Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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04 Feb 2008

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLII

New York Giants 17 "at" New England Patriots 14

Mike Tanier: Best first quarter ever. Two good drives, clock keeps moving. 7:05 p.m. and we are a quarter of the way home. Last year's Super Bowl took three days.

(Eli Manning throws a pick to Ellis Hobbs at the New England 10-yard line with 12 minutes left in the second quarter.)

Sean McCormick: Ellis Hobbs was borrowing Jimmy Hitchcock's eyes on that play. Bad luck for Eli, but even so, the early story is the tremendous job of blitz pickup the Giants' backs are doing.

Aaron Schatz: In the second quarter, do you believe the officials should have thrown a flag on Amani Toomer when he pushed Ellis Hobbs away by the facemask, then made that great catch on the sideline? I think that was clearly offensive pass interference, although I don't take anything away from Toomer's good job getting the feet down in bounds.

Regarding penalties, clearly the officials have swallowed the whistles on holding, just like the rest of the playoffs. Since they are doing it equally for both offenses, it isn't that big a deal.

Sean McCormick: That was offensive pass interference. I would say that if the refs are going to let the players play, then it was reasonable not to call it, because Hobbs was using his hands as well and you can say both players were fighting to locate the ball. But I wouldn't have had a problem with an official throwing a flag on that play.

Ryan Wilson: Well, if it's a penalty against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, it should be here, I think. Also, I didn't think that was a delay of game on Eli Manning. The play clock just hit zero and I've never seen it called that early.

Mike Tanier: The Toomer catch should have been OPI. There was mutual contact but its hard to ignore a hand to the facemask.

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots need to stop sending five defenders. It is not working. Manning is fine against five. The Giants pick it up. Either send six, or send the traditional four and make sure guys are covered.

And color me shocked that the Patriots did not throw a challenge flag on the blown handoff to Ahmad Bradshaw, ruling that Pierre Woods recovered the ball and was down by contact. That was a major field position play if the Patriots win that challenge.

Russell Levine: Worse call obviously on the non-fumble recovery. That is New England ball. That is a challengeable play, is it not? Woods was clearly on the ball in possession when he was touched down.

Looked to me early on that Tom Brady was not comfortable. He failed to spot a couple of open guys and misfired a couple times.

(Late in the first half, the Patriots convert a long third down to escape the shadow of their own end zone.)

That first down conversion to Donte Stallworth on third-and-13 could end up being one of the key plays of the game even if New England doesn't score before half.

Sean McCormick: Beautiful play design, and yes, it could well prove to be a crucial play.

(The Patriots didn't score; Brady fumbled with about 15 seconds left in the half, and the ball was recovered by Osi Umenyiora.)

Aaron Schatz: And at halftime, the story of the game is that the Pats offensive line is getting completely destroyed, but the Giants offense has also looked pretty bad except for the first drive.

Doug Farrar: That's been the surprise to me through the first half. New England's line has been a clear liability. The Giants know that not even Tom Brady can get a big play off if he's running for his life all the time. Justin Tuck might earn his entire new $30 million contract in this game alone.

Also, I gained a new level of respect for Ahmad Bradshaw when I saw him carry Ty Warren about five yards. That guy's not just a scatback. I know that winning the physical battle isn't New England's game, but they have to be concerned about the fact that they're really getting pushed around.

Mike Tanier: In the first half, the Giants have been doing it with a mix of really daring blitzes and out-of-the-mind play by their big three pass rushers. But the Patriots are complicit because they are barely using their flats-and-short-crosses game. Their few screens were mostly effective. In the second half they are going to have to run more quick-strike stuff, especially if the Giants are going to send safeties.

Sean McCormick: The second half is probably going to come down to the conditioning of the Giants defensive line. In all of the Patriots comeback games -- against Indy, against Baltimore and the first Giants game -- the offense was able to make big plays in the fourth quarter after the pass rush slowed down. This is the best pass rush in football, and the Giants have the depth to hold up, but they tired down in the regular season game and it sprung Randy Moss for the deep touchdown. The Giants offense is going to continue to move the ball, and they'll probably score points But it's going to come down to the defensive line, I suspect.

Mike Tanier: Clunk. Tom Petty started "Free Fallin'" and I died of boredom. Can we get Air Supply next year?

Doug Farrar: Agreed. Anyone who actually survived the "Five Hours of Frank Caliendo" pregame show deserved better.

Sean McCormick: So, through three quarters, where does this defensive performance rank? If anything, it seems like the Giants have been more dominating than the 1990 team was against Buffalo or the 2001 Pats were against the Rams. Both those offenses moved up and down the field, but the Giants have really tamped down the yardage.

Doug Farrar: The front seven has performed as well as any I've seen in a Super Bowl. Thomas Boswell wrote a wonderful article about Mike Schmidt and Robin Yount many years ago in which he talked about the fact that we sometimes don't really understand true greatness until the player who had it retires. We know Michael Strahan because of the gap-toothed smile and the fact that he's funny and a smooth talker, and we know that he's a future Hall of Famer, but how many 36-year-old defensive ends do you know who can sack a quarterback before the guy blocking him can get out of his stance, then deflect a freakin' screen pass on a different play? Truly amazing.

Bill Belichick is going to hate himself for not taking the three and going for it on fourth down halfway through the third quarter. Aggressiveness index or not. And I wrote this before the David Tyree touchdown drive. They didn't make the Giants pay for the Eli pick, nor did they make them pay for the Chase Blackburn 12-men-on-the-field thing.

(Tom Brady throws a six-yard touchdown to Randy Moss with 2:45 left in the game, putting the Patriots up, 14-10.)

Russell Levine: Brutal decision by the Giants to go man up on Moss with no safety help on the go-ahead touchdown. Hard to fault anything about the defensive effort tonight, but that was a head-scratcher.

And David Tyree etches his name in Giants lore with that catch at the 1:15 mark, converting the third down, extending the drive, and joining Stephen Baker in Giants lore.

(Eli Manning ends the drive that was punctuated by the Tyree catch with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress. The Giants win Super Bowl XLII, possibly the biggest upset in Super Bowl history.)

Mike Tanier: Well, that was intense.

One of the worst-called games by the Belichick coaching staff that I have seen. The fourth-and-13 was nuts, I hated the first-half offensive game plan, and I hated that single-coverage call at the end against Plaxico.

Absolutely amazing performance by the Giants defensive line. Count not just the sacks but the other plays, like Strahan breaking up that dumpoff to Kevin Faulk and all the times Laurence Maroney got stuffed. Amazing effort by the defensive staff to design that game plan, but a lot of it was just man-on-man dominance.

Brady had little time to throw, but he made some awful passes. Really bad game for him. Awful game for Matt Light. Awful game for Ross Hochstein. Rodney Harrison ... it wasn't just the Tyree catch; there were a lot of places where he was just a step too late or slow.

So much of this game was field position. The Patriots always had to drive 85 yards. That's why I wondered about the fourth-and-13. The Giants got the ball back and were able to play punt-and-pin again. The Giants touchdown drives were both long, but the first one could have been longer if Hanson had pinned them at the 10 instead of punting through the end zone.

This game was just another reminder of how much this sport is a game of inches and seconds. Eli eluding a sack by the fabric on his jersey. Tyree pinning the ball to his helmet. Bradshaw clawing the ball away from that linebacker in the pile. Jacobs' head and shoulders following through over Rich Seubert's body on that fourth-and-1 at the end. Suddenly we are watching the biggest upset since at least Super Bowl III.

Stuart Fraser: Strahan or Tuck should be MVP, not Eli. You don't give an offensive player the MVP award when his team scored 17 points.

Vince Verhei: I agree with you, but Tom Brady once won Super Bowl MVP for an offense that scored 13 points.

Stuart Fraser: The Any Given Sunday about this one is both really short and really long. The short version is "The Giants D-Line absolutely took the game over."

A slightly longer version notes that the Giants linebackers and secondary tackled very well, limiting the yards after catch on short passes that often kill teams going against the Patriots. After the first Giants game, we talked about how the Patriots were like Tiger Woods, how they could be beaten, but you had to execute to the best of their ability play after play after play, drive after drive. You know what? The Giants' defense did just that tonight. Congratulations to them, and to Steve Spagnuolo for the game plan. I wish him luck as head coach of the Redskins, because I think he just won that job tonight.

Whilst the Giants were playing the perfect game -- at least on one side of the ball -- the New England offense was misfiring on almost all cylinders. Maybe it wasn't 2001 or 1985, but 2005: the AFC Divisional round, where the sixth seed Steelers stopped the AFC's No. 1 Indianapolis offense with a pass rush, and the offense did enough to win out. Brady's stats -- 29 of 48 (60.4 percent) for 266 yards and a touchdown -- echo Manning's 22 of 38 (57.9 percent) for 290 yards and a touchdown, and each was sacked five times. The Patriots almost managed to win anyway -- and if they'd gone to the short passing game with both Moss and Wes Welker in the first half, maybe we'd be talking about Belichick's genius for adjustment again.

But while the offensive game plan for New England (and the call to leave Hobbs man-up on Plaxico Burress for the winning score, because we didn't learn that this was a bad idea on the freaking first series of the previous matchup, not at all) was horrid, the execution was worse. Rushers came unblocked much of the time. Brady handled the pressure poorly -- I mean, he was being hit all the time in the first Giants game, too, but it didn't seem to slow him down all that much. Maybe he was more injured than the Patriots let on.

And where do we put the 2007 Patriots in the sporting pantheon? Now it's easy: Best team not to win the Super Bowl.

Doug Farrar: They are absolutely the 1968 Colts, in my mind. Same "best team ever?" speculation, their quarterback was the NFL MVP, and they were beaten by a team that had weathered some major regular season struggles to win while the "better" team struggled in the big game. That Colts team won their Super Bowl two years later, so we'll just have to see what this means for the Patriots. Of course, Don Shula and Earl Morrall rose from that defeat to find perfection with the '72 Dolphins. But that's the question for the Pats now -- are they the 1968 Colts, with enough left in the tank for another run, or are they the 2001 Rams, where it's all about to go downhill and stay there for a while?

Sean McCormick: Another parallel with 2001: Remember how the Pats played the Rams unexpectedly tough but lost, then went on to not lose another game all year? It's more impressive when you get that loss in Week 8 than Week 17, but you can argue that the same dynamic was in effect. The Giants clearly used that game as a springboard.

