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Feb. 8 2010 - 6:42 am | 475 views | 1 recommendation | 8 comments

One Reason The Colts Lost? Hint: James Carville

American political consultant James Carville.


Congrats to the Saints. For Colts fans, one could feel momentum turning on two key moments on either side of halftime.

Just pre-break: the Colts conservatively call three straight run plays to (try and) run out the clock, allowing New Orleans the chance to kick a field goal as the half expires. 10-6 going into The Who.

Just post-break: the Saints call a gutsy onside kick, recovering the ball around their 40 yard line. ‘Aints QB Drew Brees promptly marches down the field and scores his first touchdown of the evening. Just like that, New Orleans takes its first lead on a call that uber-cautious Indianapolis would never have dared.

The common theme for both? Aggression vs. conservatism. Unfortunately for Colts fans, their history of spineless play-calling (See: Seating starters in the final regular season games to “save” their top players but forgo a run at history) came back to bite them in the arse.

So where does Monsieur Carville factor in? Well, a little liberalism from the aptly named “Ragin’ Cajun” from Louisiana might have pushed Indy’s foot harder down on the pedal.

I’m not claiming that their lack of guts solely cost Indianapolis Super Bowl-whatever-the-hell-Roman-numerals-mean. Just that New Orleans seized momentum with qualities that are out of Indy’s nature. Saints coach Sean Payton simply out-coached adversary Jim Caldwell.

And it’s no coincidence Carville, a die-hard Saints fan, was seen fluttering around the field last night during the trophy presentation …


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  1. collapse expand

    Kevin, as a Colts fan I hate to say this… but you’re right. The Colts’ offense (Manning’s checks) and defense (Cover Two, with its main goal of not giving up the big play) don’t put a premium on boldness, which is fine during the regular season. The problem is during the playoffs, when you need to push the action, those strategies don’t always cut it if you have a team that matches up against you in talent.

    The Colts’ defense, in particular, is predicated on the idea that it can safely trade field goals knowing the offense will score touchdowns, and that eventually the other offense will make a mistake by forcing the action. Problem is, Brees doesn’t make those kinds of mistakes, and like Manning he’s more than happy to throw underneath rather than force the big play. NO did a great job of sending everyone deep, then bringing receivers back once the cornerbacks went too far.

    Plus, New Orleans was not only bold, but it executed spectacularly. EVERY Colts mistake that would otherwise have been an annoyance became critical in the Super Bowl — Garcon’s first-quarter drop (which stopped a blowout in its tracks), a few key overthrows by Manning, having Hank Baskett on the roster.

    I hate to say it, but the better team won. The Colts looked more like what they probably were all year — a team that sat on Manning’s back as it walked a tightrope. Given the number of fourth-quarter comebacks, the Colts could have been 8-8.

    • collapse expand

      Bob, 8-8 in the regular season may be a little strong … but this game surely takes Manning’s legacy back a step.

      Before the game, pundits were talking up Manning as if he were unquestionably the QB of his generation. And had Tracy Porter not pick-sixed them in the 4th quarter, we might all be agreeing with them.

      But now Peyton’s clearly part of the Brady-Manning-BREES trifecta. And our points about conservatism in the playoffs, when viewed against the backdrop of, frankly, playoff mediocrity, only strengthen that perspective.

      For anyone, check out this piece by SI’s Tom Verducci. It’s a bit too numbers-oriented (as one would expect from a baseball guy) but it does raise a few interesting points re: Manning’s place vis-a-vis history:

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    Manning was 31 for 45 for 333 yards in the Super Bowl. The biggest mistake on offense was early, when the ball bounced off Garcon’s hands — not Manning’s fault. That last pick was terrible, and it’ll keep him from GQOAT, but I think in the end Manning will be viewed a lot like Elway — a great quarterback who probably took his teams as far as they could go with the overall talent at hand. A friend who is a Cavs fan sees parallels with LeBron James, who probably will never win a title with that team because it relies TOO much on him to be perfect night after night.

    As for Verducci’s piece, it’s so wrong I don’t know where to start. I will give him that the rules changes have created a different style of football where you can’t compare numbers from past years. But it’s comical to see him talk about the “unfair” advantages of dome teams. Until the Colts won the Super Bowl four years ago, all the talk was about how dome teams were hothouse flowers that wilted the moment they got outdoors. It so happens that this year some dome teams happened to be very, very good. Minnesota was the only one whose road record significantly was worse than its home record.

    I think where analysis is on firmer footing is that the best defenses CAN be great offenses. New Orleans’ defense couldn’t stop the Colts from moving the ball (until the interception), but its offense could, by remaining on the field.

    • collapse expand

      Courtesy of ESPN’s Bill Simmons:

      Montana, playoffs: 16-7
      Brady, playoffs: 14-4
      Elway, playoffs: 14-8
      Favre, playoffs: 13-11
      Warner, playoffs: 9-4
      MANNING, playoffs: 9-9 [caps added]
      Roethlisberger, playoffs: 8-2

      Sorry, Bob, it’s nothing personal — I just find it hard to rank Manning up there even with Elway, as you do. But I’m admittedly a bit biased … it was Manning’s victory in Super Bowl roman-numerals-for-41 that accelerated Grossman’s departure from Chi-Town.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    I don’t know that Carville would be the first name to come to mind vis-a-vis high-risk, high-reward maneuvers in political campaigns. His signature victories were big come-from-behind wins for the PA Senate and then Bill Clinton, but I can’t think of anything equivalent to going for an onside kick when you’re barely behind in any of his campaigns.

    Lastly, Payton’s interception was a high-risk, high-reward play. There was nothing but daylight between the receiver and the end zone if that pass got through. If Manning had a better pump fake in his arsenal it would’ve been a guaranteed touchdown.

  4. collapse expand

    The Saints made the game exciting and interesting with their variations. The off side kick was long overdue in common usage and really caught the Colts off guard. Getting them angry worked for the Saints, they were completely flat-footed when the interception came, still dizzy from the turn of events.
    I’d almost given up in the dull 1st quarter, but glad I stayed.
    The people got their money’s worth this time.

    Conservatives aren’t the way of the future, the Saints did progressive things, dared to take charge.
    Now if only Congress….

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    About Me

    A native of Tinseltown, I migrated to the Windy City in 2006 with an eye on an undergraduate education and a yearnin' for the American Dream. My first impression was the city's suffocating pathos, its sense that no matter what happened Chicagoland would inevitably lose again. And Grossman was our goat to scape. One part tragic hero, two parts Aeschylian protagonist: A genuine 21st century Oedipus (Rex). I miss my mancrush.

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