Now that the dust has settled (unless you are among the masses still crowding the streets of the ninth ward in New Orleans), here comes a closer look at a game that the Colts could have and perhaps, should have, won. First, it is time to call a spade a spade: I should obviously be counted among those who picked the Colts to take home their second Lombardi trophy in the last five years. Umm yeah, I was wrong, the Saints are champions, and deservedly so.
Biggest Surprise/Best Decision:
Sean Payton’s decision to go for an onside kick to begin the second half not only worked to perfection, but changed the course of this game. Momentum is everything; the Saints climbed back into the game from a 10-0 deficit in the second quarter to go into halftime only down 10-6, but the Colts were set to get the ball to start the half and you can be sure that Sean Payton was worried about the Colts marching down the field to take a 17-6 lead. But Sean Payton never let that happen and instead, the Saints took the lead after recovering the onside kick. Nice call. Huge call. (this negates Sean Payton’s terrible 4th and goal play to Mike Bell, who, up to that point, had not seen any game action).
Reggie Wayne, 5 catches for 46 yards; the longest completion to Wayne all game totaled 14 yards. That is not a mis-print. The Colts inability to stretch the Saints defense with big plays ultimately doomed Peyton Manning, as Manning was stuck trying to force the action underneath. After several pass deflections, Tracy Porter finally made Peyton Manning pay. Great job by the Saints defense, and their secondary in particular. Gregg Williams’ unit tackled well and kept the Colts from hitting the big play.
Tie. Drew Brees (Superbowl MVP after completing a record 32 passes for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns); Sean Payton (for instilling in this team the mental toughness to come back from a 10-0 deficit, and, oh yeah, let’s not forget the genius onside kick). One more thing about Drew Brees. Champions adapt; the Colts also took away the big play from the high-powered Saints offense, but Brees did not force the action or get frustrated, he simply picked the Colts apart underneath, despite very good coverage from Gary Brackett on several occasions. A younger Drew Brees tries to force the action and makes mistakes, this Drew Brees did not. Congrats to Brees and the Saints.
Now, let the NFL off-season officially begin.