC championship. And the call was wrong (or at least inconsistant vs how it had been called this season)

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

TD is absolutely right about the reversed call on the 2-point conversion. That's an incomplete pass all season long in every game I saw, but the refs called it differently in the Super Bowl. In the Packers' second game with the Bears, Jennings caught an over the shoulder pass in the end zone, took THREE steps with the ball tight to his numbers, then lost it when Charles Tillman reached over Jennings's shoulder to knock it loose and knock Jennings to the ground. THREE STEPS with possession. That was ruled incomplete. How the heck the refs reversed that two point conversion I don't know.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

1. Receiver has possession of ball over goal line with his knee on the ground.
2. Defender touches receiver, causing the receiver to now be down and ending the play.
3. Defender knocks the ball loose.

The ball coming loose happened after the receiver was down.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Mike Pereira covered this a number of times on's "Official Review" segment. If a receiver is contacted by a defender while going to the ground, he must maintain possession of the ball throughout the catch including contact with the ground. If the receiver is not contacted by a defender, he just has to show possession of the ball inside the end zone. In this case, the receiver caught the ball, went to the ground with control inside the end zone, rolled over once--still with control--and lost the ball on the second roll when the defender made first contact and forced the ball loose. Based on what I have seen this year that is a completed catch. On the other hand if the defender had shoved the receiver to the ground, it would have probably been incomplete. I'm sure we'll get the official explanation on Thursday when "Official Review" posts.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

The receiver was on the ground with control of the ball and the ball was over the line. At that point, it is a TD. The defender knocking the ball away after the fact does nothing to change that. If the defender knocked the ball out BEFORE the receiver hit the ground, then it would be no catch and thus no TD.

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

This overly complicated rule has infuriated me all season, so I'm glad to see it was called reasonably in the Super Bowl. The catch was made, the ball was over the line, THEN the defender's leg knocked it loose. The play is over before the leg knocked the ball loose. That should always be a completed catch.

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

If he would have dropped the ball on first contact with the ground, it would have been incomplete. When I saw the play live, I thought it was incomplete.

However, when I looked at the replay, he maintained possession to the ground. You can see he had actually bounced up off the ground and was rolling over with the ball still in his control. It wasn't a long time in full speed, but I thought he had possession established.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

It's 4th and 11 from the Saints 33, and you're up 17-16 with around 10 minutes left. I think the odds of making that kick are about 50 percent. Odds of converting the 4th down are about 15 percent. Odds of a punt being downed inside the 10 yard line (and not sailing into the endzone for a touchback) are about 70%.

So what's better?
A. Field goal attempt: 50% chance at 3 points and the Saints likely starting from their 25 line, plus a 50% chance of 0 points and the Saints starting at their own 41 yard line.

B. Go for it: 15% chance of converting the first down (leading to a 50% chance of 3 points, a 40% chance of 7 points, and a 10% chance of 0 points on the drive--Saints would start at their own 25 after kickoff) plus an 85% chance of not converting, getting 0 points on the drive (Saints would start at their own 23-33 yard line).

C. Punt: 70% chance of pinning the Saints inside their own 10, plus a 30% chance of the Saints starting at their own 20. No chance of scoring on the drive.

A field goal try from there is worth about 1.5 points, and the value of the Saints average position from there is worth about 1 point (50% of 1.5 points from the 41, 50% chance of 0.5 points from the 25).

Going for it yields an expected 0.645 points on the drive, and the Saints expected field position is worth about 0.5 points (assuming that the Colts will pick up part of the yardage needed some of the time).

Punting gets you a big 0 for points, and the Saints average field position would be worth about -0.485 points (70 percent chance of inside the 10 at -0.8 expected points, and 30 percent chance of touchback at 0.25 expected points).

TL;DR (aka conclusion): So by my maths, FG attempt is worth 0.5 points, going for it is worth 0.145 points, and punting is worth 0.485 points. I'm surprised by this as before I actually worked this out I would have thought punting was the best option. Really it's a virtual coinflip between punting and FG, and it comes down to which special teams unit the coach has more faith in.

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

yeah, I was hoping for a pooch punt. Caldwell seemed like a liability to me in this game.

Furthermore, I just don't get the Colts' approach of limitting possessions per game. I understand that they don't want to have their undersized defense spend too much time on the field, but, at the same time, if you have one of the most efficient offenses in the game, you should want to maximize the number of possessions each team gets, because that way you are less susceptible to being snakebitten by the randomness of a single score mattering more. Arrgh. I suspect it's a Polian thing.

184 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Yeah I should have looked up his numbers from there instead of guesstimating. Turns out 13/32 is right about 40%, which would make punting clearly the best choice. But even had I known that number, it doesn't tell the whole story. Conditions on the field were pretty good - no wind, no cold, no rain or snow. Not as good as a dome certainly, but close. The only thing you could say is that the field might have been a little bit slick, but Stover and Caldwell would have known if that was a problem based on warmups.

Stover clearly had the distance, the ball just hooked left and missed by what looked like only a couple of feet. While 50% might have been too optimistic, 40% might also be too pessimistic...but the pessimistic number is probably the better choice to lean to in this case.

146 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

The FG's average payout is better, but there's a lot more risk - you're risking gaining 2.5 points against losing 1.5 points. Punting risks giving 0.25 points against gaining 0.8 points.

