The New York Giants did not win Superbowl XLII, the New England Patriots lost it. Dating as far back to the NFL preseason camps, the Patriots were this year’s favorite to win it all. They had one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league in Tom Brady, a young and talented running-back in Laurence Maroney, a few brilliant off-season additions to their receiving core in Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and not to mention one of the greatest NFL minds of all time in coach Bill Belichick.
After winning their first eight games, reporters started throwing around the idea of a perfect season. Of course it’s not something you want to bring up in the middle of the year, but after finishing the regular season at a perfect (16-0) it was also something hard to avoid or ignore going into the playoffs. The fairytale season needed a happily-ever-after ending, too bad the Giants didn’t get that memo.
In case you missed it, the final score to this years Superbowl championship game was kind of a shocker, Giants 17 – Patriots 14.
So what happened to the so called dynasty? Did the Pats choke? Are the Giants really that good? Who should New Englanders blame? Is it the Red Sox season yet?
All are legitimate questions running through Patriot fans heads after a devastating loss to the Giants in what could have been the most historic football game in the history of the NFL. Key words in that statement, could have. Since the Giants won, the game only goes down as a huge upset, but the history part of a perfect season many were hoping to see will have to wait for another year.
If you’re a Patriots fan, recent front page newspaper headlines have hurt to read. “Giant Upset”, “Dynasty Killers”, and “Free Fallin’” were just a few story titles that will leave a bitter taste in your mouth until pre-season camp begins in August. Another reason why it will sting is the talk radio personalities around the Boston area will not stop pointing fingers until the camps either. Remember back to the 2003 ALCS when Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in game 7. I know, sorry for bringing that up, but the Boston media didn’t quit until Little was fired. Now, Bill Belichick will not be fired, but who wants to hear about all the mistakes he made in Superbowl XLII for the next 6 months. Put your hands down Giants fans.
The numbers don’t lie, this years Superbowl was not a well played offensive game. With the Vegas over/under line at 53.5 points, the offensive output was a disappointment and the games flow did not live up to the shootout everyone was expecting. Credit needs to be given to the Giants defensive line who continued to pressure Brady in the pocket, causing him to hurry some patterns and even miss a few receivers, which almost never happens.
Let’s put it this way, there were more bad commercials in the first half of the game then there were points scored. Not good, not good at all.
The Patriots simply did not play the type of football that they had played all year. They were passive on first and second down play calls and at times overly aggressive on third down. A fourth down play call may have been the difference in costing the Pats a chance at an overtime when they decided to go for a fourth and 13 on the Giants 31 yard line instead of attempting a 48 yard field-goal. That’s not a ‘gimmie’ but the percentage of making a FG like that in a dome is much higher than completing a 13-yard first down pass, over the middle into double coverage by a good secondary defense. Who knows, maybe it was Grady Little who told Bill to go for it.
Another thing that the Patriots were always good about in close games, but forgot to do in the Superbowl was manage the clock. For eighteen games they always were so aware of how much time was left, and what they needed to do, or prevent their opponents from doing in that time. Last night looked like they forgot to set their watches back with the time zone change and were completely lost late in the fourth quarter.
In their last scoring drive, Brady completed a TD pass to Moss with 2:42 left on the clock. The ball was at the 6-yard line when the score was made. Think about it. It’s first and goal, on the 6, 2:42 left in the game. RUN THE BALL! If you don’t score, RUN IT AGAIN. EAT THE CLOCK! Why give the Giants a chance to get the ball back with more then 2 minutes left so they get the 2-minute warning as another opportunity to stop the clock, plus all their timeouts. If the Pats run the ball three times in that series, what’s the worst thing that could have happened? They don’t score the TD, and are forced to kick a 21-yard game tying field goal, which would then force the Giants for put points on the board with less then 1:30 on the clock. If Eli Manning could muster up a 70-yard drive in 90 seconds, fine, great win Giants, you earned it… but even big brother Peyton would have had a tough time doing that against this Patriots defense. The guys upstairs were not thinking with these play calls, and it cost the organization their 4th title in 6 years.
When all is said and done with, you do have to tip your cap to the New York Football Giants. They stood up to the Patriots and didn’t allow the media hype to get to them. They played 60 hard-nosed minutes of football, and when the clock ran out, they had more points on the board. So what if the Patriots won 18 games this year, they lost the one that counted the most. It’s not about how you start a season, but how you finish it.
Sometimes the better team doesn’t always win, but everything will be okay around New England. The Celtics are playing great basketball, the Sox start spring training in two weeks and besides, there’s a saying around these parts that Patriot fans can adopt for the time being… there’s always next year.