Russell Levine: It seems that perhaps an older Pats team wore down at the end of the year. They had to grind out a few over the second half of the season and appeared beatable in all three playoff games. The accusations of running up the score against Washington, et al., seem like a long time ago.

Ridiculously early speculation, part I: You have to wonder how the Pats will bounce back from this. They suddenly look mortal, and the defense is awfully long in the tooth. Asante Samuel could be gone. They're potentially staring at an off-season spent combating more allegations and, if they're proven, further sanctions. They're already missing a No. 1 pick. I can't imagine they won't be huge favorites heading into next season, but watching their psyche next year should be awfully interesting.

Sean McCormick: In Vegas, maybe. Looking at the likely personnel changes, I would give San Diego the best odds of winning next year, followed by Indianapolis. New England would be third. As you said, they looked old and worn out, and they're going to be losing a lot on defense in the offseason.

Mike Tanier: Junior Seau should go. Harrison should go. But they still have a very young core.

Stuart Fraser: They're missing a No. 1 pick. They have San Francisco's, which is substantially higher than the No. 31 they've forfeited.

If they can bring back Randy Moss, then all the key components of the offense remain in place. I'm sure Belichick (assuming he's back and Spygate doesn't become a critical mess) is capable of doing what Tony Dungy has done, and holding together a defense which is good enough despite the roster turnover.

Also, frankly, who else is going to win the AFC East?

Vince Verhei: I'm trying to find a metaphor that describes my surprise.

I feel like I have learned which religion is correct, and it is not my own.

I feel like aliens have been walking among us, and they have chosen to reveal themselves en masse.

I feel like my life has been one great science experiment, and I am not in the control group.

I've got a mini-notebook filled with play-by-play notes and reactions, but ... we all saw the game. The Patriots' pass protection was futile. If the Giants blitzed, the blitzer came through unblocked. If they rushed four, those four got pressure anyway. The Patriots were outschemed (Steve Spagnuolo is a genius) and outmanned.

When Brady did have time, he was highly erratic. One example: He's got Randy Moss open on first-and-goal in the fourth quarter, and throws it way high and outside. Didn't matter much, because he found him on third down, but it was the most notable example of his un-Brady day.

The Patriots got away from their identity for the first 55 minutes of this game. Where were the slants and quick outs? They didn't show up until that last touchdown drive. It seemed like Brady was looking for the home run every play, and some of those sacks came because he held the ball too long.

I still can't believe this, but the Patriots were completely outcoached today.

I'm not sure what exactly to say about the Giants offense vs. the Patriots defense -- that's the only part of this game that went largely as expected. Eli Manning was great again, really going without a turnover (that interception was clearly not his fault, and the Giants recovered both of his fumbles) and leading two go-ahead drives in the fourth quarter. Is that a Super Bowl first?

So, here's what we say about the Giants: They were a very ordinary team for 17 weeks. They then caught absolute fire (Has any team ever beaten three better teams than Dallas/Green Bay/New England in the playoffs?) and won the Super Bowl. Why did that catch us off guard? Because there was no indication this was going to happen. It's unprecedented. It's inexplicable. It defies all rational thought.

Unfortunate advertising note: The NFL Network is doing a replay of the game on Wednesday. The commercial for this replay (which has been running for days) ends with Tedy Bruschi pumping his fist and screaming "That's how you finish!" Oh boy.

And I do not understand the fourth-and-13 call, particularly because they opted to punt on fourth-and-2 in the same drive before being bailed out by the 12-men penalty. I mean, fourth-and-13? Even if you're worried about a missed field goal moving the ball back eight yards further, well, I'd punt the ball from there before I'd go for it, and no, I'm not kidding. Worst-case scenario if you punt, Giants have the ball at the 20, instead of getting it at the 31, which is what actually happened. Really, that just made no sense at all. Which I guess makes it perfect for this day.

Stuart Fraser: Something else to think about: It's time to re-evaluate Tom Coughlin. He made the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars a winning team from their second year, and gave the franchise an identity it's held onto with Jack Del Rio and would be a widely recognized success story if it weren't stuck in Jacksonville.

He turned Tiki Barber into a great back, much as Barber is loath to admit this. He was smart enough -- and man enough -- to know when a coaching style wasn't working in New York and changed it to suit his players. And now he's won a ring and he's clearly out-coached Bill Belichick in so doing. He's 103-89, which is pretty much the same winning percentage as Jeff Fisher -- and he did most of it with an expansion team. Maybe he's not quite up there with the absolute best, but he's laid down another piece of what's shaping up to be a pretty good legacy.

Aaron Schatz: As far as Coughlin, nobody ever said he was not a good in-game coach. What we said was that his personality wore down his players over a few years, and we all believed we had gotten to that point. Clearly, he dramatically altered the way he interacted with his players this year, and it was very successful come the postseason. He gets a lot of credit for that. It's one thing to change your play-calling strategy. Not everyone can take a step back and say, "Wow, I'm an a**hole and it is hurting my ability to get the most from my employees. I need to change." -- and then actually change, and succeed. It is impressive.

Oh, and Jeff Feagles was swell. Someone should mention that.

Doug Farrar: I'm glad we're talking as much about the Giants as we are, because I think it would be horribly unfair to tell the story of this Super Bowl as the game the Patriots lost, not the game the Giants won. A lot of people are going to do that, and it's just not right.

As much as Brady was off with his passes, the Giants' pass rush was tripping him up all day, and Justin Tuck should have been the MVP, because he stopped Brady from being able to step up and throw when the pressure came from the sides, and Brady finally had the chance to go play action only late in the game when that front four tired out. The New England offensive line played like crap, but that was as good a front seven as you'll ever see in a Super Bowl. Antonio Pierce was a freak with the screens and outside runs. New England couldn't get anything going long because they didn't have time, and they couldn't get consistent short gains because the defense was set up for that as well.

There are a few comparisons that come to mind. Aaron and I had a long phone conversation after the game, and we were gong through the different trends and comparisons. Vince said it best -- there is no historical precedent for this. The 2001 Pats got hot a lot earlier in the season. The 2005 Steelers, who beat the NFL's best offenses on the road on the way to their championship, were rated far higher by FO's numbers -- better in team efficiency than the Seahawks. The 2006 Colts got hot later, but we know that they were good enough to win from what they had done in their previous year. The 2003 Panthers were a bit more decisive in the playoffs, and they didn't beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

I don't think there is a Giants comparison, unless we go back through the 12 years of game-by-game DVOA we have and look for trend graphs which indicate teams that got very hot late, so that we can maybe, just maybe, explain why the hell this happened. Aaron mentioned to me the fact that had FO existed in 2001, he would have been all over the Rams to beat the Pats in the Super Bowl, because while there was a perceived chance that New England could win, the Rams were on the tail end of their "greatest of all time" swing.

We like to think that we can use DVOA 5.0 (or 6.0 or 7.0, eventually) to map it all out, but we know we can't cover it all. There are intangibles such as emotion and chemistry and contrasting hot and cold streaks, and the sheer weight of momentum that defines a team either way. I thought that the Pats would win this game by 30, because I didn't think that I'd see the New England team I'd seen over the last six weeks -- the one that has won game after game by the thinnest of margins on borrowed time. In each of those games (except the Baltimore game, which they should have lost and somehow just didn't), glaring vulnerabilities were covered up by excellence in other areas. Well, I was right. I didn't see the team I had seen before. I saw the team with all of those vulnerabilities and none of the compensatory aspects that would have won the game.

And the Giants were a juggernaut. What an unbelievable performance. I want the Seahawks to fire Jim Mora and hire Steve Spagnuolo as Mike Holmgren's replacement. I want Brandon Mebane to play like Justin Tuck and Patrick Kerney to be half as good as Michael Strahan in six years. I want Shaun Alexander to carry Ty Warren on his back for five yards instead of getting tackled for losses by waterboys. I love physical teams, and I'm just jealous.

Aaron Schatz: I don't understand the fourth-and-13 either. Belichick coached horribly tonight, the offensive line was horrible, Brady looked bad -- but at least give Brady credit for leading a game-winning drive. The fact that the defense couldn't hold that lead doesn't make it less impressive, just like the failure of the Carolina defense in 2003 didn't make Jake Delhomme's performance any less impressive. This is two straight years the Patriots have blown the last game in the fourth quarter, and it is time to accept that they need younger linebackers and more depth.

The Giants' defensive line is amazing. The MVP of this game should have been given to Tuck, Strahan, Umenyiora, all together. Eli Manning was impressive again, although giving him the MVP is silly. The interception wasn't even really a bad throw. The Washington Redskins are insane if they do not offer their head coaching job to Steve Spagnuolo after this. I feel very good for Michael Strahan, a sure Hall of Famer who finally got a ring. I feel terrible for Junior Seau, a sure Hall of Famer who did not.

And don't forget Jacksonville when you talk about the teams most likely to knock the Pats off their perch next year.

Pat Laverty: I think one aspect of the defensive scheme that's being overlooked is the Giants' linebackers. The counter to that kind of DLine pressure is screens. The Patriots are the best in the business at running the screen and they tried it many times, but each time they did, it seemed that Maroney/Faulk/Welker just got hit by Mitchell/Pierce/et al as soon as they touched the ball. It seemed the Giants' linebackers had it sniffed out really well and shed the blockers really well.

Tuck/Strahan/Osi can get all the pressure they want on Brady, but if he's dumping off for 15-20 yard screen plays, Tuck doesn't look so good. The play of the linebackers in taking away the screens forced Brady to look a little more downfield and sit in the pocket for another moment or so.

Aaron Schatz: This is definitely a place where Spagnuolo's scheme for the Super Bowl took away what was a clear weakness of the Giants defense in the regular season.

Ned Macey: Analytically, I think an even better comparison for the Pats is the 1999 Rams. That team had an offense come out of nowhere and just throttle teams. By the playoffs, teams had adjusted, and they won two low-scoring defensive struggles to escape with a Super Bowl. Their full-season DVOA and Pythagorean ratings are through the roof because they pounded teams early.

My point is that the Pats' overall metrics were inflated because of the newness of their offense. Once countered, they became merely great rather than otherworldly.

New England's offensive DVOA averaged 51.1% through eight games. The last 8 weeks, it averaged 34.5% which is in line with other great offenses. I think this offense, once figured out, is no better than the Greatest Show on Turf or the great Colts offenses. Those are teams with a history of proving they can lose a playoff game.

