Monday, February 4, 2008

The New York Football Giants


I doubt that I have anything original or insightful to say about this that you won't find anywhere else. But I can't not write about the greatest sporting event in my life, so here goes:

1. Dwight Clark had "The Catch". Franco Harris had "The Immaculate Reception". Gerard Phelan caught the "Hail Flutie". I hope to God somebody comes up with a nickname for that miraculous David Tyree catch on the winning drive. It was really two plays in one - Eli escaping from a near sack, and then Tyree making the spectacular falling-down-press-against-helmet-one-inch-off-the-ground grab. Any suggestions?

2. Are we allowed to say Tom Brady choked? I realize he is one of sport's untouchables, that he is, in fact, allowed to go on vacation with his girlfriend after stinking it up in the AFC Championship game and get no criticism. But in the biggest game of his life, he saw pressure, and played poorly. That's a choke, isn't it? This is a year after the Patriots blew a 21-3 lead at halftime of the AFC Championship game.

3. Back to was against Rodney Harrison, one of the game's dirtiest players. Bonus.

4. Why is there any debate about the Patriots' place in history? It's very simple: they join teams like UNLV 90 and Seattle Mariners 01 and the Colts and Orioles in 69 that had wonderful regular seasons and lost when it mattered. They are not allowed in the "greatest teams in history" conversation. That is for champions only.

5. Did I pick a great time to start a blog or what? If I can brag just a little bit:

  • On December 16th, I wrote a column defending Eli. If I may immodestly quote myself:

Do Giants fans remember that game-tying playoff drive last year? 2nd & 30, down 7 points, in the 4th quarter, in a playoff game, at Philadelphia of all places – and Eli completed consecutive passes of 18, 14 and 11 yards to Plaxico Burress, the last one in the end zone. How can you watch that and not think this kid has what it takes?That was not his first, or last, 4th quarter
comeback. His first win, against the Cowboys, in 04. The Cowboys again in 05 (blown by the D). The Broncos in 05. The Bears in 07.

  • On December 26 I wrote a piece called "The Fate of the Pats", that talked about how how-flying offensive teams tend to fall in January. Key line..."And yet...I think they're going down in January."

  • I refused to outright pick the Giants to win, but outlined the reasons they could here.

6. This is the best thing that could happen to The Sports Guy's writing. The source of his greatness - besides the fact that he's a deceptively talented writer - is that he's a fan. Most sportswriters seem, after a while, to hate sports. Too much time spent in locker rooms with guys that are bigger, stronger, richer, and more beloved than they are...and are often jerks. So they turn on these guys, and the whole stench of professional sports. But The Sports Guy has kept his fan's perspective.

But being a Boston guy, he has had an unnatural amount of winning the past few years. And his writing suffered. Read - or try to read - this interminably boring piece predicting the Patriots will crush the Giants. No way he writes something this turgid about a team he cares about that is playing poorly.

This one should put his writing back in order. Welcome back, Bill.

7. I went to 4 Giants game this year, including the debacle against the Vikings. Everybody talks about how at 0-2, down 17-3 at halftime to the Redskins, you wouldn't have picked the Giants to do this. But more importantly, go to that Vikings game. Giants lost 42-17. At home. In late November. To the Vikings.

8. I just went to the Wikpedia entry on David Tyree. It already includes a description of his catch. What if we call it the "Hell-Mitt Catch"? Nah. How about "Hat Trick"?
9. I just went in the fan forum on Big Blue Interactive and started a thread to nickname the catch...Hopefully by tomorrow morning there will be some good suggestions.
Update: some folks have already made some suggestions: The Great Escape...The Slip, Whip & Grip...The Play...and The Holy MutherF'ing Sh** Catch
10. If you were running the "Eli Manning Sucks Blog", would you continue to say he sucks? Well, you have to admire this guy's tenacity...

11. I know...I've rambled on for hundreds of words and haven't even mentioned the real reason they won - pressure on the QB. What can I tell you, it's late. Good night.

1 comment:

gombo said...

Let’s put aside for a moment that this year’s Patriot team had a potent offense. If you look at the Brady/Belichick team over the years, there is a long history of winning close games with a come-from-behind, knockout punch late in the fourth quarter. Going into Super Bowl 42, New England was one win away from a perfect season. Pats fans clearly intended to stake a claim as greatest team of all time. I only placed one demand on the Patriots going into the Super Bowl: win big. (Of course, this is not what I was rooting for.) No more last second field goals, no more late fumble recoveries, no more fourth quarter comebacks. If you want to be the best ever, you must dominate. You must be without peer. This was the angle I took when arguing with the fans from my Boston office. Prove that my Giants don’t even belong on the same field as New England. Blow us out. Win the game big, pulling away. They were confident that they would.

Concentrating on this theme of greatness, I wondered if Belichick is capable of a blowout victory in a big game. The last time they were on their way to a blowout victory in the postseason, the Colts came back from a huge halftime deficit to win by 4 in a shootout. Belichick/Brady seem to be at their best in close games, when they can count on their preparation and discipline to prevail in the end. If that is the Belichick/Brady M.O., wasn’t it just a matter of time that in a close game, just for once, New England wouldn’t force the big turnover in the closing seconds, or wouldn’t kick the winning field goal as time expires, or-most important-the opponent wouldn’t panic as the mighty patriots tried to deliver the knockout blow.

The day after the Super Bowl, I talked to my buddy in Boston. (He still thinks that New England is the greatest team of all time.) Here’s his analysis of the game: If Asante Samuel intercepts that Manning pass, the Pats are the champs.

Finally, the ball didn’t bounce Belichick’s way when he needed it most. The other team didn’t panic in the final minutes. Amen.

Pats fans will try to brush off the Giant’s Super Bowl win as a fluke. Don’t let them. The week 17 performance by Big Blue combined with the Super Bowl win proves that the Patriots had an equal competitor in the 2007 season. Even if New England had somehow pulled out a Super Bowl win, it would have been absurd to call them the greatest team ever. Greatness requires you to have no equal. Tiger Woods is great. The Patriots are really, really good.

Freetime is right about Bill Simons. He is at his best when he is suffering. And I love the fact that despite all his analysis, he can’t help being a homer. Here are a few of my favorite comments from his post-Super Bowl blog:

Only on the last drive did the Patriots look like the Patriots. I will never understand what took so long. Ever. I will never understand it. (Um, could it be that the Giants prevented them from following their game plan?)

The Giants played well enough to win, they were tougher, they were luckier and they wanted it just a little bit more. (Translation: The Patriots are a much better team.)

I don't think we'll ever see a 19-0 team. If this particular Patriots team couldn't pull it off, nobody's doing it. (Do you think maybe, just maybe a team needs a running game to fall back on if the situation calls for it).

And, my favorite:
[The Giants] …out of nowhere, rallied for a miracle drive to steal the championship. (out of nowhere? Steal? Welcome back, Bill!