Moment of Truth for NFL’s Final Four
Seize the moment.
That's the common denominator of a make-or-break mind-set for participants in Sunday's conference title games, so close to a trip to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV that they can almost taste it.
"As you get older, you appreciate it more," says Brett Favre, hoping to become the first 40-year-old quarterback to start a Super Bowl as he leads the Minnesota Vikings into the NFC Championship Game. "Especially since you've been there, you know how difficult it is to get back. . . . Seize the moment."
The Indianapolis Colts can relate. Despite winning more regular-season games (128) than any other NFL team and claiming seven division titles since 1999, they have but one Super Bowl berth during that span.
"We've done some great things to continue to get to the playoffs," center Jeff Saturday said. "But I can think of three times we've run into a buzz saw . . . teams that were on a roll and ended up being Super Bowl champions."
Now the top-seeded Colts aim to snuff the flow of the No. 5 seed New York Jets, who upset the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers on the road to advance.
The mere mention of Jets-Colts in a high-stakes game sparks memories of Super Bowl III and the Joe Namath-led upset.
Does another upset beckon?
"In games like this, you can't be afraid to fail," Jets linebacker Bart Scott says. "We're trying to get over the hump and beat a great opponent. . . . People don't expect us to win because they haven't seen it before."
That never-seen tag applies to the New Orleans Saints, hosting their first conference title game and aiming for their first Super Bowl berth. They also carry the banner of a community rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina.
"Everyone knows how much is at stake," Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey says. "We need to do this for our fans (and) this city that desperately deserves a world championship. . . . We're treating this as a Super Bowl."
And perhaps a dress rehearsal for a bigger moment to seize.