To go further, their scoring differential through eight games was 331-127. The second half of the year, it was 258-147. We explained it away, naturally enough, as bad weather or the weight of the undefeated season, but I suspect that these Pats were not as good as we thought they were. Of course, I have free access to write whatever I want and never had the balls to write this until after they were upset in the Super Bowl. Still, hindsight is 20/20, and the Pats were definitively not dominant in the second half of the season.

I think everyone's reaction to Spagnuolo is a little odd. The Giants, to our eyes, were an average team who got on a hot streak. Their defense was an average defense who got on a hot streak (and, per Aaron in the preview, didn't really improve in the playoffs until the Super Bowl.) In the regular season, they were no better than they were the year before.

Then, they have one great game against what I suspect was a wildly overconfident opponent, and we're sure this guy is a coaching legend in the making? I'm not saying he won't be great, but if the Giants win was just "anything can happen in one game," I'm going to hold the same standard to the defensive coordinator. Especially since he got abused by this same team in Week 17; somehow I doubt he was holding plays for an eventual Super Bowl at that time.

Finally, in Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams, Brady was 16-for-27 for 145 yards with one touchdown, and the offense scored 13 points. Today, he was 29-for-48 for 266 with one touchdown, and the offense scored 14 points. One time he was Super Bowl MVP, and the other time, he had a bad game.

Stuart Fraser: There was, maybe, one indicator from the Week 17 game we might have missed, though I don't know if we even have game charting data on it yet. The Giants had a ton of QB hits and hurries in that game. The Patriots barely got to Eli until the fourth quarter. We think, but haven't shown, that hits/hurries are often a harbinger of sacks to come. Well, certainly happened here. I wonder if in some way the Arizona surface was easier to play on for the Giants' speed rushers over the Patriots larger linemen when compared to the Meadowlands. Maybe New York just played better. Maybe the linemen the Patriots used in the first game are actually better pass protectors than the guys ahead of them on the depth chart, at least against the sort of rush the Giants brought.

This is the third straight year that a team has come from nowhere (or some value of nowhere) to win the Super Bowl. DVOA 5.0 is 1-for-3 on picking these out (it thinks the 2005 Steelers were about 5 percent off the #1 Colts). Unfortunately, the Super Bowl it picked was kind of retrospective.

It seems in general that maybe we're entering a different era here, where regular season performance is, for whatever reason, less indicative of playoff performance. A commenter on the board noted how the wild cards have had greater success since the NFL went to 32 teams, so maybe that's part of the cause. Maybe it's a change in the frequency of injuries - there's no such thing as avoiding injuries in the regular season, but the teams that break out in the playoffs are always pretty healthy.

Obviously we'll have to look at the Giants -- and the Patriots -- to see if there's anything we should have seen. It'd be nice to have DVOA for the run and shoot offenses of the early 1990's, to see if DVOA was systematically overrating the Patriots for some reason - I don't see why it should be, but I'm kind of used to the experimental data confounding expectations. I can't see any way we could have predicted this, but... well, we still have to look.

Aaron Schatz: I should clear up a misconception about the improvements we made to the formula in 2006. I didn't spend a month doing numbers with the express goal of making the 2005 Steelers look better than the 2005 Seahawks. The goal was to make the numbers correlate better to winning and from one year to the next over a 10-year period, not a one-year period. The fact that the changes moved the 2005 Steelers up to third in the league that year are simply a coincidence.

As far as this team, nothing that has happened for the past month changes the fact that the Giants were mediocre during the regular season. The indicators just weren't there. This team gave up 44 points to Tarvaris Jackson and the Minnesota Vikings less than two months ago. That's what makes this accomplishment remarkable. That's why the Giants will go down in history for doing something incredible -- not by luck, but by not accepting their regular-season level of mediocrity, and raising their game for the postseason, and overcoming the hardest schedule of opponents of any Super Bowl champion in history, and taking down the team that had just completed the greatest regular season ever. The proper response to an upset is to celebrate success, not to rejoice in failure.

As for me as a Patriots fan, I'm surprisingly serene about the loss. Obviously, it is a disappointment, but they were outplayed. The better team for five months isn't always the better team over a three-hour period, and you don't get the trophy for being better over five months. We learned that in 2001 when we were on the other end of this. The fact is, we got three championships out of this team. We've had seven years of winning football. This year was an amazing ride. This team added a lot more happiness to my life over the last few years than it did sadness last night. Furthermore, that had to be one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever played. Bummer for my team, but man, it was a really exciting game, especially if you like defense.

Onwards to 2008. In a couple days, we'll start talking about how to rebuild the Atlanta Falcons, and the whole cycle starts anew.

(P.S. We apologize for the problems our hosting company seems to be having today... this time it isn't even our server specifically.)

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 04 Feb 2008

351 comments, Last at 09 Feb 2013, 1:02am by poussette-double

Comments

1
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:26pm

just a stupid note: end zones don't cast shadows, but goal posts do.

2
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:28pm

First, congratulations to the New York Football Giants. They outplayed AND outcoached the Patriots and deserved to win.

Some comments:
* First, to the retirees:
Troy Brown -- thanks for a great career. Sorry you didn't have the chance to come on the field once this year for a swan song. I hope the Pats find a place for you in the front office.
Junior Seau -- thanks for two good years and stepping it up this year. Enjoy going back to surfing.
Tedy Bruschi -- thanks for a great career, but please be willing to retire so you won't suffer the indignity of being cut next near.

* Maybe Josh McDaniels should have been more aggressive towards those HC sports earlier. He dimmed his star considerably with an atrocious offensive game plan. Yes, the Giants' front 7 (esp. the front 4) played superbly, but in an ironically Martizan display of hubris (this time you're right, Aaron), the Pats tried nothing to adjust for it.

* Belichick was a poor sport for walking off the field with 0:01 remaining (at least he shook Coughlin's hand).

* A TD will lose the game. So HOW THE HELL can you call a jailbreak blitz and put Hobbs one-on-one against Burress? That really needs to be explained.

* Definitely frustrating to see the Pats D blow two game-ending plays (dropped INT by Samuel on final drive and the missed sack on Tyree's catch).

* And speaking of Tyree's catch -- WOW. That's an all-time Superbowl highlight play.

* Can we all agree that Rich Conley is right about Matt Light and Nick Kazcur?

* I thought the close up of Tom Brady (the play after they showed him yelling at some receiver) was very telling -- he looked totally lost and mentally beaten.

* Moss was right in his comment about not understanding the Pats not matching the Giants' intensity (though I would limit that to the offensive side of the ball -- I thought the Pats D played well all game until the final drive).

* Any Pats fan who complains about officiating costing NE the game is an ass.

* While I agreed with going for it on 4th and 13 from 32 (instead of the FG attempt or a punt), I wish that (given they didn't trust Gostkowski there) they had played for 4 downs and make a better 3rd down playcall.

3
by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:04pm

Comments on the Audibles not on the game (which was the most fun I've had watching a super bowl in ages).

1. Hey FO, stop b*tching about the officiating already. It is beyond boring. You want to complain about Toomer's perhaps-OPI? How about the absolutley ridiculous spot Faulk got on that 2d down screen pass on the Pats 1 scoring drive in the first half? We rewound the DVR and his knee was down with the ball at least 1.5 yards short of the spot, for what would have been 3rd and 1 or 2. We can go on endlessly like this, but how is that interesting? Maybe you should link to another site: official-whining.com

2. And where do we put the 2007 Patriots in the sporting pantheon? Now it’s easy: Best team not to win the Super Bowl. I'll get t-shirts made up for the pats-loving FO writers.

3. How can there be not a single comment on Belichick walking off (and leading his team off) the field with time still left on the clock? The ref is clearly trying to stop him and tell him to go back, and Belichick pushes right past him. How is this not worth mentioning? Like I posted 2 weeks ago, I never gave any credence to complaints about Pats bias here, but the last month or so has made it impossible not to recognize some real bias (different than being a fan -- actual bias).

4. Why does so much of the talk about next year for the pats focus on how old the D is? The Pats lost this game with their O, not their D. You hold an opponent to 17 points, and your D has done its job (long opening drive or not).

4
by Travis (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:28pm

A few observations:

* Why doesn't Belichick trust Gostkowski on long FGs? Those seemed like perfect kicking conditions last night, Gostkowski had put an earlier kickoff in the end zone, and I doubt he would have passed up the 49-yarder with the Vinatieri of old.

* 19-0: The Historic Championship Season of New England's Unbeatable Patriots is currently the #16 book on Amazon (and has been for at least the last 8 hours). All those sales will be refunded, of course.

* I can't believe how well the majority of Patriot fans are taking this loss. Even Bill Simmons is gracious in defeat.

5
by The Evil Bill Gates (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:34pm

Hahaha! The pats are the biggest choke artist of our generation. Any Pats fan who says he still happy about the 18 wins is a liar. No Colts fan was happy about 14 wins. The pats made history. They choked harder than any team, ever.

Anyone who says the pats are the best team to not win the superbowl is pathetic. Just like the patriots pathetic choke job.

Did I say choke? Okay, just making sure.

Today is a great day for football fans. Flowers smell better, the sun is shining brighter, and pats fans are calling in sick, trying to hide their tears.

6
by M (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:36pm

#1 - Can someone restate what Rich Conley said about Matt Light and Nick Kazcur?

#2 - Everyone so far agrees that the Giants outplayed the Patriots, so in that sense the better team won. However, I don't think there is any way of "tweaking" DVOA to see this coming.

#3 - Is it possible that maybe the best predictor of the SB outcome is now playoff HFA-adjusted DVOA? I believe that from 2004 to 2007, this may be true. 2001 is the last year I can think of that the SB winner played markedly worse in the preceding playoff games than the SB loser. Is there any other historical data to support this hypothesis?

7
by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:37pm

I disagree that the Patriots were greatly outcoached last night. I think Belichick took necessary risks in his attempt to win the game. I liked the call to go for it on 4th and 13. For one, there is absolutely no gaurantee that they would pin the Giants with a punt. Second, Gostkowski hasn't even attempted a kick that long this year (as far as I know). Finally, they were in a grey area: close to the EZ, and had a shot at getting a TD against a pass rush that was absolutely abusing them to that point. I think if the converted and eventually scored, we'd be talking about Belichick's brilliance for risk management and a turning point in the game.