Since you only get to run the play once, and you're already winning, you're better off choosing the play with the lowest minimum payoff to your opponent (punting).

188 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Me personally? I'd probably punt - I think most people would try the FG to attempt to gain the lead (which makes sense - you're losing, you take the riskier behavior) but really, the odds suck. A four point swing on a coin flip, with only a half-point advantage in my favor? Geh. That's one thing football has in common with poker - you have to pick and choose which opportunities to take a risk on.

Better off punting and trying to pin them deep, because really, the FG doesn't help you much. You still have to believe that you can stop them from driving the length of the field for a touchdown, and if you believe that... then you might as well punt.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I was routing for the Colts because of the backlash that would ensue from a Colt's loss after two weeks of Manning suddenly being the best quarterback ever. In the end the Saints were the more talented team.

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I wish they would make the 2pt conversion call like they did in this game: as soon as you have possession, and the football crosses the plain, it's 2 pts.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

One coach ended the half by coaching not to lose, the other one started the 2nd one by coaching to win, and it made the difference.

Btw, comparing media reaction to this onside kick and comparing it to the reaction after Reid's decision to onside kick vs Washington is funny. Especially as Reid's one seemed to have a better design/timing/execution, and should have been recovered by the Eagles, while Baskett (ha!) should clearly have caught that one.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Am I the only person who's amazed at the total media blackout of Jammal Brown? With all the talk of Freeney's injury, shouldn't it also be worthy of mention that the Saints were missing their Pro Bowl left tackle?

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I'm a Saints fan and I don't mind this. Freeney's injury was two weeks old; Jamaal Brown got hurt in an exhibition game. The Saints were never going to have Brown for this game, so his absence wasn't that meaningful.

To me the play of the game was Garcon dropping the end-of-half third down pass. He had room to run after an already big gain. At least a 6 point swing.

154 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

It's interesting that most media haven't covered Brown's absence this season, but the Saints' offense has been doing without him almost all (or all?) year long. Freeney's injury, obvs., was right before the Superbowl and could really affect game-planning for both teams. (Also, Bushrod, who starts in Brown's place, has been abused in some games, but all things considered, or all season considered, he has held his own well. Brees hasn't been under a lot of pressure this year ... only in the game or two where Bushrod really did get pushed around, and in one of those -- against the Cowboys -- Sean Payton admitted that he had thought Demarcus Ware wouldn't be in the game.)

I don't know if you follow the Saints a lot, but my main memories of Jammal Brown the past couple of seasons are two-sided: he's enormously talented, and you probably don't need to bring somebody over to help him against elite pass rushers, but it also seemed like he was often called for multiple penalties a game, usually false starts and holding. The Saints were one of the least penalized teams this year. I think reducing OL penalties really helped them make sure they never ceded momentum on some of those classic Brees drives -- both the two-minute thrillers and the long, controlled, clock-eating behemoths.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Vince Verhei: Don't like that reversal on the two-point conversion. Video wasn't conclusive one way or another. Call on the field should not have been changed.

With all the nifty video available at a Super Bowl, everything was there for the referee to see. You can dispute his interpretation of what happened, but you can't say he didn't/couldn't see it.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Everyone I was with thought the ref got it right on the 2-point conversion with the assumption being that 'breaking the plane' takes precedence over maintaining control. I believe it's akin to a guy punching the ball out of a running back's hands after the runner puts the ball across the goal line. I know the Packers did that to Adrian Peterson either last year or the year before on a TD and the refs and announcers ignored it completely.

I was both astonished and pleased that not only were there no holds called on either side of the ball nobody in the booth was b*tching about the absence of flags. Considering how holding, particularly defensive holding, seemed to be a chronic point of pain in every game the approach of 'let them play' was manna from heaven. And to be honest I didn't see anything that looked especially egregious. Nor did you see players gesturing to the refs to make a call.

Given all that I will work to not mock the comments that the refs should have dropped the flag on the TD return. That would have been the cheesiest call and every non-Colts fan would have been screaming 'fix!' as if the call was intended to help keep Indy/Manning in the game.

Was Darren Sharper really positioning himself 20-25 yards down the field at the snap or was I just confused? Seriously, he seemed to wander out of the TV screen half the time.

Hartley deserves all the credit in the world given the circumstances. Having watched far more experienced guys shank kick after kick these playoffs the guy did a d*mn fine job. And the Saints as a whole just dominated the kicking game. Amazing.

Congrats to NO. And sympathies to the Colts fans. Maybe when your coach wakes up out of his nap he can explain to you some of the decision-making...........

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Was Darren Sharper really positioning himself 20-25 yards down the field at the snap or was I just confused? Seriously, he seemed to wander out of the TV screen half the time.

One of the guys on one of the postgame shows (I think it was ESPN) said Sharper was lining up as deep as he's ever seen a safety line up. Both teams were focused on taking away the deep pass.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I called that on-side kick before it happened. Proudest Super Bowl party moment ever for me, as I was the center of attention for about 2 minutes.

