There were some football games yesterday.
One of my favorite parts of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch is when he relates how he and his soccer loving friends debated what the perfect win was. They settled on a 3-2 win in which their team twice trailed and tied and then scored a late game-winner.
I’ve often thought of what my criteria would be for the perfect win. It obviously varies from sport-to-sport, but I think the perfect football win is when your team struggles early, rights itself, and by the end of the game has imposed its will on its opponent. The Colts’ win over the Jets Sunday might qualify. Down early, looking sloppy and overwhelmed, it appeared that the Colts might again be wetting the bed when the games mattered most.* They steadied themselves, remained patient, slowly turned the momentum, and midway through the third quarter turned into the Colts we watched through the first 15 weeks of the season.
(Had they lost, my postgame Facebook update was going to reference Colts shirts going on sale around the city tomorrow, but the buyer would be left to remove the pee stains.)
Whatever, the Colts are in the Super Bowl again. That’s pretty cool. It was a fine performance. Not as cathartic as the win over the Patriots three years ago, but still pretty great. On both sides of the ball it was the Colts who made the adjustments that changed the course of the game. The defense was outstanding, aside from two plays. The offense was as explosive as we’ve seen this year. It was interesting watching the Colts struggle with the Jets’ blitz early and then render it totally useless by the second half. Pierre Garcon was huge. Austin Collie and Joseph Addai made some plays. Peyton Manning finally played great in a big game. Check that, he’s never played as well in an important game in his career. This should help balance all those awful games in January in the first half of his career. And, once again, a few flukey bounces with their way (Reggie Wayne’s fumble that bounced right back to him between four Jets defenders being one example). They just might be a team of density, er, destiny.
So that might have been the perfect win. But the NFC title game was pretty damn exciting, too. Nice of the Drama Queen to wait until the last possible moment to revert to his classic form with a senseless turnover that cost his team the game. As much trouble as Minnesota had holding onto the ball, I was beginning to wonder if either the balls were being doctored somehow, or if the entire Vikings roster had money on the outcome.
It’s a shame we’ll have to see two dome teams built to play on a fast surface contest the Super Bowl on natural grass. Let’s just hope the weather is better than the last time the Super Bowl was in Miami, when the Colts and Bears played one of the sloppiest Super Bowls ever in the rain.
The Saints offense seemed out-of-sync yesterday, and I expect them to correct that. Their defense could not slow down the Vikings, though. Given what Manning and company just did to the Jets defense, that does not bode well. The Colts have been here before, and Manning will keep them focused all week as he did three weeks ago. I see an easy Colts win in two weeks.*
(Bookmark this post for jinx references after the game.)