Super Bowl XLIV – Quick Postscript

The New Orleans Saints outplayed the Indianapolis Colts. Drew Brees outplayed Peyton Manning. Gregg Williams’ guys outplayed Larry Coyer’s’ guys. The Colts led 10-0, but were outscored 31-7 for the rest of the game.

On this historic night, Jim Nance twice mentioned the 1987 Washington Redskins, but was so overcome by the disease that he could not mention the name of the architect of that win – Doug Williams. Williams overcame a 10 point deficit against a “Golden Boy” (John Elway) and had one of the greatest Super Bowl performances of all time.

The Saints deserve a lot of credit for building the type of team that is more balanced than the experts think…more experienced, and just a bit tougher. For all the pomp and circumstance surrounding largely one-dimensional offenses run by Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, both the Patriots and Colts were only able to muster 17 points.

That defense played better than I thought they could, but they gave us a glimpse of what was possible earlier this season. On offense, the Saints simply did what they do. The Saints were clearly the best team tonite.

END NOTE: It is ironic that in the past two seasons, where the Super Bowl featured three of the most prolific offensive teams in recent memory, the games have been decided (in large part) by interceptions returned for touchdowns.  That the passers were Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning makes this fact all the more intriguing.  Both were intercepted trying to make quick throws to the left side against a blitz.  Both quarterbacks were targeting a favorite receiver on a route to the inside that was successfully read and jumped by the defense.


  1. T3,

    Good analysis. I still don’t think the Saints are balanced. Their defense still isn’t all that great. They gave up a lot of yards. They’re coached to compensate by playing to the whistle, going for the strip, and to go for interceptions. That cuts down on the team having to actually have to try to stop someone on four downs. Of course, what I wouldn’t have given for the Steelers defense to have created more turnovers this year. 😐

    Also, I don’t think we’ll be seeing a repeat. I saw where they have 29 free agents to deal with this off season. That’s a lot for any team. For a Super Bowl team, that’s going to mean some major changes.

  2. The Saints have personnel for a balanced offense. They ranked high in rushing and passing all season long. The Saints were not balanced on offense yesterday. It was one of the few instances all season where they were pass heavy. The team was most effective with 4 and 5 wide sets. I thought they should have run more to take time off the clock, but it didn’t matter. The Colts didn’t have any answers for them after the first quarter. New Orleans scored on every drive after that — except for the goal line situation.

    Given these rules and the evolution of the passing game across the league, I think that you’re going to see great defenses and not so great defenses give up a lot of yards against elite passing teams. The Steelers were torched in the second half of last year’s Super Bowl. The Saints gave up yards, but they didn’t give up points. I wrote about how they responded in one critical situation in the 4th quarter. A lot of teams would have given up points in that situation. They held the line and got off the field without giving up anything.

    I agree that a repeat will be tough. They may even find it tough to get back into the playoffs. With two ground and pound opponents in the division (Atlanta and Carolina), the Saints will need to be focused (physically and mentally) to win those games. They won’t be sneaking up on anyone next year…so, even if they keep core guys, it will be a tough challenge. Do you know who unrestricted/restricted free agents are on their team?

  3. I have no idea who all of the free agents for the Saints are. I just saw an article on MSNBC saying that they would have 29 free agents after this year. You know they’ll be printing the lists soon of everyone that will be soon. I know there is talk of them straight up releasing Reggie Bush b/c of the amount of money he makes doesn’t match up to his performance.

    Here’s a partial list that I got from

    QB Joey Harrington
    RB Pierre Thomas
    RB Mike Bell
    WR Lance Moore (restricted, unless there’s an uncapped year, then unrestricted)
    TE Billy Miller (restricted, unless there’s an uncapped year, then unrestricted)
    TE David Thomas (restricted, unless there’s an uncapped year, then unrestricted)
    OG Jahri Evans (restricted, unless there’s an uncapped year, then unrestricted)
    OT Jammal Brown (restricted, unless there’s an uncapped year, then unrestricted)
    OT Jermon Bushrod (restricted)
    K Garrett Hartley
    DT Kendrick Clancy
    LB Scott Fujita
    CB Usama Young (restricted)
    S Darren Sharper
    S Roman Harper (restricted, unless there’s an uncapped year, then unrestricted)

    There is some talent that the Saints have that are free agents. One thing’s for sure, the Saints are going to have some tough choices in the offseason.

  4. Have you seen the Super Bowl odds for the 2010 season? Colts 5-1; Pittsburgh and Dallas 7-1; Green Bay and New Orleans 8-1. Out of that group, I like the Steelers to get it done. If they’re healthy and bring the fury, it’s a wrap.

  5. Keep Pierre Thomas, Lance Moore, Jahri Evans (no brainer), Jammal Brown, Garrett Hartley and Sharper. And Moore is not definite given their depth…but he had 10 tds last year. I’d let Reggie Bush if he didn’t take a sizable pay cut. Saints may benefit from having this many free agents.

    They don’t have a bunch of well known guys like the Chargers or Patriots. They can keep guys like Porter, Vilma, Jenkins, Ellis, Hargrove — but most of the rest of the team can be replaced. Remember, very few of these guys are the types of guys who would normally be seen in a Gregg Williams scheme. They might be better next year.

