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08 Feb 2010

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLIV

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"

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 08 Feb 2010

258 comments, Last at 14 Feb 2010, 8:52pm by tuluse


by Still Alive (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:42am

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.

by ammek :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:06am

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.

by MCS :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:05am

I think you give the Colts' tacklers too much credit. There was a ton of yardage after first contact for the Saints.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:57am

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.

by Brian Davis (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:03am

Yeah, with his mom.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:49am

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

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:55am

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

by drobviousso :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:13am

I agree. I love old school uniforms like the Raider, Steelers and Browns much more than the Bills, Texans, etc. Although the cards are pretty OK.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:22am

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.

by loki (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:06pm

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?".

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:26pm

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.)

by Staubach12 :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 2:58am

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.

by tuluse :: Sun, 02/14/2010 - 6:51pm

I like the powder blues, and I agree with Eddo's tastes.

What jersey's do you do like?

by MJK :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:23pm

I read your comment the first time as "I love old, school uniforms like... "

It brought up amusing images of football players playing in plaid pleated skirts and frilly blouses... :-)

by Treima (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:19pm

I liked the Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl. The Eagles' green looked good against the Patriots' silver helmets and white jerseys.

by Brian Davis (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:02am

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.

by Dan :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:50pm

Agreed - Freeney's injury was huge. The Colts were getting a lot of pressure early on and disrupting the Saints offense, but by the second half Brees had enough protection to pick the Colts apart, and the biggest difference was Freeney.

by Marcumzilla :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:01pm

After how the Colts D dropped off this game, and the infamous Chargers game with the Volek drive for the win, I believe that Freeney is the 2nd most valuable Colt. They could do without Sanders, Wayne, or Clark more easily. The dropoff in pressure is crazy.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 5:25pm


I think the biggest difference was that Shockey was chipping Freeney pretty much every single play in the second half. (other than the plays he was off getting taped)

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:22am

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?

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:51am

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.

by armchair journe... :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:53pm

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

by JFP (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:28am

"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?

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:30am

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

by Darrel Michaud :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:05am

Hank Baskett tried to field the kick after it crossed the 40. He just couldn't do it.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:19am

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.

by oi! (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:56am

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.


by Marcumzilla :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:55pm

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.

by perly :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:51pm

Fumble recovery isn't subject to replay review, so Caldwell couldn't have challenged if he'd wanted to.

by Bobman :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:43am

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?

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:12am

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)

by Packer Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:02am

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.

by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:10am


I believe the distinction is that Moore was already on the ground. He had control. And then the ball was punched away.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:12am

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.

by Ivan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:15am

Mike Pereira covered this a number of times on NFL.com'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.

by Roy G. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:54am

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.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:08am

So is that type of play now like a "force out"? He would've maintained control but he wasn't given the chance because the ball was forced out.

by Phil :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:20am

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.

by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:11pm

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.

by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:41pm

Absolutely the right call to reverse. I can't believe anyone would question's Payton's decision to challenge it given the huge stakes -- how many other challenges truly have 2 points riding on them?

by Fourth :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:57am

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.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:44am

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.

by Travis :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 8:23am

The odds of 42-year-old Matt Stover, who hasn't made a field goal greater than 47 yards since the 2006 playoffs, making that kick on a wet grass field must be lower than 50%.

by jedmarshall :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:59am

No way is the FG close to 50% likely. The odds of converting the 4th down there were probably pretty close to the odds of the FG. A punt would have been the correct choice, but I would've rather seen them go for it than the FG.

by R. Carney (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:00pm

Good logic,but Stover is nowhere near 50/50 from there. They showed a stat where he was either 1-4 or 1-5 over the last 3 years over 50,and this is the oldest hes's been in the last three years, that's pretty simple math

by sLothario (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:35pm

Stover was 13/32 for his career from 50+ coming into that game. Hadn't made on since '06. Good math by the poster, but TERRIBLE decision by Caldwell.

by Fourth :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:56pm

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.

by E :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:58pm

He's older than he's ever been - and now he's even older

by SteveNC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:53pm

And now he's older still.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:26pm

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).

by Fourth :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:47pm

That's a good point. Better to take the lowest risk when you're ahead if the values are at all close. What do you think you would do if the game was tied there? Down 1 instead of up 1?

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 5:17pm

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.

by jebmak :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:41am

To the Colts coach(es) and owner, see Nelson Muntz.

To the players, sorry that sucks, I would have rooted for you.

by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 5:10am

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.

by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:15am

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.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:07am

you're in luck

by Lance :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:55am

By the end of this thread, Stover is going to be a 1,000 year old mummy.

by bubqr :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:58am

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.

by ThomasM (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:17am

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?

by ugarte (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:00pm

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.

by Margaret (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:45pm

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.

by Jerry :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:28am

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.

by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 8:32am

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...........

by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:17pm

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.

by Temo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:20am

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.

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 4:37pm

Andy Warhol would think you got robbed.

by cttb (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:36am

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.

by Johnny (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:56am

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?

by dmb :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:30am

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.

by stay firm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:49am

Sort of, but I can't help but find it a little grotesque that people are angry because the officials did NOT call a ticky tacky penalty to negate a huge play. Can't help but feel that it's Manning 'homerism' in play.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:13pm

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.

by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:36pm

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.

by stay firm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:39pm


There were so few Colts around that Porter had a really easy path to the endzone regardless.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:48pm

Not incorrect. Perhaps that's not what Packers fans were griping about, but that's what the media--including FO writers and TMQ were griping about.

by stay firm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:02pm

Also, http://www.nfl.com/videos/indianapolis-colts/09000d5d8164940d/Manning-s-..., 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.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 5:02pm

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.

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:24pm

Seriously...FO had a rooting interest in the Saints, since they were one of the only places calling the game a pick-em.

I think you're seeing what you want to see. Pay attention.

by theoldschooler (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 10:50am

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.

by Temo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 10:56am


by C (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:40pm

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...

by Bruce G. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:35pm

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.

by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:16pm

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.

by BJR :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:42am

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.

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:58pm

No, it's not. I've watched every Colts game for many years and his comment was completely false.

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 4:42pm

Phil Simms...wrong!?!?!?!

by andrew :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:51am

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".

by oi! (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:03pm

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.)

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:54am

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.

by sLothario (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:45pm

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.

by Frick (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:59am

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?

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 10:12am

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.

by DavidL :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 10:58am

The....same result? You're referring to the time Tony Dungy lost the Super Bowl?

