Earlier today, I made two predictions for the NFL conference championship games. The Chicago Bears made me eat my words in the first game, dominating the New Orleans Saints in a 39-14 rout. And for the first half of the AFC championship, it looked like I’d have a second helping of crow. However, in the greatest comeback ever in a championship game, the Indianapolis Colts erased a 21-3 deficit to beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, 38-34:
Peyton Manning overcame his playoff past, and his biggest nemesis, to march the Indianapolis Colts into the Super Bowl with a 38-34 come-from-behind victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC championship game.
Manning and the Colts will head to Miami to take on the Chicago Bears in the NFL title game on Feb. 4. The Bears soundly defeated the New Orleans Saints 39-14 earlier Sunday in the NFC championship game.
I almost turned the game off after the poor start Peyton Manning had. He couldn’t move the offense and threw gasoline on the fire by tossing an interception that Assante Samuels easily took to the house for the 21-3 lead. The Patriots looked like they couldn’t miss, and the Colts looked to be missing on a few cylinders.
Manning, however, had no quit in him. He started seeing holes in the Patriot defense and exploiting them by playing ball-control offense. The Colts defense stiffened, only giving up 13 points in the second half and keeping Brady off the field. The Patriot defense began to tire, and Dominique Rhodes began blowing through the line for substantial gains on the ground. The Pats started looking spooked and tentative as they tired.
But the big story is Manning. He has had an albatross around his neck with his losses to the Patriots, twice in the AFC championship game, and with the big hole he dug for himself it looked like that albatross would get even heavier. He kept plugging away, even after he apparently injured his thumb, and looked like a man possessed in the second half. The Colts scored 32 points against a good Patriot defense and one of the masters of the sidelines in Belichick.
Manning finally gets his Super Bowl, and so does Tony Dungy. Earlier in the day, Bears coach Lovie Smith ensured that this Super Bowl would have its first African-American head coach, and now we have two. We’ll see a brilliant offense squaring off against a brilliant defense — and I can’t wait for Miami and February 4th.
PS: Colts by 7.