Did Brett Favre’s cross-body pass to Sidney Rice in the waning moments of regulation in the NFC Championship game cost the pro football league an audience of 100 million for Super Bowl XLIV?
The Jets and the No. 1 New York DMA and the fervor of the Who Dat Nation notwithstanding, the match-up most football aficionados and certainly the casual fan wanted to see was the battle between the two Hall of Fame quarterbacks — Peyton and the Indianapolis Colts going against old gunslinger Favre and his Minnesota Vikings. The winner would have taken home a second Super Bowl crown, not to mention another notch for the all-time QB argument.
But Minnesota, looking to exorcise Bud Grant’s Big Game jinx, put the ball on the ground six times, losing three fumbles. Coupled with the two picks by Favre — Fox’s Troy Aikman has been waiting for the league’s all-time interception leader to surface for weeks — the Vikings’ almost two-to-one advantage in total yards disappeared into the confetti that covered the Super Dome. When Garrett Hartley’s 40-yard kick split the uprights in OT, Drew Brees, Tom Benson, the Saints and New Orleans had finally secured the franchise’s first Super Bowl berth in its 43-year history.
Remember, though, Peyton’s a son of the Crescent City (not to mention Archie) and he’s looking for Big Game bragging rights over little brother Eli again.
As for the other star-crossed franchise playing Sunday, the Jets received more than solid play from Mark Sanchez, who was looking to become the first rookie QB to start in the Super Bowl. Alas, even with Darrelle Revis largely putting Manning’s favorite target Reggie Wayne on his island and Dallas Clark held in check, Mssrs. Garcon, Collie and LSU alum Joseph Addai made life tough for Rex Ryan’s defense after the first quarter of the AFC Championship.
Sadly, Broadway Joe’s guarantee in Miami of Super Bowl III remains the J-E-T-S’ shining moment.
Perhaps Gang Green supporters can take some solace from Favre’s bleep-up. His final NFL pass — like the one Corey Webster swiped against him in OT in the NFC championship two years ago that helped push the G-men past the Pack into Super Bowl XLII — will be remembered as an interception (unless, of course…never mind).
The fact that Favre, who courageously overcame a twisted ankle on one of the many hits he absorbed from the Saints on Sunday, went down with his boots on was perhaps a fitting epitaph to a legendary career, which saw at least one chapter marred for jerking the Jets around last season.
This time Favre’s failure, though, also might leave Pittsburgh’s last-second win over Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII and its 98.7 million average audience as the most-watched NFL championship game.
Colts-Vikings would have been Super Bowl 100 million. Not sure, if the match-up in Miami of the two No. 1 seeds (for the first time since 1993 according to Fox’s Jimmy Johnson) high-powered QBs and offenses – but small Nielsen markets (Indy’s No. 25, NOLA 51) — crosses that milestone for CBS on Feb. 7.