This week, Drew Magary at Deadspin argued that we are living in the Golden Age of the Super Bowl. He wrote that before tonight’s game, the 31-17 Saints win over the Indianapolis Colts for their first championship in franchise history. For the third consecutive year, with 3 1/2 minutes left, you could have made an argument that we all just watched the best Super Bowl of all time. And then Peyton Manning threw the worst pass of his life,
Darren Sharper Tracy Porter was streaking in the opposite direction and the French Quarter exploded. Well, we assume it did. Apparently no one at CBS thought to send a cameraman there.
For New Yorkers cheering for the Saints – as we assume every single one of you were doing – it might not have been ideal to see the go-ahead touchdown scored by Jeremy Shockey, but Sharper’s interception was a classic Everybody In The Room Leaps Up And Starts Screaming moment. Every analyst on earth has spent the last two weeks claiming, with good reason, that Peyton Manning was the perfect quarterback, ready to secure his place among the legends with his second Super Bowl title. Then he pulled a Brett Favre. It doesn’t tarnish his legacy, and he’ll surely win more Super Bowls down the line. It was just strange seeing him look like a normal human being, at least for one critical, painful pass.
A thoroughly likable team, with a compulsively likable quarterback, has won the Super Bowl, erasing decades of frustration and misfortune. Drew Brees was the MVP of this game, but the real MVP was Saints coach Sean Payton, a former Giants assistant (and Bill Parcells protege, as well as former replacement player), who pushed the right button at every interval. The onside kick to start the second half was perfection, and exactly the type of play no one ever dares try in a Super Bowl. He did, and his try-anything spirit captured the flavor of his team’s town the same way the Colts’ dry, play-it-safe conservatism did theirs. Today, gumbo won. Everything has a little more zest tonight. Who dat, indeed.