OUT OF LEFT FIELD
A View Anew
from the TV Couch
That's What It Was!
...Colts' Miracle QB
Colts' 38-34 Championship Victory
Was the Greatest Comeback Ever
By STAN ISAACS
Erna Bombeck, the erstwhile swivel-hipped kitchen sage, said, If a man watches two football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead.
This, then, is the report of a brain-dead couchnik after watching one of the most sensational playoff football games in memory, the Indianapolis Colts 38-34 victory over the New England Patriots Sunday. This after a somewhat tepid Chicago Bears 39-14 success over the New Orleans Saints in the other semi-final of the tournament that culminates with the Super Bowl taffy pull, Feb. 4.
Indianapolis rally from an 18-point deficit, the greatest comeback in a championship game, was full of heroics. The duel between the two quarterbacks, Peyton Manning of the Colts and Tom Brady of the Patriots, conjured up images in me of great baseball pitching duels. It may be far-fetched to say it, but to me it was like Carl Hubbell dueling Dizzy Dean, Bob Feller vs. Red Ruffing, Sal Maglie vs. Don Newcombe.
I must add, though, that the lasers thrown by Brady reminded me, too, of the bullet passes thrown in the long ago by Washington Redskin immortal Sammy Baugh. Once, in the days when players did not wear facemasks and the Redskins wanted to retaliate against a perceived dirty opponent, his linemen let the bounder get through and Baugh ripped an explosive pass into his face.
The mind reeled as field goal followed field goal in the Colts pursuit of the almost-always-ahead Patriots. When it seemed time and time again that the Colts would fall agonizingly short, I thought that the outcome was decided a long time ago, in 1984. That would be the year the Baltimore Colts deserted Baltimore. They sneaked out of town in the middle of the night in a convoy of Mayflower moving trucks to become the Colts of Indianapolis.
Purists like me will never use Mayflower moving vans. And I thought a jinx born that night that would guarantee the Indianapolis Carpetbaggers would never achieve the ultimate pro football goal, a Super Bowl victory. Such a jinx might still work its magic against them in Miami, though they almost surely will be favored over the Bears. This curbstone oddsmakers immediate thought after their victory: they would be made a seven-point favorite over the Bears.
For all the dramatics of the Colts-Patriots game, the choicest image on the television screen was the sight in Sundays early game of the Bears scoring one of the late touchdowns that clinched the victory for them. The post-touchdown image: snow swirling as the Bears players celebrated, hugging each other; snow swirling particularly over a close-up of the beefy face of staunch Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher; snow swirling over the image of joyous Chicago fans in Soldiers Field, the most creative of the citizenry waving a huge homemade sign that read XLI--Roman numeral letters for 41--the upcoming 41st Super Bowl.
This is the kind of scene about which veteran ex-coach and TV analyst John Madden likes to say, This is what its all about.And as I watch such tableaus in the comfort of my toasty warm TV hearth I recall the words of Chet Forte, the legendary TV director, the first director of Monday Night Football on ABC.
Games in the snow are the best for us, Forte would say. Theres nothing like snow lighting up a game, producing great images. Give me snow over any other element.
Vince Testaverde, the geezer of a quarterback who has been around the block for many years and is nothing more than a clipboard holder on the sideline for the Patriots, must think this is a great country. He, of all people, popped up doing a Mastercard commercial. Did they actually pay the bloke for this?
Added evidence for a change that wise observes like me lobby for. If the goalpost uprights were narrowed to cut down on the spate of field goals (at the expense of teams going for touchdowns) two of the field goals kicked by Indianapolis Adam Vinatieri might not have been successful, because they seemed to zoom just inside one of the uprights.
The TV announcers are always a trial one way or the other: Joe Buck, Foxs host, used the redundancy old adage. An adage, Joe, is old by definition Fox analyst Troy Aikman, a former quarterback, frequently follows a missed tackle by saying, Hes gotta make that tackle. Does he think the viewer needs to be told such a keen observation?. And what does a quarterback know about tackling? CBS pre-game grammarian Dan Marino invariably says somebody played good. Thats not all well and good, you can be sure.
I might be an old meanie for saying this, but I think New Orleans sad loss was a comeuppance to Saints wonderkind Reggie Bush for showboating on the way to completing an early 88-yard pass-and-run play. A few yards from the end zone, he turned and taunted the Bears players in futile chase.
And as I think about it anew, that Indy-New England game was such a barn-burner, even Erma Bombeck might have come out of the kitchen to watch it.
©2007 by Stan Isaacs. The Stan Isaacs caricature is ©2001 by Jim Hummel. The painting of Peyton Manning is an artists' version of a sports photo. This column first posted Jan. 22, 2007.
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