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:29pm

No, I'm refering to the other 10 years where he had Championship caliber teams. Yes, Manning won once DESPITE Dungy, do you want a cookie?

by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 11:26am

C, you are going to have to elaborate on Manning winning a Superbowl " despite " Dungy. It could be argued the Colts won that Superbowl " despite " Manning.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 4:41pm


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...

by Marko :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:02pm

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.

by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 11:35am

Been reading the whole year that Caldwell was NOT a Dungy clone. So how is this loss a reflection of Dungy in particular?

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:04pm

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)

by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 11:44am

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 "

by Paul R :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 10:05am

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.

by Geronimo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 10:07am

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.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 10:10am

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.

by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 11:48am

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.

by Marcumzilla :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 12:58pm

Dungy jinxed them by saying they'd win, just like he reverse-jinxed the Cowboys into the playoffs.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 4:48pm

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.

by Marcumzilla :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 5:31pm

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).

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 02/11/2010 - 3:52pm

Yeah I agree and I wonder about those things too.

I just hate playing football where you ask the other team to beat you.

by Paul R :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 10:22am

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.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:15am

Well, that could happen any year.

Next year, the Cowboys could play at their home stadium in the Super Bowl.
This year, the Dolphins could have.

I don't believe that any stadium currently hosting Super Bowls doesn't also host the home games of an NFL team.

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 4:48pm

Rose Bowl, Pasadena CA, assuming it's still in the rotation.

by Darrel Michaud :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:16am

That's assuming there is a 2012 Super Bowl.

by Sophandros :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:18am

New Orleans hosts in 2013. That would easily be the ultimate home field advantage.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Dean :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:15pm

This happened - sort of - back in the 80s. One of the games (SB XIX?) was held at Stanford Stadium, and ended up being a de-facto home game for the 49ers.

by Marko :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:11pm

Yes, that was Super Bowl XIX. The Rams also had a de facto home game in Super Bowl XIV in Pasadena against the Steelers. But there actually may have been more Steelers fans than Rams fans at that game. The Steelers fans sure seemed louder than the Rams fans.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 10:31am

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!

by jmaron :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 10:41am

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.

by Johnny (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 10:53am

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).

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:06am

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).

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 4:53pm

What's with all the people on this site who spell "lose" with two o's? Have you all loost your minds?

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:11am

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 there...it's just ridiculous and they need to curtail it's use. What's next...frame by frame reviews for pass interference? Holding? Enough already.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:43am

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

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:07pm

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.

by E :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:12pm

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.

by Bad Doctor :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:00pm

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.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:50pm

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.

by Patrickasef (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:12am

(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.

by Travis :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:44am

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.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:12pm

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.

by Todd S. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:30am

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.

by Verifiably Unverifiable (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:49pm

Yep with that performance by Manning the Curtis Painter Era is about to start. Oh wait..., what..., nevermind

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:36am

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.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:14pm

Manning threw a ton of picks this year, the most he'd thrown since very early in his career. The Colts had a '72 Dolphins-esque bad schedule (they didn't really play a good team before the Super Bowl)

by stay firm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:24pm

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.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:33pm

No one was saying this before the Super Bowl (and I think you're underselling Garcon)

by stay firm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:36pm

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.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:53pm

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

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 4:35pm

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.

by jebmak :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:30pm

They had about a league average schedule at 0.7% DVOA, and played the #1 and #4 teams.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:55pm

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.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:18pm

"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".

by Purds :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:43am

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.)

by armchair journe... :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:11pm

i like that take on the overturned call...

except that the opposite always seems to happen, outside of this example
armchair journeyman quarterback

by Rob Vikes (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:49am

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.

by R. Carney (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:52am

"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.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:56am

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.

by Tom Gower :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:07pm

I just re-watched the play (highlights available on NFL.com). 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.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:16pm

"Control" is so vague. He held the ball between his hands, mostly without letting it move, and he had stilled it again before the defender came and knocked it out. It looked like "control" to me.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:44pm

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.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 5:48pm

Looked like he had possession to me, and THE INSTANT he crosses the plane, with the ball, the play is over.

The play was over before the ball came out. Thems the rules.

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 02/11/2010 - 3:55pm

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".

by MJK :: Fri, 02/12/2010 - 12:35pm

I've stayed pretty quiet on this one, but I'll weigh in now.

I think the call was correct, but I would have been OK if it has been "incomplete". The key issue is whether he had possession at any point when the ball was across the plane. I'm not convinced he did, and in realtime it certainly looked like he didn't (the ref's initial ruling to that effect was so animated that it was funny and awesome), but in replay, there was a short but finite amount of time that it looked like he had possession. Once you have possession and break the plane, the play ends, and it doesn't matter if the ball is knocked out later. In another thread, someone brought up the very good point that, if you overturn the 2-point conversion, then you would have to rule a "fumble" any time a defensive player knocks the ball out of a not-yet-down RB's hands a moment or two AFTER he breaks the plane on a goal line plunge. And that's just not how it's called.

Much has been made of the "you have to possess it to the ground" rule, which the receiver in this case obviously didn't, but that rule only applies if you have been contacted by a defender. In this case, from the views I saw, it looked like he wasn't contacted by a defender until after the ball had broken the plane, at which time the play was already over.

To answer your question, if the play had happened at midfield, I believe the correct call would have been "catch and down by contact". The receiver would have caught the ball, bobbled it, regained possession, landed on the ground, and then had the ball knocked out by the defender. However, because the player was on the ground, the instant he or the ball is touched by the defender, the play ends with "down by contact", and the fact the the ball was knocked out afterwords should be immaterial. However, I agree that most refs, at midfield, would probably mis-call it as "incomplete because he never had possession", because (1) standards are looser at midfield than on a 2-point conversion, and (2) there isn't the "breaking the plane" assist to immediately end the play.

by nat :: Fri, 02/12/2010 - 2:31pm

You are making this too complex. The call, although a near thing, is quite simple.

The receiver was on the ground.
The receiver caught the ball in the endzone (after the bobble).
The play was over.
The defender kicked the ball out the receiver's hands.

People may disagree (or pretend to disagree) about the actual "caught the ball" part, but the timing is crystal clear in the replay and no "possess to the ground" or "breaks the plane" rules needs to be considered.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:20pm

It was a catch.

by CJS NYC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:00pm

Not sure what "This is not what replay was designed for" means. Wasn't it designed for using the latest technology to determine if the call on the field was correct? And isn't that how it was used?

It's one thing to be against replay review on principle, but this sounds like a debate on what the framers meant when writing the Constitution, which seems a little silly.

by panthersnbraves :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:05pm

Commercials - I'll agree on the Google being the best, with the "Milk-awhat?" being second.

Important plays - Special Teams all the way around, plus the one turnover. I told my son that the first team to turn it over would lose.

