CAROLINA CRISIS: THIS IS BIGGER THAN YOU By Michael...
Different Team, Same Ending
Commissioner Roger Goodell got what he wanted. Fox Sports got what they wanted. The NFC got what they wanted. And Green Bay fans got what they wanted.
It was the perfect matchup between two high-powered offensive teams. Too bad someone had to lose Sunday’s NFC Championship game in New Orleans. The game between the Vikings and Saints was a dogfight until the end.
Two quarterbacks, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Minnesota’s Brett Favre slugged it out for four quarters, and they needed an extra session to decide the outcome. The Saints kicked their way into their first Super Bowl with a 31-28 win at home, in the Louisiana Superdome.
A national audience saw a back-and-forth battle between the young, established signal caller and the ageless one. People are used to watching Favre bring a team from behind.
He was in a position to tie the game after New Orleans took a 28-21 lead, bringing the Vikings back from the dead. Favre could’ve ended all the drama that surrounded the Vikings and sent them to their fifth Super Bowl by avoiding stupid mistakes.
He lost a fumble on a bad exchange between himself and running back Adrian Peterson in the red zone. All the Favre haters in Wisconsin got their wish as they saw him fall on his face.
They probably cheered or booed every time the Vikings failed or succeeded.
With the score tied at 21 in the third quarter, Favre threw an interception as a New Orleans defender rolled on his left ankle (cheers). He limped off the field, got the ankle taped and trotted on the turf on Minnesota’s next series (boos).
Vikings receiver Percy Harvin lost the ball and the Saints recovered (cheers). Running back Reggie Bush scored a touchdown. It was 28-21, New Orleans (cheers).
Then it was receiver Bernard Berrian who had the ball stripped after making a catch (more cheers). Favre, with 2:37 left in regulation to work with, engineered a do-or-die final drive that would make or break Minnesota’s dream of going to the Super Bowl.
Berrian drew a pass interference call in the end zone on New Orleans defensive back Tracy Porter (boos). Peterson’s touchdown run tied the game at 28 (more boos).
Minnesota, with two time outs to New Orleans’ none, made two critical mistakes. They had 12 men in the huddle with the ball at the New Orleans’ 33-yard line. Didn’t Favre count the guys in the huddle? Apparently not.
Now facing a third-and-15 at the Saints’ 38, Favre rolled to his right.
Anybody with a brain who saw all that open space to run on the right side, especially for all the marbles, would’ve run with the ball. Not Favre. He was again trying to make up something that didn’t exist.
And what did the 40-year-old quarterback do?
He threw it across his body to Porter for another interception. If Favre would’ve run at least 10 yards, it would’ve been more than enough distance for his former teammate at Green Bay, Ryan Longwell, to make the winning field goal, and there would be no overtime.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
New Orleans won the toss and marched down the field for a 40-yard winning field goal by second-year and previously-suspended kicker Garrett Hartley. The ball went straight down the middle with 10:15 left. The ball game was over.
For Minnesota, there are no what if’s.
Unfortunately, Green Bay fans saw this kind of thing happen before with Favre taking unnecessary risks in his career there. For example, he did it in the 2007 NFC Championship Game in Green Bay against the New York Giants with an interception in a 23-20 overtime loss.
Now the honeymoon in Minnesota is over.
The Vikings should buy out Favre’s second-year option and let him ride off into the sunset before he screws up again. Pay him what he’s owed and send him back down to Kiln, Mississippi to cut the grass in his Wrangler jeans.
Favre missed a perfect opportunity, and he knew it. In the Sears commercial that was played during the game, the salesman told Favre that he was going to Miami (site of Super Bowl).
The salesman said, “Maybe I’ll see you in Miami. Well, maybe not.” Favre replied, “So what are you saying?”
We’re saying that he’ll be there for the Pro Bowl (also in Miami) – unless he skips the game – but not the biggest sporting event of the year.