Monday, February 04, 2008
Now that is what I call a “Super Bowl!” Well done, NFL. We hate to bid thee farewell, but the calendar tells us the next game of any substance will be just after Labor Day. That is several thousand pitching changes from now. Sigh.
I must tell you that many things went through the old sports head last night, including the awkward realization that yes, I was pulling for that goofy Eli Manning for almost the entire game. I’ll tell you what turned me. That story that broke on Friday about further charges against the Patriots that they were cheaters. Hearing they were filming the Rams run through before the Super Bowl in New Orleans that they only won by a Field Goal has me wondering if cheaters do, in fact, prosper.
Then, another development surfaced, about the trademark registration of 19-0 prior to the AFC Championship game by the Patriots Organization. This was perhaps a smart business move, but you see, football cannot be treated as a business in this department. We must consider the announcement of books, parades, and trade marking 19-0 as angering the football gods. Do that at your own peril, as now the Patriots understand.
Through it all, the Patriots were beat. Fair and square. They had their chances, but the Giants stopped them at every turn. The Giants combined the best of their win against Dallas and the best of their win against Green Bay to beat New England. Against Dallas, the relentless pass rush of the Giants wore down the Cowboys offense as the game developed. Against Green Bay, Eli Manning kept drives going by converting on every 3rd down it seemed. Well, against Patriots, the pass rush did their part, and Eli did his.
Amazing. Eli Manning has a lifetime exemption now. He has won a Super Bowl in which he had to make the big plays. His escape and long completion to David Tyree, where Tyree stupendously pinned the ball against his helmet with one hand, will go down as the classic play that shall live forever with infinite replays on NFL Films. That play showed Manning’s ability to make something out of nothing. As I have said all along, I had no idea where this new-found ability is from, but this run of 4 consecutive weeks of top notch QB play is another great example of why I don’t gamble on sports.
Anyway, I have all sorts of emails about people who are explaining or arguing with me about why Cowboys fans were rooting for the Giants. After further review, I did not properly weigh the historic implications of the Patriots quest, and how human nature was going to pull most if not all of us who were unattached to the Giants underdog status. Once the game developed like it did, I think it was involuntary to find yourself wanting the little guy to win. Even if they were a division rival, and even if they were from New York. So, I guess rooting rules had to take a rare day off, given the 19-0 backdrop to this all.
Beyond those initial thoughts, here are my Super Bowl notes for Super Bowl XLII, the most memorable Super Bowl in many years:
• How many people were involved in the coin toss, 100? Do we need to filter that down just a tad? It seems like the coin flip used to involve 1 captain from each team and 1 ref. 3 guys. I would love to see photographs that have shown the crowd grow for Super Bowl coin flips.
• Why didn’t the Patriots feel more compelled to get Randy Moss the ball? Reverses, WR screens, something? It was like they didn’t care that they had one of the most unstoppable forces in the sport.
• One of the great stats of the night had to be the 1st Quarter possessions last night (2) compared to the possessions last year in the Bears-Colts game (10). The Giants, just like in the NFC Championship Game, win the toss, and then slowly and methodically drive down the field and leave the high-powered offense of the opposition on the sideline for almost all of the 1st Quarter. Tone was set. And it was never fully recovered back by New England.
• Without knowing or caring what anyone else thought of the commercials, I think I would have to go with the Pigeon Carriers commercial as my favorite. Also, good to see Tony Romo make an appearance.
• Something else we learned during this Super Bowl run from the Giants: They have a number of young guys that the Cowboys are going to have to deal with for many years. Steve Smith is a player. Justin Tuck may be able to provide a great pass rush when Michael Strahan is ready to say good bye – which he should right now. Corey Webster is finally showing some potential through these playoffs, and Bradshaw looks like a fine 7th round pick at running back. The Giants look better off with their future after a run like this. This is no longer Tiki, Shockey, and chaos. They now are Eli’s squad. Crazy!
• Tom Petty was awesome. Just awesome. I am so happy they are simply going with someone who is already great – not the flavor of the week – and letting them play some hits that everyone knows. To hear the whole stadium sing a long with “Free Falling” was magical. Prince, last year, was fabulous, too. In retrospect, we must all thank Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson for bringing the non-sense of the Kiss-FM halftime shows to an end.
• Why did the Patriots go for it on 4th and 13 when they had a 48 yard Field Goal available? Points were precious last night, and for Belichick to act like he could go get 7 anytime he wanted was another example of the Patriots being a little big for their football britches.
• When Belichick reviewed the 12 men on the field for the punt and got the first down on that very same drive, who thought the Giants were going to win? Not me.
• In the first half, the Giants had 17 snaps in New England territory, but only had 3 points. They really had to be kicking themselves. It just shows again, say what you want about the Giants, but I don’t count any of their wins in this postseason as undeserved. They fluked into nothing. They beat the Buccaneers, Cowboys, Packers, and Patriots straight up.
• Wes Welker may make it in this league, after all. He is a great story, who might have had a nice Super Bowl MVP had the Patriots pulled that out.
• 18-1 has never felt more hollow. I thought it demonstrated how tough it is to match the 1972 Dolphins accomplishment. Prepare for many more years of Mercury Morris rapping.
• Why wasn’t Jeremy Shockey on the sideline? Why was he up in a box nursing a beer? Seems like the sideline is a place for a teammate to be, even if he is on crutches? Just curious.
• Patriots without Gisele Bundchen in the crowd, 18-0. With her there, 0-1. I actually don’t know if that stat is right, but I am going with it.
• If I didn’t know that Tom Brady was perfect and performs miracles in his spare time, I would say that he was pretty poor last night for most of the game. He missed several open receivers, and picked up most of his yardage on dumps to Faulk and Welker. I have never seen him look so ordinary, which most likely demonstrates what a pass rush can do to even the best Quarterbacks.
• Do you think Ellis Hobbs bit on the Plaxico route for the game winning Touchdown? That looked as easy as it gets for the Giants with :35 left in the game. Eli and Plaxico appear to have developed chemistry that wasn’t apparent on December 1st.
• What did we learn about the Cowboys from all of this? I suppose it shows you that you just never know. It shows that no matter how you start, it is far more about being on a roll in the playoffs. We would also discuss health being key, but the Giants have been hurt during this run. There is no way to look at this and decipher a 2008 game plan. You just want to be playing solid football on both sides of the ball and hope for the best. 31 teams end their season in disappointment, and 1 team smiles and holds the trophy. Somehow, that 1 team turned out to be the New York Giants. I would have never believed it, if I didn’t just see it. Amazing.