Super Bowl XLIV is now in the books, and the New Orleans Saints upset the heavily favored Indianapolis Colts. It has been seven years since the Raiders have appeared in the big game and 26 years since they have won it. However, there is much that the Raiders can learn from the game this afternoon.
Quarterback play is key
Peyton Manning against Drew Brees was a well hyped aspect of the game. It wasn’t just the usual hot air of hype, two great leaders brought their teams to the pinnacle of success, which is the Super Bowl. It was a key mistake by Manning when he threw a late interception that cost the Colts the game. However, the play of Brees could not be overstated. He lifted his offense on his back and was able to make the plays when they need to be made.
The last time the Raiders had a winning season, they had a quarterback who had those qualities of leadership in Rich Gannon. Once he went down, the franchise fell into the abyss. JaMarcus Russell has not even flashed any of these qualities.
Consistency in coaching
Sean Payton’s aggressive coaching style won the game for the Saints. He didn’t convert on the fourth and short late in the first half, but it sent a message to his team that we are going to play to win instead of not to lose. The call for the on-sides kick to open the second half was a dagger into the hearts of the Colts.
Sean Payton was interviewed by Al Davis for the head coaching job. However, he either declined the job or was never offered it depending on which side is telling the story, but with the uncertainty surrounding any head coach in Oakland saps that aggression right out of them. A coach who is looking over his shoulder is not going to be as willing to take the necessary risks to win.
There was only one sack given up by either team. Both offenses managed to move the ball up and down the field. This was because both got very strong play out of their offensive lines. There were very few times that Manning was under pressure, nor did Brees have to spend much time on the run. The Saints gave up the only sack, but after that one miscue they were able to keep Brees upright.
The two quarterbacks combined for 63 completions. This would not have happened if the offensive lines had not held up. The Raiders offensive line has been a concern since 2002, when they kept Gannon upright well enough to win the MVP award.