Peyton Manning has spent a big chunk of the last two Sunday evenings promoting the fine city of Omaha, Neb.
A place known for great steaks and the College World Series and decent hotel rates on Nebraska football weekends, now is known as Manning's code word.
“Omaha, Omaha!” he barked 44 times at the line of scrimmage against the Chargers in the AFC semifinals.
“Omaha, Omaha!” he called 31 times against the Patriots in the AFC title game.
Great pub for a good town. Great example of the marvelous technology used to televise a football game. Great quarterback mind at work, mentally undressing a defense.
But not great football. Manning dancing around the pre-snap Bronco backfield, calling signals and changing plays, is not good entertainment.
In fact, despite reasonably competitive contests, Denver-San Diego and Denver-New England were a little on the boring side.
Manning the Maestro was cool when directing “Rocky Top” for the Tennessee band. Manning the Maestro directing Louis Vasquez and Zane Beadles on which linebackers to block? Not so much.
The “Omaha, Omaha!” games were the classic case of hurry up and wait. At least when teams are huddling, you can relax, knowing nothing will happen. But when Manning gets to the line of scrimmage with 25 seconds left on the play clock, and we know he's going to use all 25 seconds to figure out the alignment and drive the defense batty, we have to watch anyway or us fans lose our edge. Maybe that's why it works so well. Does the same to the defense.
It's not a lack of plays. Broncos-Patriots actually had 15 more snaps than did 49ers-Seahawks that same Sunday. And that's with Manning and Tom Brady quarterbacking.
But Seattle-San Francisco was more compelling, and not just because it was harder hitting or a closer game or even because Richard Sherman introduced himself to Planet Earth.