As for the lack of adjustments, I'm not sure what adjustments they can make. We've known that the Patriots' heel was the pass rush. You think that's because it takes the deep ball to moss out of the picture, but their entire offense is predicated on the deep ball, or the threat of the deep ball. If you're getting good pressure, you don't have a credible deep threat. If Moss were a better route runner, then you could give him some mid-routes to get favorable coverages, but he can't do that. Without a deep threat, Welker's stupid drag ad infinitum isn't nearly the threat that it is when you're scared of them taking it to the house. Their pass-catching RB was injured, and your other RB has terrible hands. What are they supposed to do? I guess more screens, but the Giants LBs had an excellent game, also. They tried running it and got something like 2 ypc. I understand Belichick's frustration, because not only did the defense identify the root of the Pats' offense and destroy it, the Giants' offense did the unthinkable and started, if the interviews are correct, making plays up in the middle of the game. If your opponent does that, I don't know what you're supposed to do, no matter how good a coach you are.

Just generally a fantastic game. I'm off to watch Tyree's catch over and over and over again.

8
by zzyzx (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:37pm

"Well, if it’s a penalty against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, it should be here, I think. "

Maybe one year I'll stop having nightmares about that and playing what if games in my head. Maybe one year...

9
by Paralis (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:39pm

Well, the officiating *was* wacky. It felt like there was a definite pro-Patriot slant early and a pro-Giant slant late. Except for the delay of game penalty, though, the officiating was pretty consistently hands-off and had minimal impact on the outcome of the game. Which, in the end, is about all that can be asked for.

10
by Paul (London,UK) (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:42pm

#3 When you allow an opening drive of 9+ minutes, you fail to stop the QB after it appears 3 players have a piece of him, you miss nearly all the interception opportunities and the entire defense looks tired for most of the 2nd half, it might not be completely wrong to suggest that there may be some work needed on the defense.

There seems to have been something of an over reaction to FO suggesting that the Pats would win. I don't see the bias and I'm reasonably convinced that had the Colts or Chargers had the season the Pats had, they would have been favoured over the Giants as well.

11
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:42pm

First, congratulations to the Giants fans. I doubted your team had it in them, and they very nearly didn't thanks to some costly nearly lost fumbles and nearly caught interceptions, but your defense pulled it out. Justin Tuck should have been the MVP. In the end, 18-1 was hilarious.

Ringing in my mind right now is a comment Andy Reid made to Angelo Cataldi on 610WIP last year, the sports radio channel in Philly about wideouts and defensive ends. "A good pass rusher is more important than a good pass catcher." Cataldi was of course incredulous since he's been campaigning for a new #1 since Owens left town, but we saw it very clearly last night.

In the poker game of football, 4 Aces beats a Brady and a Moss. 4 Aces also makes Spagnuolo look like a genius, which makes me wonder just how bad the linebacking talent was that he was left to work with here.

12
by crack (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:45pm

People have to remember that Audibles is fans watching a game, not statisticians watching a sample or journalists reporting an event. It does come off as homerish, but really it should.

Evil Bill Gates is a jerk.

And it was nice to see it mentioned that the T-Jack led Vikings are better than the World Champions. :)

13
by Kevo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:54pm

4: Yeah, must be tough to swallow only winning three Super Bowls this decade.

13
by Kurt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:54pm

Gostkowski must have been hurt on the 4th and 13. Maybe he tweaked something on the opening kickoff; his other kickoff in the first half was awful. I don't care what the sideline reporter said, nobody on the Pats sideline is going to tell him the kicker is gimpy.

As for the game, I have the utmost respect for the Pats. They really gave it their very best effort, hung in there for four quarters and gave the Giants all they could handle. A very worthy opponent.

15
by brasilbear (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:54pm

Before the thread falls to the trolls, thanks FO for another season of intelligent football discussion.

16
by Graham (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:57pm

I think the comments about Coughlin were dead on. The guy realized he had to change because the way he was coaching wasn't working - and he was able to do it. That took guts, humility, and determination.

17
by azibuck (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:59pm

I think what Aaron meant to say is that what happened to the Patriots is referred to as "going full Kotite."

18
by mrh (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:00pm

Random thoughts:

Snide Snyder prediction: McDaniels will interview better and get along better with Cousin Vinne and will get the job over Spags.

’68 Colts – big difference between ’07 Pats and them was that Shula had a reputation for losing the big one already (27-0 in ’64 championship game; 13-10 in playoff w/Packers for conference champ, 34-10 in last game of ’67 that put LA in playoffs and knocked Colts out). He left Colts before they finally broke thru in ’70 and meanwhile suffered two more big game losses with the Dolphins. Not until ’72 did he shed the choker label – until that point he was the Marty Schottenheimer of his era. The ’70 Colts (with nice guy McCaffrey) winning it all was as if Norv had taken this year’s Chargers all the way, completing the Marty analogy.

Speaking of Marty, hmmm. Go for iffy 4th down instead of FG or punt. When you’ve won 3 SBs you get some slack. When you haven’t , you get fired.

When a player wrestles a ball away from a Charger, it demonstrates that your team has more heart, want-to, and football sense. When every fumble gets wrestled away from your team, did you suddenly lose those qualities?

Has any team ever beaten three better teams than Dallas/Green Bay/New England in the playoffs?) Best comp for Giants SB run IMO is ’69 Chiefs. Finished 2nd in division. Beat defending champ Jets (10-4) on the road, 13-7. Beat defending conference champs Raiders (12-1-1) on the road, 17-7. Beat NFL champ Vikings 23-7. Were 12 point underdogs in SB. Had dominant front 7 with 3 HoFers (Bell, Buchanan, Lanier) plus HoF CB (Emmitt Thomas). Their playoff opponents were great offensive teams (maybe not quite ’07 Pats) who averaged 26.4 pt/game as a group in the regular season but only scored 21 points TOTAL in three games against the Chiefs despite having HFA in two of the games.

If the game clock was the same as the clock Fox showed on screen, there were some serious problems with the time-keeping down the stretch.

I thought the Pats would win easily. I was wrong. Congratulations to the Giants and their fans.

19
by JasonK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:01pm

"Which Super Bowl was the greatest ever?" is now in the running for the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

Friggin amazing game. Giants had just enough toughness, skill, intelligence, and luck to pull out the victory.

I'll be sad to see Spagnuolo go, especially to a division rival, but it looks like a near-certainty now. Has Gregg Williams signed with anybody yet? A DC switcheroo between NY & WAS would be an interesting subplot going into next season...

20
by Kurt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:02pm

One other random note - I thought Fox did a nice job covering the game. The focus was almost always on the game - we didn't get 900 shots of Belichick or 500 of Coughlin, or a gazillion celebrity sightings. Buck and Aikman were fine. Just wanted to throw that in there.

21
by William (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:04pm

#6 -- What Rich Conley said was "I’m not convinced there is a lot of talent. Mankins and Neal are studs, but Light and Kaczur are replacement level, and Koppen is probably average.

Brady’s ability to know exactly when to step up makes the Tackles look a whole lot better than they are."

Click my name for the link to the discussion in context.

22
by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:07pm

One thing that would be interesting to see the charters look into is a breakdown of where blitzes come from. Most teams tend to blitz from the outside with OLB's or overload the blindside of the QB. In this game, it seemed that when the Giants blitzed they sent Kawika Mitchell up the middle or brought their safeties or other linebackers from the defensive left / offensive right, inside of Strahan. They brought the pressure right up to Tom Brady's face and it seemed to rattle him much more than other teams who brought pressure against him. Some of it may had to do with Brady knowing that Strahan and Uminyora were waiting for him if he went backwards or side to side, but I think something might be revealed if you compare Tom Brady's DVOA when facing pressure from outside rushers versus facing pressure from inside the Defensive Ends.

22
by black (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:07pm

I'll repost my post from the superbowl preview, to laugh at myself and my loonyness

My truthiness tells me that the Giants will win. No i can’t back it up with all these fancy “stats” and “facts”. I know in my gut and thats better than whatever numbers you make up.

Peyton Manning is the one who alerted the authorities about spygate, its part of his plan to humilate Tom Brady, he set up the trade for Randy Moss so Brady would be tempted to throw the ball around and set all these records. But he knew Brady would be ready for him in playoffs this year, after he choked away his chance last year. So he ducked him like Ric Flair in his prime, because he knew the ultimate embarrassment was not another lost to Peyton Manning thats actually commendable, he’s a superbowl champ. But to go down in front of millions and millions to his plucky- try -hard little brother, there is no way he comes back from that. The dynasty will die-nasty.

Long live the sons of Manning the Elder

Giants win
Happily Ever After

24
by Travis (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:07pm

Re: 13

Gostkowski must have been hurt on the 4th and 13. Maybe he tweaked something on the opening kickoff; his other kickoff in the first half was awful.

But, his final kickoff (with 2:42 left) landed at the 1 and had enough hang time for the gunner to tackle Hixon at the 17.

It seems like a usage issue - the longest attempt he had all year was 48 yards.

25
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:10pm

4: I can’t believe how well the majority of Patriot fans are taking this loss. Even Bill Simmons is gracious in defeat.

Comments like 13 help a lot, as the Giants fans on this site have been gracious in victory. Congratulations again on a well-earned win.

And 2: PatsFan, looks like we were right about the nailbiter part. I mentioned this in the game thread, but I really see that game yesterday as the flip side of the Pats' wins in 2003-04. The difference was that when NYG was put in an adverse situation (hello, David Tyree), they didn't make the crucial drop like Drew Bennett, or honk the kickoff out of bounds like Kasay.

On a superficial level, this game reminded me of the stunning Giants/Niners NFCCG in 1990. I haven't looked into it more closely, though.

26
by The Original Omar (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:12pm

Re #19 -

Gregg Williams interviewed in Dallas. They seem to be putting together an All Star Roster of former DC's and HC's.

27
by Paul (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:12pm

Agreed. Steelers should have won the Super Bowl in their 15 win season, not the following season. We got a Super Bowl, but it just feels wrong that it had to come the next year, during the Did you know Jerome is from Detroit season.

28
by MC2 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:12pm

A few random thoughts:

1) I thought the officials did a decent job this year. They got off to a bit of a shaky start, but for the most part they "let the players play", which is what everyone seems to want. Also, the bad calls (or non-calls) pretty much evened out - e.g. the OPI non-call was followed by the questionable false start call.

