Saints fans’ dream of a Black and Gold Super Bowl in their home town never materialized but it has been over 10 years since the city last hosted the big event (Feb. 3, 2002) and it’s a big deal.
Not to mention that Saints fans can still have a rooting interest judging by callers to my radio show “The Sports Hangover” and social media, the “Anybody but Atlanta” feeling seems to be the theme.
So over the next three weeks we’ll follow the path to the Big Easy and see which two teams will come to New Orleans to play on Sunday February 3 for a chance to make history.
DAY ONE NOT SO EXCITING
Okay Saturday’s games were duds as both games turned out to be one sided. In Houston, the Texans defense controlled the game and offensively they did as well, they just couldn’t get into the end zone. The Bengals were outgained 250 yards to just 53 in the first half. The later game in Green Bay had doom written on it from the start as news broke that Minnesota starting quarterback Christian Ponder would not play due to an elbow injury.
Houston entered the game having lost three of their final four games. NFL analysts pointed out that if the Texans were to return to the type of football that had them atop the AFC standings for most of the season, then a return to the run game would be needed.
Houston head coach Gary Kubiak listened as running back Arian Foster carried a season-high 32 times for 140 yards to go with a touchdown. The Texans had the ball for 38:49 in the game and statistically dominated the game over the Bengals who managed just 198 yards of total offense while the Texans put up 420 yards.
The Texans had 24 first downs to the Bengals 12. Cincy was 0-9 on third down and ran just 48 plays in the game. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was 14 of 30 for 127 yards to go with zero touchdowns and an interception. Dalton was just 4 of 10 for 3 yards in the first half.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub finished 29 of 38 for 262 yards and also had no touchdowns and an interception.
The Texans now move on to the second round as they travel to face the New England Patriots on Sunday. New England smacked Houston back in Week 14 with a thorough 42-14 win.
GREEN BAY 24
It may not have mattered as the Packers looked strong defensively and really you felt bad for Vikings quarterback Joe Webb. Webb was 11 of 30 for 180 yards to go with a touchdown and an interception while being sacked three times. The Vikings also turned the ball over three times. It was 24-2 before Webb connected with receiver Michael Jenkins for a 50-yard touchdown pass.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished 23 of 33 for 274 yards to go with a touchdown but it was his defense that did the job.
A week after giving up 199 yards rushing to Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson they limited him to just 99 yards on 22 carries and kept him out of the end zone.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak in Lambeau Field in the playoffs for the Packers and earns them a trip out to San Francisco to face the 49ers on Saturday. The two teams opened the season against one another with San Francisco winning 30-22.
A pair of games is on tap Sunday as Indianapolis (11-5) is at Baltimore (10-6) for the noon kickoff. That game will be followed by what many analysts are considering to be the sexiest matchup of the weekend, Seattle (11-5) at Washington (10-6).