Go Temo.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

All of you FO guys, seriously: take a break from watching football. You spent so much time being grumpy, holier-than-thou, and ticked off during this exercise. A well-coached, well-played, entertaining game, and you're obsessing about a replay that got the call right by the rulebook, and a coach's decision that was risky but in no way overtly stupid. It was like listening to a gynecologist go on and on about yeast infections.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Agreed. Reading the comments from these guys were painful. Complaining about Manning getting blocked in the back. Aaron saying, "Its okay to throw one pick in a game, it happens." Yeah, its fine that Manning, in what could have been a career defining drive, threw a PICK 6 to loose the Super Bowl. Yeah, its fine. The Manning apologists are amazing. The refs did a great job at letting everyone play and not allowing the game to come down to a bad call. But Aaron still harps on Scott Green's Gb/Arz call. Do you REALLY want a SB decided by a fluky block in the back call? Manning wasn't going to catch/tackle him anyway. I've never seen a bunch of people complaining about a great game like this before. Do you people even enjoy football anymore, or do you just bitch about it?

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Do you REALLY want a SB decided by a fluky block in the back call?

No, I don't, but when there's a meaningful block in the back, I do want it called. What I want is for players to be smart enough to not block in the back, so that a call isn't necessary.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

It's not just about Manning; there were a lot more complaints about the facemask non-call at the end of the Cards-Pack game. I'm glad they didn't call that one, because it didn't affect the fumble, and the facemask was not egregious. In this case, I kind of wish they had called the illegal block, because it would have kept things exciting. Still, I can't be too upset about them not calling it, since Manning wouldn't have made the tackle anyway (right? I'm going off of what other people are saying). My view on missed calls is that it's unreasonable to get worked up over them if the infraction not being called would not have decided the outcome of the play anyway, especially if the infraction was not that egregious.
In general, I think a lot of people here are getting way too worked up over Manning "homerism." FO guys appear to respect Manning, but these are also the guys who spent the past week emphasizing that the Saints are just as good as the Colts, and that Brees is just as good as Manning. I don't think they're really that upset with the result.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

The reference to the Packers/Cardinals game is incorrect. What had most Packer fans annoyed was the non-call on the Cards linebacker who all but decapitated Rodgers on 2nd down. Colledge was called for holding. The flag on Dansby(?) would have offset the hold and the down would have been replayed.

I am not aware of any Packer fan griping about the facemask non-call. Rodgers held the ball too long and last track of the one defender for which he is most responsible in that particular scenario.

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Also,, go to around 2:04-2:05. To call that would have have been completely insane and would have made for a terrible aftertaste if the Colts had rallied. The officials made the right call, and should have been praised for it.

185 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Thanks for posting that. One of the guy's hands was on Manning's shoulder. I see plays like that all the time where the blocker is mostly behind the player, but is pushing at his side and it isn't called. I think you're right that that is a correct non-call.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I agree. Audibles use to be some of my favorite sports reading on Monday. But as they've added more people to it it's become more disappointing each season. For the most part I love Aaron and Mike's comments, but some of these other guys are just.. terrible (especially Vince) and they only get worse the longer the season goes.

I really hope FO goes back and re-reads some of their Audibles from late in the season. The overwhelming negativity and complaining about virtually every aspect of the game is too much to take. It has evolved from providing some insightful and sometimes humorous notes about these games, to just sounding like a bunch of very bitter arm chair coaches. The worst part of it, is that all the while they dump on coaches, dump on players, dump on the broadcasters, the Audible commentators themselves are even WORSE at figuring out what's going on and time and again will be 100% wrong with their predictions.

122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

The stats here are different than the rest ( that's why they are good to look at), but the commentary/scouting is weak. Just because some of these guys are part of this website, they now think they are NFL scouts or something. There are holes in their "game", as they seem to miss even basic concepts at times....

That's fine and all, but then the negative comments and the Holier than thou-ness gets to you. Everybody is "criminally underrated", or some coach is super retarded for going/not going for it, or somebody shoulda woulda coulda made that play. It's Cris Collinsworth negativity times 3.

A few weeks back they go out and make fun of how Brad Childress looks like a "child molester". Have you seen some of the John Clayton looking guys that post here before?

The best part of "audibles" is that this place is actually a pretty good meeting spot for some smart football fans ( and gamblers) that DO know what's going on and do know their favorite teams...

151 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Agreed with above. I love this site. It's fresh, different, intelligent and DVOA is so much more reliable and accurate compared to the week to week ping pong that is subjective 'power rankings'. But the site (or maybe just audibles?) has definitely become increasingly focused on the negatives and the tone is different than it used to be. If I wanted to hear unintelligent fans complaining all the time, I'd just turn on the local radio...I live near Philly. As an Eagles fan I get so tired of the negative attitude from fellow 'fans' and it was always nice to come on here and not have to deal with it. I hold out hope that it won't continue. Keep up the otherwise excellent work.

199 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Agreed as well. Audibles was much better when the FO guys weren't griping about every little coaching decision (I'm pretty sure most NFL defensive coordinators know more about when to send a blitz than any of us), comment by the broadcasters, and ticky-tack calls by the officials.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Just watching a re-run, and right before the onside kick Phil Simms comments that most teams like to defer receiving the ball at kick off against the Colts so that Manning isn't given the ball first in the second half having had time to make all his post half-time adjustments. Is that true?