2. I agree with everyone who thought the decision to go for it on 4th-and-13 was ridiculous. I'm generally a big fan of aggressive coaching, but there's a difference between aggressiveness and arrogance. Ironically, this move reminded me a lot of Schottenheimer's decison to go for it on 4th-and-11 last year vs. the Patriots.

3. I know that it was probably not going to matter by that point, but I found Brady/McDaniels' decison to start chucking one Hail Mary after another on the last drive a bit surprising. They still had approximately 30 seconds and all 3 timeouts. They had plenty of time to complete at least 4 or 5 passes, which could have easily gotten them into FG range. However, they acted as if they didn't even have time to complete 2 passes. It was "All or Nothing", an approach which actually seemed to plague Brady's decision-making and McDaniels' playcalling throughout the first half, but which appeared to have vanished during the previous go-ahead drive.

29
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:15pm

25: Er, I meant Kurt's comment in 14. I swear that it was 13 earlier!

30
by ptfe (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:17pm

One thing nobody seems to be mentioning here, so I'll throw it out. Did anyone else find it interesting that the Pats didn't try to run when they had 1st and Goal from the 7 with under 3 to play? They were already engineering a pretty solid clock-winding drive, and if they grind another 45 seconds off or force the Giants to take a timeout, they can reasonably assume they'll have the last real drive of the game. Instead, they throw two incompletions and a TD while running just 13 seconds off. Of course, that may just be because I have Maroney in FF, so his stock goes up if he finds the EZ twice in the game :)

31
by Kurt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:18pm

Travis - I know; my only guess is that he got some treatment at halftime or something. We'll never know for sure, but I can't believe "usage" would dictate going for it on 4th and 13, especially when the play was a desperation heave - it's not like they had some wonderful "gain 13 yards" play that they pulled out of their hat.

32
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:30pm

I've never been an Eli fan. I still don't think he's anything more than average-at-best talent wise. But that last last drive earned him my respect.

That ridiculous Tyree catch should go down as one of the greatest plays in NFL history. I have no idea what the nickname for that play will be (although it's already listed in wikipedia as "The Catch II" which is lame), but it should be right there alongside "The Music City Miracle", "The Catch", and "The Immaculate Reception". And that drive should be right up there with "The Drive".

That was possibly the more boring and anticlimactic first half I've ever seen, and easily the most exciting and entertaining second half I've ever seen. As a Philadelphia fan, I've been sick for the past two weeks thinking that I'd have to root for the Giants. But I (and the rest of my Eagles loving family) were genuinely excited and actively cheering for NY as opposed to against NE as I had expected. It was really an odd sensation. But I take solace in the fact that Jeremy Shockey may have gotten his ring, but had to watch the game from the stands. Boss' huge catch must have been particularly bitter.

Giants fans, tomorrow we'll be enemies again (as it should be), but for one night I was truly happy for you. Congratulations!

33
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:30pm

Mcdaniels was the one who choaked. The Giants pass rush took away the deep ball because it didn't give Brady enough time to execute. Wes Welker had a lot of quick catches underneath but he needed more.

I'd hold off on the Spags is a genius talk. Last year he was the Eagles LB coach that people thought shouldn't have got the job.

I don't blame Bellicheck for being classelss ( honestly, leaving the field of play didn't do anything). Richard Seymour saying " go home" to the Giants offense in the final drive had a lot less class. I am sure if they won he would have at that humble pie.

In the first half Bellicheck had his back turned to the Patriots offense because he was franticly working with the defense. He did his job in holding the Gmen to 17 points. The young Josh Mcdaniels is the one who choaked with only 14 points worth of offense.

I felt this audibles at the line was unsatisfying. The Amani Toomer push off happened, but that sort of stuff always happens and isn't always called. The Pats didn't lose the game because of one call in the first half.

34
by Joon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:39pm

4th & 13: well, if they had gained a few yards on 3rd down with an eye towards going for it on 4th, they would have been in comfortable FG range.

"19-0: The Historic Championship Season of New England's Unbeatable Patriots": what i especially love is the link for the combo "Buy this book with New York Giants: 2008 Super Bowl Champions by Sports Publishing today!"

35
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:58pm

I'll repost this from another thread, before the haters and homers storm in:

"Hey, last week, I stated that it was ridiculous to call the ‘07 Patriots the greatest team ever, because it was evident to me that they had not, were not going to, simply obliterate playoff opponents in the manner that some teams with 15-1, 14-2, or even 13-3 regular season records had done. That got me called a Patriots hater, not for the first time, so I certainly don’t mean to go easy on obnoxious Patriots fans. The obnoxious anti-Pats contingent has really been bad lately, however."

Now, regarding the game, I too was rooting for Tuck to get the MVP, not that I have a huge problem with Manning. The Giants defensive line won this game (and I love big games which are won by defensive lines) however, and I would have liked to see a Giants d-lineman recognized.

This was the 2nd game in a row where the Giants' opponent decided that it was pointless to make more that a cursory effort to run the ball. Maybe it was, given Tuck's play, but the best way to slow down pass rushing ends is to run the ball effectively. I would have preferred it if the Patriots had attempted to do so.

There is little reason at this point to think that Eli Manning's play over the past five or six weeks does not represent a fairly permanent improvement. If that is the case, unless Strahan gets old in a hurry, the Cowboys, Packers, and everyone else in the NFC will have their hands full next year. Steve Smith is likely going to be a productive receiver next year, and if nothing else, Shockey has good trade value. Coughlin's next hire for defensive coordinator will be critical, of course, since it seems pretty certain that Spagnuolo will parlay yesterday's game into a head coaching job.

36
by Jerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:23pm

I think one of the reasons that it's difficult to quantitatively predict the Giants is because they're exceptionally erratic. They have large "hit or miss" elements on both sides of the ball.

If you look at Eli's numbers in aggregate, you see a pretty bad QB. But he's not like the QBs that are in his statistical tier. He's capable of playing at an extremely high level. Not just good. Very very good. Obviously he's also capable of throwing up some massive stinkers. Over the long run that evened out to below average #s, but at any given time you don't know what you're going to get.

The defense also has a large variable element in the pass rush. When the DLs are winning battles, the Giants pass rush can be so good that it will make the rest of the defense almost irrelevant. The Giants DL won a bunch of games for them this year. BUT if the opponent manages to protect the QB, the Giants defense can be awful, as we saw in the regular season Dallas games.

Put it together and you've got a high ceiling/low floor team. The high variability of both units makes their performance very difficult to predict.

37
by Roger (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:29pm

Jesus, you guys are really biased towards the Pats. On that Bradshaw fumble check back your tapes, Woods fell on the ball, but he had no possession. Bradshaw had his arm below Woods and could easily pull the ball out. Putting your fat belly on the ball is not possession.

38
by billsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:35pm

"Best team not to win the Super Bowl."
Now, now, at least my 1990 Bills got within field goal range. And kicked it.

re: that Stallworth escape on 3rd-and-13, did anyone see whether Welker had a crackback block on that play? It looked like it to me.

28(3): That confused me as well. 30 seconds and three timeouts is plenty of time to either hit Moss/Stallworth on the sidelines, Welker on intermediate crossing routes, or even Faulk on a ridiculous 60-yard screen. FG goes to overtime, switches the momentum, and clutch field goal drives are kind of Brady's thing ;)

39
by RickD (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:38pm

-Congratulations to the Giants, who deserved to win. Clearly the MVP should not have been Eli, but rather the D-Line, who dominated and shut down the Pats' offense.

-Terrible job coaching by Josh McDaniels. For two weeks we hear that the Giants D-line is going to come with full pressure, and the Pats were completely unprepared to deal with it. Bizarre. The O-line of the Pats looked like a bunch of scrubs out there. It wasn't just the pressures and the sacks: take a look at how many rushing plays didn't even make it back to the line of scrimmage. Disgraceful.

-Even with that in mind, the Pats need to rejuvenate their defense much more than their offense. While the Giants were able to make the Pats' O-line look bad, a lot of mid-tier teams made the Pats' pass defense look bad in the last 8 games. And now their best pass defender is likely to leave via free agency? The Pats might be well advised to see if they can afford what it would take to keep Assante Samuel. The possibility that Ellis Hobbs will be their #1 CB next year is going to give Pats' fans nightmares.

-Whose idea was it to have Hobbs on Plaxico 1-on-1 at the goal line with the game on the line? That is the single worst coaching decision I've ever seen, with the exception of Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in one inning too many in 2003. Everybody with even a passing familiarity with the game knew Hobbs could not cover Plaxico 1-on-1! I know a lot of people are talking about the FG never attempted, but in my mind this coaching decision was much worse.

I don't think the Pats' run is over. They still have no real competition in the AFC East, and they have a great QB and a lot of good players on offense and on the defensive line. But they had gotten lucky down the stretch with a lot of their wins (esp. against the Ravens) and the luck was bound to turn against them eventually. All sorts of lucky bounces went the Giants' way, and it seemed that every controversial refereeing decision favored the Giants. But that's all part of football, and it doesn't change the fact that the line play, overall, favored the Giants by a lot, and it's damned hard to win a big game when you cede control of the line of scrimmage to the other team.

40
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:41pm

#34 Will :
As a football analyst you're right on. To all the others from last week's steady stream of NYG minimizers : Hopefully you all will be changed forever by the Giants terrific season of 07/08 and be better analysts in the future--of all things in life. I'm sure the talk of the "mediocre" Giants is now buried. As I pointed out several times, which should have never needed to be pointed out to begin with, mediocre teams in football do not do what the Giants had done going into yesterday. Their run was not a "fluke" and I can only say that those of you who thought it was--have never played the game even at a high school level. Besides their unprecedented, record win streak on the road--you can add this to the list of achievement : They polished off the 3 highest scoring teams of the year in succession--all away from home. Sorry DVOA inventors, you have the best analysis system ever but it could not quantify the REALITY of the New York Giants. Past performance measurement can only give so much. Good luck to all of you in continuing to find an "edge" but there will never, ever be a time when you will know with any degree of certainty ahead of time what is going to happen.

41
by Jon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:44pm

If Spagnuolo left, the favorite to replace him would probably be Ron Rivera, if only because he runs the same scheme.

Still, how ironic would it be if the next NY DC was Gregg Williams?