  6. If the Steelers draft well, pick up a couple of low priced free agents, and can keep Troy healthy, I could see it. The most pressing need of course is defensive line. Ziggy Hood is the only significant player on the line who is under 30.

    Interestingly, wikipedia already has in the main article about the Steelers, all of their free agents. 10 unrestricted, 7 restricted, and 1 exclusive rights. I won’t go into who needs to go or stay. That can be for another article.

  7. I was thinking of doing a write up comparing the offenses of the Saints and Steelers. I probably won’t get around to it, but the X-factor for the Steelers should have been the production of Limas Sweed, especially in the Red Zone.

    No matter how you cut it, his failure to progress lies at the heart of some of their failings in 2009. From the first game at Cincinnati onward, he has been the difference between close wins/losses and blowout victories. If he was an 8-10 touchdown guy, this team probably steam rolls most of their opponents. Marques Colston’s presence has that impact for the Saints.

    I don’t know if the Steelers can afford to look for another big wide out in the draft, but if they do, they need to do it late and scout around in places like Mount Union and Tennessee Chattanooga.

  8. Interesting you should say that, T3. One of the things the Steelers were always known for from the time Chuck Noll roamed the sidelines on, was finding great talent at small colleges, and at HBCU’s. Bill Nunn found most of the Steelers most talented guys from HBCU’s during that time.

    It’s basically in the Steelers’ DNA to look at small colleges and HBCU’s. Ike Taylor is from University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Greg Lloyd went to Fort Valley State. Yancey Thigpen & Richard Huntley to Winston-Salem State…etc… It shouldn’t be hard to look for a tall WR at a smaller college in the 5th-7th rounds that other teams overlook.

    As for Sweed, I have to agree with you. If he is the player that they thought they had, they are in the playoffs, and possibly even with the huge flaws they had, they make it to the Super Bowl and maybe repeat. Wallace was a huge surprise, and unless he gets the big head or wants more $$$ (see Yancey Thigpen, Plaxico Burress), he could be a lifer. At 6’0″, though, he’s not the tall receiver that helps out a QB in the end zone.

  9. I’ve been meaning to do a piece on the Nunn family. Three generations and “Radio Raheem” has the smallest star of all in Pittsburgh. Compelling stuff: Pittsburgh Courier – top Black newspaper in the nation. There’s a movie in there.

    Wallace led the entire league in yards per catch. A little swelling may be headed his way.

  10. Great to see that they are mentoring the next generation. I’d love to see Rolle play a Chris Hope-like role with the Steelers where he’d cover up for Polamalu’s mistakes. I know Troy felt like he lost something when Chris left. Ryan Clark has been better than expected, but when Troy would get fooled and fall for play action, Hope would have his back 80% of the time.

    I honestly think him being rated 15th best safety prospect is a smoke screen for someone that wants him on the cheap. No way that he’s fallen that much. I think part of it might be that teams fear a smart player. Teams want players that won’t question their actions. They don’t want a guy that may just tell them that they are trying to low ball them. They want guys that football means more to them than anything. Rolle definitely isn’t that guy. He reminds me of Robert Smith of the Vikings in that way. If you draft Rolle, you’ll get 8-10 good years out of him. Then, he’ll walk away and do more important work, doing something that he truly wants to do. Wish there were more players that would follow that path.

  11. I agree with you on Rolle. I believe that assessment was made before the Senior Bowl. The reports from the week were all positive. The scouts were amazed at how well he performed. There are no questions about his intelligence or ability to perform on a big stage. If anyone is going to draft a DB from Florida State, its the Steelers (Hope, McFadden, etc.)

    Its funny…the two DBs taken over the past few years that I was certain the Steelers would have taken if available were Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis. Revis didn’t play at FSU, but Cromartie did and missed a season due to injury. The Chargers knew what everyone should know about Myron Rolle. He’s a baller.

  12. Sorry for the late response but great game by the Saints. I told everyone when the season started that, with the addition of Greg Williams as DC, the Saints would win it all. However, I thought they would beat San Diego instead of Indy.

    Sean Payton did an outstanding coaching job in this game, save for the 4th & goal failure (I didn’t like the playcalling). He never changed his coaching style, SuperBowl or not. He coached to win the game and it paid off.

    Peyton Manning is probably the best ‘regular season’ QB of all time. Unfortunately, when playoff time rolls around, he’s no better than Brad Johnson or Trent Dilfer. In other words, he’s average at best. That’s why i’d take at least 3 maybe 4 current Qbs in the NFL before Manning. If you’re supposed to be great, you’re great when it matters the most (World Series, Super Bowl, NBA Championship, etc.).

    Anyways, congrats to the Saints and their fans. They really deserved this victory.

  13. GN:

    For me, it was how the Saints handled the Giants offense. The Giants were undefeated at the time and were supposed to dominate the Saints on both sides of the ball. Instead, the Saints made Eli look awful. NY put up 27 points, but it was too little too late. I was in a bar in Brooklyn watching the game and the Giants fans were shell-shocked. It was one of the quietest games I’ve seen in years.

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