Monday, January 25, 2010
The bell tolled. The grim reaper extended his finger. A foot came out and kicked the bucket as hard as it could. No, I'm not talking about the career of Brett Favre, I am talking about defense. NFL Defense. The Jets were the last hope for old school defense to continue as a way to build teams, and they were carved up by a quarterback with more weapons than Emperor Palpatine. It looked good in the first half for about 28 minutes, but when Manning fired on all cylinders in the end of the first half, using Austin Collie to get into the endzone in under a minute, it caused an emotional wreckage from which the Jets were never able to rescue themselves from. Had the Jets held them to another field goal on that drive, they go into the half with a much different mindset, but instead the aura of invincibility that Rex Ryan had instilled in this team the past few weeks was wiped away in 58 seconds. It's a quarterback driven league now. The injury to Shonn Greene may have killed their offense, but the drive at the end of the first half killed the Jets spirit. Even the often cocky Ryan agreed.
"When they got that touchdown against us right before the half, that really took some of the wind out of our sails," Ryan said in his postgame press conference. "We had a couple of communication problems there, then they just out-executed us. That's a tough team. There are a lot of match-up issues that any team's going to have against them."
The team that's going to have those issues is the New Orleans Saints, who managed to beat a Vikings team that turned the ball over 5 times. The Saints didn't look like the offensive juggernaut that rolled through most of the regular season, but they were efficient and got the win. The unsung hero in this one, despite the 31 points his defense allowed, is Vikings Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier. The guy should be a head coach in this league. Soon. If his offense doesn't hand the ball back to New Orleans 5 times, they win the game, handily. Lord Favre, however, decided to throw across his body in the waning seconds, and his Vikings season ended the same way his Packers and Jets careers ended, with crucial late interceptions that cost his team a chance at a win. Leslie Frazier shouldn't be watching Chan Gailey coach Buffalo, yet he'll be back next season as the Vikings defensive coordinator (in all likelihood). Life isn't fair sometimes, and this one is a prime example.
An interesting subplot of Saints/Colts (minus the Archie Manning storyline that is going to be shoved down your throat like cough medicine the next 2 weeks)...
Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has a long history against Peyton Manning, giving Manning all sorts of trouble against when he was defensive coordinator of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, most notably in the 1999 playoffs, when his defense held Manning to 19-42 w/ 227 yards passing (and a rushing TD) in a 19-16 Titans win. In 2001, as Williams took over as head coach in Buffalo, Manning torched the Bills for 421 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 42-26 win. In the rematch later that season (Indy was in the AFC East then), Manning went 17-27 w/ 199 yards and a passing touchdown, and also had a 33 yard touchdown run in a 30-14 win. In his final season in Buffalo, a Williams-led defense held Manning to 26-42 and 229 yards, but still lost 17-14. A 2006 match-up with the Redskins and a Williams defense went decidedly to Manning, as he went 25-35 with 342 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 36-22 win. In 2008 Williams was the DC of the Jags, and Manning went 15-29 and 216 yards, a TD and 2 picks in a 23-21 loss to Jacksonville, but Manning prevailed again later that season in a 31-24 win over the Jags, with a 29-34, 364 yds, 3 touchdown showing. Manning has a total of 3 rushing touchdowns against Willams-led defenses in his career, so keep that in mind when looking at Super Bowl prop bets. Needless to say, these two know each other.
By the way, I have a huge life decision coming up in regards to a baby name. Should I just use NFL Overtime Rules to decide it and flip a coin?
Matt Boutwell is the Publisher for CMSB Media, the Sports Editor for Independent Publishing, and co-host/producer for the "Weekend Warm-Up" on 96.3 The Big Jab.