Posts Tagged ‘new orleans saints’

Championship Sunday Live-Blog: NFC Championship

Since Tim decided to dub Championship Sunday the most exciting football day of the year (and since we’ll be too busy having fun during the Super Bowl), we felt it necessary to pull out all the stops with a live-blog. In case you missed, Tim, Josh, and John S already covered the AFC Championship Game. Now Josh is gone, but Tim and John S will bring you all the insight and action as the Saints host the Vikings…

 

10:27, JOHN S — Well, that was a pretty elaborate way to get a chalk Championship Sunday…YAWN.

10:25, TIM — The Favre joking aside, this is a gutwrenching loss for Vikings fans. Minnesota controlled most of the game but committed the turnovers (I mean, FIVE) that it had to avoid. The Vikings’ mistakes in this game were big ones: fumbles, interceptions, and inexplicable late-game playcalling by Brad Childress. I don’t exactly know how the pantheon of horrible losses shapes up for Minnesota, but this one has to be near the top (if below the ’98 NFC title game).

At the same time, I’m very happy to see the Saints in the Super Bowl.

10:22, TIM — My score prediction for this game? 31-27 Saints. Now it’s 3-to-2 in favor of me, Josh!

10:21, JOHN S — My brother (before Tim’s comment): “God clearly wants the last pass of Brett Favre’s career to be an Interception.”

10:19, TIM — And Brett Favre’s last pass was an interception in the NFC Championship Game.

Rich.

10:19, JOHN S — Remember when I said FGs wouldn’t decide this game? Forget that.

Continue reading

Unabated to the Quarterback, Week 15: AFC v. NFC

“Nothing is given to mankind, and what little men can conquer must be paid for with unjust deaths. But man’s grandeur lies elsewhere, in his decision to rise above his condition.”

–Albert Camus

For virtually the entirety of the Aughts, the AFC has been far more intriguing than the NFC. After pulling two Super Bowl upsets to start the decade (one little upset by a big margin, one big upset by a little), the AFC has been favored to win the NFL’s title game the last seven seasons. It has given us the decade’s best rivalry (New England vs. Indianapolis), its transcendent players (you can make a case that the best player to spend most of the decade in the NFC is Torry Holt), its best individual teams, and its best franchises.

Suffice to say, the story of the NFL in the Aughts was almost always the story of the AFC.

And I wanted to write how that was changing this season, how the NFC—by being the home of a team that reached 13-0 for the first time in the conference’s history, of the league’s most polarizing figure in Brett Favre,* of what portended to be its best division (the NFC Beast)—was the more interesting conference in professional football. I was going to use the glut of 7-7 teams corrupting the AFC playoff picture—including a Texans’ team that hasn’t won a big game in its franchise history and a Jets’ squad that seems like it has more interceptions this year than touchdowns—as a starting point to talk about how the NFC is deeper, how its playoffs will be a thrilling toss-up where pretty much any team can emerge and then provide a legitimate challenge to the AFC champion in the Super Bowl. Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, Week 13: The Saints Are Marching

“In truth the way matters but little; the will to arrive suffices.”

—Albert Camus

It took me awhile, but I knew I had already made this comparison. And I did it only three weeks ago:

The Saints remind me of a really good college football team at this point. They score a lot of points, so it’s no big deal if they come out flat and fall behind early. They play down to competition. Reggie Bush played well for them. Eventually, though, they’re gonna drop one of these.

Yes, on the final weekend of the college football regular season, with Texas and Cincinnati using last-minute scores to each win by a point and maintain undefeated seasons, I couldn’t help but think of New Orleans in college terms. If anything, the Saints have looked more and more like a college team as the season has progressed: They have a quarterback who is preternaturally accurate—one that makes several throws per game that simply cannot be defended. They have three running backs, none of whom are particularly good, but all of whom are good enough given the system they play in. They have a half-dozen viable wide receivers, all capable of making big plays at any time, even if they’re playing defense. Their offense relies more on speed than any other in the NFL; given adequate time, Drew Brees will find an open man.

Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, Week 12: From Invisible to In-Vince-Able

“Everything considered, a determined soul will always manage.”

—Albert Camus

It was the worst GameCast experience of my life and the perpetuation of what would become an annual Giants’ tradition. On November 26, 2006, Big Blue led the Titans 21-0 going into the fourth quarter. They were about to put an end to an ugly two-game losing streak, move to 7-4, and proceed to win the NFC East—or so I thought.

