The field is down to two from 32. In two weeks, we will know who is going to be king of the football world – at least for this year. In two games that were hyped for a week, similar circumstances prevailed in the end., and both involved the superstar quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.
In the AFC Championship Game, the upstart New York Jets were able to contain the 2009 NFL MVP, albeit for one quarter. The league’s number one defense actually sacked Manning on consecutive offensive plays over two series and at one point in the second quarter, the Jets led 17-6. Answering a Jay Feeley field goal, Manning sliced through Gang Green’s secondary to cut into the deficit at the half to four points.
While Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez (17 for 30, 257 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception) played extremely well, the offense could not get going and went scoreless in the second half. At the same time, the Colts controlled the pace and Manning had his way. He threw for 377 yards and three scores to three different receivers in Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon and Dallas Clark en route to the 30-17 victory.
The Superdome hosted the NFC Championship Game and what was expected to be a close shootout between two offensive juggernauts in the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings did not disappoint. Brett Favre came out slinging as expected, as did Drew Brees. At half time, the score was even at 14 and although they had four turnovers, the Vikes were very much in the game and actually were in position to win the game in the waning seconds. But a penalty for too many men in the huddle set them back five yards, setting up a third down. Instead of calling a conservative run to set up a long field goal attempt, Minnesota elected to throw.
Favre rolled to his right out of the pocket and threw into double coverage across his body. On cue, the ball was picked off and we were headed into the extra stanza. For all the great things that Favre (28 for 46, 310 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions) has done in 19 NFL seasons, he has a tendency to make a terrible decision at the worst time. It happened in the playoffs before, against the Giants and Eagles.
The Saints won the coin toss and went on a drive that seemed to go on forever due to three booth reviews. Garrett Hartley nailed a 40-yard field goal and there was happiness in the bayou.
Super Bowl XLIV will be an interesting affair, one that will pit an old dog that has been there/done that in Manning and a bunch of wide-eyed Saints. Expect a lot of offense in this one, so take the over.