Well, it's settled, writes Takeaway sports correspondent Ibrahim Abdul-Matin. Super Bowl XLIV will be played February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.
Last week I said the Jets needed to score over 20 points if they wanted to have any chance of beating the Colts in the AFC Conference Championship game. Well call me a football guru or something because the Jets came close, but lost 30-17 in a hard fought game that sends the Colts to their second Super Bowl in five years. In the NFC match, a toss of a coin led to the New Orleans Saints getting the ball in overtime, with the score tied at 28, where the Saints — a franchise that in 43 years have never been to the NFL’s biggest game — capped a dream season with a game-winning field goal. Their 31-28 overtime win sets up a match-up that pundits have been salivating for all season.
The storylines were rich. Jets coach Rex Ryan conjured up the will still remaining in brokenhearted Jets fans and showered it upon his rookie quarterback, rookie running back and proud defense. They flew into Lucas Oil Stadium — the home of the Indianapolis Colts — anchored by the momentum to upend the Colts’ NFL best record and the hopes of MVP quarterback Peyton Manning winning his second Super Bowl.
The Jets had Mark Sanchez — the rookie quarterback achieving wildly beyond anyone’s dreams – connecting with Braylon Edwards on an 80 yard bomb, the longest play for the jets from scrimmage all season long!f
At one point the Jets were up 17-6 until the barrage came in the form of 24 unanswered points by the Colts. In the end it came down to the properly executed game plan of the Colts: Shut down the Jets’ vaunted running attack and force the rookie to win the game. The Colts’ were aided by a third quarter injury to another rookie – Shaun Greene, who limped off the field and never came back. It was a sad ending to a brilliant rookie season. To sum it up, it was penalty yards and a lack of a running game that ultimately did the Jets in.
The go-ahead touchdown came from the Colts’ Haitian born wide receiver Pierre Garcon — those with a soft spot for the Jets had to take a moment and acknowledge what he must have been feeling.
I am sure that Colts fans were left wondering what might have been had the Jets been handled in week 15 when the Colts let their starters sit and rest and the Jets rallied back from the behind to keep their improbable playoff hopes alive. Maybe the Colts would have been walking into the Feb 7th game in Miami with an undefeated record?
Nonetheless, the Colts had confidence and their eyes on a goal — to win the Super Bowl. The Vikings and Saints also rested their starters with their eyes’ on the prize. It was only the Jets that had to gut it out for almost two months to make a final playoff push.
For Vikings’ quarterback Brett Favre, it was something of a homecoming. He grew up a Saints fan and it was nearby that he started the season contemplating whether or not to make a go of it or not. Thankfully he did. Too bad the Vikings were more careless with the ball than John Edwards was with his reputation. They fumbled the ball six times, losing three and throwing two interceptions while only getting to Saints quarterback Drew Brees for one sack. For a Vikings team that barely turned the ball over all season and relied upon getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, their play was out of character. In the end, New Orleans looked destiny in the face and did not flinch.
It seemed as if a spell had been cast over the Superdome; a spell that cast out the demons of Katrina when the building was a house of horrors; a spell that sent the faithful out to the streets, and the rest of the country left to ponder the inevitable: What will Brett do?
Another question seems to have been settled about momentum and confidence: The Jets used momentum to drive them all the way to the door. The Colts and Saints used confidence to walk through the door. The Vikings learned that neither momentum nor confidence would be enough, not when the City of New Orleans decides to make history.