Monday, February 08, 2010

Geaux Saints, Part Deux

I was going to title this post, "Who Dat?" in honor of the Saints' victory, but The Who's halftime performance still rings too painfully in my ears for that to be appropriate.

The Who has been my favorite rock band for over twenty years, largely because they stayed closes to their R&B roots, and partly because their songs had the most musical interest for a trained musician, thanks to Pete Townshend and John Entwistle. Now it's just Pete and Roger Daltry, and the party's over. Townshend can still play guitar, but he looks and sounds like someone in his seventies who's having trouble with his dentures. Daltry looks relatively healthy, but his voice is gone. He skipped from octave to octave more often last night than a Haitian seismograph needle. Entwistle's dead, and it matters. I'm sure the bassist they got is good, but Entwistle was a phenomenon, one of the most important supporting players any band ever had, with the possible exception of Rocco Prestia of Tower of Power. (Clarence Clemons comes to mind, but he was featured enough it's hard to think of him as a supporting player.)

I'm listening to some old Who today to get the taste of last night out of my ears. The Super Bowl halftime show was like seeing the prettiest girl in high school—the one you always had the crush on but never had the nerve to ask out—thirty hard years later, and she's not just fat and hard-looking, but kind of trashy. After all the anticipation, you'd rather have remembered her as she was than see her again.

The commercials were nothing special. I'm not sure what the fascination was with men in their underwear this year, but let's stop it now. The best ad was for the Google, tracing the history of a relationship through searches, from the first query about study abroad to the final, "how to build a crib." Touching, and showed perfectly what the product is for.

I mention the game last, because it always seems to be an afterthought at the Super Bowl Experience. What wasn't mentioned during what was a close game until the very end was what an ass whipping the Saints put on the Colts once they got their legs under them after that lousy first quarter. They outscored the Colts 31-7 from that point on, and probably outgained them 2-1, at least until some of the garbage time yards on their last drive.

Kudos to Colts coach Jim Caldwell for not calling the obligatory timeouts after the final change of possession. They couldn't have affected the outcome, yet coaches insist on using them to delay the inevitable. It was classy of Caldwell not to make the Saints wait any longer than they had to.

Can no one tackle anymore? The current offensive trend of throwing fifty three-yard passes a game depends on receivers catching easy throws, then either making the defender miss, or breaking a tackle for yards after the catch. A good tackling team can stop this by, well, tackling, yet it seems to be a lost art. Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl last year in large part because they were an exceptional tackling team. This year they didn't tackle as well for a number of reasons, and they missed the playoffs. If defensive backs could be taught to tackle maybe all this constant passing bullshit would pass and they could get back to playing real football again.

Saving the best for last, the highlight of the game, for me at least, was calling the ending during the third quarter. The game was still close then, very much in doubt, with few penalties and no turnovers, which is rare for a game this big. I turned to the Beloved Spouse and said the game would be decided by a key turnover, late. (Swear to God that's true.) Sure enough, Peyton Manning threw a Pick Six to put the game away for New Orleans.

A word about Manning. I told friends earlier in the week that among the reasons I wanted the Saints to win was because it was always fun to listen to Manning explain why a loss wasn't his fault. I haven't seen his comments yet (I've been a little occupied shoveling snow), but it's going to be a challenge this time. He has such an other-worldly persona now that Phil Simms missed the obvious call every analyst makes when a quarterback does what Manning did wrong on that play: he looked at his receiver all the way. Any defensive back watching Manning knew exactly where that ball was going. A rookie mistake.

Another, final, highlight—for me, at least—was getting to see Saints' Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams and back-up quarterback Mark Brunell get Super Bowl rings before Dan Snyder. This is a regular passion for me now, rooting for players and coaches who no longer play for the Redskins get the brass ring before The Prince of Darkness. Williams got shafted after having been named coach-in-waiting during the Gibbs 2.0 years. The only thing that could have been sweeter would be for Norv Turner to win it.

There's always next year.

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