LONGSHOTS: This and that as the curtain comes down on football
by Dave Long
With football out of the way, I’m free to get to some unvarnished, unsolicited opinions and observations on a variety of football topics to close out the year.
In case you missed it, the Saints, who many thought would get smoked by the Colts, won the Super Bowl on Sunday 31-17. That gave Indy’s smug GM, Bill Polian, exactly what he deserved for tanking on the undefeated season. Bill, there are more important things than winning the Super Bowl, and having the brass to try and make history is one of them.
As you can probably tell, tanking on the undefeated season didn’t sit well with me, so in addition to the loss, the cherry on top is knowing that teams put together by Polian — who was the GM in Buffalo last century — are now 1-5 in the Super Bowl.
Having said that — since they basically have been drafting from the same spot for the last five years he’s done better building on the fly with his team than Coach B has — as the Colts have a lot of young guys playing key roles.
And, oh by the way, I don’t dig the Pats being a 2009 version of Air Coryell, so — Earth to Bill — get the defense straightened out — stop throwing to just two guys and get a running game. If you need a blueprint, pull out the tapes from 2001, 2003 and 2004.
And while I’m picking on him, one more thing. How much classier was Jim Caldwell in the disappointment of Sunday’s Super Bowl loss than Coach B was when he ran off the field before the game was over in the loss to the Giants or in his press conference following this year’s loss to the Ravens? Time to grow up, Bill — stuff like that matters.
Somebody, anybody, give me a greater gutsy coaching decision than Sean Payton’s on-side kick to start the second half. Maybe Lombardi going with the quarterback sneak from the one in the Ice Bowl vs. Dallas, because if Bart Starr doesn’t get in time runs out, but I can’t think of another rival.
Of course, I thought going for it at the goal line rather than taking three right before the end of the first half was NUTS. But both moves showed his team he was there to win, which inspired them.
Here’s a follow-up to last week’s column about Peyton Manning’s chance to be the best of the best all-time among quarterbacks. Not that anyone besides a doctoral candidate at MIT can actually figure it out, much less actually knows what it means, but his quarterback rating is 95.2 in the regular season and 87.6 in the playoffs where in 18 games he’s an even .500 at 9-9 as the Colts averaged 21.1 points a game, while he’s thrown 28 TD passes and 19 picks. And I don’t recall Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw or Bart Starr ever pulling that one.
Tom Brady surprisingly drops from the 95.3 in the regular season to 85.5 in the playoffs.
On the other side, Montana, Bradshaw and Starr were all up in prime time as Montana went from 92.3 to 95.2 with 45 TD passes to 21 interceptions in 23 games, Bradshaw 70.9 to 83.0 when he was 14-5 in the playoffs with 30 TD passes and 26 interceptions, and Starr went from 84.6 to 104.8 when he had 15 TD passes and just three interceptions as he went 9-1 in the playoffs.
So while the four rings that Bradshaw has don’t make him the greatest ever, his play while getting them is what sent him to the Hall of Fame. Plus he wasn’t bad in Failure to Launch.
Here’s another amazing thing about the forgotten MVP of the first two Super Bowl games: Starr played 16 seasons and in nine of them he threw fewer than 10 interceptions with the best being in 1966 when he threw 251 passes and had just three picked off.
And in case you’re interested, Drew Bledsoe was 77.1 in the regular season and a paltry 54.1 in seven playoff games when he threw six TD passes and 12 interceptions.
Remember this when you’re hearing from the draftniks who definitively say Tim Tebow can’t play quarterback in the NFL — in the last 10 years those same folks said Tim Couch, David Carr, Alex Smith and Jamarcus Russell could as they endorsed them as each was picked first overall in the entire draft. So what do they really know?
I like The Who as much as the next guy, but was it me, or was seeing them there like if the Colts brought Joe Namath out to play QB for them? This may seem like ageism, but there’s something about 65-year-old guys and rock and roll that doesn’t compute. But, on the bright side (sort of) since two of the original four are sadly dead, the name actually is more accurate now.
Plus I still haven’t forgiven the NFL for inexplicably having the Rolling Stones at half-time instead of Motown acts when the game was in Detroit a few years ago.
David Tryee’s catch was unbelievable, and so was Big Ben to Santonio Holmes — but I think the catch and twist to get the two-point conversion by Lance Morrow on Sunday was even better. And when you consider the degree of difficulty, importance and headiness of it, it may have been the greatest play in the big game’s history.
I’ll take Jim Nantz and Phil Simms over anyone doing football today.
The Bud Light commercials were pretty good but I like the E-trade spots’ talking babies best.
Weirdest Super Bowl commercial had to be Jay Leno in a spot promoting The Late Show with David Letterman. Can anybody explain why NBC would let him do that one on CBS?
Not that this has anything to do with the Super Bowl, but why is Leno a bad guy for supposedly “pushing” Conan O’Brien out of the Tonight Show slot? First — didn’t see Conan objecting as Leno got pushed out of that spot first by O’Brien, did anyone? And second — when you then lose a million viewers and the top spot in the ratings to Letterman that Leno had held for FIFTEEN years, seems like he was destined for the dumper anyway. Plus he walked off with $40 million in severance pay, so save the boo-hoos please.
Drew Brees was great in the game — but I think the MVP should have been the guy who recovered the on-side kick — whoever that was.
That makes it 44 as I’ve still seen every Super Bowl game ever played —which, given the age needed to do that, probably makes me ineligible to be in the rock band to play at half-time as well.
And finally, here’s my bottom line on the quarterback thing: Montana still has the title of best all-time.
Dave Long can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He hosts Dave Long and Company from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.