The Niners won, just like I said they would. The Patriots blew out the Broncos, just like I said they would.
Can I get an amen?
So far, my NFL revelations look a lot better than my one college prediction from last week, when I picked LSU to win the BCS over Alabama.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
But two days ago, I preached (probably to the choir) that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots would crucify Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos by 21 points.
That turned out to be a conservative estimate, as the Pats exorcised Tebowmania with an old-fashioned asswhooping, 45-10.
Brady threw six touchdown passes in the game and tied an NFL playoff record, putting him alongside Oakland’s Daryle Lamonica and San Francisco’s Steve Young.
Lamonica threw six TD passes in a playoff game against the Houston Oilers in 1969, and Young did it against San Diego in the 1995 Super Bowl.
Oddly, Brady had a chance to surpass the record early in the fourth quarter, but Belichick called for three straight running plays. It’s hard to say if it was sportsmanship, gamesmanship or just plain old divine intervention.
I wasn’t surprised by the blowout, although the fear of god was put in me early in the second quarter when Denver scored a touchdown to trim New England’s lead to 14-7.
But my prayers were soon answered when Brady threw for three more touchdowns and secured a 35-7 lead at the half.
You could see this route coming, couldn’t you?
You have to believe that all of the Tebow talk this year stuck in Brady’s craw just a bit. You have to believe that the New England QB wanted to make a statement. You have to believe that every other player on the Patriots was sick of hearing the name TimTebow, too.
Since you have to believe in something, why not Brady? Ain’t nothing mystical about that, just talent, skill, and good old American know-how.
Score one for the non-seculars.
Besides, the real miracle came earlier in the day when the 49er Faithful watched the Niners sneak past the New Orleans Saints by a, 36-32.
They won with offense. They won with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. They won with Alex Smith and Vernon Davis for crissakes.
Can I get an amen?
The competent but normally workmanlike Smith turned into an avenging angel Saturday, connecting on three touchdown passes and a surprising 28-yard TD run—the longest playoff run by a quarterback in SF franchise history.
Hell, I didn’t even know Smith could run at all.
The defense played as expected, forcing six turnovers and pressuring Saints QB Drew Brees all day long. Running back Frank Gore turned in a solid performance, including a 42-yard run that led to a fourth-quarter field goal.
But the miracle happened on the 49ers final offensive play, when Smith hit Davis for a touchdown with nine seconds to go, reminiscent of Steve Young’s pass to Terrell Owens to defeat Green Bay back in 1998 and on the 30-year anniversary of “The Catch,” when Joe Montana hit Dwight Clark in the end zone to defeat the Dallas Cowboys in 1981.
In the end, not even a Hail Mary could save the Saints, so they didn’t even try.
I don’t know exactly what to make of this. A born again 49ers offense puts the NFC on notice and adds a new wrinkle to my playoff predictions.
If the NY football Giants can somehow upset the Packers at Lambeau Field, I think the Niners could beat the Giants at Candlestick and go on to the Super Bowl.
But I do not think the 49ers can beat the Packers in Green Bay. I know. Me of little faith.
I’m sticking with my earlier predictions. I’ll be rooting for the Texans and the Giants this afternoon, but I still think Baltimore and Green Bay will meet in Indianapolis.
Sure hope I’m wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Can I get another amen?
[UPDATE at 8 p.m., Eastern Time]
Well, what do you know. The NY Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers, 37-20. That means the 49ers get to play the NFC Championship at Candlestick.
Peyton and other places
Peyton Manning will now play quarterback for the Denver Broncos. They might as well start building the new sign at the border of Denver’s city limit.
“Welcome to Denver, the city where Peyton Manning was paralyzed for life.”
I was hoping Manning would take a long hard look at the big picture and simply retire, the way Steve Young did when he got one too many concussions as a 49ers quarterback.
Manning has a neck injury, nothing to be trifled with. I could be all wrong, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
At least the Broncos had the good sense to trade Tim Tebow. Whatever Manning faces in Denver, it won’t be the evangelical, revival-tent, circus-like atmosphere Tebow creates.
Besides, Tebow’s a perfect fit for New York. And yes, I’m being sarcastic.
• • •
I was pretty sure—and really hoped—that Jim Harbaugh wasn’t serious about getting Manning. I think Harbaugh took a long look at Manning just to build up Alex Smith’s confidence.
“Yeah, the GM wanted me to interview Manning, but my heart wasn’t into it,” I imagine Harbaugh saying. “You’re my guy at QB, Alex. You’re my guy.”
I could be wrong about that scenario, but I’m really glad about Smith’s three-year deal with the 49ers.The playoff game against the Saints convinced me he’s finally got the QB position down.
• • •
I didn’t fill in a bracket and I don’t have a final four, but I do pick Michigan State to win the NCAA Basketball National Championship.
My only reason is the faith and passion of MSUCrazyLady. She makes me wanna believe. So I will.
• • •
Frankly, I don’t give a damn about women’s basketball. It’s like watching the Special Olympics, except I actually do care about the Special Olympics.
The female sports I like are soccer (a little) and softball (a lot). Softball is the ultimate women’s sport, but I’ll expand on that topic in another column.
Still, it doesn’t take a lot of paid attention to pick the NCAA Women’s Basketball champion.
Baylor. It’ll be Baylor. And everybody knows that.
• • •
I started this column with Peyton, so I’ll end it with Payton.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Saints’ head coach Sean Payton a full year for allowing a bounty system—payment for injuries inflicted by the defensive players on key offensive players. You know. Key ones, like Peyton Manning.
The former defensive coach of the Saints, Gregg Williams, is on indefinite suspension and New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended eight games.
The Saints as a team was also fined $500,000 and lost two second round draft picks, one this year and another in 2013.
One radio commenter said he wished baseball had a commissioner as strong as Goodell.
Me, too. I want a baseball commissioner strong enough to bring back steroids.