NFC GAME Saints 31 Vikings 28 Overtime
The turnovers killed the Vikes. They lost 3 of 6 fumbles and 2 picks. They totally outplayed the Saints on offense but gave Brees and Co. too many short fields. Even so, QB Favre brought them back to tie the Saints. The game was determined by the turnovers, the lack of protection for Favre, and the toss of the overtime coin flip.
Favre can not be blamed for what happens to the Vikes. The team never would have been in the game with Jackson or any other QB on the roster. Favre got the team there by pulling out so many wins during the season and giving the team the belief that the QB could win a game not just lose one. Now the question is what will Favre decide about coming back?
He had a great season with the fewest picks of his career. He looked like anything but a 40 year old QB and I think he really enjoyed playing with this team. I would guess that he will take his time in making up his mind about coming back. It will probably take until the 3rd game of preseason for him to decide. That way he avoids 2 a day practices and training camp.
The one thing that will help him make his decision is better protection. Favre stood in against a Saint pass rush that the Vike line was unprepared to handle. But despite the punishment, Favre was effective.
The Vikes’ running game was more effective than normal. It averaged 4.6 per carry. The O converted 58% of their 3rd downs and out gained the passing yards of the Saints 310 to 189.
The Viking D line did a nice job given the great field position the O gave up. They held the Saints to 68 yards rushing. They also caused 3 fumbles. They did miss a couple of picks that might have turned the game around.
Paul Brown once said “I’d rather be lucky than good. Good teams lose.” The Saints got lucky winning the flip of the overtime coin. But it took a good kick return and great drive to get into position to kick the game winning field goal. QB Brees’ numbers are not impressive but he did what he had to do. He was able to take advantage of the gifts the Vikes gave him.
The O line did a very good job. It allowed only 1 sack by a top D. They were not able to get the running game working however. The ground game only averaged 3 yards a carry.
The Saints D played well and created some of the turnovers that determined the outcome of the game. The one thing that the D was able to do was put pressure on Favre all game long. They beat him and therefore the O of the Vikes into submission.
The Bottom line: The Saints got VERY lucky. They won’t have the luck or the crowd when they play the Colts in Miami.
AFC GAME Colts 30 Jets 17
I have to admit I was wrong about QB Sanchez. He played as well as possibly could have been expected of any young QB let alone a rookie. He was 17-30 for 257 and 2 TDs but one pick. With the Colt safeties playing up to stop the run, Sanchez used a pump fake to help WR Edwards get open and threw a perfect pass for the first TD of the game. For once in the last couple of years, Edwards actually caught the ball and scored. Sanchez led the Jets to a 17-6 lead with less than 2 minutes left in the first half. That is when the wheels fell off the Jet and it crashed on the runway.
The running game of the Jets was nonexistent. It averaged only 3 yards per carry. The speed of the Colts D was too much for the O and they were not able to get the big runs that had helped get the team to the AFC Championship game. The team was also not able to make the 2nd half adjustments to move the ball.
The Jets D gave up a score with less than a minute left in the 1st half. That was a killer. The D couldn’t figure out how to stop Manning in that drive or the entire second half. When they played zone, Manning would look the safety off and hit the open receivers. When the Jets played man, Manning used double moves to get his guys open. The other problem was the lack of pressure on Manning. They were so focused on stopping the pass, they gave up 101 yards rushing and 4.2 per carry.
The Manning passing game is a thing of beauty. Manning cut up the pass D of the Jets like it was a rare steak. He was sacked twice but had the pass D totally confused. The O line did fairly well holding off the Jet pass rush. Manning showed why he is the best QB in the game right now. He has had his best season this year given the fact that he was working with a lot of rookie receivers.
The Colts D did the one thing they needed to do–shut down the Jet running game. The Jets ran the ball 29 times for only 86 yards. The Jet O line could not get to the LBs to open up the running lanes. The Colts D line played much better than they have in previous games. They bottled up the O line and the LBs cut off the outside run.
The bottom line: The Colts with Manning at QB will be a really tough Super Bowl competitor.
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Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday morning at 11. He has also published several novels on
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