Sunday, February 7, 2010


It will forever be known as 'THE Call!'

I can't say enough about it. These words just give it the heft that it deserves.

In the XLIV-year history of the Super Bowl, I don't think there has been a singularly more gutsy, more dramatic play call by any head coach than the onside kick to start the second half. Ever! We may go another XLIV years before we see the likes of it again.

More the stuff of a riverboat gambler than a head coach, New Orleans' Sean Payton elevated himself to the Pantheon in one fell swoop by taking that impossible chance.

To my mind, there are simply no other plays worth talking about. Even Tracy Porter's interception with five minutes and change left, pales by comparison. I know the final score was 31-17, but nothing else really matters as it relates to the final outcome.

Without that one call -- at once incredible and unfathomable -- we would be canonizing Colts QB Peyton Manning as the greatest ever, though that would be a travesty best reserved for another blog.

It should it be acknowledged that it's not just the call itself but the successful execution of same that made all the difference. If the Saints had not recovered the ball (and it seemed to me to be the longest time to ever determine possession than I can remember), we would be deriding Payton as the worst person to ever have drawn a breath.

Such is the fickle nature of sports.

Who, in their right mind, would make such a call? Even the great (cough!) Bill Belichick feared Manning enough to go for it on fourth down, ill-advisedly as we now know.

Conventional logic says the best way to beat the elder Manning is to keep him on the sidelines. What better way than to deny him the ball in the second half? Heck, maybe they should always kick it onside.

But that would eliminate the bread and butter of this and any other unconventional or gimmicky call...Surprise!

Payton, of the now victorious Saints, has just rewritten the history books. On the biggest stage and at the most crucial point of the game, Payton rolled the dice.

They had practiced the play. Payton went over and over and over the scenario again and again and again the night before. And as he started his halftime Pep Talk...with the muffled sounds of The Who permeating through the locker room walls...he told his team what they were about to do.

Payton knew that this was risky, enough so that he told his charges to make him look good by converting this play. They did and the rest, as they say...

I think coaches around the world are still stunned, numb to what took place in Miami at Sun Life Stadium.

This was the city where Colt QB Peyton Manning finally got the monkey off his back. No longer was he the best active quarterback to never have won the big one. Of course, Dan Marino, who plied his trade here as a Dolphin; has the lifetime tag.

After succumbing to Destiny (aided and abetted by that fourth quarter pick), Manning is now relegated to having won the same number of Lombardi Trophies as Trent Dilfer and (snort!) Brett Favre. Greatness has once again eluded the passer and pitchman.

Since Super Bowl XLIV was a battle between two number one seeds, can New Orleans' win over Indianapolis be considered an upset? I think the one-time 'aints were the underdog in more ways than just the Vegas line.

I mean, most of the "smart" money had been on the older veteran with the gaudier career stats.

Spout all you want about the statistics or the vagaries of the routes run and the drops by Indy's Reggie Wayne. Go on about Drew Brees and his his near-perfect 45 minutes of football. Say what you will!

To my mind, nothing else need be said other than: "Good Call!"

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