Sunday, February 07, 2010

Peyton Manning didn't choke; Colts were outcoached

The New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 30 to 17 in Super Bowl XLIV, a game Colts QB Peyton Manning would like to have back. Down 24 to 17 with just under three minutes to go and driving, Manning threw a slant pass to Reggie Wayne, but Saints Defensive Back Tracy Porter stepped in front of Wayne, intercepted the pass and raced 74 yards to score the deciding touchdown.

Now, some are saying Colts OB Peyton Manning choked. Manning didn't choke so much as the Colts were outcoached.

The Saints, under Head Coach Sean Peyton, had a daring game plan that featured an onside kick to open the third quarter, a varied passing game, and three different defensive game plans. Still, with all of that, the Saints could have lost the Super Bowl. The difference was that the Colts didn't seem to be prepared for the Saints' momentum changing onside kick, and for some reason avoided blitzing even one linebacker or back and putting the pressure on its front four to do the job most of the time.

But to say Peyton Manning choked is to ask a legitimate question: why is it that Manning seems to force the ball when the Colts are behind. The answer is, in 2009 Manning didn't, except for Super Bowl XLIV. In today's game it seemed as if Manning was determined to carry the team on his shoulders to make up for the Colts' defense' difficulty in stopping the Saints offense.

Manning was making trying to make up for strategic and performance problems earlier in the game, and let the whole of the Colts problems get to him. It was obvious every time he expressed frustration coming off the field, and most of the time after a dropped pass.

Peyton Manning didn't choke. The Colts' loss was a team effort. But Peyton Manning will be tagged with the "Great, but..." label until he returns to the Super Bowl and wins. To do that he will need more seasoned receivers (which he will have) and a more varied pass offensive attack that moves Manning's launch points with rolls and sprints. Finally the Colts will have to be better prepared for whatever could be thrown at them. That's not as hard as it sounds, because there's only so much one can do on a football field.

Stay tuned.

Saints v. Colts - Saints are Super Bowl XLIV Champions

Saints v. Colts - Saints are Super Bowl XLIV Champions. The New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 30 to 17 in a Super Bowl game that turned on a common theme for the Saints in postseason: playing a near perfect offensive game, then holding on as the opponent made the mistakes to lose. In the NFC Championship Game, it was the Minnesota Vikings' six turnovers. In Super Bowl XLIV it was the Colts missed opportunities and errors.

Credit must be given to Saints' Head Coach Sean Payton, who once against created an offensive game plan designed to address the one strength of a defense. In this case, the Saints settled into a passing attack that had their receivers attack the hook and seam areas of the Colts defense and throw to the running backs out of the backfield to take advantage of the Colts linebackers.

Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees carried out the game plan masterfully. He was a near-perfect 32 of 39 for 288 yards, and two touchdowns.

But in most post-game evaluations it's easy to turn the analysis into what the winning team did right. In this case, the Colts did a lot correctly, but just did not take advantage of opportunities when they were given to them.

A number of normally-sure handed Colts receivers dropped passes, specifically Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon. And with his team behind 24 to 17 in the fourth quarter, Peyton Manning (31 of 45 for 333 yards, one touchdown and one interception) rushed his throws, and on a key 3rd and five with just under three minutes to go, and the Colts down 17 to 24, Manning threw for Reggie Wanye who was running an inside slant. But Wayne stopped and Saints defensive back Tracy Porter stepped in front of the pass and raced 74 yards to score.

That play was one observers would talk about for a long time. While Manning focused on Wayne, Colts receiver Austin Colley broke open on a seam route; he went unnoticed as he raced by the high safety on the opposite side of where the interception occurred.

Even with the interception, the Colts still had time to score another touchdown, recover an onside kick and perhaps score a miracle game tying touchdown again. But that was not to be, as the Colts' furious comeback drive stalled at the Saints' six yard line.

A team of destiny

This first Super Bowl win for New Orleans came at the right time for a city working to overcome the disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the exodus of much of its population to various places in America and around the World. Much of New Orleans was under water, and the Federal Government's efforts under George W. Bush were so terrible that "Brownie" became a poster child for government inefficiency in a crisis.

