I wanted the Giants to win the Super Bowl, and prevent the Patriots from going 19-0. That, more than anything else, motivated my pick of the Giants over the Patriots. But I did believe that the game would be close - I did think that the Giants were capable of keeping the Patriots from scoring a lot of points, and if they did that, that they would have a shot at winning Super Bowl XLII.
But when the Patriots scored with about 3 minutes left, and the Giants were facing fourth down, and later third and long, I thought it was all over. And it was hard to get too disappointed, because as much as I believed the Giants could win the game, I never really expected that they would.
As soon as the game got underway, the Giants' chances started looking up - they controlled the clock in the first quarter, keeping the Patriots' offense off the field. Advantage: Giants.
Then the Patriots held them to a field goal. Advantage: Patriots.
The Giants had a tremendous pash rush, and Tom Brady got knocked down more than in any game I ever saw him get hit. Advantage: Giants.
The Patriots were still able to get in the end zone. Advantage: Patriots.
In the back-and-forth fourth quarter, the Giants looked like they would win, then lose, then they started getting breaks (breaks which usually go the Patriots' way), and they were able to pull it out. I never expected that they would. Going back to August, I thought the Giants would be awful this year. I thought Tom Coughlin would be gone. I thought the players would hate that he was back. I thought the Jets would have a more successful season - by a lot. There are a lot of things I was thinking as the game ended - here are my thoughts:
-I don't think this is why they lost (or at least, the number one factor of why they lost - it was probably a factor), but the Patriots got out of character this week. They were cocky. They don't get cocky - it's part of what has made them so successful. They had a target on their back, which said 18-0. To go around like they were going around Arizona the past week or so made that target grow bigger and bigger, in my opinion. Two pieces of evidence to support my theory:
1) When another team makes a prediction, or says something, a la Plaxico Buress saying the Giants would win 23-17, the Patriots usually let it go, and say, our actions on Sunday will speak for us. But Tom Brady (Brady of all people!) responded to Burress' comments, saying something like, "He thinks we're only scoring 17 points!?" In reality, they got 14.
2) I've mentioned this before - but Bill Belichick was downright charming with the media the week leading up to the Super Bowl. I have no distinct memory of previous media days, or the weeks leading up to his previous Super Bowls, but I don't remember Belichick talking so much to the media ever. He was talking about his summer plans, how successful the season was, etc. Almost like he was trying to make sure his image for the 19-0 team was a positive image. After the Super Bowl, we saw the real Belichick - one word answers, ornery, uncomfortable to interview. I don't really blame him - but it's his job to talk to the media, win or lose. He doesn't handle that too well in general, let alone after a Super Bowl loss. And the week leading up to the Super Bowl was really out of character. And I think a lot of the Patriots were out of character leading up to the Super Bowl.
-Tom Brady, on the other hand, is a class act. He really is, as football players go. He stood there post-game, answered all questions, didn't cut interviews short like Belichick did, and he gave decent soundbites. I understand it must be hard to do that after a tough loss - as a fan, if someone tried to interview me after a tough loss, I'd kill them. But that's not my job. It's the job of Belichick and Brady, and Brady handles it very well.
-Eli Manning's throw to David Tyree, which Tyree made a circus grab of against his helmet, after Manning eluded the defense, which looked to have a sack, is exactly why "In the Grasp" should NEVER be called in the NFL. I hate it. I understand it's meant to protect the quarterbacks, so they don't get slammed to the ground....but let them play. One of the most amazing plays in history happened as a result.
-Did you notice in Peyton Manning's booth, on one of the later replays, the girl standing next to Manning, after Eli threw the go-ahead touchdown, when Manning is cheering, that the girl was dying to give Peyton a high five and Peyton wouldn't even look at her? That was pretty funn.
-Again, I never watch Super Bowl halftime shows, so maybe I'm missing out - but I thought Tom Petty sounded awesome. I couldn't believe that he sounded so album-quality during halftime of the Super Bowl.
-If I was a fan of either team, I might have had a heart attack. That fourth quarter was way too exciting. I don't mean to make light of it, though - I wouldn't be surprised if some people did feel light-headed in that game. I can't even imagine if that were the Jets how I would have handled it. I get way too emotional in those situations.
-I know this sounds unbiased coming from a Jets fan, but this was not the greatest Super Bowl upset of all time. That conversation has to begin and end with the New York Jets over the Baltimore Colts. If not for Super Bowl III, Super Bowl XLII might never happen. You need to understand the history of the AFL-NFL merger to know how big that win was by the Jets...and though the game was a snorefest, it was the most important snorefest in history.
-About the only drawback in my mind is the fact that now the 1972 Dolphins are vindicated. But I think I can deal with that, because I've dealt with it all my life. I think I still hate Miami more than New England...but the gap is narrowing.
Here's my final word on the Patriots' 2007 season. For about half the season, they were one of the greatest teams of all-time - probably the greatest. But towards the end of the year, they became just a very good football team, even an excellent football team. But a beatable football team - not really the invinceable 16-0 team their record showed them as. Teams were getting close to beating them. Unfortunately for them, they lost in the worst spot imagineable. At 8-0 or 9-0, they were dominant. In the second part of the season, they were just another good 7-0/8-0 team. And 7-0 teams sometimes lose in the playoffs. The Patriots have been ripe for the picking for the last couple of months. On Sunday, they got picked.