Sunday, February 3, 2008

Down Go the Pats!

I'm not the yelling type. Even in a sports bar where everyone is shouting, I bottle up my emotions and stay quiet. When Eli Manning hit Plaxico Burress in the end zone to give his team the team with less the 30 seconds left to go, I let out a whoop that startled the boys and made Minette and Andy cackle. I'm certainly not a Giants fan -- I root against them more often than not -- but I do hate the Patriots almost as much as I hated the Cowboys in the 90s. That loss by the Patriots was more pleasant than any loss since UNLV got beat by Duke back in 1992. The only drawback is that we have to keep hearing about the 1972 Miami Dolphins and their stupid champagne.

Here are my drunken observations from the game. Feel free to add your own:

* It was the without question the best Super Bowl ever played. Both teams played great. Brady led his team from behind with a little over 2 minutes left, and then Eli Manning (!) brought his team right back and drove the length of the field, throwing his second touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the defense that has shut every other quarterback down in the fourth quarter this year. There were only two turnovers, one by each team, and neither was particularly damaging. I'm tempted to say it was the greatest football game I've ever seen, but it's too soon to make such a claim. Still, I can't think of a better one at the moment.

* That first drive by the Giants was brilliant. Even though they got only 3 points, it wore down the Patriots' defense. And it set the tone for the game.

* There were several moments when the Patriots could have taken over the game, but the Giants' defense shut them down each time. After the Giants fell behind 7-3, they had to punt twice. Both times, they forced the Patriots to punt in turn, making the game a defensive battle. In the second half, the Giants could have melted when the extra man couldn't sprint off the field fast enough during a Patriots' punt, giving the ball back to the Patriots on the Giants' side of the field. But they sacked Brady and forced them to turn it over on downs.

* Why didn't the great Belichick try a 49-yard field goal on 4th and 12? If Gostkowski wasn't hurt, that goes down as a dumb decision.

* Tom Petty is old.

* The game was well-officiated. There was only one bad call that I saw -- a push-off by Amani Toomer on a long sideline reception -- but it didn't affect the outcome in any meaningful way (Manning threw his only interception shortly after).

* In the same way that the Colts' offensive line should have been the MVP in last year's Super Bowl, the Giants' defensive line should have been the MVP this year. They swarmed all over Brady, sacking him five times and making him look mortal.

* With two minutes left to go and my team down by four points, I'd rather have Eli than Peyton leading my team, even though Peyton is by far the better quarterback. Eli is cooler in the clutch. Or maybe I'm just deceived by his placid demeanor.

* If Asante Samuel had held on to that interception on the Giants' last drive, the sports world would be talking about how great Brady and Belichick are. Oh, and the 2007 New England Patriots would be the greatest sports team of all time. He had two hands on the ball, but he couldn't bring it down.

* The most amazing thing is that New England didn't play poorly. In fact, they played well. The Giants played just as well, and ended up with the ball at the end. I still can't get over it. At first, I thought that if these two teams played 10 times, the Giants would win maybe one of them. After the game, I got the feeling that the two teams are evenly matched. The Patriots would probably win 6 out of 10. The Giants peaked at the right time. The Patriots peaked in October. The October 2007 Patriots against the October 2005 Colts might be the greatest matchup of all time.

* I love watching that play by Eli Manning when he almost got sacked by two defensive players, spun away, and flung the ball downfield to a guy named David Tyree who made a circus catch with the evil Rodney Harrison hanging all over him. We'll see that play as often as we see Montana to Clark, Elway's jump and spin run, and Marcus Allen's cutback run.

* The Patriots are without question the greatest team not to win the championship. They remind me a lot of those 2003-06 Colts teams that couldn't get it done in the playoffs.