By Paul Gotham
Born on a bayou
Rumors of the Saints’ demise proved untrue. So too did the rumors that New Orleans lacks a defense.
Reggie Bush brought the wood. Drew Brees reminded Saints fans of what he is capable. Jeremy Shockey returned to the lineup, and the Saints’ defense made like some “old hound dog barkin.’ Chasin’ down a hoodoo there.”
Bush pounded out 217 all-purpose yards and became the first player since Charlie Taylor, in 1947, to rush for a touchdown and to return a punt for touchdown in the same post-season game. Bush led the Saints on to the field carrying a baseball bat with the inscription: “Bring the wood” – the Saints rally cry.
Brees threw for three touchdowns for the first time since a 26-23 win over Atlanta on December 13th. He hooked up with Shockey mid-way through the first quarter and the Saints never looked back from there. The Purdue grad later connected with Devery Henderson and Marques Colston.
Those expecting this game to resemble a shootout were surprised when the Saint defense clipped the Cardinals’ wings. Arizona managed just 14 points on 359 total yards. One week after scoring 51, the Cardinals offense met a stronger force in the Saints D. Arizona’s defense surrendered 90 points in two playoff games.
Arizona added to their own misfortune with two turnovers.
New Orleans moves on for a chance to bring Cajun country its first Super Bowl appearance.
“Wish I was back on the bayou rollin’ with some Cajun Queen. Wish I were a freight train, oh just a chooglin’ on down to New Orleans.”
Call me lightning
Like New Orleans, the Colts shook off any signs of rust. Indy’s offense did just enough. Their defense did more than enough, and the offense might have made the defensive play of the game.
For 25+ minutes the Colts and Ravens stood deadlocked at three. Indy’s offense, which showed a quick strike ability all season, resorted to an old-fashioned 14-play drive that took eight minutes. The result: a ten-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Austin Collie.
Then, just when the Ravens thought they would go into halftime within striking distance, Manning and the Colts struck like lightning.
Indy grabbed a 17-3 lead at half with an eight-play, 64 -yard drive in 83 seconds culminating with a Manning to Reggie Wayne touchdown.
Baltimore looked poised for a comeback when Ed Reed picked off a Manning pass and returned the ball deep into Colts territory. It was at this point, the Colts offense made the defense play of the game. Looking more like a defensive back than a wide receiver, Pierre Garcon chopped the ball from Reed, and Indy recovered on its own 24 yard line. Reed intercepted another Manning pass on the same drive. That pick was nullified by a penalty.
Indy added an insurance field goal early in the fourth.
One week after scoring 33 points in a rout of New England, the Ravens offense managed little against the Indy defense. Ray Rice ran for 83 yards on the opening play of the New England game. Indy held the Ravens to 87 yards rushing for the game. After their first drive of 15 plays, Baltimore longest drive consisted of just six plays as Indy frustrated the Ravens all day.
“You can’t catch me I’m as fast as can be. Call me lightning I’m as fast as can be.”
Dallas entered play Sunday with the league’s second-rated offense. The Cowpokes left the game thinking “lately things just don’t seem the same.”
Brett Favre threw for four touchdowns, and the Minnesota defense drowned Tony Romo in a sea or purple.
Favre connected with Sidney Rice three times as Minnesota pounded Dallas, 34-3.
The 21st century Viking defense reminded fans of the ‘Purple People Eaters’ as they sacked Romo six times, forced two fumbles, and picked off one Romo pass.
Gerald Sensabaugh might have provided the best representation of the ‘Pokes ineptitude. With a 45-yard pass from Favre hanging in the air, and the entire state of Texas yelling – “SEE THE BALL,” Sensabaugh stared at Rice, and pigskin floated over his shoulder for a catch and touchdown.
“Purple haze all in my eyes. Don’t know if it’s day or night. You’ve got me blowin’, blowin’ my mind. Is it tomorrow? Or just the end of time?”
Reason to believe
Sexy Rexy Ryan and his Gang Green crashed yet another party. With all the higher seeds holding serve, the New York Jets earned a spot in the AFC Championship. Despite being on the road for the second week in a row the Jets found a “reason to believe.”
This despite the fact that the Jets won their final two regular season games against teams sitting out most of their starters. All that behind them, the Jets held the San Diego Chargers to half their season average of points in a 17-14 victory.
The Jets stopped the Chargers short of the goal line three times, and Nate Kaeding missed three field goals.
Mark Sanchez completed 12 of 23 passes including a two-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Keller, and Shonn Greene proved lightning can strike twice with a 53-yard tocuhdown run.
Greene had a 39-yard touchdown run against Cincinnati the week before.
“At the end of every hard earned day, people find some reason to believe.”
Your own worst enemy has come to town
Next weekend sets up the possibility of the cruelest of ironies.
In week 15, Indy pulled its starters and gave up the possibility of perfection. The New York Jets were the direct beneficiary. Without that win, the Jets would NOT have qualified for the playoffs. How will the Colts handle the dream they have given birth to?
Brett Favre led the Packers to a victory in Super Bowl XXXI. The site of that game? The New Orleans Super Dome. Next week’s game between the Vikes and Saints returns Favre to a place where he is comfortable.
“There’s a face you know. Staring back from the shop window. The condition you’re in. Now you just can’t get out of this skin.”
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