For the second straight season, a quarterback named Manning ended the New England Patriots’ season. Like Peyton and the Colts did in the AFC championship a year ago, younger brother Eli and the New York Giants stopped Tom Brady, Bill Belicheat, I mean, Belichick and company short of their Super Bowl championship goal.
The Patriots’ shot at 19-0 is gone, leaving them 18-1, just like the 1984 San Francisco 49ers and the ’85 Chicago Bears. The only difference is those teams won the Super Bowl.
Leading up to the game, I was torn over who I wanted to see win. I had reasons for both.
Reasons to want New England to win:
– No more 1972 Miami Dolphins champagne celebrations. The only team in NFL history to go unbeaten — they went 17-0 that season — legend has it members of that squad get together each year when the final unbeaten team goes down. I shouldn’t even know who Mercury Morris is. This was his chance to finally go away.
– Super Bowl, homeboy. I wanted to see my favorite athlete of all time, Randy Moss, get a Super Bowl ring. The former Vikings wide receiver was tremendous all season, despite having a relatively quiet postseason. His touchdown catch late in Sunday’s game put the Pats up 14-10 before Manning, David Tyree and Plaxico Burress struck.
– Tom Brady. Seeing the guy go 4-for-4 in Super Bowls would’ve been way better than 3-for-4 or one less-for-one more, depending on how his career pans out. Talk of being better than Joe Montana might dissipate now. Sunday’s game showed how important a pass rush can be against any QB.
– Junior Seau. The 18-year vet suffered through a blowout Super Bowl loss 13 years ago as a member of the San Diego Chargers. This was his shot, unless he comes back next season.
– New York being New York. Yeah they play in New Jersey, but the Giants are still a New York team. Does this win take away the sting of the Yankees tanking to the Red Sox in 2004? Probably not. Can we please stop hearing about how the spotlight shines brighter in New York than anywhere else? Having New York win instead of the unbeaten Patriots is like Satan beating Darth Vader. They’re both pretty evil dudes.
Reasons for the Giants to win:
– Eli Manning. Seeing brothers win Super Bowl titles back to back, along with each getting the MVP award, was pretty cool. This guy has taken a beating from everyone — fans, media, all NFL-types. I’m pleased to see this guy win even though he always looks like he’s halfway through a 12-pack of Mich Golden Light. Can you imagine what talk would be taking place right now if Peyton Manning hadn’t won his Super Bowl? Archie Manning must be one proud dad.
– Michael Strahan. The guy contemplated retirement before the season, and he was nearly bled dry from a divorce settlement that requires him to pay his ex like $15 million-plus. He wins his first Super Bowl in the second try of his 15-year career. He was part of a beastly front four that terrorized Brady all night.
– In your face, Tiki Barber. The former Giants running back retired after last season and took a job as a football analyst on NBC. He often caused a distraction by publicly criticizing his coach and quarterback. Barber was with the Giants during their Super Bowl loss against Baltimore in 2001. He was replaced this season by Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, who did a great job running the ball — like Barber — and an even better job keeping their mouths shut.
The best thing about the Super Bowl? No, not Tom Petty’s halftime show or the overrated commercials. For once it was the game that made for a great night.
Photo by Charlie Riedel / Associated Press