How Quickly Things Change

So there we all were. The Who had just finished a ridiculously lighty halftime performance and the Colts were about to receive the ball from the Saints and add to their 10-6 lead. Peyton Manning would methodically drive down the field, dinking-and-dunking his way to an 11-point lead. And then it happened. Sean Payton showed why he would forever go down in Louisiana Lore as the greatest coach the city has ever seen.

An onside kick to start the second half. Brilliant.

Because of it, Jim Caldwell, who claimed to always be prepared, was flabbergasted. The Colts rarely stepped outside the box and paid for it. The onside kick resulted in four things:

1. The Saints recovered the football.

2. The Saints, playing with nothing to lose, turned the tables on the Colts and put fear in their hearts. The onside kick let Caldwell and Manning know to expect the unexpected, only coach Payton throws seven different kinds of smoke all the time, so Indianapolis was kept on their heels.

3. The Colts lost.

4. Peyton Manning would no longer be remembered as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.

Brady to Manning: "Peyton, tell me how my ass tastes!"

Sean Payton would forever be remembered as the guy who beat the unbeatable; the coach who outfoxed the clutchest quarterback in the NFL; the man who faced the legend as the underdog and won.

He stepped on the heels of his team’s former quarterback and trounced his son, 31-17. Somehow I can’t help but think that Archie Manning is okay with it.

In the quick 10-second span it took to kick and recover the onside, we were reminded of how quickly things can change. The man who was widely recognized just two days ago as the best quarterback in the game, perhaps of all-time, lost his status before he could cement it. This game showed why sports cliches exist.

Never say never. You never know. Destiny’s team. Shock the world. Defense wins championships. How quickly things change.

Just like the Arizona Cardinals of last year, the entire city of New Orleans and its squad sat pregame and pumped themselves up with, “Let’s go shock the world.” That is quite possibly the coolest new cliche of all. It worked when Arizona used it last year, and it works even more this year because the Saints actually pulled it off.

As great a win as this was for the city of New Orleans, it’s absolutely crippling to the legacy of Peyton Manning. This is a guy who, for the past 10 years, has been in a status war with New England’s Tom Brady. After all, it was Brady who had dominated Peyton for the first five years of the past decade.

Only in 2006 did Manning reverse his fortune, only to have it quickly change once the Patriots completed the first undefeated season since the NFL switched to 16 games. Now it seemed he had surpassed all that. Manning had withstood the long haul. He had outlasted Tony Dungy(who, by the way, has to be the one guy favored teams don’t want predicting their games anymore. He was the same analyst who ripped Dallas as they headed into New Orleans, claiming they have no chance of winning. And just last week he noted that he would be surprised if the Saints were even in the game.), nearly duplicated that amazing New England run with a rookie head coach, played the best football of his career(given the loss of Anthony Gonzalez, Bob Sanders), and did all this without a running game.

All he had to do was win, and the reins to the “Best Quarterback in the League” title would forever shift in his favor(well, at least until Brady came back next season and won again). Now, as it stands, it is not even a question. The Patriots have missed the playoffs all of once(2002) when Brady was healthy, while the Colts have enjoyed similar success, at least in the Manning-Dungy era. That is the only thing that tips in Manning’s favor.

Superbowls: Manning 1 of 2, Brady 3 of 4

Superbowl MVPs: Manning 1, Brady 2

Head-to-head victories: Manning 5, Brady 7

The rest of the storied breakdown can be found in Cold Hard Facts, Vol. II. Brady and Manning should go down in history as 1 and 2, respectively, while just a day ago it was the other way around.

Once again: how quickly things can change.

All it took was an upset that was officially capped off by a cataclysmic Manning mistake. The icing on the cake that determined the winner of the Superbowl, and the winner of the Manning-Brady debate.

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5 Responses to “How Quickly Things Change”

  1. MASH Record Smashed « An Epic Mess Says:

    […] NFC representatives hail from large, uniquely cultured cities that were underdogs against heavy, potentially all-time great AFC representatives. However, this one got a lot of help from the city of New Orleans, which […]

  2. chappy81 Says:

    I’m sure the Colts will be back as strong as ever next year. I have to say though, I told you so! You ripped my post on picking the Saints, and I was right for once this playoffs 🙂

    Not sure what Caldwell was doing, if he could show us any emotion ever, it would be nice just to know he cares what’s happening! I don’t even think he moved when the on-side kick happened.

  3. Fred Says:

    I picked the Saints but I was rooting for Manning. Everyone was saying you Manning is so dangerous in the clutch but somehow it felt like the Saints were going to win it all. I’m happy with the results though, Brees in one badass mofo. Only one exception I have with the Saints victory is Reggie “Bust” gets a ring :(.

  4. Anthony Burrola Says:

    Chap, I thought I got away with it there for a second. I was so confident the Colts were going to win despite having mixed feelings about who to root for. I’m glad I was wrong; that means by boy Brady is the best.

    All post-season long I’ve stressed the importance of good coaching. Uncertain about whether or not Caldwell even coaches, I’m mad at myself for not jumping on him sooner other than mentioning his statuesque demeanor.

    Fred, you have to take into consideration how well the Saints defense plays with the lead. From behind-not so much. When they seized that lead, they knew they were golden.

  5. chappy81 Says:

    My favorite quote from Caldwell during the playoffs was “There is no need to show emotion when you are prepared”

    Seriously WTF!?! Are you even human Jim?!? Everybody shows some kind of emotions, it lets people around you know if your satisfied, happy, or pissed!

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