I watched the game on the BBC in the UK, and Alex Smith was a studio guest, presumably because the 49ers are the designated home team in the London game next year. He was palatable enough whilst offering no real insight, but at one break in play they were discussing the 49ers prospects for next year, and the other studio guest Mike Carlson (a knowledgeable and well respected football journalist over here) clearly forgot who he was sitting next to and flat out came out and said they were primed to make a playoff run if they had some decent quarterback play! A very embarrasing pause ensued. That made my night.

31 Ad thoughts

Some of the doritos ones were funny, but don't see how you manage to get "Doritos" and "Gym" associated with each other... probably the doritos one I liked best was the bark collar one.

I like the Favre in 2020 ad, still hemming about whether to retire or not. In particular I thought the hologram trophy was a neat touch, as was the high-tech microphone the reporter used.

But yeah no real signature ad. Tons of stupid ads. I see the census bureau bought an ad which tried to be funny but was pretty pathetic. I mean honestly with the talk of the government budget going on, does the census bureau really need to shell out for a superbowl ad?

Agree completely about go daddy needing to die in a fire. I think Danica Patrick has ruined any chance she has of ever being taken seriously.

Not even sure what to make of the Troy Palamalu groundhog day commercial. I can't even recall what product it was for. I'm pretty sure it wasn't head & shoulders, but that's all I can think of when I think of Palamalu now.

The entire people so obsessed with bud light they're willing to do anything for it just makes you think that "gee, people who drink bud light are dumb".

76 Re: Ad thoughts

In reply to by andrew

I think Danica Patrick has ruined any chance she has of ever being taken seriously.
You must not know NASCAR, then. Drivers are expected to shill for their sponsors, and dignity is not part of the deal. As long as she drives well, she'll be taken seriously. (And her race this weekend bodes well for the "drives well" part of that.)

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

The Goat of the Game was Larry Coyer and his vanilla, 2-deep zone for virtually the entire 2nd half.

How many 7 yard underneath catches did the NO WRs have last night? 30? A bazillion?

You can't let Brees have almost as much time as he wants to get the ball out and you can't expect your mini-me, under-sized CBs to cover the ginormous Saints WRs for an entire half and expect to win.

The Colts coaching staff got their asses handed to them last night and IMO, that was the difference in the game. The Saints came out at half, made the right adjustments and dictated to the Colts the entire 2nd half...the Colts (as usual) didn't change their tactics and the better coached team won.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Do the Colts even have coaches?

The Colts are a fascinating franchise to observe.

1. Take the best front-office and combine with one of the greatest QBs of all time.
2. Slowly replace the coaching staff with an increasingly milquetoast crew ("Just when you thought it couldn't get more vanilla than than Tony Dungy!" or... "We've secretly replaced the coaching staff with Folger's crystals.")
3. Remove testicles.
4. See what happens.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

As a Colt's fan I want to know why the team was coached by the Ghost of Tony Dungy. The Colts were aggressive this year, but apparently decided to go into Tony Dungy ultra-conservative mode for this game. The Saints played to win, the Colts played not to lose. The Saints deserved to win, congrats to them.

Manning and Brees were both assassins before half time this year. The Colts didn't take a chance and instead of possibly putting some points on the board decided to wait for the 2nd half. Giving the ball back to Brees with 45 seconds at the 50, you have to expect at least a field goal, if not a TD.

Assuming the Colts drive before the half and put some points on the board, does Payton still on-side kick? If the score is 13-3 or 17-3 at the half does he still do it?

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Dungy wanted his clone coaching the team after he left...
Dungy got his clone coacing the team after he left...
Dungy got the same result...

A Loss
(Some people) blaming Manning

Ohhh but wait... Tony Dungy is a nice guy. Can't say anything bad about him.

240 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV


Sure it could be argued that the Colts won the super bowl (despite Manning), but that's a very very stupid argument.

Manning --> Best QB to ever play the game ( top 5 at worst)
Dungy --> overrated NFL coach, NFL version of Phil Jackson, all the talent in the world on his roster, yet unlike Phil he doesn't win.

People already quit making the "Dungy is a defensive guru" arguments, and now they are " He's a good coach, quiet strength, game manager, manages the team well" blah blah blah. Look, I wouldn't say Dungy is "bad". He's average/slightly ... MAYBE if you wanted to argue he's above average I can live what that...

but he's NOT good in the playoffs. He's NOT the schemer you want in a 1 game setting... he's not going to beat you in a chess match... and he doesn't win in big games... he plays NOT to lose...

160 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

But when he won, the opposing coach was another Dungy clone, whose defense played even softer than the Colts played yesterday and allowed the Colts to dink and dunk their way down the field. Oh, and the other coach had Rex Grossman at QB and his team's offensive game plan was idiotic.

161 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

That was my biggest problem with the play-calling for the Colts too. They played to run the clock out before half, didn't go for the jugular. After getting out of the shadow of the goal posts on the first down run I thought they could get the ball down the field there. I was thinking if they got 7 there and then came out from halftime and got 7 more it would be 24-3 and the game would basically be over. And then they didn't even try, like they wanted the game to stay close :o)

232 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

While I agree with you that can cut both ways. I remember a decade ago when Denny Green and the Vikings were in a similar position before the half in the NFCCG. They attempted to play very agressive in trying to score and turned the ball over and really never recovered. Seems to me in a way, there are no " good " or "bad " decisions. But decisions that " work out " or " don't work out "

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Many of the columns written on this site have mentioned that the Colts do the same thing on offense every game, season after season. You know what they're going to do. The question is, can you stop them from doing it?
The Saints secondary had some answers for the Colts passing attack. Not for everything, but enough to be there when it counted. Well done.