42
by RickD (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:45pm

re: 21

After yesterday, I have to think Matt Light is the most overrated player on the Patriots. I've seen him schooled by Jason Taylor, schooled by Dwight Freeney and now schooled by Osi Umenyiora. At some point I have to stop thinking "well, he's good except for the very best DEs" and think that Pats need to start looking for a real franchise offensive lineman.

Koppen looked bad yesterday simply because he twice let the Giants blitz right up the middle without even thinking about blocking the guy.

43
by MC2 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:45pm

I haven't had time to read all the comments yet, but here are a few random thoughts:

1) I thought the officials did a decent job this year. They got off to a bit of a shaky start, but for the most part they "let the players play", which is what everyone seems to want. Also, the bad calls (or non-calls) pretty much evened out - e.g. the OPI non-call was followed by the questionable false start call.

2) I agree with everyone who thought the decision to go for it on 4th-and-13 was ridiculous. I'm generally a big fan of aggressive coaching, but there's a difference between aggressiveness and arrogance. Ironically, this move reminded me a lot of Schottenheimer's decison to go for it on 4th-and-11 last year vs. the Patriots.

3) I know that it was probably not going to matter by that point, but I found Brady/McDaniels' decison to start chucking one Hail Mary after another on the last drive a bit surprising. They still had approximately 30 seconds and all 3 timeouts. They had plenty of time to complete at least 4 or 5 passes, which could have easily gotten them into FG range. However, they acted as if they didn't even have time to complete 2 passes. It was "All or Nothing", an approach which actually seemed to plague Brady's decision-making and McDaniels' playcalling throughout the first half, but which appeared to have vanished during the previous go-ahead drive.

Having said all that, congratulations to the Giants, who played a hell of a game.

44
by Al (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:46pm

Two things I haven't seen brought up yet:

1) Stephen Neal's injury was huge. The Giants abused Hochstein after Neal went out.

2) Randall Gay was awful. We may have to wait until the gamecharting is done to really appreciate how bad he was. At least three of Manning's third down conversions were at his expense.

45
by Cathedraticum (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:48pm

I think there has to be a connection with Josh McDaniels calling his first SB and the Patriots struggling. Joe Buck or a sideline reporter commented that BB was spending all his time during the offensive series talking to the defense on the sidelines during the majority of the first two quarters. Couple that with a surprising lack of adjustments and it just doesn’t seem like the coaching staff was with it during the game.

46
by MC2 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:48pm

Sorry for the double post (#28 & #42). Something's weird's going on with my computer, or with this site, or maybe both.

47
by starzero (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:52pm

i'm hoping this game indicates a new dynasty, and that next year brings us a manning showdown. what about the possibility of adding a different manning to the 'best quarterback of all time' argument? could we be seeing the birth of a new manning to dominate, or maybe two mannings to trade rings? i know that's all crazy/wishful thinking, but perhaps we'll look back to this super bowl as the moment everything changed. or not.

48
by Black Squirrel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:52pm

Some observations on the game from a Giants fan:

- It is easy to play MMQB and say the Patriots should have went with the short passing game earlier, but I think the Pats were probably trying to attack the Giants' safeties, especially James Butler. He has been toasted numerous times this season.

- I think the Giants' strong defensive performance simply comes down to the fact that their front four dominated their individual matchups against the Pats' O lineman. According to one article I read, Spagnuolo estimated he called blitzes 30-35% of the time. That doesn't strike me as a high percentage and I'd hold off on awarding him "genius" status.

- The Patriots never had possession on the fumbled exchange between Manning and Bradshaw.

- Bucky Brooks of SI.com gave the Giants receivers an A in the game. I thought they were poor through the first three quarters. However, David Tyree's catch on 3rd and 5 made up for all of the previous drops. (I think Russell Levine meant to compare Tyree's catch to Mark Ingram's catch-and-run in Superbowl XXV.)

- I guess the NFL decided that it's important to play the entire 60 minutes in the Super Bowl after two seconds were wiped off the clock after Vinatieri's FG in Super Bowl XXXVI.

- The win that ended SF's bid for a threepeat was sweet, but nothing will ever match this.

49
by RickD (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:54pm

re:43
Randall Gay was hurt at the start of the game, which is why many of us are not so critical of his performance. Also, he's just the nickel back, and he did have a crucial pass defense after his injury which resulted in him having to fall on his injured arm.

I don't have a problem with his play, though the thought of Gay and Hobbs being the Pats CBs next season scares the bejeezus out of me.

50
by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:55pm

I think the story of this game was that the Giants defensive line just completely, utterly and in all other wise dominated the Patriots offensive line, to the point that there really was nothing Belichick or McDaniels could do about it. As far as I know, max protect isn't in the Patriots' playbook. Kazcur couldn't handle Strahan by himself, and Light couldn't handle Umenyiora by himself, and you can't give them both help at the same time, not while there's also still Justin Tuck to be addressed. It was just too much to block. The Patriots didn't have an answer, and if you played that game ten times over, I'm not sure that you'd find that there is any answer.

I've been watching Osi Umenyiora closely all through the playoffs, and I must say that if there's a more valuable defensive player in the league than Osi Umenyiora, I don't know who that might be. He dominated the game and should have been named MVP.

51
by RickD (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:55pm

re: 47
Bucky Brooks' grades suffer badly from "inflating the grades of the winning team". In grading the Giants' WRs, let's not forget that Steve Smith was the one responsible for the Hobbs pick, not Manning.

52
by panthersnbraves (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:57pm

Looking through my Panthers' glasses, I kept waiting for all the Giants' wasted opportunities to come back and bite them in the behind. Congrats to the Giants for keeping with it and not letting it get to them.

Too bad it's Most Valuable Player - I think Spagnuolo deserves it.

53
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:58pm

20. Buck and Aikman were fine. Just wanted to throw that in there.

Not on my set. I thought they were terrible. Buck needed a 90-second tape delay before he talked about the elephant in the room - a ball on the ground, a strategy element (like the long field goal eschewed), etc. And his smug nature is always present. As for Aikman, I'm just glad I wasn't playing the drinking game where you imbibe every time he says "I think" or "you know" or "I'm not so sure." I would have been Bonhamed about 8:30 p.m. Arizona time.

54
by Brian (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:58pm

Re #2: Troy Brown played in Week 17 against the Giants. I think he caught at least one pass. And I am sure he muffed a return.

You call yourself a Pats Fan?

55
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:00pm

36: Woods had pretty clear possession. Yes, he fell on it with his belly, and then his belly and the ball stayed there for a while, sharing an intimate moment under the pile, and finally, Bradshaw came up with it. If that's not possession, I don't know what is.

*As for the 4th down, I'm all for going for it on shorter distances, and think teams this year have seen a lot of success doing this, but aren't the chances of Gostkowski kicking from that distance in Arizona a lot higher than making a 4th and 13? And doesn't this matter even more when the game is pretty much a field position struggle with very little scoring? Horrible call. That was hubris.

*As for Belichick walking off, the guy had a bad moment and did something wrong. It certainly wasn't Denny Green-level. I think everyone trying to make it into something more than frustration, into some comment by Belichick about the game, needs to calm down a little and maybe get some fresh air.

*When Brady was yelling at his receiver, I don't know if it was being mentally overwhelmed and tired or not. Aikman was saying that it looked like Brady was yelling at the receiver for running the wrong route. Probably never know.

56
by Stoppable Manning (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:01pm

Obviously I need to start posting under a new handle. How about 'Eliability'?

What an amazing game. The suprise for me is that the ice cold, Montana-esque QB was on the New York sideline. Several times through out the game, dating to New Englands 2nd drive, the cameras would zoom in on the New England QB as he surveyed the New York defense...and Brady had that deer-in-the-headlights look that Giants fans will remember so well from Kerry Collins in Super Bowl 35. Meanwhile, thoughout the game Eli looked as relaxed as if he was running drills in Spring mini-camp. So that to me is the story - the QB who is arguably the 'Greatest of All-Time' chokes on the pressure, forever tarnishing his legacy, while the QB nobody in New York seemed to want anymore, if they ever wanted him in the first place, finishes off one of the most clutch performances in NFL playoff history. And as Eli walked off the field last night, I even saw a little bit of...swagger.

57
by Mike B. in VA (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:01pm

It's funny, but right as the Pats came out of the tunnel, I was immediately struck by how much the difference in the two teams' demeanor reminded me of the 1991 NFC Championship game, were the Niners came out like it was a day at the office and the Giants came out excited and energetic. We all know how that turned out.

58
by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:05pm

two other comments on stuff I haven't seen remarked on.

1. (I'm not trying to bash Brady here, honest) It seems like Brady goes down pretty easily when touched. On what I think was the second sack, he was moving away from the pressure when Strahan was quite literally flying/jumping past him reached out and shoved him in the back and Brady just crumpled to the ground. I remembered seeing something similar in the Jags game. It's been such a long season of oftentimes zero pressure on Brady that I don't really have much memory of him being able to shrug off the pass rush, but for a 6'4" 225lb'er, he seemed kinda wimpy on some of those sacks (obviously I don't mean the ones where someone came up the middle and crushed him).

2. The clock stopped with 8:24 left to go in the game... for no reason at all! Finally the officials noticed it, but all they did was restart the clock. We rewound the DVR and about 1:05 should have run off the clock. Argue away about who this ended up favoring more, but it sure is strange that they didn't just get the correct timing.

59
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:06pm

Re the Hobbs- Toomer offensive PI non-call. If Hobbs wasn't such a grabby little smurf he'd have got the call but its hardto call PI on a receiver when the defender is trying to grab him too.

Great game, not a great season for the NFL as a whole (spygate, Vick, lots of terrible teams, now spygate 2 uuurgh horrible year for the NFL)

60
by billsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:07pm

54:

was that the route in which Wes Welker uses his 48" vertical leap to catch a ball far over his head? or the one in which he pulls a Mr. Fantastic to catch a ball 10 yards out-of-bounds?

61
by bob (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:07pm

I'm glad that's over - now I won't have to hear about the "greatest team ever" nonsense.

62
by Eddo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:09pm

54 (Basilicus):
Woods had pretty clear possession. Yes, he fell on it with his belly, and then his belly and the ball stayed there for a while, sharing an intimate moment under the pile, and finally, Bradshaw came up with it. If that’s not possession, I don’t know what is.
I'm not so sure about that. At first, I remember wondering how Bradshaw got it away from the Patriots defender (Woods, apparently). However, when they showed the replay, when Woods falls on the ball, Bradshaw is shoving his arm underneath him. There is at least the question of whether or not Woods ever had sole possession, so I think a Patriots challenge would have been futile.

