Super Mario comes up with the clutch catch of the game. (Pat Semansky | The Associated Press)
New York Giants 21 New England Patriots 17
Euphoria and jubilation has spread to all fans of Big Blue. Those who left them dead and buried with horrible losses during the season and those who believed all along that Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning were the right men for the job can all share in this Super Bowl Championship. I remember in high school when my colleague and resident Boston fan told me when the Patriots won the Super Bowl was one of the greatest moments of his life and I didn’t believe him. In 2007 I found out it was true and last night I was reminded of how amazing sports can be.
Greatness was never guaranteed for this team. As a fan I gave up on them in the preseason when they failed to make any free agent signings even as the injuries piled up. Phil was a little more optimistic, but Super Bowl? Not a chance. Despite the doubts, when the Giants beat the 49ers to secure a spot in the big game, there were plenty of believers to be found. Coach Coughlin said a few weeks ago there wasn’t even a band wagon to jump on, but going into the Super Bowl there weren’t any seats left. It felt as though the G-Men were favored they got so much support from fans and the media. When the game began the Giants’ offense stalled on the first drive, giving up two sacks of Manning. Punter Steve Weatherford, who had a solid postseason, bailed out the offense by pinning Tom Brady and the Pats offense on their own six yard line.
The defense only needed one play to get the G-Men on the board for the first points of the game. The secondary locked down New England’s receivers, giving Justin Tuck time to work on their offensive line and break through to force an intentional grounding penalty resulting in a safety. With a baseball-like 2-0 lead, the Giants went on a clock-crunching scoring drive as Manning hooked up with Victor Cruz to put the patriots in a 9-0 hole in the first quarter. It looked as though the G-Men were in control, but the Patriots got a field goal and orchestrated a touchdown drive to take a one point lead into the half.
When Madonna came out and got the audience striking poses, the mood of Giants’ fans was defeated. Big Blue had dominated the half yet trailed and Brady was getting the ball back to start the third quarter. A quick note on the halftime show, it was awesome. Finally I think they really nailed it. After last year’s painful performance from the Black Eyed Peas, it looked like they went to lip synching, which made for better music quality. The pageantry was impressive, creative and very bright with lots of gold to excite and dazzle the eyes. We’ve had to sit through some horrible halftime shows to get to this one, but I’m glad it added to an already perfect game.
When the Patriots went out for the second half and took an eight point lead, things started to look grim. The Giants responded with a field goal from Lawrence Tynes and then the defense broke through for their first sack. The pass rush, which was thought to be a strength going into the game, was a relative non-factor as the Pats were predictably prepared for it. Brady had plenty of time to throw all night, but that one sack seemed to hurt his non-throwing shoulder and he was not the same guy in the fourth. Sometimes you don’t have to do things a lot if you do it right the first time. Brady also didn’t get any help from his receivers as Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez had huge drops and the hobbled Gronkowski couldn’t beat Chase Blackburn on a route as Blackburn came up with an interception.
For the game winning drive it was business as usual with Manning and company. The signature moment was a perfectly thrown ball and an amazing catch from Mario Manningham. He redeemed himself from an earlier route where he continued to struggle with his relationship with the sideline. It was a fitting style of victory with the Giants wearing their road whites and winning on a fourth quarter drive it was a familiar scene.
Throughout this run I’ve been asking: “How the hell did we get here?” It really doesn’t matter now because the New York Giants and their fans stand atop the sporting world today. Over the coming days I will be attempting to answer that question in a similar manner to the way I previewed this game. I will have to eat my words and give some credit to guys who I have been down on for most of the year. Some of it is fact based and easily identifiable, but with this team there is also the undefinable factors like luck, momentum and voodoo. We’ll take a look at all of that over the coming days. For now Giants fans, watch ESPN and enjoy the highlights all day as Pats fans will be avoiding sports and catching up on the best picture nominees. Enjoy The ArtistNew England, New York will be watching Super Bowl XLVI for a long time to come.
Manning and Coughlin punched their tickets to Canton.
How the hell did we get here? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment. Also did you notice Wes Welker shaved his playoff stache immediately after the game? I wouldn’t have trusted myself with a razor if I was in that emotional state.