Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 2/6/12

I’m trying to think of the best way to describe that game, a lot of words that come from the Pats fan part of my brain pop right up like, ridiculous, shattering and highly depressing. But the neutral section offers up the best description & that is ‘measured’. Both teams came out with clear game plans that they felt gave them the best chance to win, but there was no drama to it. At the end of the day the Giants executed their plan better than the Patriots did and were crowned deserving champions.

Overall though the game sort of lacked the intensity and spectacle of past Super Bowls as both teams seemed to be playing not to lose. There were no major turnovers like the Nick Collins, Tracy Porter and James Harrison interception returns from the last few years, there were no ballsy decisions that went either way like the onside kick from Sean Payton and overall there was just a lack of drama. It was still entertaining though and I’m sure that when I’m over the loss in a couple of months I’ll be able to go back and watch the game again but still, it really can’t go down as an ‘all time classic’.

That’s not to say it was a boring game, it was tense, tight and exciting to watch but it just lacked that real intensity we have seen lately. Last year it was Dallas putting on “the biggest show ever in the biggest stadium ever”, prior to that we had the Cinderella stories of New Orleans and Arizona facing off against the old giants of Indianapolis and Pittsburgh and we all remember the drama in Super Bowl XLII. It was probably the least dramatic of Super Bowls since the Colts beat Chicago and that was because we all knew how the game was going to end. The best explanation I can think of for the lack of drama is it didn’t feel like we were getting the NFL’s two best teams squaring off for the championship. That’s not a knock on either team, they both showed why they deserved to be there but I think it was a by-product of there not being any elite teams this season (more on that in a later column).

Now after getting the negatives out of the way, it’s time to be fair and focus on the positives. Both teams failed to show a killer instinct that would have ended the game well before the fourth quarter and kept it very exciting. After going up 9-0, New York could have scored another touchdown and made the comeback even more difficult for the Patriots before halftime. After that the Patriots responded with 17 unanswered points after the first drive of the third quarter you got the feeling that if they managed one more touchdown at any point in time the game was going to be over because the Giants offense was moving the ball, just not scoring points. It turned out that the safety Brady took for the game’s first score played a massive difference in the end, if that series ends in a punt instead, the Giants are trailing 17-13 instead and when Bradshaw scores his touchdown they kick the extra point and it becomes 20-17 meaning the Patriots have the safety net of a field goal to send the game to overtime allowing them to call different plays instead of desperate heaves downfield.

The end of this game was great to watch as everyone moved to the edge of their seats waiting for the final act to play out. It came down to two receivers and the tough catches they were asked to make by their quarterback. Leading 17-15 Brady and the Patriots took the field with 9:24 to play knowing that one more score would make the difference. After driving down to the Giants 43 a 1 yard loss by BenJarvus Green-Ellis was followed up by the biggest drop of the season with 4 minutes to play. Brady floated a pass to Wes Welker who had split the cornerback and safety. The pass was high for Welker but it was in the range of what you expect him to catch. He put two hands on the ball and held it for a split second before dropping it. Welker catches that pass and the Patriots are in the red zone and seemingly assured of scoring a field goal at the very least as well as being able to take another couple of minutes off the clock if not going all the way for the put-away touchdown.

Brady’s next pass to Deion Branch fell incomplete and New England was forced to punt it away leaving Eli Manning with 3:46 to go down the field and get the go ahead score. As soon as the Patriots punted there were a dozen scenarios running through my head as to how New England would be able to get the ball back after Manning scored (pessimistic I know but after this season I couldn’t trust the defense). After all it was a good position for the Patriots as they had all three timeouts and the Giants had been moving the ball all game. On the first play of the drive Eli floated it up down the sideline and Mario Manningham made a catch that made his agent ecstatic (since he’s an unrestricted free agent this year). Unlike Welker Manningham held on to his catch and (just) got both feet down as he gained possession before falling over the sideline. Bill Belichick challenged the play (wouldn’t you if it was that close?) but it was held up. During the replay I saw the ball bobbling around after Manningham had fallen down and I was franticly trying to remember if there was some technicality in the rule about maintaining possession through the fall but there wasn’t anything like that and the refs made the correct call.

