Shanoff's WUC: Payton, Peyton, SB Ads, More

Today's Calls: Sean Payton vs. Jim Caldwell, Drew Brees vs. Peyton Manning, Tracy Porter vs. Dwight Freeney, Betty White vs. Tim Tebow, Google vs. Bud Light, Alex Ovechkin vs. the Pens, Magic vs. Celtics, Georgetown vs. Anyone and More. ↵

↵Drew BreesThe Opening Pitch: Who dat say dey shouldn't go for it on 4th down? ↵
↵Who dat say dey shouldn't try an onside kick that early? ↵
↵Who dat say dey shouldn't go for two? ↵
↵Who dat say dey shouldn't blitz Peyton Manning? ↵
↵Who dat say dey shouldn't play to win every game? ↵
↵Who dat say that bold play-calling can't work on the NFL's biggest stage? ↵

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↵In an ideal world, this Super Bowl was the end of the NFL's era of "shouldn't." I would like to think "Who dat!" isn't just a rallying cry for a fan base, but the rallying cry for any fan who wants to see bold, unconventional thinking rewarded. ↵

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↵What a perfect ending to a season whose signature play was the controversial call by a Colts' opponent to try to go for the win on 4th down, and whose signature controversy was the Colts laying down to preserve themselves for a Super Bowl ring? ↵

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↵Saints coach Sean Payton turned all of that on its head. Going for it on 4th down was the right thing to do, and it wasn't fatal that it failed. "You're careful," he said. "But you want to show you're confident." ↵

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↵Nothing was more confident than the onside kick to start the 2nd half — the first onside kick in Super Bowl history outside of the typical desperate 4th-quarter ploy. It was arguably the boldest play-call in Super Bowl history. ↵

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↵"The game unfolded that way, and our play was that way because of the head coach taking a gamble," Saints D.C. Gregg Williams said about the onside kick. It was more than a momentum-shifter. ↵

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↵It was a display of willingness to do whatever it takes to win in stark relief to the hyper-cautious Colts, who — if you believe in karma — got what they deserved in the Super Bowl after tanking their final two games of the season. ↵

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↵What you hope is that other owners and coaches and media folks were watching, taking notes — recognizing that the bold call is worth the risk, not post-game derision. Win or lose, Sean Payton had everyone's respect for his decisions. ↵

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↵Think the Colts would have gone for it on 4th down? Or tried an onside kick that early? Or went for two? Or, with the game on the line, left their corner in 1-on-1 coverage against the best QB in the league? ↵

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↵No, and that's a big part of why their season ended short of a championship, while the gutsy Saints are celebrating. ↵

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↵How bad was that game-sealing INT that Peyton Manning threw? So bad that it instantly became the defining moment of his career. At least for now, it ends any discussion that he might be the greatest QB of all time. ↵

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↵By the way, I don't buy Manning's excuse for not seeking out Drew Brees on the field after the game for a handshake. Manning was frustrated and disappointed, and rightfully so. But when LeBron did the same thing against the Magic, he was ripped as a poor loser — if you think that kind of display of sportsmanship is important, Peyton deserves to be criticized just as much. ↵

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↵How brilliant was Drew Brees? So good — highlighted by that Super Bowl-record 32 completions — that he put himself on the short list of the greatest Super Bowl performances ever by a QB. ↵

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↵More heroes: In all the week-long lead-up of pre-game hoopla about "players to watch" and "X-factors," did you ever see Tracy Porter's name come up as a potential hero? (Watch the pick-6 here.) That's one more reason this game was so great: The unexpected. ↵

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↵Super Bowl Ads: Google had my favorite ad of the night — simple and smart ... not bad (and not surprising) for Google's first-ever national TV ad. It was a welcome anecdote to the dumbed-down misogyny that dominated the night. ↵

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↵The Tebow ad: If you didn't know what Focus on the Family was all about, you would have watched the Tebow ad and wondered "What was all the fuss about?" In fact, the playful tackle Tim laid on his mom was wholesomely ... funny? ↵

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↵More winners: Liked the Betty White cameo (Snickers), that insanely cool super-slo-mo shot of Reggie Bush (NFL house ad), the Green Police (Audi), and the wink-wink threesome of Letterman, Oprah ... and Leno (CBS house ad). ↵

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↵Losers: How many people will confuse Career Builder and Dockers — or at least forget their messages — because it featured back-to-back men in their underwear? Oh, and the Census totally wasted the "Guffman" players. Too clever by $2.5M. ↵

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↵Entertainment: The Who got a rough reception on Twitter. I agree with the folks who said they resembled an aging cover band. The fact is that in the post-"Wardrobe Malfunction" era, we will continue to get safe choices. ↵

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↵Hall of Famers: Were there two easier inductees than Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith? ↵

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↵CBB Mania: Georgetown makes it two straight weekends with impressive wins over Top 10 opponents. Last week it was Duke; this week it was Villanova. ... So, Michigan State really is a different team without Kalin Lucas. ... Wow: UNC's fall-off from last season is stunning. They just reached 10 losses and making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team seems virtually impossible right now. ↵

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↵Tonight: Back-to-back Top 10 battles, with Nova at WVU, then Kansas at Texas. Here’s Mike DeCourcy’s Week Ahead. ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: The Celtics do not have the talent or depth to beat the Magic in the playoffs. (As usual, I don't put much stock in individual wins or losses in the regular season, but I absolutely take them as harbingers for the spring.) ↵

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↵Weekend's Big NBA Winner: LeBron, who just had to rub it in against the Knicks a little bit. Enjoy it now, Cleveland fans. (Knowing how much Cavs fans hate that kind of talk, it's the only thing you Knicks fans can offer up. And it's not necessarily without its potency.) ↵

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↵NHL: I don't write about hockey much but the Caps' 14th straight win might have been its best yet — a hat-trick and game-winning OT assist from Ovie to complete a three-goal comeback win over the rival Penguins. ↵

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↵Danica's NASCAR debut: She earned rave reviews for her sixth-place finish. She has a big rookie season ahead. (And don't forget her multiple Super Bowl ad spots, which raises her profile even higher.) ↵

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↵Scandals: Florida State may have tried to bury its acceptance of wiping 12 football wins from the books on a Super Bowl Sunday, but it won't escape note here. Unfortunately, the teams they beat don't get credit for the victories. (If I was one of those teams involved in those 12 games, I would absolutely re-write my record books, adding a win.) ↵

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↵Recruiting: Lane Kiffin reaches new levels of absurdity by accepting the commitment of a 13-year-old QB, David Sills. (Hey, in five years, USC might actually be off of NCAA probation. Zing.) ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: As you begin to look around for rookie sleepers for your fantasy draft in a month, this is a pretty good starter list. (I'm a fan of rookie SPs with high K potential, myself. Then again, I'm a consistent 2nd-division fantasy GM.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints? Today? No one. Agreed: The Saints are the new "America's Team." ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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