Super Bowl Blame Game
by, 02-06-2012 at 06:18 PM (8668 Views)
Super Bowl XLVI is now in the books with the New York Giants besting the New England Patriots 21-17. As usual, there are lots of what-if's, should'ves, and hindsight. Praise and blame are passed around in equal distribution, and, as always, the quarterbacks take on the lion's share of both. Eli Manning, a year after being ridiculed for the amount of turnovers he had, has placed himself squarely in the elite category with his 2nd championship, and 2nd Super Bowl MVP award. He deserves all of the accolades and attention being heaped on him for the way he played. On the other side of things, Tom Brady is being knocked by some for failing. As the QB, he takes some blame, but in this instance, I believe he's taking more than he should. Brady went 27 for 41 (completing 16 straight passes at one point, a record) for almost 300 yards and a couple of touchdowns. His game-opening safety hurt, but it wasn't the deciding factor.
To me, there were a couple of big aspects of the game that made the difference at the end. First of all, the Giants defense deserves a ton of respect for holding the Patriots to 17 points and for making some big plays at important times. Besides the safety, there were a couple of other great plays by the Giants, especially from the defensive line. Special teams was also an area that wasn't talked about much, but was advantageous for New York. Steve Weatherford punted 4 times in the game, dropping 3 of them inside the 10 yard line, and the other into the end zone for no return. Lawrence Tynes also made both of his field goal attempts. The third advantage, and biggest, was the play of the wide receivers. The Giants receivers made several big-time catches in tough situations, extending drives, and keeping the Patriots defense on the field. They continually put Eli Manning in position to look good. The New England receivers made some nice plays, but never made the big play. One 4th quarter play from each side sums it up.
The Patriots were leading 17-15, and was driving halfway through the last quarter. A TD would pretty much seal it. On 2nd and 11, in New York territory, Brady looked for his best WR and favorite target, Wes Welker down the field. The throw was not perfect, requiring Welker to turn completely around to make the catch, and would have been an amazing play, but it fell incomplete. The Giants were down two points, and on their 12 yard line with time winding down. Manning went deep down the sideline to Mario Manningham, who had to make a play over his shoulder, between two defenders, and keep both his feet inbounds, and keep control of the ball. It wouldn't have been the slightest bit disappointing if it had fallen incomplete. However, Manningham bought it in, completing one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history. The rest is history as the Giants wound up scoring on the drive and winning the game.
The Manningham catch will be compared to the David Tyree catch from the 2008 game. That one was also on the game winning drive, and was the highlight of the game. Both were amazing plays, although I like the Manningham play a little better. The Tyree catch was improbable, coming after a scramble by Manning, and caught under the most unlikely of circumstances, but was mostly just luck that it stuck to his helmet as he came down. The Manningham play, however, was all skill and made under impossible conditions. They Tyree catch was pretty, the Manningham catch was a work of art.
The result of the game was a championship for the Giants. Destiny appears to once again have sided with New York, especially considering they were just one loss away from missing the playoffs altogether. Eli Manning should enjoy the newfound respect he has earned and the spotlight he deserves. Tom Brady is feeling the spotlight too, for the wrong reasons. He should be criticized for the things that he did wrong, but blaming him for the loss is ridiculous. It's the ultimate team sport, and it was a team loss, but like it or not, that spotlight shines brightest on the QB position, deserved or not.