Two very good teams played, one very good team won.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I think Caldwell and his staff weren't their sharpest in this game. I also thought Manning played well, but somewhat arrogantly. In particular:

1. The Saints looked to be almost conceding the run - and the Colts were gashing them up the middle. Colts didn't take advantage often enough to pull the Saints out of this style.

2. Very bad call on the plays leading up to the long FG attempt. If they were going to consider a FG when it was 3rd-and-11, why not throw it underneath, see what the down-and-distance is, and either go for it on 4th or at least kick a shorter FG? This may not have cost them the game, but choosing to go for a very low-percentage FG attempt was not a good decision.

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

The Colts defense early played some Man/Man and it worked. One of the things this team did more this year was mixed up the generic Cookie Cutter Cover 2 Dungy had a religious belief in. After their early M/M success, they were playing Zone defense way too much, and Drew Brees was KILLING them. 32/38???? It was like a 7 on 7 drill out there and didn't work, wasn't going to work, and was a stupid idea for Caldwell/Coyer to stick with. Why not TRY something? Your pass rush wasn't 100%, the Saints have a good O-Line and their QB was just picking them apart over and over and over again...

I know Manning will get the blame by some for "choaking" ( he will always have his haters), but his coach/defense hung him out to dry, Pierre Garcon had 2 drive killing drops, and Reggie Wayne dropped that ball at the end. The Colts WR screens weren't working well, they must have ran that play 4-5 times.

Phill Simms errors/Jim Nance errors ( because FO love pointing out errors)
- Simms called an "end around" a reverse
- Nance said R.Gay was the only Saint to win a SB ( Shockey did as a Giant)
- Nance said they went to Wayne "back to back", it was really 3 times in a row
- They DID point out the slick ball for the super bowl...
There, now the FO crowd can talk about how other people were wrong, Phill Simms is a cretin, and everybody that posts here is so much more intelligent than everybody else.... Happy now?

Overall I think the Saints out coached the Colts. Greg Williams had a different game plan for every quarter ( to mix it up so Manning wouldn't get his patterns). Manning saw a blitz, called an audible ( because he know the Saints D would audible to soft coverage) and ran a run play to beat it... The Saints did a good job of mixing stuff up on defense between Man/Zone, Blitz/Soft... On offense Brees just did his THANG against a weak cover 2 scheme that the Colts stuck to for nearly the whole game besides the very beginning. Give Sean Payton credit with going for the onsides kick (I'm sure he planned that before the game)... Hank Basket is a WR and the whole reason he's on the front row is to CATCH the ball and NOT have it bounce off his face mask. Sean Payton was aggressive, Brees executed well, and Greg Williams mixed it up. Caldwell on the other hand was very Dungy-esqe... Too calm... reacting and not proactive... sticking to the same tired cover 2 scheme...

Congrats to the Saints and their Fans. I've only met a couple people who can honestly say the Saints are their #1 team. Two guys from NOLA. Congrats. PS, the commercials were more of the same... Boobs, babies, people getting hurt, 2 no pants commercials in a row... I mean talk about group think! Those advertisers must just rotate between the same 4 themes.

234 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Agreed with the abandonment of the man to man stuff that was working. Thought Coyer would mix it up more since he is not a T2 adherent. But not sure how Tony Dungy should be at all blamed for the Colts loss. Caldwell and Coyer are theyre own men and they made the decisions in the game. Not Dungy.

242 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Coyer could have got the orders from Caldwell NOT to blitz/play man.

I give Calwell credit, (during the season) I thought that overall he was more aggressive than Dungy, he didn't rock the boat, kept the business as usual winning game plan going...

In the playoffs they went after the Jets/Baltimore more than Dungy would have... They started to with the Saints but went back to the Vanilla cover 2... playing you beat us football... I hated it and disagreed with it while it was going on, not just playing MMQB. I mean, how the hell do you just continue doing the same thing, while a QB carves you up completing 32/38 passes? You are facing the one of the best QB's in the league, running a cookie cutter defensive scheme? They get a big fat F for that one.

If the Colts were even a little more aggressive... say how they were in the Jets/Ravens game, or early part of the super bowl, they might have won. Playing not to lose/Martyball is not only not a good playoff strategy, but it's annoying for fans.

It's great for racking up regular season wins as other (weaker) teams beat themselves, but when you are playing one of the best presumed teams in the league... and you are challenging them to beat you... don't be shocked when it happens. Playing Martyball vs Jamarcuss Russell and the rest of the NFL is different than playing Martyball vs the John Elway's and Drew Breeses of the NFL.

246 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I very much agree with you.

I've wondered if Coyer's restraint was ordered. I'm betting it was the same thing with the three runs into the line in Q2. Peyton essentially runs the offense, but I'm sure there are times he's told how it will be (though I suspect there aren't many).

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Okay, I'm already thinking way ahead here, but I've been wondering this for a while.

It's a fair bet that the Colts will be playoff contenders two seasons from now. The SB is scheduled to be played in Indianapolis two seasons from now, with the AFC team as the "home" team.
Wouldn't this be the all-time ultimate home field advantage for the Colts if they make it to Super Bowl XLVI? It hardly seems fair.

