A classic meltdown by the Minnesota coach and quarterback.
A classic celebration in New Orleans.
And stop whining about the overtime rules in the NFL.
Let’s bring it, Schein 9 style …
1. Fix it
The Colts and Saints are going to meet in Miami for a chance to claim supremacy in the NFL. It’s the matchup everyone wanted, featuring the two teams that took undefeated records into December, an unprecedented event.
The fans are going nuts. The performances on championship Sunday were epic. But there are a few things that must be cleaned up over the next 12 days.
The Vikings had 475 total yards. The Saints had 257. That’s the largest negative yard differential for a winning team in playoff history.
If the Saints want a chance in the Super Bowl, that has to improve.
I loved Gregg Williams’ aggressiveness Sunday. It was the right play. But study the film from the Colts’ win against the Jets. Manning got hot as the offensive line picked up the Jets’ blitz, which was so successful early, getting Peyton totally out of whack over the first quarter and 13 minutes. Just like Manning picked apart the Jets secondary on the final drive of the first half for a key touchdown, he can do the same to New Orleans.
And I’ve used the word "opportunistic" all year to describe the Saints defense. But the Colts won’t make the same mistakes that Minnesota made. Indy doesn’t implode. EVER. This season, they’ve saved their best for when it matters the most.
Additionally, Jeremy Shockey is clearly not 100 percent and needs to be a factor. And then there’s the running attack. I believed the Saints would outrush the Vikings. It wasn’t even close. Adrian Peterson had his best game in over two months. Reggie Bush caught a touchdown but had a poor game. After a statement performance, he did absolutely nothing on championship Sunday. New Orleans needs to do a much better job of running the ball against the Colts.
From a Colts standpoint, I think they need to start fast. Jim Caldwell took exception with my word choice that Peyton was "rattled" early on during the Jets game, but he was. And the Saints defense can get you off rhythm. The Saints can score in bunches with Drew Brees. Indy has a knack for falling behind in games. While it sounds like a nitpick, it can’t happen against the Saints.
Joseph Addai and the Colts running game proved to be stunningly successful against New York. But all season, it has been stuck in the mud, ranked dead last in the NFL. A key to the Colts’ win was balance. They need to establish it against the Saints in order to win.
The Colts also gave up two sacks early against the Jets. The offensive line needs to play four quarters of football against an end like Will Smith and the pressure Williams will put on Manning.
2. Rise and Schein
"The Saints are going to the Super Bowl!!!"
These are words Saints fans never thought they would hear. Enjoy it, New Orleans.
There has been such a special attachment between the players and the community in New Orleans, strengthened through the adversity and devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton and Drew Brees will always, beautifully, be attached at the hip for their efforts to rebuild New Orleans and run to the Super Bowl.
It was special watching Payton get choked up on FOX when he was talking to the crowd.
Loomis was so excited for the city of New Orleans when we talked after the game.
And Loomis’ pickup of Brees will go down as the best offensive free-agent pickup in NFL history.
3. Hide the women, children and Matt Millen
Vikings fans will never forget the final two minutes of regulation in New Orleans. A trip to the Super Bowl inexplicably slipped away.
Brad Childress‘ clock management and game management were pathetic. And there’s a reason we took the coach to task for issues like this all season, even when the Vikes were winning. You knew it would catch up, and it did.
There was no sense of urgency to the final drive. The use of timeouts was poor. The play selection was worse. How in the world do you get called for 12 men in the huddle after a timeout! And why did Brett Favre think he could call a timeout after a timeout! And how does Favre scramble and then throw across his body on a third-and-15 after the penalty? Just run, Brett! Ryan Longwell will make the kick! The Vikings fans got "Farved."
Childress and Favre will forever kick themselves for these legendary gaffes.
4. Backseat coaching
Rex Ryan is getting unfairly criticized for two things that happened this weekend.
I love how pundits, and even Peyton Manning, wondered why Lito Sheppard didn’t start. On a special edition of Jets Game Plan on SNY Saturday night, when asked for final thoughts, I said: "Lito Sheppard scares me and is a matchup nightmare for the Jets."
Now, Dwight Lowery and Donald Strickland are not great players either, but let’s not make Sheppard into a Darrelle Revis clone.
