Sometimes you just know.
Watching Super Bowl XLII last night, the ending seemed etched in stone early on. Whether it was Ahmad Bradhshaw’s second quarter “How the hell did he end up with the ball?” fumble recovery, or David Tyree’s “How the hell did he catch that?” last-minute reception, I just knew a Giants’ victory was in the stars. Every time the Patriots had a chance to seal the deal in the final two minutes, they blew it (Nice hands, Asante Samuel and Brandon Merriweather), while Eli Manning and his New York teammates just continued to pull rabbit after rabbit out of the hat.
How predictable was the ending? Mere moments before the Giants snapped the ball from New England’s 13 yard line, I matter-of-factly stated “Touchdown, Plaxico Burress.” Ten seconds later, a wide-open Burress cradled the winning score in his hands. It’s just too bad that sort of prognostication prowess escaped me when I was making my Super Bowl pick.
Make no mistake, the Giants deserved to win. Their defense was phenomenal, somehow shutting down New England’s history-making offense. Sure, Eli was a deserving MVP, but make no mistake: This game was won by the Giants’ swarming D. I mean, who on earth thought New York could score a pedestrian 17 points… and win?!? Not me, that’s for sure.
In the end, it’s ironic that the Patriots juggernaut would fall in almost the exact same fashion it began. Six years ago, New England beat the unbeatable thanks to a tremendous defensive effort and a coming-of-age performance from its young quarterback (and perhaps a little help from its camera crew?). Hard to believe now, but back then the Patriots were everyone’s favorite underdogs. Remember how they started the Super Bowl trend of eschewing individual introductions, instead opting to be introduced as a team? Everyone ate that up; especially since it seemed in such stark contrast to the cocky vibe given off by the St. Louis Rams. Now, the Patriots are just the latest Goliath to fall.
Who knows why these things happen the way they do. Maybe the football gods intervened and punished the Pats in the cruelest way possible; allowing them to creep within a whisker of immortality, only to snatch it from their grasp at the last possible moment. Or perhaps the John Royal Jinx truly is the most powerful force in the universe.
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All I know is that my NFL equilibrium has never felt more out of whack. Despite their recent slippage, the Patriots were a team for the ages featuring a Hall of Fame coach, QB, and wide receiver. Meanwhile, the Giants were just a mediocre club that got hot at the right time. Again, take nothing away from New York. But facts are facts: Through the season’s first 16 weeks, the Giants were just a slight notch above average… at best. Teams like that don’t take home the Lombardi Trophy, especially when they find themselves matched up against a club like New England. But they did.
And amazingly enough, I saw it coming a mile away almost as soon as the game began. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the ending wasn’t even in doubt. At that point, I knew young Eli was destined for Super Bowl lore the exact same way the entire state of Texas knew VY was going to deliver victory over the “Greatest Team Ever” in the final seconds of the 2006 Rose Bowl.
Sometimes you just know.
Then again, sometimes you don’t. And that’s why they play the games. – Jason Friedman