That’s when Vince Young went to work. The then-rookie led the Titans on one touchdown drive, and then another. Then the Giants had Tennessee in a 4th-and-10, and Mathias Kiwanuka had his arms around Young, and he let go, and Vince ran for the first down and eventually, threw for another touchdown. An Eli INT—by PacMan Jones, no less—and a Rob Bironas field goal completed the comeback.

Three years later, Vince Young led a similarly remarkable comeback, converting three fourth downs while driving the Titans 99 yards in the final moments for a 20-17 victory over the Cardinals. One would think that the postgame narrative would have been structured around Young’s abilities in the fourth quarter, perhaps with references to his Rose Bowl appearances and that comeback against the Giants. Instead, much of the talk was on how Vince Young is finally living up to the hype. Gregg Easterbrook said Young’s success proves Tim Tebow can start in the NFL at quarterback. On PTI, Peter King even compared Young to JaMarcus Russell.

Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, Week 10: What was Bill Belichick Thinking?

“I recognized no equals. I always considered myself more intelligent than everyone else, as I’ve told you, but also more sensitive and more skillful, a crack shot, an incomparable driver, a better lover.”

—Albert Camus, The Fall

Truth be told, I didn’t watch the Sunday Night game between the Patriots and Colts; I had “better things to do.” Now I kind of wished I had watched it, being that it was only the best game of this regular season and included one of the most stunning coaching decisions in NFL history.

Bill Belichick’s decision to go for it on 4th-and-2 from his own 28 was no doubt surprising, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t rational, like any proper blindsiding from Survivor. Perhaps even more surprising has been the aftermath of the decision, where close to (if not) a majority of sportswriters have supported the decision. Joe Posnanski was behind it (obvs…if he weren’t, I wouldn’t be), citing The New York Times’s statistics. Three of the four guys on Around the Horn liked it, and the one who didn’t was Jay Mariotti, who defended his position by telling the others, “You’re idiots.” Most people in this Fanhouse roundtable supported it, too. Even Gregg Easterbrook defended it, but I don’t really count him as a sportswriter.

Of course, not everyone was behind the call. David Fleming at ESPN—who I had never heard of before—called it “uncharacteristically panicky,” a notion that seems to be rebutted by Charlie Weis saying it was likely planned. Mike Francesa thought it was moronic. And Rodney Harrison called it the dumbest decision Belichick had ever made, which I thought was ignorant of perspective.*

Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, Week 7: The Right to Parity

manning brees

“Mediocrity seeks to endure by any means, including bronze. We refuse its claims to eternity, but it makes them every day. Isn’t mediocrity itself eternity?”

—Albert Camus

The Saints’ remarkable comeback victory over the Dolphins late Sunday means that there are three undefeated teams through seven weeks for the first time in NFL history. There are also three winless teams, who lost their most recent game by 28, 36, and 59 points, respectively.

And this is supposed to be the league of parity?

Let’s consider this for a moment: For at least the last decade, all talk of the NFL and its place within the context of the four major sports has included the word “parity.” Most people interpret “parity” in this context to mean equality within seasons, when really it more accurately refers to equality across them. The NFL produces just as many dominant teams as the NBA or Major League Baseball does. In fact, if pressed into naming a Team of the Decade across sports, the answer would almost certainly be the New England Patriots (in the same way that the 49ers could make a claim to it in the ‘80s, if we exclude hockey and the Oilers).

Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, Week 6: The Super BCS!

It’s every college football fan’s favorite week of the year: BCS Standings Release Week! In honor of the best part of college football, I put together my projection of the Super Bowl Championship Series. We can only dream that someday, this will be how the championship is determined.

Super Bowl Championship Series

1. New Orleans Saints

The Saints leapfrogged the idle Colts in both polls with their dismantling of the Giants on Sunday. All eyes are now on New Orleans’ divisional showdown with Atlanta a week from Monday.

2. Indianapolis Colts

It was a bad week for Peyton Manning and Co., who not only saw the Saints jump over them in their polls but now also have to worry about their divisional schedule strength. Tennessee’s 59-0 loss in New England and the continued unpredictability of Houston and Jacksonville mean Indy might not be able to survive a division loss.

Continue reading