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Ned Macey also made a comment about the Colts under performing in the playoffs... It's Dungy getting out coached ( Ultra Conservative) sticking to that same Cookie Cutter Cover 2 defense... and Caldwell/Coyer doing the same. They did play some man early on, but then stuck with an almost religious belief to that Cover 2 again...

Running the most generic defense ( with no reads needed), against Drew Brees was dumb as rocks. It' wasn't just Brees, Payton calls good Cover 2 busting plays, he called a good game and Brees executed.

I also disagree with the 2 point conversion call... You need to MAINTAIN possession as you go to the ground. When you look at it live nobody said he had possession, even the refs...

BUT, when you slow it down to super slow motion replay... DING, he had possession and was across the goalline. In my opinion, REPLAY AFFECTED the call. It was really NOT a catch, and not a catch in real time, but when you slow it down and LOOK for it to be a catch it was.

That onsides kick scrum was one of the best you'll ever see though. It went on for like 3 minutes!

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I was surprised by the game. I didn't think the Saints could hang with the Colts, but I think while it was a close game the Saints were the better team.

I found it all very dull. I didn't have a routing interest, but I didn't last year either and that game was interesting. This one seemed so precise but strangely uninteresting.

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Aaron's Petyon Manning defense force is in full bloom (just look at all his tweets). Hurry Aaron, convince the world Manning is still the Greatest of All Time and everyone throws game changing picks in Super Bowls. It's not his fault, Wayne should have ran a better route; and Manning got blocked in the back; and...(insert excuse).

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

No one else had nightmares about the green police?!

I thought the 2-pt conversion was a "Roger Goodell calling up Scott Green and telling him to reverse the call" moment. However, upon replay it looked like the right call to me. How do you know when the player is done "going to the ground"? Why not just say he needs to maintain control for 1 second while on the ground? Watching the replay it was clear to be a closer call than expected. I have never heard of this "second act" business...

But it reminds me of those catches where a player gets tackled from behind and looses the ball as he catches it in the back of the end zone.

It was like a modification of the force-out rule was in effect. "He didn't have a chance to maintain possession while on the ground, so it's good."

I can't believe some people wanted to see the pick-6 returned to midfield? The block in the back had no bearing on the play, thus I think it is actually legal... and it was hard to argue that Manning hadn't turned his back to the blocker (okay I didn't see the replay 10x to see how it went, but I imagine he was running to the sideline thus exposed his back).

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Two more comments.

1. Can the Colts Special Teams suck more for a longer period of time? Is that humanly possible?

2. The entire replay on the 2 point conversion stinks. Watching a play in HD super slo mo to see if a WR had possession for 1.2 milliseconds is NOT what replay was designed for. It was created to fix egregious errors that can be easily overturned with BLATANT video evidence. Going under a hood, to watch a frame by frame HD dissection of a catch in minutely small increments should not be how replay is used. I don't care if they got it right or wrong's just ridiculous and they need to curtail it's use. What's next...frame by frame reviews for pass interference? Holding? Enough already.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

There are a lot of complaints about this--is it just because CBS gave us the HD frame-by-frame view? Do we even know that the refs were watching the same view? I think even without it, from that angle, you could make a solid case that the guy had possession across the plane, and then the ball got knocked out of his hands.

What's the general rule on end zone catches? Are they nullified if the defender knocks the ball out of a guys hands quickly enough? There always seems to be an instantaneous aspect to the end zone that should mean you can't knock the ball out

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

You are correct that replay wasn't originally intended to be used this way, because replay was designed by reactionary owners with a mistrust of anything new and who elevated human error to something noble. However, a lot of us want replay to be used whenever it results in better calls, and I personally am glad it's use has expanded a bit. You don't care whether the call is right or wrong? I can't fathom that attitude. The whole reason there are five officials in the first place instead of one or two is to catch more penalties and to make better judgments. Having a sixth official in the booth looking at video doesn't seem to me to be some crime against God and Nature.

174 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I had a friend say during the replay challenge that the call would not be overturned because "the slow-mo was too slow". It sounded completely ridiculous and gave everyone at the party a great laugh, but deep down I understood what he was saying. Catches (or non-catches) happen in real time, not slow-mo. You can use super-slo-mo frame-by-frame HD dissection to determine something like whether a receiver got 2 feet in-bounds, or whether a ball crosses a goal-line before a knee touches down, but to determine whether a catch is made like in this case it doesn't really make sense. A catch is possession in real-time -- it doesn't happen at a specific frame or millisecond, it's a continuous action. Unless it's egregious, in a case like this one the call on the field should stand, however it's made.

207 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Agreed. My problem with the overturn was that, although Moore seemed to have the ball under control for several frames of the super slo-mo right before it was batted away, he also seemed to have the ball under control for several frames during what Phil Simms called the "Act One" portion of the play ... then subsequently showed that in fact, no, he did not have control. (In what was, I guess, the "intermission" portion of the play.) I have no reason to think that he wouldn't have again bobbled it away in "Act Two" had the Colts defender not batted it away. Once Moore started showing butterfingers, I think he lost the benefit of the doubt for the purposes of replay.