63
by Stoppable Manning (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:11pm

#54: Basilicus, my DVR strongly disputes your interpretation of the botched handoff that Bradshaw recovered. The refs got it right, Woods never brought the ball into his body before Bradshaw yanked it away (there can't be many guys in the NFL who are stronger pound-for-pound than Ahmad Bradshaw).

64
by Arson55 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:11pm

Naturally, as a Cowboys fan, I have never cheered for the Giants anywhere near as hard as I did last night. Usually, I want them to lose every game they play (except against the Packers a couple weeks ago. Once the Cowboys got knocked out my only remaining goal was a Patriots loss, and I thought the Giants offered a better chance of that). The celebratory 'Yes!' as I saw the open Burress (a player I normally dislike) pull in the touchdown stands out in particular. And that Tyree catch is one of the greatest plays of all time. For most of the game I though Tuck should have been the MVP (I didn't like the news when I heard he signed an extension, and that feeling only got worse last night), but what Manning did on that last drive certainly put him into consideration for the MVP.

For the Giants fans: Your team did a good job, and I never get tired of watching Brady get pounded into the ground.

For the Patriots fans: You guys seem to be taking this very well. If only your coach could lose (or even win) with that much grace.

65
by miami (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:58pm

1) Most classless move in a SB ever, Belicheat.

2) Not going for FG on 4th and 13th was the height of arrogance, Kot...I mean Belicheat.

3) Justin Tuck is MVP.

4) Tom Brady is merely an above-average NFL QB when he doesn't have 7 seconds to throw in the pocket.

5) The INT the Pats got was insanely lucky, if anyone wants to talk about 'breaks.'

66
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:00pm

Just out of curiosity and alternate universing, if the Pats had won (say because they stopped Jacobs on that 4th-and-1, or because they didn't miss the Manning sack and the Giants weren't able to convert the resulting 4th-and-20 or so), who do you think the SB MVP would/should have been?

67
by Kevin (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:00pm

"Sorry DVOA inventors, you have the best analysis system ever but it could not quantify the REALITY of the New York Giants. Past performance measurement can only give so much. Good luck to all of you in continuing to find an “edge” but there will never, ever be a time when you will know with any degree of certainty ahead of time what is going to happen."

You know, this is going to sound ridiculous, but it's really easy to say that after the games actually happen. Do people not understand that predictive statistics like DVOA are meant to give a PROBABILITY of success?

Patroits' DVOA being higher than the Giants' doesn't mean the Patriots will always beat the Giants. Some days the ball bounces funny, some days a middling receiver makes one of the all-time great catches in football history, and some days a blind squirrel finds a wide open receiver in the end zone with 30 seconds left.

That doesn't mean that the system is worthless - just that the words prediction and guarantee are two different things.

Incidentally, winning by a combined total of 10 points over the last three games is a fluke, whether you like the word or not. The probability of winning three straight 3-point games has got to be tiny.

People use things like "heart", "determination" and "guts" to retroactively find reasons for teams winning. I say all professional athletes have those things, or they wouldn't be professional athletes. Either that, or you believe that Eli Manning magically developed a heart sometime between the Minnesota debacle and last night. Sometimes, you call the right play and it fails; or you call the wrong play and it works. These guys aren't superheroes. Someone has to win, someone has to lose.

As a final aside, I will say that - as a Jets fan and a Boston hater - I've never been so happy with the result of a football game. I love this game.

68
by DZ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:01pm

The Fox clock was off all night. It would stop inexplicably, and then appear correct after a commercial break. It was a TV glitch, not a game time keeping glitch.
(Where have we heard that before?)

One bright spot of the Pats losing this game is that now we can all join in the fun of intelligent and rational discussion of who's the best QB, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady for at least another year!

No?
No takers?
Nobody?
(crickets chirping, readers vomiting)

69
by Travis (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:02pm

As far as I know, max protect isn’t in the Patriots’ playbook.

They did have that play in Week 1 where they left 8 or 9 in to block and Moss beat triple-coverage, but I don't think it was a regular part of the offense.

70
by Vendark (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:02pm

64:

Wes Welker, easily.

71
by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:08pm

#55 - I said this in defense of Peyton Manning, and I'll say this in defense of Brady: there's a world of difference between choking, and just being beaten. It's not easy to throw the ball downfield while getting knocked around like a pinata, yet he still put together a long, clock-eating drive for the lead in the 4th quarter. This was a tough, hard-fought game, and there would have been no shame for either side were the outcomes were reversed.

One of the most impressive things about the Giants' performance was the quality of the opposition, and I've no less respect for Brady or the Pats now than I did at the game's start. Don't minimize the achievement of the Giants' by resorting to the 'choking' cliche.

72
by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:09pm

The Fox clock was off all night.

perhaps, but the clock stoppage at 8:24 was the game clock, not the fox clock. The officials ran about 8 seconds off it.

73
by goathead (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:14pm

I think the Eli-Tyree play should go down in history as either "The Escape" or "The Helmet". Two truly astonishing individual efforts on a single play. Would have been a footnote if not for a G-Men win, but with the victory we have a new play on the all time SB highlight reel.

Re: MVP Eli - I have no problem with him getting it. Two go-ahead 4th qtr drives against the team with the all time best regular season record? Wow. Just Wow.

74
by vis (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:14pm

46 A Manning v. Manning superbowl would make Bill Simmons head explode. I'm all for it.

Admittedly, it would me much less exciting now than if it had happened two years back, when neither of them could "win the big game."

75
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:15pm

I do love how all the sportswriters are now saying "why didn't they give him help on Osi Umenyiora?"

Yeah, Eagles fans have heard that one before. It's because the Giants front four is so ridiculously good that you need help everywhere you've got an average or below-average player. So you have to pick your poison. And, as Aaron has said before, "even if you pick your poison, it's still poison."

76
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:15pm

Add me to the group who thinks it was impossible to tell whether Woods had full control of the Bradshaw fumble. I don't think Tom Brady was "off". He looked like any QB that gets hit a ton... they start making bad throws and bad decisions. He was thrown to the ground on the FIRST NE play of the game by Barry Cofield. Garcia did it in the first game against the Giants. Romo did it late in the game against the Giants. Favre did it, well, because he's Brett Favre.

Regarding the judgement of the 2007 NY Giants, I think people underestimate the team based on DVOA that I think is overly affected by bad weather games.

In 7 games against top 5 DVOA teams, the Giants really only trailed at the half in the last 2 games. By most standards, the Giants were outplaying the Packers and Pats at the half in those games. The previous 5 games had halftime scores of 3 ties and 2 Giants' leads. Yes, I realize the game has 2 halves and score isn't indicative of how a team is playing. However, wouldn't one think that top 5 teams (NE, DAL, GB) would have a substantial lead on the Giants at least once in those 7 matchups? IMO, the Giants had ample opportunities to win EACH of those games. Perhaps, the 2007 NFL Champion Giants are the same team with less mistakes or more luck.

BTW, can we stop mentioning the Giants' loss to Minnesota? It seems fairly obvious the game was a fluke, unless it's not surprising that the Vikings beat them worse than the Pats, Cowboys, and Packers did.

77
by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:16pm

The thread is still suprisingly sane. I'm impressed.

As for the game, it's far and away the best SuperBowl I've seen, both as a contest and for excitement. It was made better by the good work of Dick Stockton and Sterling Sharpe. Why can't we get that every week?

I'm still trying to understand why you don't kick the FG on 4th & 13, or, if you're committing to going for it, why the 3rd down play isn't more appropriate.

For the Giants, the D line was awesome, and if anything, the open-field tackling by the LB's and the secondary was even better. The Pats not running a play for more than 19 yards is staggering.

Finally, if I live to be 100, I don't think I see a better play than the Manning-to-Tyree catch on that last drive.

Congratulations to the Giants, who out-coached and out-played on of the finest teams in NFL history.

78
by Kwame Flaherty (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:17pm

Just an arguement for Eli being the MVP. Of course the Dline and Tuck were great. However, if Eli doesn't put together that last drive and WIN the game. The story is "Giant's D is good, but not good enough, Brady wins it late"

Eli was 9-14 2 TDs. He was the MVP of a great team win.

79
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:18pm

As far as this team, nothing that has happened for the past month changes the fact that the Giants were mediocre during the regular season. The indicators just weren't there. This team gave up 44 points to Tarvaris Jackson and the Minnesota Vikings less than two months ago.

Well, it was 41 points - and 21 of them came via defensive touchdowns. Not that Jackson's 129 yards passing or Minnesota's 251 yards of total offense didn't collectively take our breath away. Admittedly, it's hard to do much on offense when your pesky defense keeps scoring.

Aaron's final piece in this article is how all Patriots fans *should* feel, at least those old enough to view the entire run. Well said. They're not my words, but the theme is very parallel to the one that's running in my world today. If you have to lose, let it be the way this one unfolded. I don't feel cheated at all.

80
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:18pm

#64:

Welker would have gotten it, I think.

#65:

"Incidentally, winning by a combined total of 10 points over the last three games is a fluke, whether you like the word or not. The probability of winning three straight 3-point games has got to be tiny."

Honestly, it seems to me that by and large the Packers and Pats were lucky to keep it to three points- the Giants genuinely outplayed (and outplayed by a siginifcant margin) all of their playoff opponents. That doesn't mean that DVOA or any other rational analysis should have predicted this run, it has been unexpected and unprecedented (sorry 2005 Steelers, this was far bigger).

"Either that, or you believe that Eli Manning magically developed a heart sometime between the Minnesota debacle and last night."

I prefer to credit the absence of one J. Shockey.

81
by Kurt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:19pm

55 - With all due respect, it's incredibly foolish to suggest that Brady choked. After getting knocked around all game, he gave his team the lead with three minutes left! Is it now a "choke" to fail to go 50 yards in 30 seconds? Brady won the game, and then Manning (and Tyree) won it back.

82
by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:20pm

"I said this in defense of Peyton Manning, and I’ll say this in defense of Brady: there’s a world of difference between choking, and just being beaten. It’s not easy to throw the ball downfield while getting knocked around like a pinata, yet he still put together a long, clock-eating drive for the lead in the 4th quarter. This was a tough, hard-fought game, and there would have been no shame for either side were the outcomes were reversed."

