Posted on: February 10, 2010 5:46 am

And Cabin Fever Begins.

Yesterday, the Saints did come marching in.  Through New Orleans, in a Superbowl celebration when the football team brought the Lombardi trophy to a town that, until this year, had yet to see it enshrined there.  Not seen were the once famous paper bags, now put away forever, along with the nickname the “Aint’s”.  Mardi Gras came early for the city that started it’s celebration Sunday night on Bourbon Street and continued on through the next day.  Across the country, Saints fans were jubilant.  On Facebook, a picture of  Jimmy Buffet was posted, posing with the Lombardi and author Anne Rice wrote how she was wishing that she, too, was there amongst the other fans.  No doubt, there were a lot of folks who once called New Orleans home, were having the same feelings, wanting to be there, to join the celebration.  I understand that desire, all too well. 

On the flip side, fans of the Indianapolis Colts will still be feeling the sting of having watched their team get to and fall short of bringing the trophy back to Indianapolis.  Hopes dashed and expectations, built on the hype of the possibility of their quarterback being crowned the greatest ever, fell oh so short.  It would be a bitter pill whose taste will linger for a little while, at least until next season.  I’m still remembering the taste of that pill from Superbowl XXX, which had been served, ironically, the same way that this years Colts received theirs. 

As for me, I was a neutral observer.  When asked who I picked to win the Superbowl, my response was for the Colts, of course.  Not because they were an AFC team, not because it was a chance for a quarterback to cement his legacy (let’s face it, Manning with all his records cemented it when he won his first trophy). For me, I was pulling for the Colts for the sake of maintaining harmony in the household.  After all, with my husband being a Colts fan, it’s an unspoken rule that we pull for the others team when ours aren’t in it just so things don’t end up flying at each others head.  Not to say, I wouldn’t have been happy for a Saints win, just that well, you know, you want your spouse to be happy, right?

Amazingly though, Superbowl 44 became a growing and learning process for me.  No, I gave up brooding about the Steelers not being the ones in the game back in the 80’s.  My disappointment ended a week after they were eliminated and the playoffs began.  Nope, that wasn’t what I learned. 

1)    I learned that I could be very empathetic.  When it was apparent that the Saints won, I didn’t take the opportunity to remind my husband that the Steelers had two Superbowl rings under Ben, to Manning’s 1. Instead, I just went to sleep, knowing that my husband went online to vent. 

2)    My husband took the loss a hell of a lot better then I did in Superbowl 30.  I remember ranting through the house about O’Donnell somehow thinking that Larry Brown was a Steelers receiver, not just at the time, but for days.  Since Peyton’s interception, not one word has been mentioned about it. 

3)    I found another reason to be very proud of my daughter.  At 21, my daughter professes no desire to watch football, though she does from time to time ask about a game.  Last year, she told me she was pulling for the Cardinals to win, because of Arizona being the underdogs and their history.  This year, on her way back to school, she advised me she was pulling for the Saints.  Having professed that day she was not interested in watching the Superbowl, it caught me by surprise when she called home to say “that was a pretty interception, wasn’t it”.  No, the pride didn’t come from her actually watching the game, but her learning how to rub it in when the team she pulls for wins.  Even my husband couldn’t help but smile at that.

While the number 44 happened to be a magical number for the New Orlean Saints, their winning the Superbowl brought to home one sad fact.  It officially ended the season and everything is now just a memory.  Though Saints fans will continue to celebrate the victory and watch and rewatch game highlights and Colts fans will turn the channel when game highlights are shown again for the 20,000th time.  The rest of us will still be complaining about the stupid decision to have the Pro Bowl right before the Superbowl and we’ll be looking at who was let go and picked up in free agency and why it was a stupid (or great) move.  Several fans have already started their mock draft and developing their own “war rooms”.  We’ll be anxiously waiting the Combine and draft day, then mini camps and try to get our fix through stations like NFL Network and ESPN until pre-season. 

As for me and mine, well, once again, our garage needs to be reorganized. 

Enjoy Saints fan, you deserve it (now burn those paperbags)…and for the rest of us, here’s to next season.

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 10, 2008 5:49 am

No Divine Grace This Game

On a wing and a prayer.  Isn’t that what most Hail Mary passes are, throw it up there and hope for divine intervention to come your way and get it in the hands of your receiver in the end zone?  Make no mistake, there were two receivers there, there were more defenders there though.  So here was the prayer, that there would be a tip, another one of several that would go in favor of the offense, just one more and the results would have been different.  If there was divine intervention, it wasn’t going to be on the behalf of the Steelers this game.

