Just when you thought that the River of Denial couldn't flood Colts Fan to extreme....someone goes over the top to out right delusion.
Once again, The Bleacher Report offers up another post -- this one by someone named Steve Montana -- who attempts to denigrate the Saints victory through a slightly different means than Charles Kellett did. This time, the focus is on "Ambush", the successful onsides kick call at the start of the second half.
This was already covered in comments to my last post here about Kellett's screech, but this latest is so impressively dumb that it deserves its own post. And, it includes a sequel, too.
Ah, what could take away the joy of watching two great quarterbacks duel it out in a Super Bowl, having a snack at half-time anticipating seeing Peyton Manning and the Colts drive down field with the first second-half possession after making their usual adept adjustments during the break?
Dirty pool by Sean Payton, in the form of an onside kick to start the second half, could take away that joy.
Oh, we are sooooo reaching, aren't we, Stevie?? So, you are so upset that Sean Payton made a risky, gutsy call to keep control of the ball away from your hero's hands? What, that Peyton Manning is entitled by edict and Marquis of Queensbury rules to get the ball to start the third quarter? Because when they got the ball back after the goal line stand late in the first half, Manning sure showed that they would drive down the field on the Saints with that ensuing 98-yard drive....oh, wait, they went three-and-out?? That just can't happen...must be the ref's fault!!
When the Saints won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball to start the game, they made their choice. The other team gets to receive the ball to start the second half, but the Colts never received the ball. It was stolen from them on a cheap and dirty onside kick.
Oh, really??? Hate to break this to you, Stevie, but the only thing that the coin toss determines is that who kicks off, NOT who receives. The winner has the option of either kicking off, receiving, or defering to the second half, which allows the other team to decide whether to kick off or receive for the first half. The default value for most teams is to defer to the second half.
There is absolutely nothing in the rules that says that the team kicking off must kick it deep to the other team; they reserve the right to attempt an onsides or a "pooch" kick or even kick it out of bounds. (The latter is a penalty that gives the other team the ball automatically at their 35 yard line.) If their kicker is strong enough, they can even choose to kick it out of the end zone, which would be a touchback, with the receiving team getting the ball on the 20.
Now, an onside kick in normal times is risky enough, since the other team is more likely to expect it and adjust accordingly with their "good hands team". But considering the gambling habits of Sean Payton, the elongated halftime show, the closeness of the game, and the rewards of getting the ball back and preventing Peyton Manning and the Colts O from getting their hands on the ball; wouldn't it be more than just an afterthought for the Colts coaching staff to expect something to happen? I mean, this is the freakin' Super Bowl, for crying out loud.
And besides that, the Colts did in fact have more than enough opportunity to recover the kick, both with Steve Baskett getting his arms and helmet on the ball, and with the ensuing 4 minute scrum. (More on that later.)
Although it was a legal play by existing NFL rules, there has always been an unwritten rule, a gentleman's rule that you do not attempt an onside kick to start a half.
At any other time on a kickoff, fine, but when you win the coin toss, you only get to receive the ball to start a half once. You don't get to break the rack in nine-ball 2 times in a row.
That would be greedy.
"A gentleman's rule???" HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA!!!! Oh, pulllleeeeeeeze.
I mean, what does Stevie expect? Jim Caldwell and Sean Payton to meet with the officials before the game and reveal their game plans to each other?? Teams run onside kicks all the time, just as they run fake punts, fake spikes, fake field goals, and all other kinds of trickeration. Running an onside kick when you are ahead 40-0 would definitely be dirty pool and bad sportsmanship....but down by 4 points in a Super Bowl?? As an attempt to get your offense the ball and keep their offense off the field and cold?? Especially when you really think that it will actually work??
Yes, there is a high risk and real punishment if it doesn't work (Colts get the ball in Saints territory), but I guess that Coach Payton trusted enough both his defense to make the critical stop, if it did fail, AND his special teams ability to make the play, to take that risk. The only thing that makes it "dirty pool", when it comes down to it, is that IT WORKED, and that the Saints capitalized on it to score the touchdown that put them ahead. Too bad, Stevie, but that's football for 'ya.
While many see Sean Payton's gamble as a tribute to his genius and will hail him for his aggressiveness, I see it as blemish on an otherwise respectable game between two evenly-matched teams.
If by "many" he means "anyone not an obsessed and obtuse Colts fan who thought that they were entitled to win this game merely because of the horseshoe on their helmets and Peyton Manning's golden arm", then he is totally correct. And, like I said in the previous paragraph, it's only a "blemish" because the Saints recovered and ultimately won; if it had gone the other way and Indy had gone on to win the game, I'm sure that Stevie would be more than magnamanous enough to give the Saints credit for their boldness.
Yeah, right...more than likely Stevie would be totally smacking Payton down for making such a stooooopid and risky call that let his team down the river and revealed his "25th ranked defense" to be ransacked by RoboQB.
To be a true champion, you play the game between the lines. There is no need to resort to cheap tricks. Let there be no mistake: the Saints outplayed the Colts and deserved to win for the most part.
I say for "the most part" because the game was in the balance until late in the fourth quarter. During Sean Payton's Monday morning news conference on NFL network, he appeared humble.
Perhaps he felt somewhere inside that his decision did not need to be made to win, but since it had been made, a lot of people will forever associate this game and him as a coach with that play.
