Drew Brees photo:TED JACKSON / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE
The New Orleans Saints have defeated the Indianapolis Colts in a fabulous game. Thankfully, we did not see the lopsided games that we saw five or 10 years ago. Maybe, just maybe the NFL has really achieved parity. No, I don’t think so. That was wishful thinking. I think teams are better prepared for the Super Bowl and therefore don’t make the early mistakes that have plagued some of our Super Bowls.
As I thought, both offenses were able to move the ball. Both defenses worked hard to prevent the big play. The New Orleans Saints defense did probably a better job of pressuring Peyton Manning. They made him throw before he was ready. They were the ones that forced the only turnover of the game. I also think that the long field goal that the Indianapolis Colts missed was huge. The fact that the Colts were not able to drive in for a touchdown and had to settle for the field goal was also big. The New Orleans defense made enough plays. They were able to tip enough balls and make enough tackles. In my mind, they are the real story.
Both Drew Drees and Peyton Manning were magnificent. Drew Brees won the MVP. He deserved it. He started off a little shaky. He did settle down and play outstanding for the last three quarters of the game. The Indianapolis Colts defense simply could not make the plays that New Orleans did on defense. They did have a fine defensive stand late in the second quarter. By the way, many are making a big deal out of Dwright Freeney playing well at the beginning of the game. Unfortunately, the Indianapolis Colts need him to play well for the whole game. He completely disappeared in the third and fourth quarters when his team needed him the most. I think his ankle just couldn’t give anymore.
Besides Dwight Freeney, Reggie Wayne did not play all that well. Pierre Garçon cannot play all that well either. He had an opportunity to break the game open in the second quarter and dropped a critical pass.
The play of the game, in my opinion, was the onside kick to start the third quarter. I don’t know how the Indianapolis Colts were not prepared for that. The New Orleans Saints needed to do something to keep the momentum on their side. An onside kick was perfect. On that play, the Colts were outcoached.
Drew Brees did a great job of checking down to his secondary receivers and backs. The deep plays were not open. I remain surprised at how small a role Reggie Bush played in the game. When the game was on the line, he was on the bench. Jeremy Shockey came up big when he needed to.
It was a fabulous game. I’m sorry to Peyton Manning didn’t solidify himself in football lore. Drew Brees maybe writing some football lore of his own. I know they just had a race for mayor in New Orleans. I’m not sure if Drew Brees Wednesday held the race today because I know some would prefer to run him as governor of the state of Louisiana!!
Great analysis from Brian at Advanced NFL Stats –
The Onside Kick
Had the Saints not recovered the onside kick to open the 2nd half, fans and ‘analysts’ would be second-guessing Payton for years. Onside kicks are surprisingly successful when they are not expected. Since 2000, slightly over 60% of unexpected onside kicks have been recovered by the kicking team. An analysis based on Expected Points suggests teams should occasionally attempt surprise onside kicks if they believe their chances of recovery exceed 42%. Let’s also take a look at what WP would say.
In this case, the Saints were down by 4 points. A deep kick would typically give the Colts a 1st and 10 near their own 30, worth 0.32 WP to the Saints. A failed onside kick gives the Colts a 1st down at the Saints’ 40 or so, worth 0.26 WP to the Saints. A successful recovery gives the Saints possession at their own 40, worth 0.39 WP. In total, the onside attempt is worth:
0.60 * 0.39 + (1-0.60) * 0.27 = 0.34 WP
The onside attempt was a good gamble according to the numbers, but not by much–0.34 vs 0.32 WP. it paid off, and the Saints capitalized with a TD drive to take the lead for the first time in the game. (more…)