Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Perfect Ending
A few days ago in this space, I wrote that I did not care about the Super Bowl, or care about its outcome.

This was, of course, because I believed the Patriots would win, be perfect, and Boston would celebrate again.

That didn't happen. For one of the few times in my life, I found myself openly and passionately cheering for a team from New York. When Plexico Burress caught Eli Manning's pass in the left corner of the end zone in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, my family erupted as though it was Kellen Winslow Jr. who hauled it in.

"Cheaters never win," said my father.

When the regular season was winding down and the Patriots were on the verge of 16-0, I talked to a number of people. None of them liked New England. Its story had been hyped and hyped to the point to where watching sports shows was difficult, because of all the praise that was dished out.

Anyway, most of the people I talked to felt it would have been better (as in, more humiliating) for the Patriots to make it to the playoffs undefeated and lose there.

But losing in the Super Bowl? To a Wild Card team? And to Peyton Manning's underappreciated little brother? Who says the writers are on strike? And how long until Sen. Hillary Clinton wears a Giants hat?

Thankfully, these questions are more fun to answer than the questions that would have been asked had the result been different. I can just imagine Tony Kornheiser:

Producer: Toss up. More important to the survival of the Union: Abraham Lincoln or Tom Brady?

Tony: I don't want to take anything away from Lincoln, but ...

Some other thoughts:

- Nice to See Bill Belichick stay for 59:59 of the game, before sprinting off the field. Unless he got back onto the field and the cameras didn't show it, I'd consider that highly questionable behavior.

I know the game was all but over, but the reality is another play was yet to be counted. And where was the coach? From most accounts, gone.

At least Whitey Herzog had permission to leave his championship game early.

- I know Eli got the keys, but that car should have gone to David Tyree. He caught a TD and made one of the most remarkable catches you will ever see. Eli certainly did his part, avoiding rushers before making the desperation pass. But Tyree's catch changed the entire complexion of the final drive. He practically caught the ball with his own head.

- Michael Strahan sure can talk, but in what might have been his final game, he was there for his team. The entire defense of the Giants did what no one was able to do to the Patriots this year, and what few have been able to do to the Patriots in the last seven.

- Unlike their coach, who didn't want to say much of anything after the game, Randy Moss and Tom Brady were gracious in defeat.

Moss, in particular, was impressive, answering every question thoughtfully and handling himself well in what had to be a hard moment for him. Brady took the loss like a man, though one can imagine he and his teammates will play the game over in their heads every day for the rest of their lives.

- Again (and I'll probably get roasted for writing it again), the Giants played every game of the season like it was their last. It would be hard to argue that doing so gave them more confidence going into the playoffs. Maybe next year, we'll see more teams follow that example.

- Oh, and Tom Petty rocks.



At 6:28 AM , Anonymous Erik said...

Eli's Randall Cunningham impersonation and David Tyree's ball-helmet grab was definitely a defining moment, probably one of the top five plays in Super Bowl history because of when it happened. But the game was really decided when Corey Webster knocked away Tom Brady's desperation heave to Randy Moss on the final drive.

That pass had all the makings of Brady once again pulling a miracle out of his you-know-what. When I saw Moss streaking downfield stride-for-stride with the ball, I thought for sure it was going to go down in history as the greatest Super Bowl pass ever.

Luckily, Brady underthrew the ball ever so slightly. Moss still had a legit chance to grab the ball, setting up the chance for a game-tying field goal, but Webster did was so many Giant defenders did last night and came up with a huge play.

Eli should give part of his MVP bonus check to Webster. If he doesn't make that play, we're probably indeed talking about Patriot perfection today, and Brady-to-Moss supplanting Montana-to-Rice as the greatest hookup ever.


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