Notice that "for the most part" disclaimer...as if there was a part of Stevie that hoped that the Saints would get drilled and dissected by Air Peyton....and were it not for that onside kick, that would have probably happened. As if Tracy Porter's Pick-6 didn't happen. Or, Johnathan Vilma's break up of that long pass play at the start of the fourth quarter that led to Matt Stover's missed FG would not have happened. Or, Drew Brees's last drive where he just blew through Indy's D in eight plays.
As for Payton's show of humility.....well, perhaps he's a coach that understands that Scoreboard says it all.
As I see it, the play did not determine the ultimate outcome. It could be argued by some that it greatly affected the outcome.
If the Colts had received a regular kickoff, and they had scored a TD, it would have been 17-6 Colts rather than the 13-10 Saints that it did indeed become when the Saints drove the field.
That does not mean that the Colts would have won.
The Saints could have mounted a comeback. After all, they showed that they had the greater will to win, the greater hunger to lift the Lombardi trophy.
If the play didn't affect the outcome as you see it, Stevie, then why make such a capital offense of it?? And, is it really definite that if the Colts had indeed recovered the kick, they would have automatically driven on the Saints and scored the touchdown?? Remember, they went 3-and-out the last time they had the ball.
Yes, 17-6 Colts (or even 13-6 Colts) would make it a different game than 13-10 Saints....but remember that the Colts did manage to drive down and score after that to make it 17-13 Colts...so, really, why make such a big deal of it?
Oh...and how forgiving of you, Stevie, to say that the Saints had "the greater will" and "the greater hunger". Maybe you might go ahead and say that they were also, you know, THE BETTER TEAM, at least that night?
Was it really a gamble by Payton?
With the Colts adeptness at making half-time adjustments, it was looming pretty large that they were going to drive for a touchdown on their first second-half possession.
If the Colts were likely to score anyway, gambling on an onside kick that could have given the Colts the ball at the Saints own 40-yard line didn't really have that much downside anyway.
Sez you?? For someone who supposedly calls this game as a match between "two evenly matched teams", you sure have a way of dismissing the Saints D, and assuming that Manning would simply plow through them. As if Greg Williams can't make adjustements, too?? And...what about the adjustments made by the Colts D to stop Drew Brees?? I guess that that doesn't matter too much, either. since the only way for the Saints to win is to either play dirty and knock Manning out of the game or play "dirty pool" with onside kicks. They clearly can't win with fundamental football, can they?? Yes, they can....and they did.
Finally, there is the question of who actually recovered the ball. The ball bounced around a few times and led to one of the ugliest and worst regulated scrums in NFL history.
The officials did very little to pull players off the pile. Small fights were breaking out at the sides without flags being thrown. The last we saw of the ball on replays it was between the legs of one prone Saints player and Hank Baskett was diving on top of it.
Is this what we want in a Super Bowl?
To throw scraps of food into the air of a courtyard and watch wild dogs go at it. The onside was not only a blemish on the game for being a cheap and dirty parlor trick. It was also a blemish because it was not a clean play. It was not a clean recovery of a live ball. Is that what we wish to see in the NFL on its greatest stage?
I think not.
Ahhh....newsflash, Stevie: FOOTBALL ISN'T PRETTY...at least, not always. It's a brutal, physical sport. And no more brutal than when there's a loose, live football in a Super Bowl, and everyone is scratching, clawing, gouging eyes, and grabbing packages to get control of the pigskin. Of course, with such a key play in the balance, the officials want to make sure of the proper call.
And, once again...would it be anywhere near as ugly for you, Stevie, if the Colts had been given the ball??
Finally, Stevie concludes his rant with a suggestion for the NFL:
My proposal then is that the NFL needs to make a rule change to prevent what happened in Sunday's Super Bowl between the Colts and the Saints from ever occurring again.
Starting next season, an onside kick may be attempted on any kickoff except for those starting a half. There's no point in having a coin toss if the team that wins it can decide, "Screw it! We are going to take the ball to start the second half too."
Oh, WOW. So, in order to soothe Stevie's conscience about his team being denied their entitlement, the NFL must change their rules to prevent coaches from ever tricking them again with onside kicks to start halfs or games. Never mind that the risk of failure for onside kicks gives great rewards to the other team; or that it is already rare for coaches to even attempt such plays....we must punish coaches for even taking the risk. Why don't we ban flea flickers, or the "Wildcat" formation, or gunners, too?? Why not require wide receivers to have only "80's" numbers...doesn't that hurt the game as well by confusing them with quarterbacks and running backs?? Why does Dallas Clark get away with wearing #44...isn't he supposed to be a tight end?? How is that not a violation of the essential rules of the game??
If Stevie can play that game, than so can I. I propose that the NFL change their rules to prevent teams that spike the ball to stop the clock from faking spikes and running plays. Also, those "double audibles" by Peyton Manning are certainly uncalled for....why should he be allowed that much time to read a defense? Just one audible per snap should do.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?? But no more so than to grip and moan about an onside kick that just happened to go against your team...and then propose to change the rules to your advantage merely because your team ended up losing the Super Bowl.
UPDATE: Steve Montana just posted a follow-up sequel post at The Bleacher Report attempting to justify his earlier rant. I'll save you a response for sake of time; just more of the same rationalization in the face of getting drilled by comments (and even publically on ESPN2's Sports Nation show).