Super Bowl thoughts:
* Same stadium. Same end zone. Same general point in the game. Same initial result. Different long-term result. New Orleans-Indianapolis Super Bowl. Oklahoma-Florida title game. Fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line.
Saints coach Sean Payton went for the touchdown. Two minutes left in the first half, New Orleans down 10-3, facing third-and-goal at the Colt 1-yard line. Payton ran Mike Bell off tackle. No gain. Timeout, 1:55 left. Fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Payton disdains the field goal.
Bob Stoops went for the touchdown, too. Six minutes left in the first half. OU is tied 7-7, facing third-and-goal at the Florida 1-yard line. The Sooners ran Chris Brown off tackle. No gain. Fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Stoops disdains the field goal.
The same fate hit both teams. Both teams ran off tackle again. The Colts’ Gary Brackett and Clint Session stopped tailback stuffed Pierre Thomas for no gain. The Gators’ Torrey Davis nailed Brown for a 2-yard loss.
But the same fate did not extend to the Saints that befell the Sooners. And here’s why. The Colts took over and promptly ran three plays and punted. A first down there would have been huge. Would have allowed Indy to run out the clock. Instead, the Saints got the ball back and kicked a field goal on the final play of the half to cut their deficit to 10-6.
When Florida took over at its 3-yard line, Percy Harvin reeled off a 46-yard run. The field position was turned. The positive effects of even failing on a fourth-and-goal try — keeping the opponent backed up — were gone. Florida eventually punted, backing up the Sooners, and though Sam Bradford took OU on a hurryup drive that went deep into Gator territory but ended on a hurried interception at the Florida 3-yard line with three seconds left in the half.
Going for the touchdown was the right call in both situations. But failing to maintain the field position was the difference.
* The Super Bowl turned on a couple of huge plays. Payton’s onside kick and Tracy Porter’s interception return for a touchdown.
But here’s my vote for the game’s biggest play. Second quarter. Colts lead 10-3. Indy has third down in its territory. Peyton Manning throws over the middle to Pierre Garcon, who is wide open with lots of room to keep running. Garcon dropped the ball. Make that catch, and the Colts are driving toward a 17-3 lead. Instead, the Colts punted, the Saints realized they still were in there punching and eventually the game turned.
* Watching the Super Bowl pregame Sunday night, with Queen Latifah singing “America the Beautiful” and Carrie Underwood handling the national anthem, I thought of the 2006 NBA All-Star Game. That’s the last time — only time — I saw those two ladies in the same locale.
And I came away from the Super Bowl with the same feelings I took from the All-Star Game. Thumbs up on Queen Latifah, thumbs down on Carrie Underwood.
Queen Latifah had a big advantage. “America the Beautiful” is such a glorious song. Easy to sing. Easy to listen to. Congress’ idiocy never has been more on display than when it anointed “The Star-Spangled Banner” the national anthem. Underwood had the much more difficult assignment. And she whiffed. Underwood sang poorly. Missed some notes. Butchered the end. Queen Latifah came across much better.
Same down in Houston during the ’06 All-Star Game. In real life, Queen Latifah looks much better than you think. Carrie Underwood much worse. Queen Latifah has as much natural beauty as any celebrity I’ve ever seen. Carrie Underwood, frankly, was painted up like a Long Branch saloon girl. You couldn’t tell what she looked like.
Underwood, of course, is an Oklahoma icon and a national superstar. Her career soars. But live or on television, Queen Latifah trumps her.
* If you’d never seen or heard of Jeremy Shockey, then watched the Super Bowl, would say this. Tough guy. Good player. Seems to have fun but isn’t a knucklehead. Shockey caught the game-winning touchdown pass — the TD that puts a team ahead for good is the game-winning score — and celebrated, but not excessively.
And after the game, CBS shows a shot of the celebrating Saints, and there’s Shockey, with his mother. Hard to cheer against the Saints. Amid the post-game revelry were Drew Brees with his baby son and bad-boy Jeremy Shockey with his mom.