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Monday, February 04, 2008

Reflections on the Super Bowl

Here goes:

1. The Giants Were the Colorado Rockies Who Finished the Job. They played like champions, and their d-line should have been named MVP of the game, with no offense to Eli Manning, who played like a champion. The D-line threw Tom Brady off his rhythm and derailed the Patriots' offense as a result. The old adage held true: "offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships."

2. There's Hope for Your Team Next Year, Too. At the end of last season, Giants' fans were calling for the heads of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning, Tiki Barber retired after creating dissension in the locker room, and Jeremy Shockey was, well, being Jeremy Shockey. So, for example, if you're an Eagles' fan, you hope to look back a year from now and say, "A year ago we were wondering aloud how Andy Reid could have continued coaching with all the family distractions, and we were hoping they'd trade Donovan McNabb because he looked like he was through. We're glad both stayed." Bottom line: your team is never that far away from the title in the NFL, whereas in the NBA you could stagnate forever at 35 wins and 47 losses a season.

3. The Giants' Offense Line are Unsung Heroes. They owned the Patriots' defense, pretty much, and outslugged their opponents most of the year. The telling sign for the Giants was that they had time-consuming drives that kept the Pats' old LB corps on the field for a long time, and they controlled the line of scrimmage and protected their QB. This unit was awesome, plain and simple.

4. Sorry Troy, But One of Your Last Lines Was a Loser. Troy Aikman did a good job calling the game, but I wouldn't agree that Peyton Manning was happier for his brother this season than he was for himself after the Colts won the big game last year. After all, the pundits were merciless about his inability to win the big game up until that time, so I imagine that he was downright giddy last year. Not that he wasn't happy for his brother, but he had to have been happier for himself a year ago than he was yesterday for his brother.

5. Joe Buck Actually Wasn't Smug and Annoying. Buck did a good job, too, keeping his sometimes ascerbic and cocky thoughts to himself.

6. As Well as the Giants Played, They Only Beat the Patriots By Three. Yes, the Patriots did disappoint, but it wasn't exactly as though they lost badly. That shows how good a team the Patriots are -- they were outplayed and still almost won the ball game.

7. Tom Brady Did What He Had To Do. Yes, he was treated like a rag doll by the Giants' defense, but with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter he drove his team downfield like a champion and threw the TD pass to Randy Moss. He took an absolute beating yesterday, but he still had the presence of mind to engineer what looked like it could have been the game-winnign drive.

8. Were the Ads a Letdown, or What? I thought Will Ferrell's "Bud Light" Ad was hilarious, but for the most part I thought that the web-based business ads weren't innovative or amusing.

9. Philadelphia Eagles' Fans, Take Heart. That was your defense out there, albeit with better front-seven personnel, that helped beat the Patriots. After all, Steve Spagnuolo, the Giants' defensive coordinator, was the Eagles' LB coach under defensive coordinator Jim Johnson for years, and he coached a masterful game plan yesterday. Spagnuolo will get an interview for the Redskins' head coaching job, and it will be interesting to see if he gets the job. He's certainly a hot prospect right now for the job he did with the Giants.

10. Plaxico Burress is Changing His Name to Nostradamus. Remember when he said the Giants would win 23-17, and Tom Brady wondered aloud how the Giants would limit the Patriots to only 17 points. Well, as it turned out, Plaxico was a bit pessimistic about his team's defense, as they did their WR teammate a FG better.

11. Why Is It That There's Always a David Tyree to Help Your Team Win a Game? His TD catch was a good route, and his catch during the Giants' fourth-quarter drive was a work of art. Great catch by a role player, and that's the type of contribution you need from everyone to win a championship.

12. How Good Is Eli Manning? After all his trials and tribulations, he's good enough, thank you very much, to be called a championship quarterback. He made the plays, held his cool, and did an outstanding job during the stretch for the, yes, world championship New York Giants.

13. Will the Patriots Suffer the Problems that Super Bowl Losers of the Past 7 Years Have and Fail to Make the Playoffs Next Season? That's doubtful, although stranger things have happened. If Randy Moss signs elsewhere (doubtful), if the linebackers show their age again, if they don't add more depth to the running game, and if they suffer an inordinate number of injuries to key people, yes, they could go 7-9, but with Bill Belichick at the helm, that's unlikely. Look for the Pats to reverse a trend and make the playoffs and go deep into them next year.

14. Should Bill Belichick Have Let Stephen Gostkowski Try a Field Goal in the First Half Instead of Punting? I don't recall precisely when this happened, but of course the Monday-morning QBs are saying yes and so am I. I was surprised that he didn't go for the points.

15. How Important Was It for the Giants to Win the Coin Toss and March Downfield on the First Drive? Very. They set the tone for what they would do with that drive. I wasn't surprised that the Giants won, as I thought that if they could embark on time-consuming drives and pressure the QB, they could win. The Eagles showed the NFL in the last month of the season that the Patriots had weaknesses, and, ultimately, the Giants solved the puzzle and won the world championship.

16. Is Michael Strahan a Hall of Famer Now? Yes. I thought he was before, and it's been said that "winners write the history books." Now that he's won a Super Bowl, whatever doubts the voters might have had should evaporate. It was also great to see a class act like Jeff Feagles get his first Super Bowl ring at the age of 41.

17. How Whacked Were the Pro Bowl Selections? Eight Cowboys and only one Giant, you have to be kidding me? While it's a nice party in Hawaii, I'm sure that the Giants will have a lot of fun in their own ways now that the season is over.

18. Who Did I Root For? Ugh. I respect both teams very much, but as a native Philadelphian I've always had a rough time with Boston fans (because of the 76ers-Celtics rivalry) and New York fans (because as a broad, overarching, general rule, they treate anyone not from New York like they need to be de-loused). Because there are more Giants fans within my perimeter, I did root for the Patriots, although I really didn't care about the outcome that much (I'm not a fan of the '72 Dolphins, either, and didn't care whether that streak would be preserved, but a loyal reader is a Miami native who lives in Boston and his best friend is a Giants' fan. Must have been a tough day for him).

It was a great game, one of the best ever, and one of the biggest upsets ever. Congratulations to the Giants and their fans, and my the entire northeastern part of the U.S. get back to work and help the GNP after one week of celebration and/or mourning.

All typos are mine.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a different twist on the game from a father, talking about how his 11 yr old son handled the season and post season. I thought it could teach all of us something about being a fan

6:03 PM  
Blogger rhickok1109 said...

Something Buck and Aikman seemed to miss was that Spagnuola almost blew the game by suddenly becoming cautious and playing not to lose. On that touchdown drive by the Patriots in the fourth quarter, he didn't call a single blitz, nor did he use Tuck as an A gap rusher from a two-point stance. Brady was never bothered on that drive and was able to pick out his receivers at will. In my mind, Spagnuola would have been the goat if the Giants hadn't come back with their own TD drive.

12:06 PM  

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