That being said, I fear tomorrow's TMQ - Not only did he call the teams, they went for it on Fourth Down - once at the Goal Line and once in the "Maroon Zone." He'll be riding this for ages. I'd have to think about him using "Kick it early/go for it late," somehow. Oh, and did I mention he picked the two teams?


by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:27pm

And why do I fear he'll fail to mention that the game-clinching play (the pick six) was caused by the Saints blitzing?

by Daniel :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:16pm

Not to worry, Gregg Williams is allowed to blitz, because he is tastefully named.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:32pm

If this is a copy cat league, does this Super Bowl basically end the ever shrinking interest the NFL has on running the football?

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:31pm

I know Football Outsiders' numbers said that 2008 was an historic year for great offenses, but what struck me about all of the strongest contenders (Pittsburgh, Tennessee, to a lesser extent Baltimore) was their dominant defenses. Tennessee was thisclose to hosting the AFC championship, and Chris Johnson was clearly the best offensive player on the field in that game against Baltimore. Great runners will always have a role.

by tuluse :: Sun, 02/14/2010 - 8:52pm

Top 10 rushing team wins the Superbowl, and that ends interest in running game?

by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:49pm

When Vince goes into his "why don't people realize how good Drew Brees is?" loop, I want to throw up. People realize. You're not blowing the cover on the story. Let it go.

I'm astounded some people liked the halftime show. I grew up idolizing The Who and even I can admit they were mediocre.

by Dean :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:16pm

My thoughts there were that The Who were a great band, but this was not one of their defining moments. They started out mediocre and picked up steam and weren't bad by the end. This show paled in comparison to Springsteen, Prince, Petty, et al - but it was 1000x better then any of the eMpTyV schmaltz. If there was one good thing about seing Janet Jacksons saggy boob (and it's not like any straight men were actually watching live anyway), it's that we don't have to sit through those crappy halftime shows anymore.

by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:20pm

Would it be a possible to see a band remotely close to its prime someday? We haven't had that since U2.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:25pm

I think in many, many cases, The Who/Petty/Springsteen past their prime >>> any other band currently in their prime.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:35pm

U2's prime was the 1980s

by Dean :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:20pm

U2 had a prime? They were good for inducing nausea, but that's about it.

I think that until you hit the point in your career that your fans are more interesetd in celebrating your prior albums then looking forward to the next albums, the NFL isn't going to consider you.

They almost pulled that off when they tried to get Metallica before SB XXXVII, but when Metalica refused to lip synch, the NFL pulled the offer. Instead Metallica pulled up a flatbed in the Oakland parking lot and played a free gig before the AFC Championship Game.

Even then, though, you could argue that Metallica was already past their prime in 2003 - but at least they were reasonably close to it still.

Pearl Jams prime isn't that far in their rearviewmirror, and they're big sportsfans. I wouldn't be surprised to see them play sooner or later.

by jebmak :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:33pm

Never again due to that one unpleasant Super Bowl.

by Rob Vikes (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:45pm

When U2 played in NO during the Rams/Pats SB where the coverage of the HT show was cut short during "Where the Streets have no Name."

by Yaguar :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:46pm

No, people don't understand how good Brees is. It's downright insulting that people have been calling him the third best quarterback in the league. (And some, not even that. How much love were Favre and Warner getting until Brees trampled them both?)

Peyton's alleged superiority is fairly tenuous. Over the past two years, it is Brees who has the lead in DYAR. Over the past four, since Brees got to New Orleans, it's Peyton by a comfortable margin - and over the past four years, each has won a Superbowl. Fine, Peyton might be better.

Brady's alleged superiority to Brees is patently absurd. Brees threw for 5000 yards with Lance Moore as his leading wide receiver last year. Brady looks flat-out ordinary without Randy Moss. With Randy Moss, he does marginally better than Daunte Culpepper did. Even Brady's alleged superiority in the playoffs simply rings false. 6.27 Adjusted Yards per Attempt in the playoffs? 85.5 QB rating? 228 yards per game? Drew Brees spits on that. Try 8.08 Adjusted Yards per Attempt, a 103.7 QB rating, and 275 yards per game. Brees's worst playoff game ever was the NFC Championship three years ago, where he threw for 354 yards and 2 TDs - against the Bears.

The only reason Brees shouldn't be unanimously considered the best passer in the league right now - and perhaps the best passer of all time - is the other guy who played quarterback last night.

by Go Pats (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:18pm

Oh please stop with the Brady bashing. Brees is awsome no question but Peyton is 9-9 when the games count, what's Brady 14-4??? How many rings does Peyton have again, oh that's right, just 1. And if not for a fluke catch, Brady has 4. Please. Peyton may have the best regular season stats but the great ones do it when it counts, in the playoffs. Oh but that's right it's never Mannings fault when the Colt's loose it's always Dungy's or Caldwell's or the receiver ran the wrong route or droped the ball even though it hit it in the chest yada yada yada. Yet when the Colts win, it's all Manning all the time.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:41pm

I like how when Brady loses, though, the games don't count. Or it was due to a "fluke catch".

Both sides of the debate use the same form of argument. It doesn't make either side right or wrong.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:47pm

Looking at the won-loss record of two teams, with two eighteen game sample sizes, and a 9-9 vs. a 14-4 record, when trying to determine which qb is "better", is so silly that is can barely be described. Good grief, will there ever come a day when such nonsense will go away, at least on sites such as this?

by RickD :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 12:08am

Don't be too quick to discard the value of 18 games as a sample size. 14-4 really is considerably better than 9-9.

If a team has a true winning percentage of 50%, the probability of winning 14/18 games is really quite small. Using Excel to calculate this, I'm getting a probability of less than .003.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 1:45am

The way to look at it is the probability of winning 14 or more. That is about 1.5%, which is not shockingly small. Also, let us assume for a moment that Manning and Brady are both above average playoff qbs, meaning that teams qbed by either one have a "true probabilty" of winning of 60%. Such a team has a 26% chance of winning nine or fewer, and a 9% chance of winning 14 or more. These are not probabilities which would lead us to be terribly surprised at one qb having 9 wins, and the other 14. Now, once we figure that the playoffs are such that you can only suffer one loss per season, and that there is a helluva lot more that goes into winning a game than qb play, and it becomes really silly to use two won loss records, compiled over two eighteen game samples, as a means to decide which qb is better.

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:42pm

Tommy from Quinzee Ladies and Gentlemen!

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:46pm

Fluke catch? Let's go back to the Tuck Rule game. Oakland wins game. Bledsoe returns as starting QB. Belichek trades Brady to somewhere for #2 pick. Brady has Sonny Jurgensen-like career with mediocre teams and never gets to date supermodels. Not saying anything but get over your alternate realities. Brady didn't win his last Super Bowl either. 18-1. It's a fact. Get over it.

by RickD :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 12:12am

a) the tuck rule was adjudicated correctly during that game
b) even if it had been wrongly adjudicated, there was no guarantee that the Raiders would win
c) even after the tuck rule was adjudicated, the Raiders had an opportunity to drive down the field, but didn't try.

