by Michael Lombardi
January 25, 02010
QUOTE: “Serendipity. Look for something, find something else and realize that what you've found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.” -- Lawrence Block
An overtime game in New Orleans and a tight game for 3½ quarters in Indy -- Championship Sunday did not disappoint. The Jets played their hearts out, but at the end of the day, the Colts’ “other” players were the difference. Of course, the man who made the biggest difference was Peyton Manning, who once again made throws unlike any I have ever seen. His throw to Austin Collie down the seam was amazing and might rank in my top five of all time. When he let it go, from my view point, I thought it was a pick, but somehow the ball landed softly into Collie’s hands. From that point on, Manning and the Colts offense were simply unstoppable.
The second game was exactly what I thought it would be in terms of both teams’ offenses moving the ball up and down the field, and whoever had the ball last might win (more about that later). However, the best prediction of the day came from Jim Nantz of CBS in the middle of the third quarter. Having to stay over in Indy, I was invited by Lance Barrow, the coordinating producer of the NFL on CBS, to join their entire crew to watch the second game in their hotel. Being around the CBS family is always fun for me, as I started my TV career with them in 1999, and they have always be kind to me ever since.
In this setting, Nantz is in his element, offering commentary along with very hilarious entertainment. Having a sense of the moment is one of his many strengths (yes, he’s an even nicer in person than he appears on TV), and midway through the third quarter, “Nantzerdamus,” as we once called him back in ‘99, proclaims Favre will throw an interception, forcing the game to overtime, and the Saints will win the toss, then march down the field for the game winner. Maybe it appears to be a lucky statement, but having known Jim for some time, this was not luck – it was vintage Nantz.
The game in New Orleans ends, and right away we’re on Favre watch to see whether he’ll be back next year at the tender age of 41. Favre far exceed my expectations with his play in 2009. For a 40-year-old without training camp and without an offseason of training, he had one of his best seasons in a career of great seasons. The poor pass at the end of the game might be the last in his NFL career, and it was certainly costly in the game, but others will share the burden of this loss.
Twelve men in the huddle? Are you kidding me? Not challenging the Pierre Thomas touchdown, getting conservative when you have a first-and-10 at the Saints’ 33, knowing a 50-yard field goal is a little risky considering all the pressure of the moment. Some readers may say I’m too hard on Brad Childress, the head coach of the Vikings, but in reality, this loss is proof that he’s not a good game manager. No, it wasn’t his fault that his team fumbled five times, but when the game is on the line, Childress must be able to make the right call at the right time and not get called for 12 men in the huddle. Should Favre have thrown away the ball? Sure. But should the Vikings have been in that situation? No. The two very conservative runs before the interception are what bother me and should bother the entire Viking nation.
The two No. 1 seeds and two of the best offenses advance to Super Bowl XLIV. This should make it a great game to watch and a great game to break down the next two weeks. Championship weekend did not disappoint, and based on these two teams’ performances, the Super Bowl won’t, either. Congratulations to the Colts and Saints for jobs well done.
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