The Best Team Won
- By way of introduction of my comments, I will tell you that I turned off the
TV just as Bill Belichick stepped onto the field to congratulate Tom
Coughlin. I went upstairs to just lie down, and let the emotion ebb. That
was at about 10:15 AM here, I think. I came back downstairs, after a few
short naps, and a lot of bad memories, at about 6:00 PM. I read the handful
of comments in my email inbox, and turned of the laptop at about 8:00 PM. I
have not yet read any of the notes that arrived in my inbox after that time,
nor have I visited any websites. I relate all of that to set up the fact
that what I am about to say is relatively uninfluenced by comments from
anybody else, professional or personal. So, here are my thoughts about Super
As stated in the title, my opinion is that the best team won. As I did in
February of 2001, I define the best team as the one that brings its' 'A'
game to the field, and puts out physical, emotional, and mental effort that
exceeds that of its' opponent. The Giants did that in Super Bowl XLII. The
Patriots did not.
You'll notice that I didn't mention scoring. I do, in fact, believe that the
best team on a given day can lose a game due to circumstances beyond its'
control; such as crazy weather conditions, lop-sided officiating, or,
literally, an unlucky bounce of the ball at a game-deciding moment. None of
those things happened in Super Bowl XLII. The Giants simply outcoached and
outplayed the Patriots, and fully deserve congratulations, and the honor of
taking home the Lombardi Trophy.
As for the Patriots, I can not, in good conscience, apply any term other
than "choke" to their performance in the game. There is simply no way, IMO,
that the Patriots 'A' game on offense could be held to 14 points by any
defense in this particular NFL season. I believe that they were unable to
handle the pressure the "historic potential" in the game. They played
tentatively, afraid to make errors, in some cases, and playing out of
control in others. I'm not a psychologist, and others may have different
opinions about that. Just for the record, that's mine.
The offensive line was simply overwhelmed. This is the same offensive line
that had been able to limit opponents to 12 sacks of their QB through 18
previous games. They surrendered 5 to the fired up Giants defense in this
Tom Brady succumbed to that pressure from the Giants, and failed to fire his
passes with the accuracy that was necessary to beat the tight coverage the
Giants secondary applied throughout the game. Nearly all of his incomplete
passes were due to poor location, not drops by his receivers, or great plays
by the defenders.
The defense, in a reversal of the pattern we had seen in most games this
season, played superbly for 3 quarters, and failed to make big plays when it
mattered most, in the 4th Quarter, as they allowed the Giants to overcome
4-point deficits twice, with long drives, and earn the victory.
The final Patriots possession was a microcosm of the entire game. The
Patriots took the kickoff, trailing by just 3 points, and were unable to
open a lane for a big return against the fired up Giants. They were stopped
at their 24 yard line, which would have left them with a need to gain about
45 yards to have any shot at a game-tying FG. However, they also committed a
holding penalty on the play, moving them back to their 11 yard line, and a
need for about 60 yards to try a FG. Brady then proceeded to throw a series
of hopelessly desperate passes, into double coverage, rather than seeking 3
or 4 intermediate yardage completions, with a couple of their 3 times out
called when needed, and move the team into FG position. It was panic, and
desperation; rather than the calculating precision that had been the
trademark of this team all season. Coaches and players choked in this
series, just as they had throughout most of the game.
It was a game that was not decided by one outstanding play in a critical
situation by the Giants; or by one glaring error in a critical situation by
the Patriots. (Although CB Ellis Hobbs did clearly establish the accuracy of
the label on him as the Patriots weak link on defense.) The game was decided
by consistently better play, in every way you can define it, by the Giants;
and consistently poor play, relative to their proven ability, by the
I am deeply disappointed; angered, and, as a very vocal and demonstrative
fan, embarrassed, by the performance of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
They choked. There is nothing more of any consequence that I can say.