I'm sick and tired of hearing about the Tuck Rule game as if either the Pats or the officials had done something wrong. It was the correct call! Get over it!

And if you're a Raiders fan, make a note: if you go into a Super Bowl against the guy who was your coach the previous year, maybe you should change the signals?

Anybody whining about the tuck rule has no business telling anybody else to "get over" anything.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:41pm

Was the "trampling" of Brees over Favre to which you refer the one that took place two weeks ago?

Are you seriously asserting that Brees can reasonably be asserted to be the best passer of all time, if not for Peyton Manning?

by patriotsgirl :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 5:07pm

Apparently, 4-5 really good years = greatest of all time. Someone needs to tell Terrell Davis.

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:12pm

No kidding. Don't you hate it when people say one QB defeated another (or trampled, or whatever verb)? QBs don't play against each other...QBs play against defences. The only way Brees "tramples" Favre is if he suits up as a DE.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:06pm

Hell, Brees didn't even have a statistically superior day to Favre two weeks ago. By this reasoning, Roethlisberger "trampled" Hasselbeck in the last Super Bowl in Detroit.

There are, no doubt, people who think that the fact that the Steelers won that game adds significantly to Roethlisberger's resume. We are doomed to have such nitwittery to put up with.

by Jerry :: Thu, 02/11/2010 - 5:51am

There are, no doubt, also people who have forgotten how good Roethlisberger was in the three playoff games before that Super Bowl.

by RickD :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 12:13am

People often confuse "all time" and "the past two weeks".

by Yaguar :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 12:31am

Subjectively speaking, I would say that Favre's 2 interceptions, including the mindblowingly terrible decision that ended the game, outweigh his otherwise superior production. I would also say that Favre has a greater set of offensive weapons than Brees does, and his performance with the Jets last year better shows what Favre today would do on an average team.

Brees moved to a 3-13 team and instantly put up 10 wins, 4400 yards, and 26 TDs.

And yes, I seriously assert that Brees's past four years are easily a contender to be the best four-year stretch by any QB in history. Even if you extend it to six years, it's probably still true. Here is a comparison of several HOF QBs' four-season averages at their peaks. For one player, Tom Brady, I took four non-consecutive years to get around his nonexistent 08 season. For another, Dan Marino, I averaged him over three and two-thirds seasons, because he only took about 2/3 of his team's attempts in his rookie year, but he was very impressive with them. Dan Fouts was averaged over 3.56 seasons, because of the strike year. I'm trying to cast all the competition in the best possible light - and note that I have made no concessions for Brees, who sat out two week 17 games after clinching the best possible playoff seeding.

Brees: 4575 yards, 31 TD, 14 INT, 66.8%, 7.77 yards per attempt, 17 sacks
QB B: 4015 yards, 36 TD, 14 INT, 62.4%, 7.27 yards per attempt, 32 sacks
QB C: 3705 yards, 23 TD, 12 INT, 63.2%, 7.22 yards per attempt, 33 sacks
QB D: 4408 yards, 39 TD, 18 INT, 58.5%, 7.89 yards per attempt, 16 sacks
QB E: 4629 yards, 29 TD, 21 INT, 62.6%, 8.01 yards per attempt, 26 sacks
QB F: 4211 yards, 32 TD, 13 INT, 64.6%, 7.66 yards per attempt, 22 sacks
QB G: 4242 yards, 34 TD, 10 INT, 66.7%, 8.14 yards per attempt, 16 sacks

I just went ahead and put Brees as QB A, since he's pretty easy to spot with his massive yardage production and high completion percentage.

How does he stack up to QB B and C? More or less strictly superior. Those are Favre and Elway, respectively. Sure, those guys are admired more for longevity than for peak, and Elway's rushing yardage isn't accounted for. However, their sack rates are pretty horrid (and this is after Elway had Zimmerman and Nalen, too.) Favre began to deliver the ball more quickly as he aged, but these are his MVP seasons, and it would do him a disservice to pick a later part of his career.

QB D is obviously Marino - the stats are very characteristic of him. The TD production is ridiculous, and he's one of only two QBs to take fewer sacks than Brees - but he does produce more incompletions and interceptions than most of the other QBs. QB E is another high-risk-high-reward guy, Dan Fouts. Again, your preference probably depends on how much risk you want to take. Brees is a "safe" QB, whereas Fouts is a "fun" one who produces more big plays for both offense and defense. These guys played in a different style and in a different era, but they are by no means clearly superior or clearly inferior.

F and G are Brees's contemporaries - Brady and Manning. Manning's 4-season average (actually from 2003-2006, but 2004-2007 would also look impressive, as would 2006-2009) is pretty clearly the best of all the quarterbacks. Brady's stats are the most similar to Brees's. But Brees is superior across the board, except by a fraction of an interception and a fraction of a TD per year.

You can say that I cherrypicked four years as my timeframe to make Brees look good, but Brees's 2004 and 2005 are impressive as well - and unless I keep giving other quarterbacks a lot of deference for injuries and other missed games, Brees probably still looks superior over six years. Brees has missed 2 games, both because he had clinched the best possible playoff seeding.

In short, if you put Brees up against a whole horde of "best-ever" type QBs, he can stack up reasonably well against all of them, except for Manning. That's why I made the claim that Manning is the only thing stopping Brees from entering best-ever conversations.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 1:11am

Objectively speaking, Brees had at least two throws every bit as bad as Favre's picks, but the defenders simply didn't catch them, one time because a diving linebacker tried (understandably) to make a circus catch on a pass that he didn't know was going right into a stationary saftey's waiting hands. Brees also fumbled twice, but luckily, the Saints recovered both. Brees did not play as well as Favre, to say nothing of "trampling him" Seriously, how on earth did you come to that conclusion? Why would you conclude that a season where Favre played a longish stretch with a detached biceps tendon better shows anything about Favre, other than the fact that an old Favre is more likely to get hurt than a younger Favre?

The game was played before the rules made passing much, much easier. Also, I mean no disrespect to Brees, who I think is great, but four years, and even six years, is not a career.

by Yaguar :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 1:46am

You're taking issue with a single word in my post, and making a very specific argument against it. You might be right, but I think you should be more than familiar with how defenses stack against the run vs the Vikings, and stack against the pass vs the Saints. You're also coming up with specific examples of plays that could have gone worse for Brees, but didn't - when you could easily do the same for any other quarterback in any other game.