208 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

So, once bobbled, never controlled. Possession is never called consistently one way or the other, but I prefer giving a guy possession even if the ball moves a bit.
Also, I guess nobody has a way of answering this, but for what it's worth, we don't know that the refs are watching super-slo-mo.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

(1) It should go without saying that blocking in the back isn't a penalty if the blockee is facing away from the ball.

Among other things, this is why defensive lineman don't line up facing away from the line of scrimmage, which in crazy world would automatically allow them unblockable passage into the backfield every snap.

(2) I think there's a general tendency of feeling that the 'indisputable evidence' rule means that borderline calls need to remain as called on the field.

It's been clear for some time that this is not the NFL's interpretation; in practice, if they have a clear view of everything that happened on the play, they'll overturn purely on a basis of what they think the call should have been. Where if a ballcarrier's whole body or somesuch crosses a plane, but they can't see the ball, they leave it despite being the obviously wrong call.

Not saying that's how it should be, but there's a certain logic to "if you've seen everything that could possibly be seen, and still don't know what the right call is, how are you an NFL ref?"

(3) The Audibles came across a bit bitter after the pick. "Block in the back!" "Pass interference!" "Spearing! Throw him out!" "Block in the back!" "Peyton haters deserve a slap in the face!"

(4) You can't expect to win a playoff game without scoring 20 points. When you are playing against the #1 offense/ #25 defense, your sights should be put a little higher. The Colts running game was very strong. The supporting cast combined for 0 fumbles. The pass protection was better than solid, certainly worse than great. The Colts offense netted 10 points.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Among other things, this is why defensive lineman don't line up facing away from the line of scrimmage, which in crazy world would automatically allow them unblockable passage into the backfield every snap.

While it would be hilarious to watch linemen running backwards into the backfield, blocks in the back are allowed in close-line play (within the tackles and within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage).

It should go without saying that blocking in the back isn't a penalty if the blockee is facing away from the ball.

It is, unless the defender is turning away from the blocker, which is why Dustin Keller's block on Shonn Greene's touchdown against the Bengals wasn't a penalty.

209 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Thank you for comment 1)

The purpose of that rule is to require blockers to get between would-be tacklers and ball carriers.

In any case, the guy who blocked Manning got the side part of his shoulder pads (while Manning was twisting to be running directly away from Porter). It would have been scandalous to throw a flag in a situation where Manning had no chance of making a play.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

This Colts fan would simply like to congratulate the Saints and their fans for a well-deserved win. Of course, as a Purdue fan I can take solace in a silver lining.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

When Manning threw the pick I was in shock. Not because I really cared that much either way who won, but Manning's entered that rarified zone where I just can't believe he didn't bring them back. Maybe I've just bought too much hype. That was one of two bad throws all night; he had another one out to Wayne short to the left sideline that fell short. Other than that, he looked pretty automatic.

Good game. I would have preferred a Colts victory because I'm incapable of rooting for the Saints as division foes (plus I find Manning to be hilarious), but not that big of a deal.

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Manning was definitely worse this worse than previously, but with Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon as his 2 and 3 receivers how much can you do? Collie is terrible; would be seen as such if he had a non-manning/brees/warner QB throwing to him and Garcon isn't much better. And Reggie Wayne, at least tonight, sucked.

That being said, I think in retrospect (ie 20/20 hindsight) the Colts being favored being by 6 seems strange. The Saints completely dominated some very good teams while the Colts played a ton of close games against mediocre ones.

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Actually, there were plenty of people who were saying that Manning makes the talent around him look a lot better than it is. Intelligent analysts have been saying that for years now.

And, it's true, Garcon can actually get separation (though he is also inconsistent)- Collie gets most of his yards on 6-8 yard passes thrown into tight windows by Manning.

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I'm just saying, Jerry Rice sucked in his second year (at least in the playoffs- that was the 49-3 loss to the Giants, and the story Niners fans took out of the game was 'this guy can't hold onto the football') Collie, I grant you, can't do anything that tons of other guys couldn't do. I haven't thought the Colts have had "great" receivers since '04 or '05

238 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

A week before the super bowl it was...

" Manning is in a zone unlike anything we've seen before".

Collie is a freaking rookie...
Garcon is a 2nd year player
Yes Manning makes them look better but...

I still wouldn't bet against these guys. Collie is surprisingly polished in year 1 of his career, and Garcon has speed to burn. If these guys continue to work hard, they could both turn into very very good players... Unlike that loser Moorehead and those other retreads they had around.

I think Steve Smith is a very polished WR for the Giants, and Collie was ahead of Smith in year 1 of his career... Imagine adding Steve Smith to Wayne, Clark, Garcon....

Garcon is a legit deep threat, dropped some balls in the SB, but is the fastest of the crew... If he continues to work on his game he could be a very good player as well.

156 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I really like this site, but Baltimore was not the best team in the league this season. I'm guessing New England wound up fourth? They were the best team Indy played, but this was their worst season since 2002. Really, the top of the NFC was much deeper than the AFC.

210 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

"they didn't play a good team before the Super Bowl"

The played the Pats when the Pats were 6-2. Also, the Pats nearly beat them. In Indy.

They also played Arizona, Baltimore, the Jets, the Dolphins, the Titans and Texans. They didn't have a particularly tough schedule, but that's a far cry from "didn't really play a good team before the Super Bowl".

