Friday, February 8, 2008

Prediction? Superbad.

Ironically, the timing was perfect. Sitting on 18-0, the Patriots were about to be the first undefeated team in three decades, just the second in the Super Bowl era. I’m not a Pats fan, but I couldn’t help being excited. Not only would it be exciting to see history, but an undefeated team would make for the easiest column ever!

Sure, they still had to knock off the Giants, but as anyone who talked to me before the game knew, that seemed like a forgone conclusion. Sure, the Patriots weren’t running up the score on teams like they had at the beginning of the year anymore, but by beating New York, Baltimore and Indy in close games, they showed that they could win the close games, not just the blowouts.

As for the Giants, the Patriots seemed to match up well. The pass rush was New York’s strength, but the Pats had the strongest line in the league. Even if they could get to Brady, Laurence Maroney was coming off of 4 100-plus yard performances in 5 games, leading a rejuvenated New England ground game. Giants’ fans sighted the week seventeen matchup when the Giants stayed with the Pats for much of the game, eventually falling by three in the fourth quarter. This just solidified my perspective. I felt like the G-Men had played a perfect game (at home, no less) and still came up short. So as the teams took the field, I wasn’t only ready to see perfection, I was sure I would. I didn’t even think it would be close.

Then the game started, and it all went downhill. The Patriots came out flat, but managed to take a 7-3 lead into the half, but the Giants controlled the tempo, and were a couple of bounces from having a lead. Going into Tom Petty’s performance, the Pats didn’t look like the 18-0 team they had been all year (I wanted to make a free falling joke here, but’s Bill Simmons beat me to it). The Patriots were outplayed in the first half, but still I went into the second half waiting for them to take over. It had happened in every Patriots game this year, in the blowouts, obviously, but also in the close games. The third quarter passed, and I was still waiting. It wasn’t until there were about 5 minutes left in the game that it hit me. Maybe they don’t have it tonight, maybe the Giants can close this out without giving up a TD pass.

Naturally, I was dead wrong, and the Patriots came roaring back to take a 14-10 lead. It appeared that this one was going to end with the Pats taking control and finding a way to win. Just like they did against the Colts. And the Eagles. And the Ravens. And the Giants, but then Eli took over, escaping Vincent Wilfork, Adalius Thomas and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, avoiding the sack and war in Iran, throwing downfield to David Tyree who secured the ball and the economy against his helmet, making the catch and avoiding recession (admission: I still don’t understand the whole “sports as a metaphor for life” thing). The rest is history, the “one of the greatest upsets ever” kind, not the “19-0” kind.

So I guess that there was still a column in there (surprise), but there is a problem. The Giants are (arguably) the most popular team at Kent. They just won the super bowl, and in I just used the only space that talks about professional sports in this paper talking about the Patriots. Once again, I don’t get this team, I didn’t think that they should have beaten the Patriots (or the Packers or Cowboys for that matter), but because my arrangement for a token Giants fan to contribute fell through, here are my 5 thoughts on the 2008 Super Bowl Champions:

  1. Obviously the Giants pass rush was outstanding, and has received much well-deserved acclaim (no team came close to Brady as often as the G-Men knocked him down), but their secondary was also outstanding. Brady had decent numbers, but they didn’t allow any big plays, keeping New York in the game. Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnolu will certainly be an NFL head coach in the near future if he chooses to be (maybe even before this even prints with the Washington Redskins).
  2. You can’t talk about this Giants team without mentioning the transformation of Eli Manning, but it is difficult to find anything that hasn’t already been said and repeated. Suffice to say he should have gone the entire post-season without throwing an interception (the pick in the first half should have been caught by Steve Smith), amazing considering that most Giants fans probably wished they held on to Phillip Rivers as recently as a month ago. (note to USC admissions department: The pick was Manning's fault, the ball was uncatchable; repeat, not Smith's fault)
  3. Again, Manning was great, but David Tyree should have joined the Larry Brown All-Stars for obscure Super Bowl MVPs.
  4. In a game, Tiki Barber went from talented TV host who had enjoyed an excellent NFL career to punch-line. I, for one, am pleased with this development. Michael Strahan, on the other hand, has to be relieved to have come back to the Giants, rather than joining Tiki on the links.
  5. Congratulations to all the Giants fans, at Kent School and elsewhere. This championship should keep you satisfied during the offseason, when the only football comes in the form of the Pro Bowl, NFL Combine, Arena League, The NFL Draft, free Agency and the possible return of NFL Europe (wait, they call that an offseason!?).

No comments: