The walk to school did help me wake up a bit (although I feel the bed beckoning) because the Super Bowl was good enough to stay up until 3am UK time for the end again. This is not always the case...
I first became interested in American Football in the mid-70s through the boardgames on it, especially the super rock-paper-scissors of Football Strategy. At that point, TV coverage in the UK was fifteen minutes a year, five of which was explaining the rules.
When Channel 4 started in the early 80s, one of its best bits was a weekly hour long highlights programme, and they showed the Washington Redskins - Miami Dolphins Super Bowl live. That spoiled UK viewers a bit: it was close until the end, and was decided in a play that used to feature on the opening credits of the highlights programme for years afterwards. Prior to the snap, Redskins' running back John Riggins goes in motion, the man on the Dolphins' defence who had done such a good job tracking him slips slightly and loses a yard, ball handed to Riggins who runs outside, the defence just misses the tackle because of that slip.. touchdown. Truly a game of inches.
Reality set in with games like the Chicago Bears - New England Patriots one in the year the Bears had an awesome defence and everyone knew what the result would be before the end of the first quarter: lots of Super Bowls are not good games.
But this has made three very good ones in a row.
It reminded me of the New York Giants - Buffalo Bills game which was the only good one in the 1990s, where the offence with the best passing game had to sit on the sidelines for ages while their opponents, and eventual winners, showed them how to run the both the ball and the clock down, winning thanks to their kicker.
After a first quarter that saw the Colts do a long drive for a touchdown for a 10-0 lead, it was looking like early bedtime and the BBC studio team were left encouraging people to stay with it. But the second quarter saw the Saints dominate in terms of possession, yet only get three points from a long field goal until the end of the half. When they went for the touchdown on fourth and goal... and failed thanks to the excellent defensive speed of the Colts, it again looked like the Colts would win. The Saints' long possession paid off, though, when they forced the Colts to punt from in their endzone, and the Saints got another long field goal in the last seconds. Colts 10-6.
The second half opened with a Saints onside kick that caught everyone by surprise - I was looking away for a second too. They got possession, scored the touchdown, and took the lead. Oooh. Colts regain the lead despite having almost no offence for the past hour, and then a third long Saints field goal. Colts 17-16. The fourth quarter saw the Saints go for two points after another touchdown to make their lead seven points... fail on the initial signals but then get it on replay. Saints 24-17.
So it was looking like it was going to be tied as the Colts went down the field late in the game, until an interception - arguably thanks to one of a very small number of mistakes in the game - was returned 74 yards for a touchdown. Saints 31-17, Colts needed two touchdowns and failed to get near that.
The MVP went to the Saints quarterback, but I would have given it to their kicker. Three long field goals is a record, and they made a huge difference in what the Colts had to try to do, thanks to the failure of their own kicker. Not eligible, but also worthy of it, was the Saints coach, who repeatedly went for it in terms of the play calls. Again, with the failure to get the touchdown at the end of the first half and without the onside kick giving the first possession in the second half, the Saints could easily have been 17-3 down, facing a margin no team has ever been able to overcome in a Super Bowl.