(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Saints’ win cements Pats’ legacy

After a tremendous Super Bowl last night, the city of New Orleans and the whole Gulf Coast region have reason to start Mardi Gras now and celebrate. The entire region of New England also has reason to breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate as well. There has been a lot of talk recently about the Colts stealing the Patriots’ claim to be the “Team of the Decade” for the 2000′s, being that they had won one Super Bowl and had the most regular season wins. “Experts” had commented that if the Colts won this Super Bowl, they had a legitimate claim to the “Team of the Decade” crown. Well Pats fans, with the Colt loss, the New England Patriots are now unquestionably (though it was never a question in our minds) the “Team of the Decade.” The Patriots’ 3 Super Bowl titles, 4 AFC Championships, and undefeated regular season  are accomplishments unparalleled by any other team this past decade.

Apparently, resting your stars at the end of the regular season does not guarantee a Super Bowl victory. Now, the Colts and their fan base cannot even say that they went undefeated in the regular season, and they most certainly could have accomplished that feat. There is no doubt in anyone’s minds that they couldn’t have beaten the Jets and the Bills, and probably could have even snuck in some rest towards the end of both games. The colts have nothing but an AFC Championship, a hollow feeling when they know they could have had so much more. It’s a feeling Patriots fans know well. On top of all that, they now know that they can’t even try to argue that their team was the best of the last ten years. But it goes beyond that.

Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston makes an interesting observation, one that ran through my mind and probably the mind of many Pats fans: “Manning is no Brady.”  On the biggest stage in the NFL, Peyton Manning made the final costly mistake when he threw the pick 6 to Tracy Porter. Making the big blunder (some call it a “choke”) is something Tom Brady has never done in the Super Bowl. Even the Super Bowl the Pats lost to the Giants, Brady led his team down the field for what was, at the  time, the go-ahead score. The defense folded and blew it in the end that game. Here’s how Reiss sums up the Brady/Manning debate as of 2/7/10:

If you measure a quarterback by how he responds in the pressure moments on the game’s biggest stage, the debate ended with authority tonight.”

One final note: the media double-standard continues. Peyton Manning left the field without shaking hands with the Saints, which, for the record, is fine in my opinion. I don’t think it’s unsportsmanlike at all. You just suffered the biggest loss of your career, the confetti’s pouring down for the other team, they’re celebrating. Who would want to walk over there? He called the Saints players later and congratulated them. I have no issues with Peyton Manning (in this case). What I do have issue with is how it’s fine for him to do it, but God forbid of Bill Belichick or Tom Brady do it. The analysts and bloggers can’t wait to tear Belichick apart if he doesn’t do the hand shake thing, but come to Peyton’s defense. In my opinion, it just brings down their credibility yet another notch.

  • Kevros

    The INT was more Porter than Manning. Porter said after the game, he knew the route Wayne was going to run based on the Colts formation and the motions that occurred before the snap. Blaming the INT on Peyton was just way too convenient for the media not to. But I don’t expect Pats fans will ever admit that…

  • jamie

    I don’t disagree that the interception was more Porter than Manning. In fact, I was calling the passing routes throughout most of the Super Bowl but the Colts run the same routes all the time, opposing teams just can’t seem to stop them. What Manning could have done was read that Porter was playing Wayne tight and went somewhere else or called a hot route for Wayne.

    This predictability was what haunted the Patriots offense this season and is something they need to fix if they want to continue to be contenders moving forward.

  • Warren

    Nice play by Porter, but he didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. He was tight on Wayne, too tight to even bait Manning into the throw. And yet Manning threw it anyway, reverting back to his old self by trying to stick the ball in there. They would’ve been better off taking the play to the outside, since Porter was not only close to Wayne but positioned to his inside. All in all, a bad route by Wayne, and a bad read by the QB.

    As for this “team of the decade” stuff, it would’ve been absurd to consider the Colts even if they had beaten the Saints. I mean, if you’re gonna count regular season wins, you have to count playoff records even more. The Pats reached the AFC title game five times, they won four AFC championships, and three Super Bowls. As for the lone AFC title game and SB they didn’t win, they came one defensive stop from winning both of them. They owned their division. The only years they didn’t win (other than 2000), they tied for first and lost the 3rd tiebreaker to the Jets, and the 4th tiebreaker to Miami, despite playing the entire season without the reigning MVP.

    The Colts, on the other hand, only made the SB twice, and the AFC title game three times. Other than their two SB appearances, they never came close. The AFC title game against the Pats was nowhere near as close as the score indicated. As Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star said, the Pats “spend the entire afternoon in the shadows of the Colts’ goalposts.” But, in the end, what really does the Colts in is all the times they made the playoffs and failed to win their first game (six), which includes home losses, losses as the favorite, and losses as the first or second seed. (This includes a 41-0 beatdown.) Only twice did they really have the best team in the NFL (2005 and 2009), and they failed to win the SB either year, even losing in the first round at home to a 6th seed. Then there’s this past season, where they practically threw a home game in order to avoid the pressure of being undefeated when it came time for the playoffs (Polian’s fault, not Manning’s or his teammates’). The Pats went for it, went 16-0, won the AFC Championship, and came a dropped INT away from winning the Super Bowl. That’s gotta count for something, too.

    If Colts fans want to compare themselves to someone, try the Steelers. Being the second or third best team in one decade is nothing to be disappointed about.