Remember about 15 years ago? Just a couple hours before the kickoff to the Super Bowl, you would be surrounded by friends or relatives and talk about how good this year’s Super Bowl could be.
A room would have a dozen different people—who have had a season’s worth of analysis and two weeks of dissecting one game—buying into the hype that this year’s Super Bowl will be different from last year’s blowout.
Well, back then, the hype never lived up to real thing—usually the winning team would be up by three scores—and everyone, besides the die-hard gambler, would leave the party to tuck their kids into bed.
Your uncle would then say, “Well there goes another over-hyped Super Bowl!” He’d get angry and grab another beer from the fridge.
Luckily, that was 15 years ago.
In 2010, Americans are actually getting accustomed to the “over-hyped” game of the year living up to expectations—it has been the commercials which have been disappointing! In reality, the last decade has produced six of the greatest Super Bowls in NFL history.
Can’t believe it? Check out these quick facts:
Since 2000, there were six Super Bowls decided by seven points or fewer. Five of those games were decided by four points or fewer—each of those five games had its game-winning score occur with less than 1:30 remaining in the final quarter.
From 1980-1999, only four Super Bowls (’82, ’89, ’91, ’98) were decided by fewer than seven points and only two games (’82, ’91) were decided by four points or fewer.
So, in the past decade American sports fans have seen the best the Super Bowl has had to offer.
Here are the highlights.
The shelf-stacking bag boy, Kurt Warner, helps the “Greatest Show on Turf” take a 16-0 lead after three quarters.
The Tennessee Titans, which used momentum from the “Music City Miracle” to reach Super Bowl XXXIV, scored 16 unanswered points to tie the game with 2:21 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Rams reclaimed the lead on the first play of the ensuing drive. Warner connected with veteran wide receiver Isaac Bruce on a 73-yard touchdown pass to help St. Louis take a 23-16 advantage with about two minutes to play.
The Titans responded by driving the ball down to the Rams’ 10-yard line. With six seconds remaining, Titans’ quarterback Steve McNair hit wide receiver Kevin Dyson with a quick slant.
Dyson caught the ball at the two-yard line and seemed to have an open lane for the end zone, but was tackled by Rams’ linebacker Mike Jones at the one-yard line.
Dyson stretched the ball out but fell short and the Rams celebrated their first NFL Championship.
2002: Patriots 20, Rams 17
After finishing the regular season with a league best 14-2 record, the Rams entered Super Bowl XXXVI as 14-point favorites. Despite the large odds against them, the Patriots led 17-3 entering the final quarter.
League MVP Warner led the Rams back, scoring on a two-yard quarterback sneak and hitting Ricky Proehl for a 26-yard touchdown pass with under two minutes remaining in the game.
With no timeouts and only 1:30 to go, Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady led a nine-play, 53-yard drive to the Rams’ 30-yard line.
New England kicker Adam Vinatieri nailed a 48-yard field goal to cap one of the largest upsets in Super Bowl history.
2004: Patriots 32, Panthers 29
New England held a 14-10 lead entering the final quarter and increased its lead to 21-10 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Panthers scored two touchdowns, but failed on both two-point conversions. They led 22-21 with 6:53 to go in the game.
The Patriots retook the lead at 29-22 with a one-yard touchdown reception by linebacker Mike Vrabel and a two-point conversion run by Kevin Faulk.
Carolina tied the game at 29-29 after Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme hit Ricky Proehl on a 12-yard TD reception and kicker John Kasey made the extra point.
With less than one minute to play, Tom Brady led the Patriots down the field and Vinatieri capped the record-setting 37-point fourth quarter with a game-winning 41-yard field goal with four seconds to go.
2005: Patriots 24, Eagles 21
New England, trying for its third Super Bowl in four seasons, led 24-14 with 8:43 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Philadelphia used a 13-play, 79-yard TD drive to cut the lead to 24-21 with 1:55 to go.
The Eagles, who previously lost three straight NFC Championship games before defeating the Atlanta Falcons, failed to recover the onside kick.
The Patriots ran the ball on three consecutive plays, punted, and pinned Philadelphia at its three-yard line with 46 seconds remaining. On third down, McNabb threw an interception to Patriots’ safety Rodney Harrison to end the game.
2008: Giants 17, Patriots 14
After three quarters of lackluster football, the Patriots, who finished the regular season 16-0, took a 14-10 advantage after Randy Moss caught a six-yard TD pass from Tom Brady with 2:52 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Giants, who lost to the Patriots in the final game of the regular season, took over possession with 2:39 to go. A couple of plays into the drive the Giants faced a 3rd-and-5 on their own 44-yard line.
New York quarterback Eli Manning faced pressure from a Patriots blitz, but slipped away and tossed the ball towards wide receiver David Tyree, who leaped in the air and trapped the ball on top of his helmet for the catch.
“The Helmet Catch” led to a 13-yard TD pass to wide receiver Plaxico Burress.