And I had no problem with Rex trying a 52-yard field goal with Jay Feely. The Jets needed points and weather wasn’t a factor. The snap was bad, Feely missed Manning took over with a short field and scored to give Indy the lead and the Colts wouldn’t look back. But that wasn’t a bad decision.
5. So over the overtime argument
People, please pipe down.
Where, oh where, were the critics and the haters of the NFL’s overtime rules when Michael Adams plastered Aaron Rodgers and Karlos Dansby picked up the ball and scored the game-winning touchdown for the Cards on defense!!!
Imagine that concept.
This just in: FOXSports.com has learned there are three phases of football — offense, defense and special teams.
You play all three to win. Deal with a coin flip. And move the hell on.
College overtime is a joke and a gimmick. It’s not football. Again, pipe down.
6. Weekly Hot Seat
"Ladies and gentleman, introducing David Garrard and the AFC Pro Bowlers!!"
Are we kidding here? David freaking Garrard is in the Pro Bowl. Who’s next, Curtis Painter?
And that’s no knock on my guy Garrard, who is solid. But this is officially embarrassing. The Pro Bowl is for the players. Put it in Hawaii. Let them celebrate with their families. And get the best players to go.
The NFL is on the hot seat with this sham.
7. My guys
Peyton Manning: As Jim Caldwell told us on Monday: "When Peyton gets a feel and gets on a roll, it’s impressive to watch." Well said. He’s the best in the business, and it’s a pleasure to watch his greatness. The four-play drive at the end of the first half, resulting in a touchdown to Austin Collie, changed the game. The fade to Pierre Garcon to make it 20-17 sealed it. Manning was breathtaking, throwing for 377 yards, three touchdowns and no picks against a great defense, making all the proper adjustments after a rocky start.
Jon Vilma: He is the Drew Brees of the defense and was in the middle of everything positive for the Saints.
Austin Collie: How’s this for dedication? Caldwell told us Collie spent his Saturday improving his hand-eye coordination by catching tennis balls from a Jugs machine. I think it paid off on game day!
Mark Sanchez: The rookie quarterback earned his stripes in the playoffs, and he played a tough and great game against the Colts.
Paul Allen: The outstanding voice of the Vikings was appropriately critical of Brad Childress and Brett Favre down the stretch of the game. We aired his calls during Monday’s Sirius Blitz. Amazing stuff, Paul.
8. My goats
Braylon Edwards: Way to pull a Roy Williams and make it all about yourself after a loss. Edwards is going to blame Rex Ryan and Brian Schottenheimer and Mark Sanchez for the loss, with commentary that the Jets "played to maintain" and "we got up and got comfortable." That’s pathetic. Edwards’ teammates didn’t blame him when he couldn’t catch a cold. Sanchez, Schotty and Rex are the main reasons the Jets made the championship game. Braylon showed this weak act in Cleveland, proving once again he doesn’t get it.
Brett Favre: Truth be told, the 40-year-old was a warrior on Sunday, getting clobbered repeatedly and getting back up over and over. It was amazing to watch. But that pick will stay with Favre forever. You can’t make that throw!
Drew Coleman/Dwight Lowery: Manning beat Coleman in the aforementioned drive in the first half and bested Lowery in the third quarter. Is it too early to talk about the Jets drafting a corner to play opposite Darrelle Revis?
Brad Childress: He needs a game management coach. Paging the legendary Dick Curl.
Thomas Jones: All season, I gushed about how Jones was performing like an All-Pro back. A huge turning point in the Jets’ loss was when Shonn Greene got hurt. You thought Jones could step in and keep the chains moving with the Jets keeping the lead. Jones didn’t get it done, and Greene’s injury loomed large.
9. Three and out
1. Colts unsung heroes? How about unknowns Daniel Muir and Antonio "Mookie" Johnson. (Full disclosure: I had no idea his nickname was Mookie until Caldwell dropped that during an interview. I will now only call him Mookie.) The Colts run defense was great, and the beefy, no-name defensive tackles get credit.
2. The Jets are going to be in the mix for the Super Bowl next season. Rex and Sanchez grew up. Cornerstones like Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Dustin Keller are young. Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington will return from injury.
3. Seattle made an excellent hire when they plucked John Schneider from Green Bay to be its general manager. Schneider is bright and is comfortable with Pete Carroll getting final say. I believe the relationship will be excellent.
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