Anger and frustration from the loss will likely linger for a few days. That's OK. In fact, it's expected. You wouldn't be a fan if you weren't mad, angry, confused, frustrated, looking to assess blame, etc. It's human nature. It's fan nature.
The Colts out-gained the Saints by 100 yards. They out-rushed them 99 yards to 51; 5.2 a carry to 2.8. Peyton Manning was not sacked, and completed 68% of his passes. The longest play the Colts gave up on defense the entire game was a 21 yard catch by Lance Moore.
In the end, the game came down to two drives: The Saints driving for a TD after their successful onside kick, and the Saints scoring a TD after Matt Stover's missed 51 yard FG.
If the Colts defense stops the Saints on either of those drives, they likely win the ballgame. Drew Brees completed 86% of his passes, and most of them were dinks, dunks, and screens. However, when he got in the red zone on those two key drives, they scored TDs. That's why they won, and the Colts lost.
Again, I was at the game live, and I do not think this is the kind of thing were we, as fans, can point fingers at any one thing or person and say "HIM! He's why we lost." Getting mad at Jim Caldwell for asking Matt Stover to make a 51 yard FG is silly. Stover was making those kicks in warm-ups. He just missed it. It's nothing more complicated than that. And getting mad at Stover doesn't make sense either. Stover was great all year, and the team is not playing in the Super Bowl without him.
Here's the bottom line: The Colts came out hot, got a lead, and looked in great shape. However, a team (the Colts) that never gives up leads, did. They then got the lead back, taking a 17-16 advantage, but then proceeded to give it right back to the Saints. Brees in the fourth quarter was magnificent. This wasn't a game of mistakes or bad judgment. Even Manning's INT was a good throw. Tracy Porter just made a great play. It's really nothing more than that. I guess the frustration comes from the fact that the Colts did all the right things to win, but didn't. The Saints just made more plays. Their defense came through in the clutch. Ours didn't.
After the game, Dwight Freeney told reporters that his ankle was very painful. Gutty performance by D Free last night. Who knows how this game would have gone if he played healthy. But, that's football.
Again, I caution all of you to not fall into the traps laid by simplistic morons who have no genitals and likely have a stash of child porn somewhere on their hard-drives. Schmucks like these make stupid generalizations about things the don't understand. Manning did not "choke." He played brilliantly. Every reporter near me last night was saying that. Brees just played a bit better. Sean Payton gambled on several calls, and won them. The fourth down goal-line call in the second quarter was bad for them. The onside kick to start the second half was good. This game was all about the Saints feeding off the very pro-Saints crowd and using that energy to push them over the top. Reporters all around me covering Super Bowls for years stated they'd never seen a team have such a crowd advantage in a Super Bowl.
And, in the end, we didn't lose to a chump team with a bunch of schmucks running the show. We lost to a team that had been through a lot. There was also a lot of mutual respect between both clubs after the game. In the bowels of the stadium afterward, as Jeff Saturday was leaving to get on the team bus, Jonathan Vilma run up to him and told him something in his ear. Jeff turned to him and said he appreciated whatever Vilma told him. They hugged and parted ways.
For us, it's just a tough game to take, but the reality is our team had a tremendous season. No Bob Sanders. No Anthony Gonzalez. No Marlin Jackson. No Adam Vinatieri. A re-shuffled offensive line. Injuries to Freeney. New head coach. New defensive coordinator. And yet, they make it to the Super Bowl. They took a young team and squeezed the most of of it. Guys like Pierre Garçon and Austin Collie really developed into big play, big game receivers. Joseph Addai and Donald Brown have what it takes. And, of course, Peyton Manning is still God.
No need to hang our heads. No need to think this was a lost season. With the core group we have, the Colts will always have a chance. This will NOT be the last Super Bowl this group has seen. That, I promise you. Write that down. Carve it into your forehead. Chisel it in stone. We. Will. Be. Back.