You know the old saying that sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. Well that might have been the case with the New York Giants, as they defeated the New England Patriots, 21-17, in Super Bowl XLVI. Now I’m not saying that the Giants were not good, but even the biggest Big Blue fan has to admit that their beloved team was lucky as well.
If you saw my Facebook postings or heard me on the radio last week, you know that I was concerned about the Giants’ chances going into the big game. It was not because I did not think that the Giants were the better team, but I was just concerned that it seemed Big Blue was overconfident.
They were yapping it up as if they were their MetLife Stadium roommates, the New York Jets. You had one player telling the media that they rattled New England Quarterback Tom Brady, while another guaranteed a parade this week. Then to make matters worse, someone in the organization’s Promotions Department posted on the team’s official website that the Giants won the Super Bowl. The only problem was that it was posted on Saturday, February 4, 2012, 27 hours before the coin toss. I understand that on paper they were the better team, but I just felt that it was too much bravado coming out of Big Blue’s camp and that the situation with the web site was going to bring on some bad karma.
As the game got underway, the Giants took it right to Brady and company. They forced Brady into a safety on the Pats opening drive, and then later scored a touchdown on 11-yard catch by wide receiver Victor Cruz for a 9-0. lead. Then the momentum swung toward the Patriots sidelines. The Pats ended the second half scoring 10 unanswered points with a touchdown at the end of the second quarter. I was sitting there with my beer in my hand thinking to myself that the Giants dominated the first half and went into the locker room down by one.
Then New England came out and put together another brilliant, time-consuming drive to take a 14-9 lead. My worse fears were materializing right before my eyes. The Patriots defense was keeping Big Blue’s offense at bay and their offensive line was giving Brady time to pick Coughlin’s defense apart. But as dominant as the Patriots were in the second and third quarters, the Giants were still in striking distance because Coughlin and Company took advantage of some luck bounces of the ball.
The first break came two weeks before the game’s kickoff, when the Patriots All-World Tight End, Rob Gronkowski, suffered a high ankle sprain, which limited his mobility on Sunday. Without Gronkowski at full strength, the Giants were able to focus on Brady’s other weapons. Then the Patriots forced two fumbles and were not able to come up with any of them. The Giants went on to score after the first one and the second one was deep in Big Blue’s territory where the Patriots could have easily scored a touchdown or least came away with a field goal.
Brady was on fire in the middle two quarters, but was a little off in the fourth despite what his wife, Super Model Gisele Bundchen thought. Perhaps he was thrown off after getting sacked where he injured his non throwing shoulder in the third quarter. The Giants pass rush, which was dormant for most of the first three quarters, came alive in the final 17-20 minutes of the game and Brady spent the last quarter running for his life. Finally, there were all of the passes that New England receivers dropped, especially in the fourth quarter. Wes Welker and Brady have been the most prolific quarterback/wide receiver tandem in the League over the past five years. Brady’s poorly thrown ball forced Welker to turn 290 degrees in the air. Yes, Welker got both hands on the ball, but the degree of difficulty would have put that catch on par with Mario Manningham’s gem in the closing moments of the game. That is a play that Brady and Welker make in their sleep and for them not to capitalize on that situation restored my faith that the Giants were going to win that game. Aaron Hernandez and Deon Branch also had significant drops during that final drive. Finally, Gronkowski’s ankle came into play again on last play of the game.
If his ankle was full strength, there is a good chance he could have come up with that Hail Mary pass that ended the game. He could not push off of that bum foot and was just inches away from scooping that ball up after it was batted down to the ground. He had an excellent shot of grabbing that ball if his foot was even at 75%.
As great as the Giants were in this postseason, a little bit of luck played a part in them winning the Vince Lombardi trophy. I felt that Brady still had a little bit of magic left in his right arm and could have pulled out another miracle. Thank God for Big Blue fans that was not the case.