Quick Thoughts From Yesterday’s Games:
Just How Good is Peyton Manning?: When the Colts were down by 11, I think the Jets and their fans thought they could be Super Bowl bound, but they forgot about Manning. He absolutely went off on the number 1 ranked defense yesterday. And it didn’t seem to bother him that Darrelle Revis took away half the field, because Manning dominated the other half. For all we hear about Manning’s weapons of Wayne and Clark (a pair of former 1st round picks), it was Pierre Garcon (6th round 2008, Mount Union) and Austin Collie (4th round 2009, BYU) that dominated the Jets defense. It was just an all-around incredible performance by Manning yesterday, and showed why he is the best quarterback in the league.
Future Looking Brighter for Sanchez: Mark Sanchez has had a tough rookie year and has been the weakest quarterback in the playoffs so far. He had shown flashes of being a good quarterback, but that was mostly against weaker competition and had also cost the Jets a few games this season. Of late though he’d been fairly mistake free, not because of major improvement in his game, but rather because of a much simpler passing attack. Sanchez was pretty much regulated to ‘safe’ intermediate and short throws so far in the playoffs. Yesterday though Sanchez had his best game of the playoffs (and his young career), he showed much better decision making and poise in the pocket. He didn’t try to force the ball in to coverage, and really showed something against a big team in the biggest game of his career. Now Sanchez has some things to work on, accuracy being the primary concern, but in 2-3 years Sanchez could become a pretty good starting quarterback.
Saints Go Marching On: Who would have thought it would have been the Saints defense and special teams that sent them to the Super Bowl? While their defense got torched with yards and penalties, they came up with enough big plays to win yesterday. And how huge was the Peterson fumble right before half after the Bush muffed punt? That Saints defense all season has just been relentless in getting takeaways, and showed it again last night. Gregg Williams and company deserve most of the credit for that victory, because Favre had a great game yesterday. Think of what he would have done if he actually had time in the pocket? The Saints pass rush completely dominated the Vikings offensive line and had Favre on the ground quite a bit. The Saints defense was the key to the game, and is why they will be making their first Super Bowl appearance.
Just How Tough is Brett Favre?: Now I realize all the talk now is about that last interception, and on whether or not it was Favre’s last game (again). But really we need to acknowledge that yesterday’s loss was on two things: the offensive line play, and lack of ball control. Not only did the Saints recover a fumble inside the Vikings 20 yard line, but Minnesota coughed it up twice when they were at the Saints 10 yard line! And the offensive line, which had begun to collapse at the end of the season, looked awful yesterday. They couldn’t handle the stunts and blitz packages New Orleans was throwing at them, and Favre paid the price. Not only was he getting hit hard (and sometimes illegally), but he was injured and in obvious pain. Favre played well enough to win that game by a couple of touchdowns, but his 0-line and the fumbles cost them dearly.