I will stand by the claim that Brees is a better overall quarterback than Brett Favre now, and probably a better overall quarterback than Brett Favre was at his peak, too.

I know 4-6 years doesn't make a career, but Brees only has 9 years on him. Quarterbacks tend to reach their peak somewhere in years 7-9. In other words, many of Brees's peak years are yet to come. We certainly can't just automatically pencil him in for 4500 yards and 30 TDs for the next four years, but it seems pretty likely - and we certainly can't penalize him for not being good in seasons that he hasn't yet played.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 2:02am

Well, if Brees isn't considerably better than Favre now, with Favre being 40 years old, then Brees can't even be considered an all-time great qb. I would hope he is better than Favre right now, given your opinion of him. The prime of Brees' career has taken place after the rules against pass defense, and hitting qbs, have been enforced even more, and the prime of Favre's career took place in an era where hitting qbs was more allowed, as was playing receivers more physically. I'd never argue Favre was the best of all time, and generally I say wait until a guy's career is over, adjust his stats for the era he played in, and then add subjective adjustements, like the quality of his teammates. Using this criteria, I have argued previously that Tarkenton was the best ever, and I'd be happy to defend that proposition, and more generally, question the proposition that a 4 year stretch is adequate for what is being attempted to be measured.

In any case, I just thought the assertion that Brees "trampled" Favre two weeks ago was completely without basis.

by Go Pats (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 11:47am

Sorry I am replying late in the game.

1. The Tyree catch was a fluke just as Manning could easily have been called in the grasp and Pats win and complete the greatest season ever. Where is Tyree now??? It would be different if Jerry Rice makes the catch.
2. Like I said I love Brees but to say that the only reason he is not considered the greatest QB of all time is because of Peyton. Sorry no dice. you may of heard of 2 QB's named Young and Montana. Take a look at Steve Young's stats from 1991 to 1997 and find me another QB who put up those stats including Peyton. Please don't forge to count the almost 5,000 yards rushing and 50 rushing TD's. Oh there is also the fact that he was following the (at that time) arguably greatest QB of all time. Any idea what kind of pressure that is????
3. I dont think 18 games is a small sample, especially when you consider many QB's might just make 1 or 2 appearences in the playoffs in their entire career. So 14-4 vs. 9-9 to me is huge. To come back and set up the winning FG against the Rams, the great game against the Panthers, all huge games for Brady and he came through when it counted. In the playoffs in the last 2 minutes, i will take Brady or Montana anytime.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 12:39pm

It may be huge to you, but statistically it's pretty small (see #221), even before we factor that the playoffs are such that you can only get one loss each year, and that loss precludes any more wins in that year, and, more importantly, the outcome of a football game has many variables, of which qb play is but one, albeit one of the most important ones.

I understand the urge to look at playoff records, in both qb and coaching evaluations. I used to do it myself. However, doing so really does obscure more than it illuminates, in terms of understanding why certain outcomes take place. It (a large focus on playoff resords) really is a sign that the football pundit, be it on a message board, or a guy getting paid a lot of money to explain the game, is looking at the game somewhat superficially. I don't mean this as an insult; the more I observe the game, the more it is impressed I am with how damnably complicated the game is, in some ways, and how evaluating performance in football is extraordinarily difficult. In contrast, evaluating baseball performance is pretty simple.

This is why I have so much respect for what the guys here are trying to do.

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 5:14pm

You could also make the argument that Carolina wins easiliy if they don't kick the last KO out of bounds.

by Eddo :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 5:35pm

"I dont think 18 games is a small sample, especially when you consider many QB's might just make 1 or 2 appearences in the playoffs in their entire career."

The amount of data you have for other quarterbacks doesn't have any effect on whether or not the data you have for a single quarterback is statistically valid. Eighteen games is a small sample size, period. Anything less is just a smaller sample.

Think of it this way: a person could have survived two plane crashes. Does this make him any more likely to survive a subsequent plane crash, given that most people in the world never even get the chance to survive a single one?

Of course not, and you would never say, "I don't think two plane crashes is a small sample, especially when you consider many people will be involved in zero plane crashes in their entire career."

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 02/11/2010 - 4:01pm

The Tyree catch was a fluke.

Right, and while the Giants are dusting off the REAL super bowl trophy and the 18th best DVOA for the year, the Patritos are dusting off the DVOA trophy and the #1 dvoa.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 3:47am

"In short, if you put Brees up against a whole horde of "best-ever" type QBs, he can stack up reasonably well against all of them, except for Manning. That's why I made the claim that Manning is the only thing stopping Brees from entering best-ever conversations"

Nice analysis, appreciated your acknowledgement of "cherry picking." If you are indeed correct that Brees' best years are to come, then he certainly is earmarked for greatness.

Will's comments re: Tarkenton are noted as well - probably the best way to discuss greatness of quarterbacks is to describe them as the "greatest of their era."

by Paul R :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:51pm

Jorge Arangure (ESPN) wrote this morning:

"I'm sure when Peyton Manning was growing up he always wanted to throw the TD pass that gave the Saints a Super Bowl win. Now he has."

Wish I'd thought of that one.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:57pm


by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:59pm

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'm sure it's been mentioned in the comments already, but the receiver wasn't tackled while making the catch, so the rule doesn't apply.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:05pm

It was a well-blocked game, Rob, because holding is basically legal in the NFL playoffs, and especially in the Super Bowl. It was the same for both sides and both teams recognized it - no advantage either way - but let's recognize it for what it is.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:07pm

And every national columnist who says that this loss somehow "tarnishes Peyton Manning's legacy" gets a slap across the face.

I'd like to volunteer to help with the slapping. I'll start with Tom Waddle, whom I previously respected, after he went on and on about how you have to win many SBs to be considered the best ever during the pre-game show.

Manning and Brees are exactly who we thought they were before the game and the outcome doesn't change a thing. Even the great Montana came within an easy dropped interception of becoming the goat in the last 2 minutes of the 2nd Bengals SB.

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:09pm

Montana also threw a pick to end the 1983 NFC Championship game, with the 49ers losing by three. It happens. Even to the best.

by Geronimo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:21pm

Not only that, but he threw a pass right into the chest of a Bengal just before throwing the game-winner to John Taylor. The guy just dropped it - imagine if that would have been a pick?

by Travis :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:26pm

The Billups drop happened early in the 4th quarter, just before the other 49er TD of the game.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:53pm

I may be wrong, since I'm relying on my memory of the game, but I believe that throw happened in the game-winning drive in last 2 minutes.

And let's not forget the fumble against the Giants in the conference championship also late in the game.

