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The Kickoff

January 24, 2007|By David Steele

There is a real tangible sense of relief emanating from a lot of people - outside of New England, that is - because someone other than the Patriots is in the Super Bowl. Everybody knows the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick-Scott Pioli stories by heart from the previous five years. The Colts do bring something completely new, starting with their quarterback's big-game reputation.

Remember last week when Brian Billick said he faced a lot of nights waking up at 2 and 3 in the morning replaying the mistakes from the Ravens' playoff loss? What do you think Belichick will be doing? He already looks like he doesn't sleep. What will jolt him out of his slumber most - Reche Caldwell's drop with no one within 10 yards of him? The too-many-men-in-the-huddle penalty? Not coming up with Reggie Wayne's bobble after the catch? Letting Dallas Clark get that wide open? Getting beaten not by Marvin Harrison, but Bryan Fletcher? Just for starters.

The sight of Tony Dungy being completely hemmed in by family, friends and well-wishers of every color after Sunday's game, with several onlookers near tears, was powerful. There was a lot of "I never thought I'd live to see the day ..." talk going around.

Peyton Manning was so good in the final 2 1/2 quarters on Sunday, there's no way you can't ask yourself why it took him this long to play this way in a playoff game. I wonder if even he could answer that. He chewed up the Patriots the way he usually chews up the likes of Detroit on that Thanksgiving Day a few years ago or some other regular-season bottom feeder.

david.steele@baltsun.com

For more of David Steele's blog, go to baltimoresun.com/steeleblog

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