Monday, February 11, 2008

A Giant Victory

With brother Peyton looking on, Eli Manning put together one of the greatest 4th quarter performances in Super Bowl history.
It was a regular David versus Goliath battle, one that saw the hometown Giants written off by nearly everyone, including myself.

It is said that Goliath was six feet, six inches tall. In 1000 B.C. though, this was truly giant. Credit irony for making Tom Brady six feet, five inches tall, a true Goliath against young Eli Manning, playing the role of David in this epic battle.

According to the traditional story, David killed Goliath twice, once with his sling, and again with his sword. Ironically again, Eli threw two touchdown passes, killing Brady and the New England Patriots twice in the 4th quarter.

Before this game began, Plaxico Burress made headlines when he was begged by the media to predict the score of the big game. He was very standoffish, but eventually muttered a “23-17” Giants win.

Following this prediction was the reaction of Tom Brady.

"We're only going to score 17 points?" Brady said with a chuckle. "OK. Is Plax playing defense? I wish he had said 45-42 and gave us a little credit for scoring more points."

Brady can’t be too much at fault at this point, his team was 18-0 and scoring points in bunches basically all season.
Initially, many analysts had considered this the fuel that would ignite the Patriots’ flame, as the Spygate scandal created an “Us versus the world” mentality for New England.

But it backfired, causing the Giants defense to own the trenches, and the game for 60 minutes.
Tom Brady was on his back more than a mechanic, getting knocked down somewhere near 20 times as the Giants’ front-four made his pro-bowl offensive line look like Swiss cheese.

After an opening drive which seemed to last forever, the Giants settled for a Lawrence Tynes 32-yard field goal which gave them a 3-0 lead. The drive was 16 plays over 63-yards and took nearly 10 minutes.

That drive was followed by a 12-play, 56-yard drive by New England, capped off with a Laurence Maroney 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.

It seemed like we were going to see some scoring, as promised by the two weeks of hype leading up to the Mecca of all sporting events. But this game would see no more scoring until the 4th quarter.

As 97.5 million people tuned in to see what would become one of the best Super Bowls ever, Eli Manning was about to emerge as one of the elite quarterbacks of our generation.

As FOX kept putting Peyton Manning’s reactions on the screen, Eli’s success continued. Pass after pass, play after play, everything seemed to be working for Eli and his Giants in the 4th quarter, all leading up to a 140 passer rating in the period.
Among many, the most clutch and unbelievable play came on one that saw Eli left for dead by his offensive lineman.
As he dropped back to throw, the pocket immediately collapsed around him, and he was being clawed at from behind by one or two Patriot defenders. Eli managed to get away, dropping back and eluding the pressure for a few more precious seconds.
Then, as if the combination of hot dogs and Buffalo wings weren’t enough to stop the hearts of Giant fans nationwide, Eli heaved up a 33-yard desperation pass to David Tyree, who essentially caught the ball against his head while under duress from Rodney Harrison. It was the play of all plays, not only for the yards gained, but for the message it sent out: The New York Giants were not going quietly.

Eli put his final touches on the game with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with :35 left, clinching his first Super Bowl victory, along with his very first MVP (As well as a brand-new hybrid Escalade).

Archie and Olivia Manning have produced two Super Bowl-winning, MVP-getting NFL quarterbacks. One can only wonder what Cooper Manning (The lowly other son) has to say during family dinners these days.

On the Patriots’ final drive of Super Bowl XLII, Tom Brady heaved two bombs to Randy Moss that traveled 70 and 65 yards in the air. So much for that probable right shoulder, seemed fine to me. The only injuries suffered in this game were a bruised ego, a broken heart, and probably a concussion, as Brady was thrown around like rag doll.

On that same drive, sandwiched between the two long passes to Moss, Brady dropped back, then stepped forward to throw, and got absolutely crushed by what seemed like an 18-wheeler. Turns out it was just Jay Alford, the rookie out of Penn State.
Brady chucked one final throw on fourth down that was knocked down by a Giants defensive back, essentially ending the game.

Although the clock ran to zero, there was still technically one or two seconds left. Before these seconds could be added back on, both sidelines already took the field and Belichick was halfway to midfield to greet the Giant’s head coach.
There were officials trying to tell Belichick that the game was not technically over, but he did not listen, as he shook Tom Coughlin’s hand and headed for the tunnel. He was obviously ashamed that his “perfect” Patriots were upset by an NFC Wild-Card team in the New York Giants.

Eli and the Giants offense took the field for one last play-to kneel the ball and finally end this roller-coaster ride.
Bill Belichick never actually saw this play, as he was probably already halfway down the tunnel as the Giants celebrated with an appropriate Gatorade bath for coach Coughlin.

Credit the New York Giants front office for this win, as they did an exceptional job at the 2007 Draft, with nearly all of their picks seeing tons of time en route to their Super Bowl Championship.

Aaron Ross, Steve Smith, Jay Alford, Zak DeOssie, Kevin Boss, Michael Johnson and the ridiculous, bottom-of-the-line compensatory pick: Ahmad Bradshaw all saw the field, many of them making a difference on the biggest of all stages.
With that said, the New York Giants have a bright future under coach Tom Coughlin.

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