First, in the game that had little emotional impact for us, the Colts showed their resolve after falling down early. A beautiful 80-yard pass from Mark Sanchez to Braylon Edwards put the Jets on the board early, and their defense looked strong in the red zone, holding the Colts to early field goals. Despite the Jets' defense succeeding in limiting Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, Peyton Manning got his alternate receiving options going, as Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon each recorded over a hundred yards and a touchdown.
The question then is how do we feel about that result?
As a Packer fan, I have no significant opinion on either team. While I do like the elder Manning's mental approach to the game, being the only QB in the league with the freedom to call many of his offense's plays, I also am sick of seeing him on my television during every commercial break. Plus, it's really fun to see the Manning Face. For me, these factors even out. For the Jets, Rex Ryan has forged an identity and an attitude that are unmistakable. Plus, I can't help thinking that Kissing Suzy Kolber's version of the big guy is closer to the truth than we realize. However, I get rubbed the wrong way by openly arrogant people like Ryan. At least Manning is subdued and humble in interviews, even if he often seems like a jerk otherwise. He makes an effort to act like a halfway respectful person, and I respect that he makes that effort. When the coach of a 9-7 team that snuck into the playoffs starts boasting that his team should be the favorites to win the Super Bowl, I feel differently. Some people love it, and I can understand that too, but because of Ryan's attitude all season, I found myself rooting for the Colts, and ended up pleased with the result of the game. Then again, maybe it's the fact that I really don't like Mark Sanchez and that I was really pulling for the Haitian-born Garcon after the recent earthquake. He had his biggest game after a terrible tragedy, and we should all commend him for that.
Then there was the NFC Championship game. It was a close game all the way through that ended with an awful decision by Brett Favre, eventually leading to a game-winning field goal in overtime by his opponent. Congratulations to the New York Gi--oh wait, it's not 2008 anymore? I'm sorry, I got my Favre collapses mixed up again.
But seriously, as big an issue as the bad interception was at the end of that game, Brad Childress' decision-making was just as disturbing to me. Consecutive runs when you're in position for a 50+ yard field goal just don't seem like a terrific idea to me. Combine that with somehow having 12 men in the huddle to push you back to a 56-yarder, and you get what Vikings fans have been expecting from Childress all season. Then again, Favre had the space to run (even on his injured ankle) and gain back the lost yardage, but instead committed the cardinal sin of quarterbacking: throwing across his body into traffic. Naturally, the Saints win the toss in overtime, Garrett Hartley kicks his longest field goal of the season, and Favre never gets the ball back.
Frankly, this is exactly how I wanted this game to end. It's not because I necessarily hate Favre anymore--time has softened that emotion to general distaste instead of all-out hatred. It is so that the obnoxious Vikings fans that I know can feel the same pain and receive the same ridicule that we Packers fans did after the Giants game two years ago or the 4th and 26 game in 2004. Let me be clear. I'm not talking about anyone at the Daily Norseman or even Vikings fans in general. I mean the people I know personally, my friends, relatives, and classmates, who spent their whole lives badmouthing Brett, telling me how bad he was and how much they despised him, only to worship the ground that he walked on when he came to "save their franchise". We Packers fans knew that there was plenty of bad to take with the good, and you ignored our warnings. Now you know our pain.
While Favre contributed to the loss, he was by no means the only one at fault. Adrian Peterson's, Bernard Berrian's, and Percy Harvin's fumbles killed the momentum that the Vikings had built up. If I were a Vikings fan, I'd want Childress to make each of them carry a football around with them for literally the entire offseason.
And now we look ahead to the Super Bowl. My early feeling is that if the Colts hold on to the ball, they will be victorious. I think the only way the Saints win is if they win the turnover margin by at least two or three. Manning threw 16 interceptions during the regular season, his most since throwing 19 in 2002, so I think that this is a possibility. In terms of a team to cheer for, I am at a loss. I would like to see the Saints win on behalf of the NFC, and because I like Drew Brees, but frankly, I simply hope that we get to see an entertaining game of good football.