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Nice game by the Saints. They made every play after the failed 4th down. Three nice long FG's. Recovery of an on-side kick. Excellent offensive patience, and great pick 6 to end it. The Colts? Other than the 4th down stop, they missed over and over on chances (some good chances, some long shots) to make the big play: can't get Garcon to catch the big third down pass in the first half that could have led to more points, can't get a first down to keep the ball at the end of the first half, can't get the on-side kick, can't catch the overthrown pass by Brees and turn it into a pick, can't get Wayne to catch the last pass to make it a one-TD game and try their own on-sides kick.

Congrats to the Saints and their fans. As a Colt fan, I am not too bummed. They were outplayed. Manning had a chance, but made the big mistake. The 2 point conversion overturn -- well, it didn't help the Colts, as the Saints defense could play without any pressure of failure, but really, the Colts still had a chance to tie it.

(As a side note about the replay: I watched it go to commercial before I had any real proof one way or another, I said that there is no way the refs do not overturn that call if it's close, because if they call it a catch and Indy scores, the game goes into overtime, but if they call it incomplete and Indy scores and wins, well, the refs just decided the SB, and no one wants that. I have no idea if the refs made the right call -- but I was certain that overturning the call would be better for football so that the refs did not decide the game. Let the players do it, and Manning's pick did.)

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Vince Verhei: Well, on that one, it looked like Collie ran right when the blockers were to his left.

That was a huge play. An instance where a player didn't play within his abilities and he tried to make a big play. Collie would've had at least 10 yds maybe more if he had just followed his 3 blockers all of them O-Linemen. What a crucial point to spin away from your 3 blockers right into the one defender on that side.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

"And every national columnist who says that this loss somehow "tarnishes Peyton Manning's legacy" gets a slap across the face. Seriously, both quarterbacks played well tonight. Manning threw one pick. You are allowed to throw one. If your defense plays well, and you play the way Manning played tonight, you usually win."

Aaron, you're absolutely right, you're allowed to throw one. Sometimes you can even get away with throwing two, especially if you're Peyton Manning. But you can't throw that one at that time. That one you are definitely NOT aloowed to throw. It was completely his fault, you have to recognize that your receiver lost that one on one battle before throwing the ball. One thing that Ben Roethlisberger (2x SB winner) does well is that he makes mistakes early,but more often than not makes up for it late. If you want to be among the greats, you can't throw that pick at that time. As much as I hate to say it, being a Colts and Manning fan and Brady HATER, it's just another example of Manning coming up small-ish. Does it tarnish his legacy?...a little, because we will always rememeber how that game ended. Finally, you're allowed to throw one..but Brees didn't.

Other boners:
Sending Stover out there for a 51 yarder that he doesn't have the leg for, and giving NO the ball at the 41. Better play to try to punt deep or just go for it from the 34...Stover was 1-5 from 50+ the last four years and he's only gotten older.

Garcon's drop, inexcusable (yes, Colston had a big drop but not as crucial of a juncture and oh yeah, the Saints won so it doesn't matter).

Not being prepared for the onside kick (ok this is a reach but it's another example of Caldwell being outcoached)

Joe Addai 12 carries?...Saints run D was soft early and needed to be exploited.

Wayne's alligator arms drop late on 4th and goal: probably wouldn't have made a difference but would have extended the game.

Saints receivers being open in the middle of the field ALL GAME. Defense is played from the middle out...there were no Colt defenders between the hashes, too afraid of Brees stretching the field and he picked them apart.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

For those who say that wasn't a completed pass on the 2-pt conversion, please tell us how long a receiver has to be on the ground with possession and control of the ball before it is a catch and the play is over.

In this case, before the defender's leg knocked the ball out the receiver had possession and control of the ball, was on the ground, and the ball had crossed the plane. So why shouldn't it be a catch? He had gone to the ground with possession and control.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

I just re-watched the play (highlights available on What the official standing right there saw was that Moore caught the ball while going to the ground, bobbled it when he hit the ground, and never re-established control of the ball before being the contact by the defender knocked the ball out of his hands. From the far camera (not the ref's view), it appears that Moore re-established control before the contact by the defender, but I believed (and still believe) the near camera (from the ref's view) shows that Moore never re-established control after hitting the ground and the pass was properly ruled incomplete on the field and should not have been reversed.

And, just because my comments in Audibles may sound a little negative, congratulations to the Saints, who were well-deserving winners. They made more plays and ended up with more points because they were the better team last night.

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

Yeah, he held the ball inbetween his hands mostly without letting it move for .01 miliseconds in frame 4356, but in frame 4367 .1 milisecond later the ball moves and it's swatted out of his hands.

Nobody would call that a catch in a live game, but when you are looking at it in frozen frames and LOOKING for a call then the refs changed the call.

He did NOT catch the ball and maintain possession as he went down to the ground. The fact that he was int he endzone is irrelevant. If that play happened at midfield it wouldn't be a catch at midfield, it would be no completion. It was a bad call, but the Saints deserved to win due to outcoaching Fungitis Jr.

252 Re: Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

So if the play happened at midfield and he fumbled the ball afterwards, you would have said "catch and fumble"? I find that hard to believe. It would have been a " he never had full possession of the ball"... Not " he had possession for 1 millisecond and then fumbled the ball".