Monday Morning QB (cont.)
Posted: Monday February 19, 2007 12:07AM; Updated: Monday February 19, 2007 12:45PM
6. I think before we let the season get too far away from us, we need to recognize the play of the Indianapolis offensive line -- especially center Jeff Saturday, who made a Jerry-Kramer-in-the-Ice Bowl kind of block in the AFC Championship game against New England. Too often we let things like a great block by an interior offensive lineman go unnoticed, and I think this block that sprung Joseph Addai for the winning points in the biggest game of his career, needs to be recognized for the great football play it was.
Let's go back, for a minute, to the beginning of the postseason, when the Colts were known as the biggest finesse offense in the NFL. Quite literally, that's what the Baltimore Ravens defensive gameplan called the Colts before the divisional round of the playoffs. "We are an extremely humble group,'' Saturday said a few days ago, "but that's one we knew about. They thought they would physically dominate us in that game.''
In the final seven minutes, when the Colts needed to kill the clock, they ran the ball 11 of 12 plays on a clock-bleeding series, leading to Adam Vinatieri's insurance field goal. "That was a defining drive for us as a team,'' Saturday said. "Reggie Wayne said in the huddle: 'The game's in your hands [to the offensive line]. As a lineman, you live for drives like that one.''
Then, in the AFC title game, with a third-and-2 from the Patriots' 3 and the Colts trailing 34-31, Manning could have called run or pass. He came to the line, looked over the Patriots' defense, and, as he said at the Super Bowl, called the best play against a defense that had to respect the pass at that moment. He called for Addai to follow Saturday into the A gap. Saturday's job was to lock onto Vince Wilfork and push him to the right, following the zone-blocking assignments the linemen had.
"I've been singled out for that play, but really, it was great zone blocking by every guy on the line that cleared the way for the touchdown,'' said Saturday.
Too modest. Saturday locked onto Wilfork and -- I know, because I've watched it eight or 10 times -- pushed him six feet to the right, pancaking him to the turf as Addai waltzed in. Saturday said he would leave it to people like me to determine whether this was the best block of his career, or one of the best of the year. There's no question in this time and place, with what was on the line, that the block was the best single block of Saturday's life, and easily one of the Colts' most important plays of the season.
"Jeff Saturday's block on Vince Wilfork on the third-and-2 play to me was one for the ages,'' Manning said, and he is right.
7. I think I'd like to ask Vegas this one question: You guys out there still have the Chargers 6-1 to win the Super Bowl? Might want to rethink that one.
8. I think you're off to a good start as GM of the Giants, Jerry Reese.
9. I think the Raiders will shock the world if they do anything but sit right where they are on draft day in April and take anyone but JaMarcus Russell.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Good luck, Tiki Barber. The new world will be a more fun one than your old one. In this one, you get paid for telling the truth. As you know, in modern sports, you often get ripped for telling the truth, even when it's as plain as the nose on your face.
b. I'll miss Sterling Sharpe at NBC. Excellent co-worker, funny, great camaraderie guy. As considerate a peer as I've worked with, and taught me a lot about the game.
c. Coffeenerdness: Starbucks. In the Louvre. That's right. Four euro for a grande latte. And for 7.80 Swiss Francs in Geneva, I had a triple grande hazelnut latte last Friday, ordering it just like that. The blonde American girl behind the counter got it right away.
Gotta love the universal language of Starbucks. This Starbucks in downtown Geneva, packed with high school and college kids after classes Friday afternoon, could have passed for a Starbucks in Geneva, Ill., with two exceptions: About a third of the kids ordered jus d'orange, fresh-squeezed OJ from a Rube Goldberg-type machine behind the counter. And pets are not only allowed but welcome. At the table next to ours, a Spuds McKenzie lookalike sat on the chair next to his 22-ish male owner, tensing occasionally and yipping at a passing dog out the window.
d. Speaking of dogs, they like them a lot over here. I'd say 95 percent of them are little rugrat types. Startling sight the other day: Man walks into an electronics store in Geneva with two small-pony-sized Bernese Mountain dogs on leashes in front of him.
e. They can't get enough of Britney Spears' bald head over here.