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Joe Montana fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Like a few other quarterbacks before him, the "Greatest quarterback of all-time" debate is officially over for Peyton Manning. Although, I must admit that he briefly made the debate interesting.
Even I was starting to wonder if Manning was not human at all, but some sort of invincible machine. His season and ability to single handedly carry a team was uncanny. However, the same costly fourth quarter throw that cost his Indianapolis Colts the game on Sunday also sealed his fate, perhaps permanently, in NFL history. There is no doubt that Manning is still a vey important factor in anyone's "Top 5 Quarterbacks of All-time" debate (and for some, maybe even Top 3), but the 31-17 blemish of a Super Bowl loss may forever cost him that number one spot. It seems that every year, the sports media try to find someone to throw into the debate and Manning's masterful game play made his place within the debate tough to ignore. However, like rival Tom Brady before him, the Super Bowl blemish is too difficult to ignore. How could someone who has lost on sports' biggest stage ever be considered the best ever? So let the Montana / Unitas debate live on! And for those ready to point out the irony of that statement, I am well aware of Unitas' Super Bowl history. That's why I side with the pro-Montana group in this debate.
And then you have the New Orleans Saints, playing the role of America's Sweethearts. At least they were for the last two weeks. Everyone loves a good underdog story and Drew Brees and his "Who Dat" crew fit that role perfectly. Brees is beloved by his team's hometown not just for the things that he does on the field, but for his contributions within the New Orleans community and passion for the city. Regardless of a win or loss on Sunday, the Saints were going to get a parade thrown for them on Tuesday.
It was Brees who had the weight of not only a team, but the hopes and dreams of a city on his shoulders. After falling behind 10-0 early in the game, one had to wonder if he was up to the task.
With so much at stake, Brees showed why he has been one of the most underrated NFL players during his entire career. He calmly led his team back and overcame great odds against him. This was the Colts' stage. The Saints were respected, but the Colts were a one-man army lead by Peyton Manning. After all, their running attack ranked last in the NFL so that makes Manning's accomplishments this year even more impressive. Regardless, many predicted that they were on their way to becoming a dynasty. The Saints however, proved that they had more heart and that is an important factor often forgotten when predicting a winner. New Orleans are the "Ain'ts" no more and the S in the front of their name may have never been more deserved because after 43 years filled with mostly terrible football, the Saints are finally super. They finally possess sports' most coveted trophy. They are the NFL champions.
It was a storybook ending for a city that, under five years ago, was underwater due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. It was an ending that the fans from that city deserved.
The game changing play
Cornerback Tracy Porter's late interception for a touchdown may have been the play that sealed the Colts' fate, but it was head coach Sean Payton's gutsy call at the beginning of the second half that swayed the momentum in favor of the Saints. That was the play that showed how much heart and determination the Saints had. It showed that they were willing to do anythung to win. The resulting drive ended with a Brees to Pierre Thomas 16-yard touchdown pass giving the Saints their first lead of the game.
Manning also a fan favorite
Don't get me wrong, Peyton Manning is no one's enemy. If fact, he is one of my favorite players to watch and a fan favorite around the NFL no matter who your favorite team is. It is really tough to dislike the guy. His skill and work ethic are unmatched. It was just the Saints' story that was too tough to resist. You wanted to love them. Manning is one of the best ever and will likely be back to the big show. But for just one year, the feel good underdog made fans believe that anything is possible.
Scoping out a great Super Bowl experience in Las Vegas
With a trip to Miami financially out of the question, we ventured to Las Vegas for the weekend to scope out a great location for the Super Bowl and write about it here. What we found was a little gem of a spot called Le Burger Brasserie in the Paris hotel. It definitely was not on the inexpensive side costing $75 per person, but the atmosphere was so much fun. The crowd was nearly split 50/50 as far as team support goes and the employees made a real party of it. Drinking contests, giveaways and more made the hours prior to the game pass quickly and the waitresses' and bartenders' outfits were enought to make any guy blush. With the tables set up for small groups, it was easy to make some new friends. The chefs offered a buffet of tailgate inspired food and the game was the centerpiece being displayed center stage on a giant screen over the bar with many smaller flatscreens outlining the walls of the establishment. The service was superb thanks to our wonderful waitress Jenine. If you are ever on the hunt for a good Super Bowl locale in Vegas, this one is definitely worth checking out.
Feel free to leave your comments about the game. Anything from the game itself to The Who or your favorite commercials.