We could play the “if” game all day.  If Ben hadn’t thrown two interceptions giving the Colts offense great field position, then the Colts would probably have not been able to drive down the field to get the scores on the turnovers.  If Moore hadn’t been stopped at the goal line by Eric Foster, then it would have been a tie game.  If Leftwich had played instead of Ben.  So many ifs.  However, if’s are fantasies, questions that will never be answered, because that’s not the way that it happened.  If’s don’t win or lose football games, only what occurs at the moment.

At the moment it was two interceptions on Ben Roethlisberger that ultimately cost the Steelers the game.  A third and two deep pass to Holmes that should have never been called, let alone thrown.  Then another to Holmes, which could have gone either way, given that they were second and thirteen.  However, against an offense like the Colts, you cannot lose the turnover battle and expect to walk away unscathed.  Especially since the Colts have one of the top five passing defenses in the league at the moment.    No matter how poorly one thought the Colts were performing during the season, one could not deny they still had the weapons in place to light it up.  And when given the opportunity, Peyton Manning showed that the “old” Colts offense still existed.  We were still waiting for the “old” Steelers offense to emerge.  Somehow, it never seemed to completely happen.

Yet the Steelers defense continued to be the strong defense we know it to be.  Despite two tipped passes to Reggie Wayne, it could have been worse, much, much, worse.  Yeah, they got lucky on two deep passes to Marvin Harrison that didn’t pan out.  However, they disrupted Manning enough to only allow him to complete a little over half of his passes.  Sadly, for Steelers fans, it’s the completed ones that hurt. 

In the end though, it would be the Colts defense that made the difference in this game.  It was the interceptions by Ratliff and Jennings that would take away the Steelers momentum and the final one by Bullitt, drove the nail in their coffin.  It would be the pressure that the defense was bringing that would force Ben to make some bad, quick decisions.  And somehow, the Colts suspect run defense became less suspect to stop the Steelers running game.
Posted on: November 9, 2008 5:21 am

My Game of the Year

It's finally here, the Sunday I waited two years to watch.  It was the one game that I had contemplated getting tickets and driving to Pittsburgh to see.  It's the game that I got all excited about when I saw the Colts on the Steelers schedule, and at Heinz Field, no less.  I talked about it in pre-season, I mentioned it during the regular season and at 2 am this morning I was talking about this game.  I could say that I was excited because I wanted to see how the Steelers running game would excel against a questionable rush defense, or how the Steelers corners would react to the offensive weapons of Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.  I could say it's about matchups, but to be honest, this is the game of the year because...well, my husband is a Colts fan. 

So this morning, in the darkness, while we were watching the NFL Network and various shows talking about the Colts/Steelers matchup, my husband muttered "this is going to be ugly" and "I'm going to have to hear about it for the next two years".   Of course my response was filled with humility...not...instead of being sympathetic, I couldn't resist coming back with "yeah, with Marlin Jackson being out, Moore's going to run all over your butt".  Only a heavy sigh in response.  But was there an inaudible mumble about how he was waiting to see Ike Taylor eating Marvin Harrison's dust?  Okay, so it tends to be fun in our household. 

Alright, I'd really believe that the Steelers would have the ability to run the ball up and down the field against a run-suspect defense, if Bob Sanders were out.  Unfortunately for the Steelers, Sanders is playing so it's not going to be as easy as one might think.  In eight games the Colts have given up 1149 yards on the ground, however, Sanders  

Not only will the Steelers offense have to deal with Sanders, but there's the Freeney/Mathis factors.  Two defensive ends that have made their careers in their ability to get off the line quickly and get to the quarterback.  Given Ben's propensity for holding the ball too long and the questionable oline, the Steelers offense will have to hide that bullseye on the chest of whoever the Steelers deem to be their quarterback, whether it's Roethlisberger or Leftwich.

Steelers defense doesn't exactly have an easy job in front of them either.  Peyton Manning just has too many weapons in the form of Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and Marvin Harrison, not to mention Dallas Clark, and still has the ability to be lethal in the air.  Add Rhodes and Addai and well, it could be a long day for the Steelers defense, but I see the number one defense in the NFL being disruptive against the high powered offense of the Colts.  An added plus is the return of Safety Ryan Clark to the Steelers defense.  The combination of Clark and Polamalu have helped disrupt, or at least keep in check offenses this season.

Pittsburgh is not a kind place for the Colts to play, whether they were in Baltimore or in Indianapolis.  Steelers lead the series 10-1 against the Colts for games played in Pittsburgh.  I don't see this game being kind to them either, especially since the Steelers are looking to maintain their lead in the AFC North, trying to keep the Ravens off their heels.  It also doesn't help the Colts that the Steelers are 5-0 against AFC teams this year either. 

