Jets blow early lead; Vikes out dumb themselves
It’s not a real big surprise that the Indianapolis Colts will be facing the New Orleans Saints at Miami in Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7. Las Vegas had the Colts an 8-point favorite and they won 30-17 and the Saints were favored by 3 1/2 points and won 31-28 in overtime. This was the first time since 1993 that the top seeds in each conference will face each other in the Super Bowl.
What’s more amazing to this Korner is how the two winners persevered during the first half of their respective games and then did what they had to be done to earn their trip to the big dance in Miami in less than two weeks.
Both losing teams—the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings—had that positive attitude necessary to pull off the win. Jets first-year head coach Rex Ryan already had an itinerary for his team’s trip to Miami and even a victory parade planned in New York when they returned as World Champions.
Minnesota also had the season mapped out that concluded with the Super Bowl after wishy-washy Brett Favre finally decided in mid-August to sign the lucrative contract the Vikings’ front office had prepared a month earlier and became their starting quarterback.
The Jets were trying to re-enact Super Bowl III in 1969 when they went into the game against these same Colts—who hailed from Baltimore back then—a two touchdown underdog and made a prophet out of young quarterback Joe Namath who had brashly guaranteed a New York victory and then made good on his promise.
New York played brilliantly and led late in the first half 17-6 until Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning showed everyone why he has won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award a record four times by taking over the game and spurring his team on to a second half victory.
It took the brilliant quarterback a half to figure out some of the blitz packages that Ryan threw at the Colts, but he neutralized them smartly after the intermission. What also hurt the Jets was when their battering ram rookie tailback Shonn Greene went down with a rib injury early in the third period, killing their successful running attack.
The Colts came up with a pretty good defensive effort in the second half that enhanced Manning’s comeback effort. New York’s rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez got a few different defensive schemes to work against and it confused the former USC star. The Jets had been 8-3 in games this season when they led at the half.
Sanchez made out well during the Jets’ playoff run with the incentive clauses in his contract that called for him to earn a $750,000 bonus for getting his team to the AFC championship game and would have gotten another $750,000 if the Jets won and then $1.875 million if the Jets won the Super Bowl.
The entire “Who Dat Nation” is ecstatic after their New Orleans Saints were successful in their first crack at hosting a conference championship after being an NFL franchise for 43 years. This group is optimistic that the Saints will have similar luck in their first Super Bowl try on Feb. 7 against Indianapolis.
The Vikings penetrated their defense for 475 total yards but generously turned over the football five times, including three fumbles to assist the Saints at accomplishing their first NFC championship and a ticket to Miami. The Vikes’ final fumble set up the Saints’ go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth period that gave them a 28-21 lead.
But the potent Minnesota offense moved the football downfield and star running back Adrian Peterson of Palestine, TX. scored his third touchdown of the night, offsetting his three fumbles and deadlocking the score again at 28-all.
The Vikings got the football back in the final two minutes and were getting ready to set up the winning field goal in the last 15 seconds when Favre tried a throwback pass across his body (which is a no-no for a quarterback) and the football was picked off by cornerback Tracy Porter, sending the game into overtime.
Favre could have run the ball another 10 yards and then called the team’s final time out, giving veteran kicker Ryan Longwell a chip-shot field goal that would have sent the Vikings to the Super Bowl.
But fate was on the Who Dat Nation’s side as New Orleans won the flip and marched downfield, barely getting a first down on a fourth-and-inches situation. This continued the drive that set up the game-winning 40-yard field goal by young Garrett Hartley, who booted it true 4:45 into the overtime and was hoisted off the Superdome field by his happy teammates that were going to the Super Bowl.
This was Minnesota’s fifth straight loss in the NFC championship game. And two years ago the same fate happened to Favre when he was intercepted in overtime to set up a field goal that sent the New York Giants past the Green Bay Packers and into the Super Bowl.
Favre took quite a pounding from the Saints’ defense as he limped off the field for perhaps the last time. Ironically he made the kind of mistake in the waning seconds of regulation that he had avoided all season. And it probably cost his team a trip to the Super Bowl.
KWICKIES…On Sunday’s NFL Today show on ESPN, college guru Mel Kiper initiated a mock draft and Orange’s Earl Thomas was projected as a first-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers. A couple of other prognosticators also have the University of Texas first-team all-American going in the first round, with the Houston Texans mentioned more than once as the team drafting the talented safety.
The Dallas Mavericks pulled off their biggest win in franchise history Sunday when they trounced the New York Knicks, 128-78. The 50-point winning margin betters their 149-104 victory over Golden State on Jan. 15, 1985.
Beaumont Central linebacker William Jones became the first area high school football player in this year’s recruiting class to verbally commit to Lamar University. Jones also had offers from Division II schools West Texas A&M and Tarleton State. The National Signing Day is Feb. 3. Until then, players can change their mind because a verbal commitment is a nonbinding agreement.
When George Rogers was a running back for the New Orleans Saints quite a few years ago he was asked by a sports writer about the upcoming season. “I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first,” Rogers answered.
JUST BETWEEN US…Area men golfers 50 years and older who wish to play in the 2010 Southeast Texas (SETX) Seniors Golf can pick up an application at Sunset Grove Country Club or call the pro shop at (409)-883-9454, or call secretary Nolan Miller at (409)-722-6633 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The yearly dues are $25 with a tournament scheduled each month beginning in March at a Golden triangle golf course. Registration deadline is Feb. 28.