The Colts are back in Indianapolis, arriving in several dozen sandwich bags marked Some Assembly Required. The Packers have fled eastward toward Wisconsin, cursing whatever benighted soul decided football games should last 60 minutes and not, say, 57.
Now it's just the Seahawks vs. the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, aka So What Else is On?, aka You Bring The Beer And Queso, I'll Cue Up Netflix. Because outside of the Pacific Northwest and New England, is there anyone in America who cares for either of these teams?
On one sideline you've got Pete Carroll, aka Surfer Dude, a brilliant coach with some dodgy ethics in his past (paging Reggie Bush ... paging Reggie Bush). And on the other, you've got Bill Belichick, aka Darth Hoodie, a brilliant coach with some dodgy ethics in his present.
I don't know whether it's true or not that the Patriots deflated the footballs in the AFC championship game, and it's immaterial, anyway. LaGarrette Blount deflating the Colts' defensive down seven had a lot more to do with what happened than deflating the footballs.
But I wouldn't allow Darth Hoodie within a nautical of the game balls two weeks from now. After Spygate and Deflategate, we all know how he is. And what he is.
Sunday night, he was a football coach with a stranglehold on a football opponent unique in its totality. He owns the Colts, and there's no soft-shoeing that. He owns them mentally and physically and in ways undreamt of in your philosophy. And he does so to such a degree that he can get away with going for it on fourth down when he's up 38-7, because like any bully he knew in his heart the Colts weren't going to stop him.
Except for one half of one meaningful game, he owned Peyton Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to buckle a chinstrap. Now he owns the Next Peyton, Andrew Luck. Thus has it ever been so.
Meanwhile, out in Seattle, the debate continues: Who, exactly, was playing quarterback for the Seahawks for 57 minutes?
A) Russell Wilson
B) Rita Wilson
C) Wilson Pickett
The correct answer is "D," Wilson the Volleyball, who, despite lacking certain key anatomical features (arms, legs, a sentient brain), could have played as well as his namesake did for most of the afternoon. How bad was it? It was so bad, that, at one point, the Seahawks punter was having a better day throwing the football. It doesn't get worse than that.
Yet Wilson, Carroll and the Seahawks had one thing going for them: The Green Bay Packers.
Who spent most of the second half playing not to lose after piling up a 16-0 halftime lead.
Who, with the Seahawks backed up third-and-19 on what would be their initial scoring drive, unaccountably sent in only two pass rushers, allowing Wilson to stand unblemished in the pocket until a receiver came open far enough downfield to move the chains.
Who chose to take a knee at midfield after intercepting Wilson for the fourth time, instead of trying to return it closer to field goal range.
And who were still up 19-14 when Brandon Bostick muffed an onside kick everyone in America knew full well was coming.
Marshawn Lynch immediately ripped off a touchdown run to give the Seahawks their first lead. And even though the Packers rallied for a field goal to send it into overtime, there was an overwhelming sense they were finished. And they were.
And now, it's Patriots vs. Seahawks. Welcome, most of America, to the Super Bowl From Hell.
Chowdah vs. Starbucks. Surfer Dude vs. Darth Hoodie. Tom Brady vs. Wilson the Volleyball.
Who might want to steer clear of Belichick, all things considered.
Word has it he's pretty hard on sports equipment these days.