January 22, 2007

Patriots and Colts - One For The Ages...

Wah-Wah-Wee-Wah, what a football game.

The Colts are going to the Super Bowl. They defeated the Patriots 38-34 Sunday night, in one of the best football games I have ever seen.

Tom Brady is human, after all.

Last week, I declared that the legacies of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were such: Brady's a winner, and Manning's a loser.

Manning is a loser, no more. Like Ace Ventura Pet Detective, he has "exorcised the demons".

What a game. I've seen a lot of football games in my day. I watched the Bills lose four straight Super Bowls. I watched John Elway and the Broncos win their titles, and Brett Favre and the Packers win their titles. But tonight was a classic. I know it's been said a thousand times before, but it really was One For The Ages. Brady and Manning, round three, and Manning finally came out on top.

The Colts came from behind and won after being down 18 points. No team has ever come back from such a deficit in a championship game. From the start it seemed that Brady and the Patriots would better Manning and the Colts again - this time in Indianapolis, in a dome, where the weather didn't matter. But Manning wouldn't let it happen. He was amazing in the second half and no one can say that Manning and the Colts don't deserve to be going to the big dance.

Manning deserves all the credit in the world. He refused to quit; he refused to let his team and his fans down once more. I don't know if it's possible to change your legacy in one game, but if it is, Manning did it tonight.

Brady and the Patriots were on tonight - they were solid. They played classic New England football, but the Colts were better. The second half was phenomenal and once the Colts tied the game at 21 a piece, it was a see-saw battle. The two teams went at each other drive for drive, score for score. In the end, Manning drove his team down the field 80 yards to seal the victory with a minute left on the clock.

At that point, I still thought Brady had one more comeback in him. I figured if anyone could do it, it was Brady. He's freakin' SuperMan. And he almost did it. But tonight was Peyton and the Colts' turn. It was their destiny to go to the Super Bowl. A very Brady interception with 24 seconds left sealed the game for Indy, and they deserved it, straight up.

It was just a great battle. An epic battle. Yeah, I'm trying to be dramatic as possible here. But if you missed the game, the highlights won't do it justice.

The camera shots of Manning on the sidelines when New England got the ball back, down 38-34, with a minute left, were amazing. He just couldn't even look at the field. He didn't have the heart to do it. Those shots were really provocative. Manning admitted after the game that he said a prayer. That's what you've got to do against Tom Brady and the Pats - pray. For all of us Leafs fans out there, we know exactly what that's all about.

Coming into this game, Bill Belichick was 8-0 in playoff games decided by seven points or less. What a statistic. You can say a team gets lucky only so many times - that it's luck that a team wins the close games. But you can only say it a couple of times. Belichick and the Pats always won the close games, and that's what made them so amazing. Their run finally came to an end tonight though, and the Colts were deserving of their fate.

The Super Bowl will be the Colts vs DA BEARS in Miami, and it should be a great game. I think the Colts will walk out of Florida as Super Bowl Champions, but only time will tell. For Manning and the Colts to lose to the Bears would just be a shame. Tonight was practically their Super Bowl. They beat the team they so badly wanted to beat. Now, they've just got to win one more game, to complete their magical season.

As a newly bred Patriots fan, and a lifelong fan of the underdog, it sucked to watch the Pats lose this game. But Manning and the Colts have paid their dues. They deserved to win. In order to become a champion, a team and its players have to learn how to lose. The Colts know all about losing the big game. But no longer can they be labelled chokers, because today they won the big game. The choking label belongs to teams and players that deserve it - like Daniel Alfredsson and the Ottawa Senators - and Manning and the Colts shook that label off tonight, in emphatic fashion.

It should be a great Super Bowl. The Bears stingy defense, led by warrior Brian Urlacher, up against Manning and the Colts, and their high-flying offense. Get the nachos and brews ready, because it's going to a be a barn-burner.
You know what I find strange? Adam Vinatieri. Which ever team he's on, win's. He was on New England when they beat the Colts twice in the playoffs. This year, he joined the Colts, and guess who won? He is the ultimate X-Factor.

A big shout out to Peyton Manning - loser no more.

Goodnight Toronto...