An exciting end to 2009

Can’t say I saw that coming.

Peyton Manning has the ball trailing by seven points late in the fourth quarter, you just assume the game will soon be tied. That’s the script we’ve seen time and time again.

Didn’t turn out that way last night.

Peyton’s pick-six with just over three minutes left in regulation all but clinched it for the Saints, giving Drew Brees and company the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history and setting off what must have been an insane celebration in New Orleans.

You’ve got to love the aggressive, go-for-it-all playcalling of Saints head coach Sean Payton, who had the guts to call a surprise onside kick to start the second half. Brees turned that gamble into a go-ahead touchdown, and the Saints never looked back.

The better quarterback and head coach won last night, and surprisingly, Manning wasn’t included in that duo.

Anyone else notice how during the presentation of the Lombardi Trophy, Payton introduced Brees by calling him the “MVP of the Super Bowl and the MVP of our league”?

How’s that for a not so thinly-veiled shot at a voting group who chose Manning over Brees for the league MVP award?

On a locally-themed note, former Ravens kicker Matt Stover went 1-for-2 on field goal tries last night, with the miss coming from 51 yards.

51-yard field goals aren’t gimmies by any stretch of the imagination, but you know that situation is exactly what was going through the minds of GM Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh when they opted to go another route at the place kicking position last offseason.

Things obviously didn’t work out as Newsome, Harbaugh or Steve Hauschka planned, but right or wrong, Stover’s lack of reliability outside 45 yards was a key factor in the decision not to bring him back for the 2009 season.

Suddenly, as of this morning, the focus of the league turns from the Super Bowl to the 2010 offseason. Before you know it, the Combine will be here, free agents will officially hit the market, and we’ll be working towards the NFL Draft.

Hope you’re all staying dry, resting your aches and pains from shoveling, and getting ready for an exciting few months of rumors and intrigue. It should be lots of fun to watch how things shake out.

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