From there the Giants drove down to get the ball inside the Patriots 10 and then came one of the more bizarre moments of the game. I suggested letting the Giants score after about the 1:30 mark so Brady could get the ball with some time to work with since letting the Giants run it into the line and fall down would have meant relying on Billy Cundiff part two happening. Being so close and having a kicker with the resume Lawrence Tynes possesses sort of makes you think that Manning could have almost kneeled and run the clock down to 5 seconds and let the field goal win the game. Instead Bradshaw ran it up the middle, New England played their Pro Bowl defense (aka don’t even bother trying) and let Bradshaw through. Bradshaw then stopped at the 1 yard line and then fell into the end zone. He claims he couldn’t stop but from all appearances his momentum had stopped and allowed him to turn around so that to me screams crap.

With a failed 2 point conversion, the Giants now lead by 4 with 57 seconds remaining and the Patriots take over on their own 20 with one timeout left, Brady territory right? Well they needed to get in range to take some shots towards the end zone before anything else. Brady put the ball on the money for Deion Branch but a last second tip threw him enough and forced the dropped pass. Next play another drop, this time by Aaron Hernandez as Brady got the ball out under pressure before a third down sack effectively ended the game as New England burned their final timeout. The offense advanced to midfield which was in range for some desperate heaves downfield.

With 17 seconds left (even though there should have been 19), Brady scrambled before heaving the ball downfield incomplete. That whole play took 8 seconds and there was a defensive 12-men on the field penalty on top of it all, something the Giants happily took given the time run off the clock. On the final Hail Mary Brady sent it straight down the middle and Aaron Hernandez was jumping against 3 Giants to make the catch. Kenny Phillips barely got a hand on the ball and it was lucky for the Giants that was all. Had he gotten a decent swat it would have fallen to Rob Gronkowski who was sitting there lurking for the bat down (Wes Welker was 10 yards away but should have been in there too). Whether or not Gronk would have gotten there if he was healthy is a question no one will ever know the answer to and Patriots fans are left with several what-if’s for the offseason.

At the end of the day the game is in the books and nothing will change the result. As fans we should be very happy that it was decided by the players executing on the field and not a bad refereeing call, a coach’s mistake or an NFL rule that no one understands. Congratulations should be given to both teams for making it this far and it’s time to enjoy the fact that Eli Manning has definitely grown up. One ring can be called a fluke, definitely not two. It may not have reached the dramatic heights of the last Super Bowl but it had a great finish even if it didn’t have the result I would have liked.


MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Best athlete by state all time
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Russell Westbrook leads NBA in scoring, averages a triple-double… and will not start in All-Star Game

John Tortorella challenges LeBron: “Not a chance” he could play hockey

Orioles, Mark Trumbo close to agreeing on 3-year deal

Report: Khris Middleton could return before All-Star break

Over a dozen Steelers players dealing with the flu

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mike Mularkey: Marcus Mariota ‘should be ready’ for 2017 season

WATCH: Angry fan interrupts Chargers Los Angeles presser

Serena Williams forced a reporter to apologize for saying she played poorly

Pablo Sandoval has 'reshaped himself' this offseason, John Farrell says

Report: Seahawks could lose second-rounder for not disclosing Sherman injury

Kemba Walker on if he should be an All-Star: ‘Not really,'

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

Box Score 1/19: Happy anniversary to the 'Tuck Rule' game

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Melo out: How the Knicks can move on from their superstar

Was Jack Capuano the right person to blame for Isles' woes?

Ten NBA players who need a change of scenery

The 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot, Part 1

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

QUIZ: Name the owners of these 50 famous NFL nicknames

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

QUIZ: Name every NCAA men's and women's basketball team with perfect regular seasons

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Melo out: How the Knicks can move on from their superstar

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker