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Tuesday 17th Oct 2017

I was talking to my bud Steve Chattler just before game time--a Sunday ritual during football season--just before the Broncos/Patriots kickoff, and noted to him that if the Championship games were baseball contests, the first game was like Juan Marichal versus Sandy Koufax, and the second Matt Harvey versus Jose Fernandez.

Now, I am talking Koufax and the Dominican Dandy as Hall of Fame bound veterans who know how to read a defense, call a game and guide their respective team to victory almost irrespective of how much time is on the clock, let alone how many points are on the board.

In a way, that is what we seemed to get for the first game, although Peyton Manning and his Broncos, with the offense like the 1961 Yankees, were pretty much all over it to start.

True, Tom Brady and the Patriot defense kept the game close through the first half, and gave promise to anyone who saw the amazing comeback Brady and mates managed Week 12, when the New Englanders had been shut out the first half, and then surged back for a 34-31 OT win.

But, the truth is Denver is just better than the rest of their counterparts in the AFC. As in their defense is strong enough, and Manning and his weapons are much more than anyone else can throw out there on the field, week-to-week.

So, in a game of signal calling artists--or, what my cousin Richard referred to as a battle of hairdressers, "handbag v. handbag"--the older wilier veteran came out on top with theoretically one more chance at capturing the elusive Lombardi Trophy.

The late game was such a completely different animal, with deadly defenses head hunting for the two gunslingers Collin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson to make plays by their wits in order to compete.

We got Kaepernick scrambling for 58 yards to foster a score, and then Wilson completing a terrific 51-yard pass to Doug Baldwin (who should be MVP of the game), along with a spectacular Kaepernick toss to Anquan Boldin for a TD, and to counter, maybe the harmonic convergence of all picture perfect plays as Wilson connected with Jermaine Kearse for a 36-yard score that was the decider. 

And in there, Marshawn Lynch managed a 40-yard gallop, just to remind us it could be done, but otherwise this game belonged to a pair of aggressive defenses and more important, to the powerful and versatile young quarterbacks Wilson and Kaepernick, who are the prototypes, along with Cam Newton, for the next generation.

I tweeted during the game that both gentlemen reminded me of Fran Tarkenton and Sam Cunningham, and was reminded that I was showing my age in doing so.

But, what I found fascinating--and different--about the game is that the pressure of the San Francisco and Seattle defenses forced us--and Wilson and Kaepernick--to show us what play makers they are in the Fran Tarkenton tradition.

Love it or not, disappointed or not, low scoring or not, it was a great contest to witness. 

Good luck to Peyton and Denver, but I think the young gun will outsling him.

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