I'd conclude that, either all humans are losers, or we're approaching this thing wrong. I mean, take Terry Bradshaw. The guy played 14 freaking seasons and only won it 4 times. That's a 28% success rate! What kind of loser calls that being a winner?

by Temo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:30pm

I just hate that Reggie Wayne gets no blame for losing his one-on-one battle, or straight-up dropping a ball late in the game. A good receiver does not allow the defender to get to the ball there.

But people don't care who messed up what, it's all on Manning's shoulders. And it's not an easy burden to carry, for sure. Montana carried the load by winning more than his share of Super Bowls. Somehow, it will seem to people that Manning's career has been a failure if he hasn't won at least two. Then again, that's the peril of being in the consideration for "Greatest of all time", people just expect more.

by stay firm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:34pm

I saw him get blamed by several ESPN/NFL Network types for having a poor game so it's not like that went under the radar. More irksome is people ignoring Collie being terrible, though he is the Colts' 2/3 receiver.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:49pm

Wayne was listed as questionable...
He wasn't coming back to the ball like a WR should.
He dropped the ball at the end.

Wayne didn't have a good game, the defense stuck to the same cookie cutter approach, The Saints had a plan and executed it, the Colts just came to this game business as usual and were dethroned.

If Sean Payton & Greg Williams... or even if just Greg Williams was coaching the Colts D they would have won. Williams wouldn't stick to the same tired scheme the whole game and lose... he would have at least mixed it up.

When you hear the words "cover 2", just think or replace it with "basic defense". The Colts have been running it for years. Dungy has as well. If you have superior players it works, when you don't you will get whooped by a decent offense..

The Colts safeties are underrated, their ends (when healthy) can rush the passers, and that's why the scheme worked even as well as it did. Their safties are both actually good vs the run, and can defend the pass.

I wonder how Bill Polian feels today, letting that one slip away.

by stay firm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:57pm

The Colts defense gave up 24 points to what is arguably the best offense in the NFL. The complaining about this is similar to those about Darren Sproles "owning them" last year, when all that happened was that they sold out to stop an extremely dangerous deep passing game. The Colts defense was able to stop the best big play offense in the NFL from getting any big plays. The pressure wasn't good, but with their best defensive player by far hobbled, what can you expect? If Colston was getting open in the seam on every passing play, how would it have been if the Colts had sent 5, 6 guys more often?

by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 11:32am

Um, I thought that Larry Coyer had abandoned Tampa 2. And that he was this breath of fresh air over Ron Meeks? That he called all these " agressive " bliztes and such. Where was that on Sunday?

by R. Carney (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:53pm

Agreed, but Manning, who is supposed to be the infallible genius, still made the adjustment, diagnosed the blitz and audibled to that play,which the Saints secondary was clearly ready for. He then pulled the trigger when Wayne had clearly lost said one on one battle. Just seemes a bit anti-climactic and disappointing for such a cerebral player as Manning

by armchair journe... :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:22pm

sometimes genius can be used against the bearer. it doesn't mean that peyton isn't a (or, the) premiere cerebral player. i find it extremely climactic for the chessmaster to be outmanuvered--how is that not dramatic?

everyone has tendencies, whether they are smart/dumb, good/bad/indifferent. kudos to the saints for doing their homework and guessing right.

in any event, i'm just happy to see all the play "good film study" is getting.

armchair journeyman quarterback

by R. Carney (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:29pm

anticlimactic in terms of the progression/story/legacy of Peyton Manning. maybe disappointing is the more appropriate word.

by armchair journe... :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:48pm


the progression/story/legacy of Peyton Manning would be rather boring and clinical were it not for the early Belicheck struggles and the various set-backs along the way. could well be this is just one near-miss that will make a future superbowl storyline that much more interesting.

anyone for a re-match in indy... or nola? god, now that would be something.

by Geronimo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:29pm

To add on to how a single play overdetermines a player's legacy, consider if Montana had thrown an interception to end Super Bowl 23 instead of the game-winner.

Bill Walsh (even though this was going to be his last game, even if they'd lost it) was already very willing to consider promoting Steve Young, and may have even been eager to do so. Montana had played *poorly* in the playoffs in '85 (getting only 3 points against the Giants, '86 (blowout 49-3 loss to New York) and in '87 (loss to Minnesota in which he was benched for Young).

We remember Montana as a sure-fire "money" player, but the ACTUAL FACTS are a bit messier than that.

So, suppose Montana "fails" again, in the Super Bowl to Cincy. Is it unreasonable to think that the 49ers would have gone with Steve Young in 1989 and considered shipping Montana elsewhere? Again, Walsh had concerns about Montana's injury history and all that, too.

Just some thoughts for those who are considering Manning's legacy in light of this loss.

by imafreak (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:30pm

I've noticed that credit is often given to Manning for play calls--checking in and out of this and that and being a Field General and all. However, when discussion turns to the 3 runs at the end of the first half (which are often regarded as a mistake), blame is subtly shifted back to Caldwell. Why?

I think the Manning lovers and haters are talking past each other. The only way that this game tarnishes Manning's legacy is if you thought Manning was the greatest QB ever. If that is your perspective then this game probably does tarnish his legacy. If you didn't think that then it's just a another game Manning's team lost.

by stay firm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:32pm

Subtly? When a good decision is made, Manning is praised, while Caldwell is excoriated for bad ones. Pretty blatant.

by RickD :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 12:17am

John Thompson had some theories about that on his radio show today.

by patriotsgirl :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:44pm

Yeah, I was defending Manning in the IRC thread, because I think a lot of the criticism of his QB play in this game is unjustified. However, to the extent that anyone has problems with the offensive playcalling (like the 3rd and 11 before the FG, or the three running plays you mention), Manning as defacto OC has to share some of the blame.

Caldwell seems to get all of the blame for bad decisions, and none of the credit for good ones, which seems more than a bit unfair.

by Geronimo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:30pm

Travis - you're right. I stand corrected. Well, either way, that interception wouldn't have helped in any case, but makes my argument less dramatic. Thanks for the catch.

by CJS NYC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:39pm

Montana had 11 TD's & no picks in the Super Bowl which means he's the greatest QB ever. I'm Mike Lupica & these are The Sports Reporters.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:58pm

Montana was just another big loser. One of the best ever, sure, but only just a loser in the end. And I won't let him off the hook just cause he beat even bigger losers. See posts #99 and below for the evidence.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:40pm

If you want to reflect on how damned stupid it is to evaluate qb performance through the prism of one throw, even a bad throw late in one of the final games of the year, think about how, absent some good luck, two bad throws by Brees two weeks ago would have meant that Favre wouldn't have been throwing his infamous pick, and Brees never would have had an opportunity to be compared to Manning yesterday. Manning played a great game yesterday. So did Brees. If I had to pick between the two, I'd take Manning, simply because Brees' short stature makes him easier to pressure effectively, especially if you have defensive tackles who collapse the pocket. The Vikings have that, the Colts less so, and that in good part explains why Brees was so much more effective yesterday, compared to two weeks ago.