When Sean Peyon became the Saint's coach, it was the same year, 2006, that the renovated Louisiana Superdome reopened. The same stadium that served as a sanctuary for up to 30,000 people after Hurricane Katrina. Bringing home a World Championship became more of a mission than an athletic occupation.

I said to a friend that even though I'm a massive Colts fan, I would not be sorry to see New Orleans win Super Bowl XLIV. The city needed it, and really America wanted it. Now, the task of rebuilding New Orleans has new life.

Grammy Fashion! (a quick break from the SuperBowl...)

I break the Grammys fashion down a little bit. This is the start of a new segment that I am starting called Fashion Friday where I talk about the previous week in fashion, burgeoning trends, and who's been a hot mess. Pardon this Grammys Fashion post being late, I am celebrating the Superbowl right now, as I am sure all you're as well!

Here is the link that I refer to above where I conduct a VERY serious break down of the 2010 Grammys. 

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Live Super Bowl Preview show beginning at 3:30 Eastern time

By "Draftnik"

Live Super Bowl Preview show beginning at 3:30 Eastern time

Don’t forget about our 2 and a half hour live show today at 3:30!!! Great Football Talk for your Super Bowl and Prizes for trivia.

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Saints v. Colts - Super Bowl XLIV will be won by Colts

Super Bowl XLIV pitting the NFC Champion New Orleans Saints v. The AFC Champion Indianapolis Colts will be a game filled with passes and trick plays. It will be one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever.

The Super Bow game features the NFL's 9th best offense (2nd in the NFL in passing for the season) in the Colts against the league's 25th-ranked Saints defense. That's the key matchup. Sports observers can write about imagined challenges between specific Colts receivers certain Saints defensive backs, but the reality is one-on-one pairings are rare because of the variety of coverages used; the Saints will try to keep everything in front of them with a zone coverage system and work to prevent the Colts from hitting the home run ball.

But the Colts will mix short passes and runs; the Saints will move away from the zone, crowd the line-of-scrimage, and blitz. And that's where the Colts big play will come from, absent a blown coverage, which the Saints haven't done much this year.

The Saints NFL number one-ranked offense will be a variety show featuring shifts, man-in-motion, and a lot of play action. Look for not just one, but two flea flickers; what will stop them is the Colts defensive speed (which was augmented by more blitzing in the postseason, making it better than its 18th-ranking during 2009). The Saints will call a number of "wheel route" passes trying to match the fleet Reggie Bush against the Colts' linebackers. But the Colts will blitz more often this game, and add to their already hard-charging pass-rush. That effort will be led by Dwight Freeney, who's played a week-long game of media possum, but is ready to turn his effort up to a super human level.

The other difference will be on special teams. This is where the Saints have a slight speed edge and the Colts will have to play carefully to stop the long kick return.

With all of this, the Colts offense will be too much for the Saints. The Colts win Super Bowl XLIV, 34 to 20.

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Super Bowl: Colts blowout of Saints wanted by Indy Mayor Ballard

This Super Bowl update: Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard wants a blowout game for the Colts v. the Saints (video above).

Mayor Greg Ballard

At the Leigh Steinberg Super Bowl Party Saturday, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said "Everyone's predicting a close game; I'm not. Let's be honest. You know where I'm coming from." Ballard's appreciative of all of the enthusiasm shown for the New Orleans Saints and says they're a good story, especially around Miami's South Beach area, where one estimate has Saints fans outnumbering Colts fan "20 to 1".

Ballard, a 23-year Marine Vet, could not hide his competitive streak: "The Colts," Ballard says, "are on a team on a mission."

Another mission Ballard's a part of is readying Indianapolis to host the 2012 Super Bowl. Asked if the city had built enough hotels, Ballard assured all that the city was ready: "We've got the J.W. Marriott under construction," Ballard said, "That's a thousand rooms, and a big ballroom. Three other Marriotts going up around it", in addition to the other hotels and facilities that the city has made to meet NFL hotel room requirements of 24,500 rooms within an hour's drive of the stadium.