Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Bowl Recap

There is so much to say about the Giants' unfathomable upset and the Patriots' colossal collapse in Super Bowl XLII, which ended with a Giants victory in the final seconds, 17-14. My roommate summed it up best when the confetti rained down and said, "I knew the Giants had a chance to win this game...but the thought that they could actually win it never even entered my mind."

The MVP of the game was awarded to Eli Manning, further proving that even a morbid performance by the winning quarterback will result in the MVP award as long as no one else stands out. The more deserving players of the MVP would be the New York Giants defensive linemen. They played phenomenally and were the sole reason why the Patriots didn't win this game.

Although it may have seemed like it to Patriots fans, the team did not play poorly. Everyone on the team did enough for the Pats to win, except for the offensive linemen, who had by far their worst game of the season. Had those burly, bearded linemen even pulled off a sloppy, mediocre performance, Tom Brady would have had enough time to find open receivers and lead his team to victory. Unfortunately, they couldn't defend the Giants attack for any amount of consecutive plays, leaving Brady out of rhythm for the entirety of the game.

As to my prediction and analysis, I stick by everything that I said and I feel like I was right on many of the position advantages. Brady vastly outplayed Manning and ended up with better statistics even though he was tasting turf all night while Manning had plenty of protection. The running backs match-up was close, the Giants receivers were surprisingly good but not significantly better than the Patriots, and both defenses played well as a whole. This game completely hinged on the amount of pressure that the Giants put on Brady and the absolute failure of New England's offensive line to protect him, something I didn't even consider being a factor because of the way the line had played all season long.

I am still completely convinced that this Patriots team is the best of all-time. I'd pick them over the '85 Bears, the '72 Dolphins, the '84 49ers, the '92 Cowboys, the '78 Steelers, anyone. Problem is, all of those teams won Super Bowls while the Pats are stuck on 18-1. I firmly believe that if the Patriots had 1,000,000 opportunities to play this Giants team, they would literally win 999,999. The Giants pulled off the "one-in-a-million" chance that they had, and the result could not have been more shocking.

I will only offer congratulations to Amani Toomer and Michael Strahan, the two players I respect most on this Giants team. Toomer rode the Giants roller coaster through good years and bad years after his great seasons at Michigan and for that, I congratulate him. Michael Strahan has always been a great defensive end in the league even while playing on some poor Giants teams and has always offered his help to children for the NFL's foundations. He is truly a class act and I congratulate him as well.

One thing about this game that will forever aggravate me is the fact that Eli Manning now has a Super Bowl ring and will be considered "validated" in the NFL as an upper-echelon quarterback by analysts and experts. My problems with Eli started with his refusal to play for the then-(4-12)-Chargers, who drafted him #1 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. It shows the utmost disrespect for the game of football and I will forever think of him as a spoiled brat. Eli pleaded his hopes of playing in New York to the media and pouted on stage when called up by Paul Tagliabue to receive his Chargers hat and jersey. On the flipside, I have the utmost respect for his brother, Peyton, who was drafted #1 overall by a similarly bad team at the time (the Colts picked him #1 in 1998 after a 3-13 season) and toughed it out for a few years before becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the game today. It is one thing to want to play for a certain team because everyone being picked in the draft feels that way even if they don't say it. It is however, a completely different thing to publicly say that you will refuse to play for a specific team and express your desires for a trade before you even enter the league.

In closing, the loss last night was a completely depressing letdown to what was previously a phenomenal weekend. It pains me to think that even if Brady wins a couple more Super Bowls and goes down as the best quarterback in history, he was only a few minutes away from getting the perfect season that would have solidified his place at the highest level of football stardom.

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