Giant Expectations: SB XLVI Perspectives

Giant Expectations: SB XLVI Perspectives

“We should just have these two teams play every year,” remarked a bemused Chris Collinsworth as Super Bowl XLI, The Rematch, came down to the wire.

Like its earlier installment (Super Bowl XLII), Eli Manning threw led his team on a fourth quarter come back with time expiring to take the lead and eventually beat the mighty Tom Brady and his New England Patriots. This Super Bowl lacked the sex-appeal of the “perfect team” (see: “Halftime Show, Madonna” for more on lack of sex-appeal) but more than made up for it with gritty, old-school football and yet again, delivered one of the largest viewing publics ever a nail-biting finish.

This game was a contrast in execution versus expectation. Bill Belichick, the evil genius, bungled his clock management and left Tom Brady with 57 seconds and just one timeout after burning an awful challenge on the Manningham catch. Tom Coughlin, the coach who was updating his resume about two months ago, took an injury depleted team to the promised land.

Wes Welker, second in the league in yards receiving, first in first down receptions, and first in receptions, dropped the pass that would have likely sealed a New England victory (much to Gisele Bundchen’s chagrin). Mario Manningham, the man who Victor Cruz “Wally Pipped” into the third receiver role, made the difficult, graceful, toe-tapping catch down the sidelines to help secure a Giants victory.

The Giants vaunted pass-rush, the most dangerous pass-rush corps in the NFL registered only two sacks against a Patriots offensive line that was similar to the line that they victimized in Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots meanwhile, 14th in the NFL in sacks, netted three.

The Patriots also, as bad as their secondary was ranked, tallied the second highest interception total in the NFL. Kyle Arrington was tied for the NFL lead in interceptions and picked off Eli when these two teams met in Week 11. The Patriots intercepted nothing. They didn’t get a whiff of an Eli Manning pass. You know who did have an interception in the Super Bowl? Chase Blackburn. The middle linebacker who was picked up midseason the day before he was going to go substitute teach a class.

And then there’s the biggest story heading into the Super Bowl: Rob Gronkowski and “the ankle.” I told everyone not to believe a Patriots injury report. Gronkowski played the whole game but had no significant impact on the game. Due to the injury right? One wouldn’t be at fault for assuming that if not for the video that went viral later that night of Gronkowski dancing at a post-Super Bowl party like the frat boy he frequently portrays himself to be. Jake Ballard on the other hand, could be seen falling on his face trying to make a cut on the sidelines after he tore his ACL so that he could get back out there and play for his team. What’s even sadder, Tom Brady’s wife Giselle took the loss harder than Gronkowski did, snapping in an expletive laced rant that the Patriots receivers needed to hold on to Brady’s passes.

Ahmad Bradshaw scored while trying not to.

But once again, the fans got what they paid for. Despite all the expectations un-met and predictions unfulfilled, we ended up exactly where we expected to: last possession of the game last play of the game with the game in the balance.

Bradshaw’s score with about a minute left in the game and Belichick’s abuse of the clock left Brady only 57 seconds and one timeout to do his damage and true to form for one of the greatest to ever play the game, Brady delivered. He marched them down the field. He threw the perfect ball and it was only a Kenny Phillips finger that prevented the Patriots from winning that game.

With this win, Eli and Coughlin have been brought up on sports talk shows country-wide as Hall of Fame candidates, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been put under the microscope for their poor postseason play in the post-“spygate” era, and the Giants have proven once and for all that Super Bowl XLII, the      18-1 season, was no fluke.

This Super Bowl, like the last one between these two, was one for the ages and is yet another chapter (and budding rivalry) to be added into the annals of New York/Boston lore. Despite all the surprises, we got everything we expected.