Hakeem Nicks, one of the Giants dynamic receivers.
When the season first began I was (and many other bloggers and members of the media) put off by the Giants off season moves-if you can’t call them moves. I think Reese’s conservatism had everyone off kilter but as it happens sometimes his choices proved successful. Now neither he or Tom Coughlin have to worry about being in the proverbial “hot seat” for at least the next few years.
Still, winning in the NFL always involves a bit of luck. Last night on twitter Mark Cuban said something to the effect of good teams get to the playoffs but the hot teams win. And I think there’s a lot of truth to that. The Giants ended this season with a brutal schedule, but they got hot (and healthy) at the right time.
The Patriots, on the other hand, had a fairly light schedule all season and were never really exposed for their inability (refusal?) to run or cover the pass. Or, even, to rush the passer consistently. I definitely didn’t go into the Super Bowl (or leave it!) thinking the best or most dynamic teams competed for the trophy. In fact, everything about the Super Bowl was a let down for me except the very brief and controversial (I guess?) appearance of M.I.A. during halftime and Belichick’s decision to let Ahmad Bradshaw score a TD to keep time on the clock.
But here’s the kicker: If the NFL comes down to what team is better on a particular day, you have to say the Giants met that mark time and time again this season. And that’s the kind of thing you have to reward. The cliches: rising to the challenge and capitalizing on mistakes.
I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about all the debate about who’s the greatest team/QB/QB/coach and whatnot. I’ve complained over and over again about the lack of nuanced thinking in sports. I’m also perpetually annoyed by the rush to compare or assign labels. Before Super Bowl, people were talking about whether winning would mean that Brady and Belichick are the best QB/Coach combo ever. REALLY? Then, of course, we have to compare Eli and Peyton. Then, of course, you have to compare Eli and Brady.
For those who really wanted to ratchet up the “stakes” they made this Super Bowl an arbitrary litmus test for Brady’s legacy as though he doesn’t already have 3. As though starting in 5 Super Bowls is something to scoff at win or lose. As though he’s retiring this year. And by the way, the same people who set that litmus test will next tell us that Super Bowls aren’t the only measure of a great player cause Dan Marino doesn’t have one.
Oh by the way…that “Patriots Dynasty” was over a long time ago. Talk about catching a late bus.
Anyway, I’ve written this before, but I’ll say it again: it doesn’t hurt to appreciate what different players are bringing to the table without seeking comparisons. I don’t know what it is about entertainment that causes people to immediately seek a frame of reference. I guess I understand the impulse but not when it interferes with judging people on their own merits.
Speaking of judging folks on their own merits, Manningham and Nicks were very impressive last night. The web will be buzzing about Manningham’s sideline reception for a while. What’s funny is that early in the game Manningham’s tendency to fade out cost the Giants some yards, but on Manning’s backside throw to Manningham I think it paid off to know the man’s tendencies especially with Cruz and Nicks covered on corner routes.
Now for the stuff you must read:
Richard Deitsch at Sports Illustrated grades NBC’s Super Bowl telecast. Overall, he thought they did a good job. I didn’t see any of the pregame so I can’t comment on that. But I do think that the broadcast of the game itself was very well done. Some hiccups with Al Michaels but still Michaels and Collinsworth are one of my favorite duos. I know many people don’t agree. Before the game we chatted on twitter a little bit about whether there is a need for such a long pregame anyway. Well, I’m of two minds on this. No, there isn’t a need. However, had two teams I was interested in been playing I probably would have watched it for the video profiles. One thing is for sure: I’m over the two week build up to the game. But we ain’t talking about that right now. [Super Bowl Media Grades. Sports Illustrated.]
If you’re over the story lines you can get to the nitty gritty of the game by reading Chris Brown’s breakdown of the two biggest plays of the game. The first play was the Welker drop that still has everyone (including Brady’s wife and Welker himself) having fits. I’m still seeing lots of debate about whether or not the drop belonged to Brady or Welker, this post might help with that conversation. [Draw it up: Super Bowl Edition. Grantland.]