Some people around here are disappointed with what happened on Sunday, the Ravens beating the Patriots with that Lee Evans touchdown catch … oh, oops, no … and the 49ers taking down the Giants … if it weren’t for a guy fielding punts who didn’t touch it and then did and had it and then didn’t, and now a Super Bowl is born out of stark fortune and misfortune, a lot of misfortune.
Still, it’s a Super Bowl filled with all kinds of promise.
Super Bowl XLVIAt Indianapolis
New England Patriots vs. New York Giants
Sunday, Feb. 5, 4:20 p.m.
TV » Ch. 5
New England versus New York.
New thrills are on the way.
What … you don’t like it?
You wanted a team from the West in there somewhere, a team with a local college connection, or a team — the team we all thought was the best in football — from Wisconsin?
You wanted two dominant teams that rolled through the playoffs and crushed their opponents in the conference championship games?
I’ll take this, because none of us has a clue what’s going to happen next. The Patriots are favored by three, but Lady Luck is just as likely to cast her glance the other way.
That’s what happened the last time the Giants and Pats played in the Biggest Bowl, a game that some consider the best in Super Bowl history. A do-over will do just fine this time.
An all-Northeastern match in the title game doesn’t matter because geography in the Super Bowl is completely secondary in everything surrounding it — except hype. Having a New York team in will lift the profile even higher, if that’s possible. And pay the fact that there aren’t any players of consequence with Utah college ties in the game no mind.
We’ve got Brady and Manning here. We’ve got Belichick. We’ve got Cruz and Nicks and Manningham. We’ve got history to live up to. We’ve got a score to settle. Hit the lights, Charlie, and rack that David Tyree catch one … more … time.
Truth is, nobody would have minded a Ravens-Niners Super Bowl, either, if that’s what the final numbers on the board had given us. The beautiful thing about the NFL playoffs, something from which college football’s postseason could learn, is they give birth on the field to a championship game featuring either the best teams or the teams upon which the fates have smiled. And the absence of the Packers notwithstanding, when you think about it, one’s just as suitable as the other.
What anybody thinks would or should have happened, or will happen, matters not one bit.
When the Giants beat the Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl, the Pats had been undefeated and the Giants were 12-point ’dogs.
This time around, New England comes in as the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Giants not that long ago were 7-7, slipping on banana peels, tripping with their pants around their ankles, losing to teams like the Redskins, and wondering if their coach should be fired. Five straight victories later, including those playoff road wins, the Giants are talking now as though they are destiny’s darlings. Manning and his teammates have the chance, once again, to shine a bright light on the power of the comeback — straight into the grille of a great quarterback and a great coach.
Tom Brady, on the other hand, has his own spoils to collect, namely to win his fourth Super Bowl, which would tie him with his boyhood idol, Joe Montana, and place him squarely in the argument as one of the greatest ever to play his position. And, just as importantly in his mind, to blot out the bad memories of that loss to the Giants four years ago, when the Pats had an opportunity to bask in perfection’s glow at 19-0.
To do so, Brady will have to play better than he did against the Ravens, when he threw no touchdowns and two interceptions. He’ll have to throw it a lot, especially to his two big tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, against New York because the Pats’ ground game won’t pose a huge threat to the Giants’ defense. Which means Brady will be constantly dodging Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck.
Manning, meanwhile, could blow past big brother as his family’s winningest Super Bowl quarterback, ironically enough, on Peyton’s home field. As great as Brady has played this season, some believe Manning is the best quarterback going in this title game, having thrown 15 fourth-quarter touchdown passes, having beaten Brady in the fourth quarter four years ago, and having beaten the Pats’ QB earlier this season in the fourth quarter on New England’s home field.
After what happened Sunday, Super Bowl XLVI might be the Good Luck Bowl, the Giants benefiting from Kyle Williams’ misadventures on those punts and the Patriots advancing because Evans was a nanosecond from holding onto that pass in the end zone long enough for it to have counted, and then Billy Cundiff snap-hooking that last field goal into the tall grass.
Either way, we have what the fates have given us. And what they’ve given us is all anyone could have hoped for — a shot at a great Super Bowl.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Gordon Monson Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 AM The Zone.
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