A special "Super Bowl edition" of Scott Says following Sunday's NFC and AFC championsip games, with my prediction at the end (not saying I'll get it right, but I did pick both New England the N.Y. Giants to win Sunday -- see the blog post right below this one).
-- It was great to see both championship games stay worthy of that title, with each of them not decided until the final possession and one going into overtime.
-- Well, Cam Newton just won a trip to Hawaii and should now play in the Pro Bowl. As the first alternate at QB for the NFC Pro Bowl team, he will go in place of Eli Manning, who now has a Super Bowl to play and can't make the Jan.29th game. Newton was in danger of missing out had the 49ers won, for the other two quarterbacks picked before him (Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees) have both said in the past week they plan to play in the NFL's all-star game after losing earlier in the playoffs.
-- Had to feel for Billy Cundiff, the Baltimore kicker who missed the 32-yarder with 11 seconds left that would have forced overtime in New England's 23-20 win. Olindo Mare missed a similar field goal under almost the exact same circumstances against Minnesota this past season and the Panthers lost instead of going into OT. But although that was painful for Panther fans, the stakes were very low compared to this. The game was great, and I had no rooting interest, but I wish it had ended with someone doing something good instead of something bad.
-- Same thing regarding San Francisco punt returner Kyle Williams, who muffed one punt and then fumbled another, leading to 10 of the Giants' 20 points. Amazing the Giants never turned the ball over in that steady rain at Candlestick Park and with Eli Manning getting sacked a half-dozen times.
-- Random Panther connection: Serious Carolina fans may remember that in his 15th and final NFL season as a quarterback, current San Francisco 49er coach Jim Harbaugh was a backup to Chris Weinke for the Panthers’ 1-15 season of 2001 when George Seifert was the coach.
I talked to Harbaugh about that a year ago, days before the 49ers hired him away from Stanford.
“I didn't get in any games that year,” Harbaugh said of his season with Carolina. “I signed late, and they had eight games to go. I loved it – loved the coaches that were there and the organization. I especially loved throwing to Steve Smith. We were both on the scout team at that time. It didn't take me long to realize that he was really good. I just kept throwing the ball to him and we were making plays and having fun.”
Harbaugh, who never threw an official pass as a Panther, knew he was going to coach even then. In 2001, shortly after signing as a Panther, he said: “I think you play as long as you can, and then you coach, and then you die.”
-- OK, my Super Bowl prediction. This feels to me like a repeat of four years ago -- the Patriots will be favored (although not as heavily as they were when they entered that game 18-0) but the Giants traveled the tougher playoff road to get there. I like the Giants on Feb.5th in Indianapolis in a mild upset: New York 27, New England 23.