It’s been almost a week since the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI and I’m still a bit shell-shocked (in a good way) at the result. Not because I thought New York couldn’t win despite being underdogs – a role they seem to relish - but rather how the game unfolded. In a testament to just how strange I found the Super Bowl, I wasn’t even surprised at the sight of Tom Coughlin hugging rapper Flava Flav (seriously, who let him onto the field?) afterwards. Here are my thoughts in no particular order:
- Let’s start with the fact that the two week build-up to the big game is overkill. I understand why the NFL does this but even I as a huge Giants fan was sick of having every angle dissected over and over. There were definitely inspirational stories such as Giants LB Mark Herzlich who beat cancer and the Patriots dedicating their season to owner Robert Kraft’s late wife Myra. However, the game is almost anti-climatic after every NFL analyst, former player and/or intern is asked for their prediction.
- The Giants have been recipients of some dubious officiating during their playoff run, most notably in the Packers game. I still can’t believe Bill Leavy (the same official who admitted blowing calls in the 2006 Super Bowl by the way) didn’t overturn the ruling on the field that Greg Jennings was down by contact when video evidence clearly showed he lost the ball before hitting the ground. So you could understand my surprise that the refs had the guts to call a safety on the Golden Boy, Tom Brady, on the Patriots’ first offensive possession no less. That, not necessarily the Wes Welker drop, influenced the end of the game.
- A related note is that I’m still shocked by how sloppily the Patriots started the game. Despite having one of the worst defenses in the league and less offensive weapons than normal, New England got to the Super Bowl by overachieving e.g. being well prepared. Not only was Brady at fault for that safety but the Patriots were called for 12 men on the field negating a critical fumble recovery. Karma, by the way, played a huge role in this game as the Giants managed to recover all their fumbles which almost never happens!
- The first half went by faster than any other game in recent memory which is astounding for the Super Bowl, a game that typically drags. Perhaps that was due to Tom Brady’s efficiency in bringing the Patriots down the field for a TD, completing a Super Bowl record 16 consecutive passes.
- The half time show, which despite being better than average, was still disappointing as Madonna simply lip-synced her way through her greatest hits. British rapper M.I.A. flipped America the bird which got some people riled up but really who cares! I was more taken by how uncomfortable she looked doing the dance moves.
- The second half went almost entirely the Patriots’ way until of course they were trying to ice the game. Despite being up at the time, 17-15, it felt like New England was the more nervous team. You could almost feel the air deflating from their team when Brady and Welker failed to connect for a critical first down. Who’s at fault? Most analysts seem to blame Welker and while he certainly should’ve made the catch, I’m sure Brady would also like to have thrown the ball better.
- This set up Manning’s late game heroics and the strangest TD in Super Bowl history. Bradshaw went into the End Zone like my 5 year old daughter would have, butt first and off balance. Belichick absolutely made the right call by letting the Giants score but the defense let Bradshaw off the hook for not going down sooner. Although for a running back accustomed to fighting for every yard, the parting of the Red Seas must’ve seemed like a dream come true at the time. It must be noted that Manning looked cool as ice – he takes over for Elway as the QB who I’d want at the end of a big game in a two minute drill. Plus, that Manningam play will go down in Super Bowl lore as one of the best throws ever.
- Here’s where the safety becomes critical as the Patriots now were forced to drive the length of the field for a TD rather than simply get to field goal range. By this point, that was asking too much of Brady because I think the Justin Tuck sack affected his shoulder more than was reported. Despite the hurt, he did manage to execute a perfect Hail Mary at the end of regulation which - thankfully- fell short of Gronkowski’s reach. Notice how I haven’t really spoken of The Gronk? That’s because his ankle made him a non-factor although he managed to move around just fine during the after party (just saying Patriots fans!)
- After the game, talk of Belichick and Brady’s diminished legacy almost overshadowed Manning’s clutch performance (again) which made him Super Bowl MVP. For the record, that tandem will still go down as one of the best of all time. In a “what have you done for me lately” world, they’re being judged for losing the last two Super Bowls. That doesn’t take away from the first three people! As for Manning, it should be a capital offense now to ask whether he’s an elite QB.
- Finally, my favorite post-Super Bowl story is Gisele’s foul mouthed tirade against the hecklers who dared say that Manning owns her husband (which he does by the way). I don’t have a problem with Gisele defending Brady but she probably shouldn’t have criticized his teammates. This will most certainly garner her Yoko One status in Boston which I’m not sad about as this is the same woman who said that childbirth was a relaxing experience!
Will the Giants repeat next season? Probably not as it’s incredibly difficult to do but boy did I enjoy the ride!!
Rob Tringali for ESPN.com