Can it get any better than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady meeting in the Mile High City, the Gateway to the Super Bowl? It is once again Ali versus Frazier, Russell versus Chamberlain.
Both fabled quarterbacks surgically led their teams in attempts to garner the home field advantage this coming Sunday, with Manning winning out because of the Broncos’ better season record. Ironic, in that Peyton had little to do with Denver’s 12-4 record, sitting mostly after throwing nearly twice as many interceptions as touchdowns (17-9) through the early going due to an injury.
Brady’s performance was typically Brady, dunking to and fro to Amendola and Edelman, his twin elves, moving the chains, and then finding Frankenstein Gronkowski down close for muscle catches for scores. Add the traditional New England defense and Belichick’s rule bending* and KC soon became KFC.
Peyton had six passes dropped, doubtless from not having played catch with teammates for nine weeks. The Steelers hung tough, trading field goals, themselves limited somewhat by Ben’s sore shoulder. It was nice to hear Peyton Omaha-ing once again. It took a late fumble by Fitzgerald Toussaint for Manning to resurrect the Peyton of old to move in for the score. Ben, of course, also belongs in that caravan of quarterbacks cruising towards Canton, and it was nice to see him lead a line of Steelers congratulating Manning as much for his performance as for his having helped make their NFL the greatest sports league in American history.
In the Seattle-Carolina game, it was all Newton in the first half and all Wilson in the second half. That’s twice in the past month Newton has nearly blown 30-point leads. He can only come that close to the cliff so often. If it was Green Bay he’d be playing this weekend rather than Arizona, I’d pick the Pack to win but the Cardinals are so inept down close, I’ll go with the Panthers. And how did the Arizona coaching staff forget it had Larry Fitzgerald not only on the roster, but indeed in uniform, until the fourth quarter?
For the second straight year, Green Bay exited the playoffs without touching the ball in overtime.
Facing fourth and twenty from his own three-yard-line, 55 seconds left on the clock, no time-outs remaining, needing a touchdown to tie, Aaron Rodgers provided not just a miracle worthy of canonization in the Church of St. Lombardi–a sixty-one-yard-pass completion–but then followed with a second forty-yard miracle into the end zone at the gun to tie the game, a feat to surely get him through the pearly gates and into NFL Nirvana.
Nobody in the history of football has ever done that.
Rodgers then lost the coin flip for the second straight year and, once more, never saw the ball again. That rule sucks. **
“Rodgers,you can quarterback my team anytime, but you stink at calling coin tosses.”
(* & ** Rules changes to be discussed in an upcoming Coach’s Corner.)