You could hear the low rumbles around week five. By week eight, there were spirited conversations from Vegas to the office water cooler. Every Thanksgiving turkey leg was chomped with the anticipation of it. 2 teams, 1 Super Bowl, and 0 losses.
We know now, as you do through the rearview mirror of sports, that it was not meant to be. But even now, we are left with the hang over of the what-if's and what-could-be's of it all. Every sportswriter, bookie, and fan in the world was building the story in their head. Working the angles and setting the table for what was going to be the biggest game in NFL history. And I was no exception. How do you begin to compete with that?
Going into week 15, the Saints and the Colts were still unbeaten. The whirlwind was in full spin. Logos were being created, slogans were being invented, and t-shirts were being ordered from China. It was fate. The QB with the arm given him by God himself, versus the team that rose from the ashes of God's watery fury. We do love our biblical metaphors don't we? In the days leading up to week 15 no one was talking about the war. No one was talking about the recession. Well, some people were talking about it, but no meat eater with a beating heart was listening.
Two weeks earlier the Saints gave us all a scare with a 33-30 OT win against Washington, followed by a narrow 26-23 victory over Atlanta. Normally a Saints/Redskins game does not get the big screen at sports bars outside of the French Quarter, but there they were, front and center. The New Orleans Saints had Dallas, Tampa, and Carolina left on the schedule, and most thought that if they could get by Dallas the perfect regular season was a lock.
The Indianapolis Colts pretty much cruised through the season, with few speed bumps or near misses along the way. The closest they came to losing were a couple of mid-season clashes with the 49er's (won 18-14) and the Texans (won 20-17). But even in those close games no one actually thought Indy was going to lose. So after beating Denver 28-16 in week 14, with only Jacksonville, the Jets, and the Bills left, the speculation surrounding a perfect season had reached a feverish pitch.
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So there we were, weekend 15. Every player and coach was playing down the possibility that two teams could be unbeaten in the big game. They just take the season one game at a time. Really? A player saying that he is not excited about the possibility of a perfect season is like being in a room full of hookers with $500 in your pocket and saying that you are not excited about the prospect of getting laid. I don't buy it.
Dallas . Why does it always have to be Dallas? Did they not get the memo that most people already hate them? 13-0 became 13-1 for the Saints. And with it, a deflated sporting nation finally moved back form the edge of their seats. It almost seemed like an afterthought that the Colts had beat the Jags 35-31. Their perfect season was still intact, but that story was nothing in comparison to what we were all talking about before either game kicked-off.
Almost predictably, and without much fanfare, the Indianapolis Colts lost the next week to the Jets 29-15. Each team went on to lose it's remaining games, due in no small part to each team essentially suiting up season ticket holders while the starters called it in from the couch.
So where does that leave us? Next Sunday we can not help but think about how much better it would be at 16-0 vs. 16-0 instead of 14-2 vs. 13-3. The shine is off the apple, and the new car smell has given way to left over fast food wrappers.
If we can look past what we wanted, and look at what we have, what we see is the makings of one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. We have to shake off the lingering hangover of over-reaching expectations.
Focus on this;
926 combined points for. 648 points against. Manning and Brees threw a total of 77 touch downs. This is going to be an electric explosion of offensive execution, and BetUS is going to have complete breakdowns and analysis all week leading up to the fireworks next Sunday. So bake the chili, pick up the chicken wings, order the keg, and practice your best call-in-sick voice for Monday morning. Because while it might not be what we were hoping for, a disappointing day watching football, beats a good day doing just about anything else.
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