Game Over. Dynasty Over.
Led by an electrifying 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive lineman James Harrison, the Steelers led 20-7 after three quarters.
Arizona, playing in its first Super Bowl, scored 16 straight points, capped by a 63-yard TD reception by Larry Fitzgerald, to take a 23-20 lead with 2:37 remaining.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led an 82-yard drive, starting at the Steelers' 18-yard line, which was initially forced back 10 yards after a holding call. The drive ended with Pittsburgh wide receiver Santonio Holmes’ tip-toe TD reception with 35 seconds remaining.
The Steelers captured a record sixth Super Bowl title.
The Saints defense bends but doesn’t break and then forces turnovers, like it did in the NFC Championship game, and its offense is better than the Vikings for a couple of reasons:
First, Brees is better than Brett Favre. Brees is younger, stronger, a faster decision-maker, and does not need to rely on a fumble-prone all-pro running back.
Second, the offense is built to take advantage of its playmakers—Brees, Marques Colston, Reggie Bush, Devery Henderson, Pierre Thomas. The Saints' offense is complex, keeps a defense guessing, and can adjust quickly to what its opponent does.
The Colts share these qualities on both offense and defense and only have an edge because of Peyton Manning.
We have all seen his commercials, his rocket arm, and his Albert Einstein-like smarts in commanding a football team. It’s almost impossible to pick against Manning in any situation.
Really, think about it.
If tomorrow President Barack Obama declared war on Iran and announced Manning is the new U.S. four-star General and will lead us in World War III, I don’t think anyone would feel bad about that decision. You’d just nod your head, “yes,” and go back to watching re-runs of “Jersey Shore.”
This is why, after you break down every aspect of this matchup, the Colts are the safe pick...because of No. 18.
On paper, the first Super Bowl of the new decade looks like the best matchup since the Rams vs. Titans in 2000.
That game began a decade which did not disappoint—unless you hate the Patriots, like me, because you saw three victories from New England.
I predict a back-and-forth game, which will begin with an amazing National Anthem by Carrie Underwood (and that is not because she is ungodly hot). In the first quarter, the Saints will intercept a Manning pass and lead 14-7.
The game will be tied at 17-17 heading into halftime.
The Who will be outstanding during the halftime show.
The third quarter will be slower paced with maybe only a field goal by each team, but the fourth quarter will be interesting. And here is why:
Firstly, all of America, despite the likability of Manning, will be rooting for New Orleans.
Unless you’re a Colts fan or had a bad experience at Mardi Gras, you will be cheering for New Orleans. On Sunday, the Saints are playing as the underdog for a battered and bruised city, and symbolically represent America trying to battle its way out of hardship.
Just like the Patriots did in 2002.
Remember the hardship America was feeling four months after Sept. 11th? Unless you had some vendetta against New England, which I did as a Buffalo Bills fan, there was no way you could not support an underdog team named The Patriots!
Before 2001, the Patriots, much like the 2010 Saints, had no winning history. Introduced to the NFL in 1967, the Saints never broke .500 in their first 10 seasons. New Orleans entered the playoffs for the first time in 1987, but never won a playoff game until 2000.
Its fan base has never felt anything like this and it could be its last opportunity to enjoy this excitement. But, it’s one thing to be playing for a battered city; it’s another thing to be playing for a battered nation.
It’s a lot to ask for in a quarterback, but over the next few days, fans will grow to equally enjoy, respect and believe in the Saints’ quarterback as they do the Colts’ quarterback.
Not many people know this, but Brees has the same tools, work ethic, and General-like ability as Manning.
I am not kidding.
In 2004, Brees won the Comeback Player of the Year and earned an AFC Pro Bowl roster spot. However, in 2005 Brees needed to get shoulder surgery, which ended his season and allowed for Phillip Rivers, recently drafted by the Chargers in the first round of the NFL Draft, to take over.
If not for the injury, Brees would have continued his outstanding play in San Diego, but instead he was shipped to the rebuilding Saints in 2006.
From there he led the league in passing yards while helping the city of New Orleans deal with the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.
In 2007, Brees again tossed for over 4,000 yards. His 5,069 passing yards in 2008 fell just 15 yards short of breaking Dan Marino’s single-season record.
Brees has the right package to defeat the mighty Manning, as did Tom Brady in 2002 against the MVP Kurt Warner.
Not to mention head coach Sean Payton and defense coordinator Greg Williams are at the top of their class. Not yet can a fan say that about Jim Caldwell, who arguably is riding Manning’s coattails.
So when the fourth quarter begins and another memorable Super Bowl is beginning to take shape, who do you put your money on? Do you choose the team with the four-star General and his Albert Einstein-type qualities or the team with a nation cheering them on?
On paper, the General with the better army is the smarter choice. But, that’s what we said to begin the last decade. And if we learned anything from history, the Saints will find a way to win.
I say 30-27.
Enjoy the game all!