The Saints obviously were very deserving winners, but the Garcon drop and the onsides kick had a huge influence on the game. Even a 14 point game can be called a nail-biter. As a Vikings fan, however, it was really hard to see the Saints win by 14, after getting outgained by more than 200 yards, none in garbage time, in Superdome. I fully expect to see the Browns and Lions hoist the Lombradi Trophy before the Vikings ever do.

by stay firm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:45pm

Well, you borrowed strength from the Devil (Favre), but were defeated by Breesus. Such is life.

Also, the harping on the Garcon drop is silly. Drops aren't rare occurrences, and the Saints even had a similar one (in impact) to end a promising drive of their own on the drive before.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:56pm

Oh, I'm not trying to be supercritical of Garcon; I just wanted to emphasize how just a failue to maintain possession, thus losing a chance to expand on a one score lead, even fairly early in the game, can have a huge influence.

I also think that the Colts may have hurt themselves by not fully committing to a four down strategy in the four down sequence prior to Stover's miss. I think it is quite possible that if they had, they would have been at a far more manageable distance on fourth down, and would have made going for it much more enticing. I'd like to see more offenses fully committing to a four down strategy on first and second down, at some points on the field, at certain points in the game. It seems like often the coach/qb doesn't start thinking in these terms until third or fourth down.

by stay firm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:59pm

I wasn't referring to Garcon; was more saying that the importance of that play has been exaggerated.

And much agreed on the second point. Seemed to be very much the case on 4th and 2 for example, as the Pats play call on third down seemed to indicate they would autopunt without a conversion.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:07pm

Oh, I don't think it is too exagerrated. I said at the time that the drop was really big, in that a two score Colts lead then would have made the Saints offense much more prone to a serious error. Playing a good team down two scores really puts an offense in a precarious situation.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:09pm

the 50 yard field goal attempt was incomprehensible. They were winning. Giving up a short field in that circumstance was inexcusable.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:44pm

Yeah, in that situation, ending up in fourth and very long is likely an indicator of a failure to think the situation through before the first down snap. Because the coach-qb communication system with the Colts is so unique, it is much harder to determine where the majority of the fault lies. However, Moore/Caldwell should certainly be telling Manning, prior to the first down snap, that they were now adopting a four down strategy.

by Dan :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 5:37pm

First down they ran the ball for 2 yards, second down they tried a WR screen but the Saints blew it up for a loss of 3. So that's play-calling consistent with a 4-down strategy (or with trying to get a better shot at the FG). You could complain about the 3rd & 11 call, when they threw it downfield to Collie (who had a mismatch with Vilma trying to chase him down the seam), but that's it.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 8:27pm

Yeah, I'd like to see an analyis of wide receiver screens; my gut feeling is that they have a higher chance of a loss than is generally perceived, but I could be wrong.

Perhaps this is just more indicative of the drawbacks in being a poor running team.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:59pm

It was a one score game with four minutes to go, with the Colts well into Saints territory. The Saints were also significantly outgained in total yards in this game. Turnovers is what their defense does.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:32pm

The Colts outgained the Saints by 100 yards, about 70 of which came when the Colts were down 14, and the Saints were happy to trade yards for seconds. The Colts had three more first downs than the Saints. The Vikings had about 20 more, even with the first downs and yards the Saints got in the one overtime possession. The Vikings' defense was the best unit on the field in the Super Dome, and if the Vikings' defense had merely recovered the same percentage of the Saints' offense fumbles, as the Saints' defense recovered of the Vikings' offense fumbles, the Vikings likely would have won by more than one score, on the Saints' home field.

The games were pretty dissimilar.

by stay firm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:41pm

9 fumbles in that game, the Saints recovered 5 and the Vikings recovered 4. The fumble luck only marginally favored the Saints (odd number yay). Yes, the Vikings were unlucky. But really, when you fumble 6 times and throw two interceptions... well yeah.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:57pm

That isn't what I was referring to. I was referring to the Vikings defensive performance, relative to the Saints defensive performance in New Orleans, and the Colts defensive performance yesterday. Two weeks ago, the Saints defense recovered 50% of the Vikings' offensive fumbles, 3/6. The Vikings defense recovered 0% of the Saints offensive fumbles, 0/2 in regulation, 0/3 if you count the fumble on fourth and inches in overtime, a fumble which the referee, understandably, did not see, it being a pretty weird circumstance. The Vikings as a whole were only a little, perhaps very little, unlucky to lose to the Saints. The Vikings defense was massively unlucky to lose, as well as they played. In contrast, the Colts defense, after the 1st quarter, got pushed around pretty soundly.

by t.d. :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:25pm

all i'm saying is the Colts had plenty of 'what ifs' themselves, and the Saints deserve credit for taking advantage of the opportunities they did have. They were significantly more opportunistic than either of their final two opponents, that didn't occur in a vacuum, it was characteristic of their defense when healthy all season, and, them winning by forcing an Adrian Peterson fumble in the red zone or a crucial Peyton Manning interception was entirely consistant with who they were. Both games swung on timid series in the maroon zone when their opponents made tactical errors. Sure, I'd probably agree that the Saints and Vikings were the two best teams.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:03pm

The Saints did not force an Adrian Peterson fumble in the red zone. Favre and Peterson simply botched the handoff, with no defender especially close, and then a Saints player beat a 40 year old to the ball. Look, I'm not saying the Saints are undeserving Super Bowl champs; in fact, I said precisely the opposite. I'm merely saying that the Vikings played much better than the Saints in many areas, especially considering the home field advantage, and the Vikings defense outplayed the Colts defense by an extremely wide margin.

by Jon Silverberg (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 2:39am

Will, as a Lion fan, I hope you're right, but I know you're wrong...

by ArchnerdUW :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:53pm

Couple of thoughts:

The NFL needs to establish consistency on possession/control calls in and around the endzone. I can think of several plays from earlier this season that were basically the same idea as the issue in the 2 point conversion play and the call was incomplete. Personally, I think it was a catch and am okay with the ruling; I just want some consistency so as a fan I can "know" what a catch is and is not again. It has been a couple of seasons since that has been possible.

