We’ve been spoiled these past couple Super Bowls. First, we had the unpredictable Giants playing the utterly dominant Patriots. The entire thing felt inevitable. Brady and Moss were unstoppable. And then came Manning’s scramble, then came David Tyree’s one-handed catch. Even if I weren’t a Steelers fan, last year’s Super Bowl would have been amazing: there was Harrison’s 99-year run, Fitzgerald’s fourth-quarter performance against the league’s best defense, Holmes’ toe-dragging MVP-worthy catch.
Growing up, though, it seemed like every Super Bowl was lopsided, the game basically decided before halftime. This year’s Super Bowl will return us to those days. Although the Saints won (and I’m okay with it), the Vikings outplayed them. Period. The Vikings offense had almost twice as many yards (475 to 257) and a much greater time of possession (36:49 to 17:41 before overtime). The Vikings lost the game because of turnovers, for which the Saints defense deserves some credit. But the Saints defense also gave up several third-down plays, and their secondary was awful. The Colts aren’t going to fumble that many times, and they’re not going to self-destruct with key penalties. Peyton Manning might throw an interception or two, but he’s not going to throw across his body into traffic on third down.
In other words, this year’s Super Bowl will be boring. I don’t see a way around it. The media will bring up any number of stories and matchups, but that won’t change anything. The Colts are a better team and they’ve been to the big game before. Some people watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials, but I’m not sure they can expect anything that will pass for entertainment this year, as the recession has probably caused sponsors to step back and scale back. There’s a chance companies will stop relying on safe-yet-boring marketing strategies (talking babies, controversy-courting sexism, dancing animals) and take the opportunity to defy expectations and do more with less. But they won’t.
I’ve said it before: I like Drew Brees. I’m overjoyed that he’s had such a successful career after his shoulder injury, after the Chargers left him for dead. I like the fact that I can turn on the TV (or the radio, or my computer) and not see Drew Brees shilling something. I like that he cuts his own hair (or at least looks like he does). I’d love to predict Saints 34, Colts 28, but it won’t happen. I’m thinking more like Colts 34, Saints 24. It’ll be futile shootout, basically.
While I’m at it, the AFC Championship game reminded me of Favre’s bad old days with the Packers, where he played entire seasons without the benefit of an offensive line. Back then, it was like watching an old man get run over by a truck repeatedly. It was hard to watch. And so it was with the Vikings-Saints game.
By the way, the hit that took Favre off the field looked dirty. I don’t understand why the officials didn’t call it, especially since they’d previously called the Saints for a roughing-the-passer penalty. It’s not like they weren’t watching for it, and it’s not like they didn’t have time to consider it while they were hauling him off the field. In a season where the NFL has been generally overprotective of quarterbacks, it’s bizarre that they overlooked an obvious hit at an important time during a critical game.
Stats from ESPN