I expect to see some great defense coming out for the Steelers (what can I say, I'm a Steelers homer).  The only question I'm going to really have...Bruce, what do you have plan to ensure that you actually do open up the ground game and keep Mathis and Freeney off of Ben?
Posted on: September 3, 2008 5:48 pm

2008-09 NFL Projections - AFC South - No Surprise

Okay, so this can be addictive.  I can understand why Judge Clark and Pete Prisco do this, despite all the garbage they get from the readers.  But, in truth, it's fun.  Of course, I think I can get away with it because I don't get paid. 

So I've projected the New England Patriots to be the division leader of the AFC East.  I know, a no-brainer there right?  So as I go through the AFC South, I know, I'll have another no-brainer in chosing the Indianapolis Colts as the AFC South's division leader.

Well onto my projection for the AFC South.

#4 - Houston Texans - Although I see them progressing to having a winning season (though they're first lost will come in their season opener), I still see the Texans sitting at last place in the AFC South.  Only because this is one tough division and the Tennessee Titans will have just a tad better season. 

#3 - Tennessee Titans - Vince Young has yet to convince me with his accuracy.  Having been playing for a few years, teams are going to be able to stop a running quarterback and his aerial attack is questionable.  Sorry, before I see the Titans advancing up in the division, Young is going to have to convince me he can throw the ball better.

#2 - Jacksonville Jaguars - Jags are going to be neck and neck with the Colts, and seriously, I see the division going based on a tie breaker, which the Colts will hold.  Garrard shows he will be as consistent as he was last year and has some young weapons to throw to and the beefing up of their defense makes this call a difficult one.  I do see the Jaguars once again holding a wild card slot.

#1 - Indianapolis Colts - No, I didn't say this because my husband is a Colts fan.  Trust me, in this household during football season, gloves are off and the fun begins.  I see the Colts taking the division with a tie breaker against the Jaguars.  Despite Peyton Mannings injury and lack of practice time, it's not going to take anytime for him to get back into the swing.  Even with Jeff Saturday being down for the first few weeks of the season, Manning has the capability of the quick release to make up for the missing center.  Given a healthy Wide Receiver corp and the duo of Joseph Addai and Dominick Rhodes, the offense will be fine.  Colts have also  a beefed up defense and a healthy Bob Sanders, Dwight Freeney and Marlin Jackson

AFC South Division Champions - Indianapolis Colts
Posted on: January 18, 2008 5:34 am

When Twilight Comes, Time to Call it a Day

After the Pittsburgh Steelers had won Superbowl XL in February 2006, there were whispers as to whether Bill Cowher would retire that year or not.  Cowher denied thoughts of retirement that year but during the 06-07 year, Steeler fans noticed a difference in our teams coach.  Normally use to seeing him animated, passionate and filled with energy, we noticed that it was, at the minimum, subdued, if not, gone.  Steelers went on to have a .500 season that year finishing 8-8.  Grant it, alot of that had to do with Ben Roethlisberger's motorcycle accident  and then his apendectomy, which caused the quarterbacks focus to shift from getting insync with his offense to getting physically better.  However, one still had to wonder if the desire in coaching was truly gone from Cowher.  We found out when he announced his retirement at the end of the season.

Now, whispers have started turning into rumblings as those who follow the NFL wonder if another coach will look to retire.  The whispers started at the end of the 05-06 season, when we learned of the death of James Dungy.  It had been asked as to whether or not the Indianapolis Colts coach, Tony Dungy would retire after that season.  Those whispers were suppressed and the next year the Colts would go on to win the Superbowl.  At the end of this year, the whispers are once again turning into rumblings about the possibility of Dungy retiring from coaching.  To add fuel to those rumors were  Jim Irsay's comments about accomodating Dungy with his son's game.   In that, and the announcement that assistant coach Jim Caldwell would replace Dungy, should he choose to retire, has lead us to begin to believe that, this offseason, indeed Tony Dungy's twilight has come in the NFL.  Still remaining though, Dungy himself has not announced it.

There seems to be a change when a coach begins to contemplate retirement.  It may not be tangible or even noticeable at a glance, but if you look closely, you'll notice it.  We noticed it with Bill Cowher.  Question is, if Dungy comes back next season, would he still have enough passion to coach the game?  Would the players spend the season wondering if this is their last year with their coach. and if so, what would the energy level be on and off the field for the team? 

Tony Dungy has had a great career in the NFL but perhaps it's time to call it quits if he's no longer enjoying it as he once did.  A person has to be true to himself to be true to those around him.  As with any career, there comes a twilight, and Coach Dungy since you're seriously contemplating calling it quits, perhaps it's time to recognize that twilight and call it a day.

Category: NFL
Tags: Colts, Dungy
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