I can't believe that no one here is talking about the terrible two minute drill run by the Colts to end the game. I mean they had the ball at the Saints 30 with two minutes to go and down 2 scores and then proceeded to go short over the middle of the field multiple times in a row? Really? Shouldn't a few of those passes been thrown into the stands to preserve time? Running plays between the hashmarks? Seriously no one else has a problem with this? One can construct a reasonable argument that the Colts offense could score twice in 2 minutes. They never gave themselves a chance.

by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 4:55pm

The problem the Colts had is that the Saints' strength on defense is defending the pass. This is even stronger in the red zone (where you can't get behind safeties). Check out the FO preview for the stats. Note the only TD pass Manning threw was a 19 yard pass when Greer was temporarily out with an injury. The Colts were able to pass pretty well most of the night, but they were completely unable to get the ball in the end zone through the air against the starters.

So, when the Colts found themselves in the red zone, the best choice would normally be to run (the Saints weakness in the red zone), but they didn't want to run out the clock. So they tried to pass, attacking the Saints' strength and found nothing open in the end zone. Then they went to 1 ineffectual run at the end; it looked like the players themselves seemed to have no confidence in that play

by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 8:05pm

Now that I have the time to look up the preview myself, the preview lists N.O. red zone defense as -37.1%; Indianapolis red zone offense as 29.7%. It also included this line:

Perhaps the most important place for the Colts to get away from their pass-first mentality is the red zone. The Saints defense improves dramatically in the red zone, but that's primarily because of excellent pass defense -- so good that the Saints are first overall in red zone defensive DVOA despite ranking 21st against the run in the red zone.

So, DVOA said Saints defense was better than the Colts offense in the Red Zone, and it was even stronger defending the pass. The fact that the Saints' top 3 cornerbacks all missed time during the regular season means that the defense at the end of the game (with all 3 healthy) was probably even better at defending the pass than their average indicated. The fact that the Saints were expecting the Colts to throw (because of the score and the fact that the Colts don't like to run) means the Saints were again probably better pass defenders at that moment because they could ignore the run option.

Yes, Peyton had a chance to score a TD through the air there and give his team a chance to score a 2nd time, but the way it panned out shouldn't have been a shock given the defense they were playing.

by CJS NYC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:05pm

True Colts' EOG play-calling was bizarre. The Pats two years ago also took a strange approach. Maybe these teams simply couldn't foresee needing to score in the closing minutes of the Super Bowl? Is that possible?

by stay firm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:13pm

The Patriots two years ago had the right idea- hope that Randy Moss could outrun a couple guys. The errant throw to Gaffney made no sense, but the last two attempts were the right idea. Trying sideline shots for the FG would have been dumb.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:18pm

And it almost worked. On (I believe) the 2nd bomb to Moss, Moss had beaten McQuarters by 2-3 yards. If the Pats OL could have given Brady a fraction of a second more time to throw, the ball wouldn't have been underthrown by 2 yards and NE likely would have had an insane TD or at least a first down well within FG range.

by CJS NYC (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 11:21am

Fair enough. It didn't seem likely that Brady was going to have enough time to complete a downfield pass, based on how the game had gone to that point. But they didn't have a whole lot of other options either.

by JG (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 2:32pm

Why is a writer for this website making such an obvious mistake on the expected value of going for it on 4th and goal from the 1 yard line? Pretty sloppy...

by Gridiron Grammarian (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:08pm

It makes for some confusing reading when all other players and coaches are referred to by their surnames, while Peyton Manning is informally referred to by first name... particularly factoring in the occasional typo that transposes the Saints coach for the Indy QB.

Do you think that you writers are on a first-name basis with Peyton Manning? Think again. He would not return the friendly informality. Rather, he'd dismiss you with a terse "Good day to you, sir" and move on. And should you try to persist, you would feel the sting of the lash: "I said good DAY to you, sir!"

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:42pm

Or it could be that Peyton Manning one of the few high-profile players with (a) a distinct first-name and (b) a non-distinct last name?

by Athelas_1 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:48pm

I think when you have 2 QBs who have the same last name, but very distinctive first names, it makes PERFECT sense to call them by first names.

by armchair journe... :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 7:26pm

Exactly. Eli makes sense. Peyton makes sense. Ben is just damn lazy.

armchair journeyman quarterback

by Gridiron Grammarian (not verified) :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 3:04pm

If the game had been between the New York football Giants and Indianapolis, referring to the quarterbacks by first names would be acceptable. As there was no possibility of confusion about which Manning was relevant to the game at hand, my call stands. 5 paragraph penalty and loss of down!

by Hari-Kiri Bengals Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:35pm

Two things:

1. Put me down for Team Two-Pointer-Was-Good. The "going to the ground" rule has been a disaster all season, but I thought they got this one right, even if the rulebook said otherwise. That was clearly a catch; I believe in a Higher Football Law.

2. I like FO's slight negativity. FO is clearly a centrist organization...they shy away from the mindless hype-centric stuff that we see from the mainstream, but they also avoid the cult-like team-hatred found on talk radio. Keep up the good work, guys. And bring back Catholic Match Girl!

by Dean :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 3:48pm

"And bring back Catholic Match Girl!"


by Q (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 5:14pm

I am pretty sure the 2 point conversion was correctly called. Since the receiver was not contacted in the air while trying to make the catch he did not have to maintain possession all the way through the ground bt rather simply needed possession at any moment since he was in the end zone which would automatically give them the score

by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 5:23pm

Whose idea was it to put Shockey's ugly mug on the Audibles? Yowsers....

by greybeard :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 12:15am

The most interesting thing in this game was, immediately after Manning threw the interception his back moved to where his shoulder was. I am shocked the referee did not see the miracle taking place just in front of his eyes.

by RickD :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 12:22am


People should really watch that INT return on You Tube a few times.

Manning was not illegally blocked.

by greenOakX :: Tue, 02/09/2010 - 4:22am

Saints DVOA 31%, Colts 17% lol.

by RJH (not verified) :: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 1:09pm

imho, the thing the Colts have to work on in the new season is replacing that stiff on the sidelines with someone with a clue. this situation reminds me of the the Raiders not so long ago that handed off a really good team (remember them?) to Bill Callahan as Chuckys replacement. if it ain't broke, don't fix it Callahan had his butt handed to him in the Super Bowl (actually, it was worse, he forgot to change the play calls). the Colts pride themselves as a team in not having to change anything. it just dares you to stop it. but even with Peyton, it demands perfection every play to pull off (the defense/offense KNOWs what's coming). i'm not sure Caldwell is up to the task. someone should tell him.

by cheo255 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 2:10pm

"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."

Charles Grant didn't play in the Super Bowl. He was on IR.

by rda367 (not verified) :: Thu, 02/11/2010 - 8:16pm

Peyton Manning was not illegally blocked. Porter had already cut in behind him and Manning had slowed down and turned into the block. The block started on his shoulder. The refs got this one right.