Agreed. Brady put it together when it mattered. It's not his fault that Eli and the Giants then did the same.

#71

"The Great Escape" works for me.

83
by vis (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:20pm

57 On Brady's easiness going down (ugh, i'll leave that alone)

if his ankle was really injured, that can make it pretty difficult to fight through a tackle, particularly on the side of the injury--you've got nothing to push off of.

84
by Dylan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:20pm

The biggest winners yesterday? Not Spagnuolo. Not Giants fans. Not even those who put money down on "Pats win first half/NYG wins the game".

No, the biggest winners yesterday were the Minnesota Vikings. Tarvaris Jackson is the uncrowned Super Bowl MVP ... which means that Will owes a bunch of people some fine scotch, if my logic is correct. And we all know that it totally is.

Hey, when your quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson, you take what you can get. Minnesota sports fans don't get much to cheer about.

85
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:24pm

I'd like a breakdown of how many blockers were employed by the Patriots on each pass play. I had some Super Bowl socializing distract me somewhat, so I couldn't rewatch several plays as I normally do. It occurred to me that the Pats should try to go max protect more frequently, especially if they wanted to go downfield to Moss, and Moss certainly had a step on a few occasions, with Brady being unable to deliver the ball.

86
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:25pm

Living in NYC, there's nothing worse than Eli haters who suddenly love him. Nothing worse than Pats fans who would've gone 19-0, that is.

Congrats to the Giants. The D deserved the MVP though.

87
by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:26pm

> There is at least the question of whether or not Woods ever had sole possession, so I think a Patriots challenge would have been futile.

Not to mention that in common practice, a player must recover a fumble and hold it for a reasonable period (and if there's a pile where the official can't completely see what's going on, that period may not even be reasonable and the ball may just flat be stolen away, which really wasn't the case here though). Coming away with the ball is almost paramount and Bradshaw did that. Before that it was not clear to me that either player had established obvious possession, so the player who wrestles the ball away from the other is the winner.

88
by vis (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:26pm

71 One of the post-game talking-heads referred to it as a "Houdini" play. That's got to get some consideration too.

Anybody else reminded of Calvin Johnson's catch in '06 (NCAA)? Closest play I can think of, even if it was the OTHER guy's helmet he pinned the ball to...

89
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:27pm

It was also great watching that game and seeing the Giants front four do some of the things I've been saying for the past several weeks. Targeted pressure up the middle, and then shift to the outside when they start to have the guards help out inside.

I do have to agree with Rich Conley now regarding the Patriots offensive line. I think most of the credit I was giving to the tackles was purely a result of the guards being very, very good. Force the guards to start paying attention inside with blitzes and a DE playing at DT, and the tackles struggle.

90
by Kurt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:29pm

Incidentally, winning by a combined total of 10 points over the last three games is a fluke, whether you like the word or not. The probability of winning three straight 3-point games has got to be tiny.

Well, I thought the Pats legitimately deserved to win their first three Super Bowls.

Oh, the Giants. I put less stock in margin of victory than probably anyone else here. To steal James' rhetorical device, if I live to 100 nobody will evr convince me that it was a complete concidence that the team that won so many games at the very end - Redskins, Bears, Lions, Eagles - had a bit more left in the tank at the end of the last three playoff games. I certainly hope that the people who told us the Pats were pouring it on early in the season to condition Brady et al to play 60 minutes are not going to now turn around and argue it's pure chance that the Giants finished their last three games so well.

91
by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:35pm

I think the Eli-Tyree play should go down in history as either “The Escape” or “The Helmet”.

I nominate "The Unpossible Completion." The "Completion" gets at both the ridiculous escape and ridiculous catch.

The incorrect Unpossible gets at how ridiculous it is that a WR as previously ungodly awful as David Tyree managed to hang on to that pass, despite how high it was, despite a great defender actually getting a hand on the ball and in between the receivers' hands, despite having one hand come off the ball, and despite crashing on the ground from up high. The ball never even hit the ground. That's unpossible! Plus, you get the Unstoppable word play just for kicks.

92
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:36pm

Bill Walsh always maintained that the fourth quarter pass rush was the most important element to winning close games in the NFL, and I found it interesting how true that proved to be yesterday. The Patriots were only able to put together their second td drive after the Giants pass rusher got gassed deep into the fourth quarter, and then failure of the Patriots to finish off a pass rush led to the critical play, followed by the Giants pass rushers getting re-energized on the Pats' final possession.

93
by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:37pm

Even if Eli Manning hadn't done a successful Ben Roethlisberger impression and uncorked the Tyree Miracle and the Patriots had hung on, Osi Umenyiora was still my MVP.

94
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:38pm

NM: To go further, their scoring differential through eight games was 331-127. The second half of the year, it was 258-147. We explained it away, naturally enough, as bad weather or the weight of the undefeated season, but I suspect that these Pats were not as good as we thought they were. Of course, I have free access to write whatever I want and never had the balls to write this until after they were upset in the Super Bowl. Still, hindsight is 20/20, and the Pats were definitively not dominant in the second half of the season.

Ned, I hope next year you trust those instincts and gut feelings and share them when the time is right. I know there's risk in that - float this sort of opinion and be wrong and it will make you an easy target for the hatchet squad. But I promise you, I don't be one of those guys who rants, raves, and plays gotcha if and when you stick your neck out and it's not validated. I think you have an excellent read on the game, and I know you'll be ahead of the curve on themes like this fairly often - trust yourself when you're feeling the next one come about.

95
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:39pm

I have no problem with Eli being named MVP, because the 2 TD passes late in the game, and the Tyree highlight will be replayed for years to come...but I agree with giving it to a part of the defense that was responsible for holding a team that averaged 35+ points per game to only 14.

I made some in-game comments in the preview thread, no need to repeat them here, but I am still amazed. What a great game.

There were some plays & breaks & no-calls for both teams. Pretty well summed up above by the staff.

I'm mostly curious over what their down-distance-field position chart said about their probabilities to:
convert the 4th and 13

vs

miss the 4th and 13,

vs.

making a field goal and surrendering field position & points on the ensuing kickoff

vs.

missing a field goal and surrendering
points on the ensuing drive

In that argument, it always takes into account
"skipping 3 points risk-reward and not surrendering extra field position and points on the ensuing drive"
but does not take into account
"needing those 3 points at a future time". And they did need those points.

96
by Richard (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:40pm

Two thoughts: The Giants’ Defense was superhuman—like the little old grandmother who picks up the car to save her pinned grandchild—adrenalin turning her into supergramps. That was the Giants D.
Please, Giants, give David Tyree a real shot at receiver next year. He’s not the tallest or the fastest but he finds holes in the defense and when you throw it to him he’ll do anything to bring it in.

97
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:40pm

Just to register some thoughts:

1) Brady going down quickly on the "flying" sack: when Brady chose to drop to the ground, instead of stepping up and trying to fight through it, my first reaction was, "He's hurt, or worried about his ankle." Trust me, I am a die-hard Peyton fan, but even I would not suggest Brady's dive there was a normal thing for him. Perhaps he thought someone else was coming in from behind.

2) No problem with Eli as MVP. Yes, the Giants D-line was great, but Eli joins Montana as the only two QB's to throw 2 TD's in the 4th quarter to win a SB. That's heady stuff.

3) BB did not surprise me at all with walking off the field. As I have argued all along, he's two guys: the brilliant X's and O's football coach, and the petulant child in all areas of social behavior.

4) I was impressed by Brady. Told friends at the half who were NE fans, that if Brady threw 2 or 3 TD's in the second half to win, after the beating he took in the first half, I would have to grudgingly call him "great" -- again, remember this is through the lens of a Peyton fan, so that would be a HUGE statement. Though Brady didn't get the second TD or the win, you can't say he choked.

5) On NE's last TD drive: you can't run the ball to take time off the clock there. The Colts tried this against SD three weeks ago, running it twice to take time off, then never getting the TD. You need to take the points when you can get them.

6) Thought the refs were as good as we've had in big games over the last 5 years. Yes, a bad no-call on OPI, but the Giants did not score, and it wasn't really a crucial time in the game.

7) For me, the best SB I have ever seen. Watched it with Giants and NE fans, and both were stunned.

98
by Black Squirrel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:42pm

Here are a few more thoughts about the game.

- Saying the Pats choked is unfair, but it is also unfair to say the Giants got all the breaks. Chase Blackburn didn't get off the field on a 4th and 3. On a 3rd down before the Pats go ahead drive, Manning scrambled and missed a wide open Burress. Both teams got breaks. New England just couldn't block the Giants well enough.

- The Fox clock was prone to errors throughout the game, but the officials did appear to screw up the clock with 8:24 left. The ref went over to Coughlin to explain something at that point, and the clock adjustment after that discussion did not make sense.

- There's been some talk about DVOA "missing" something in regard to the Giants. DVOA is a numerical representation of a team's quality throughout the season. It's a great tool, but it can't capture everything. For example, Peyton Manning didn't play the whole game against the Titans in Week 17. When evaluating the Titans defensive DVOA for that game, you must take that into account. As kevinNYC wrote, the Giants played a few games in bad weather this season. That element was missing from their DVOA.

The final numbers are still open to interpretation.

99
by DZ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:44pm

The worst MVP comment I heard today was from someone who wanted to split it between four D linemen. It's the same thing with the Colts' RBs last year. Sure you can argue that two players combined had a bigger impact than one player did. You certainly could argue that four players combined were way more important than Eli. The question is was any one single player in isolation more valuable than the winner. Eli did what several QBs (including his brother) couldn't do this year. He lead the Giants on two TD drives in the 4th quarter. Team came close to beating the Pats all year, but the one common factor was the Pats D closing things down late. Eli made them look old and slow. I thought he was the right choice as the single most valuable player.

100
by ammek (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:44pm

I've just finished watching the game, and I was struck by how similar the Giants played against NE and GB in the NFC championship. Taking away the yards after catch, pressure up the middle, enough running offense to keep the opposition safeties from gambling. Since I doubt that Belichick neglected to study the NFCCG tapes, the only solution is ... the Giants' d-line is a beast.

My question to those who watch New York on a more regular basis: we saw a hint of what this D could do against the Eagles in week 3. It really came together in the playoffs. What happened the rest of the regular season?

101
by Boss Hog (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:50pm

Forget the Vikings-Giants game. Those 4 picks & 3 defensive TDs do seem pretty flukish in retrospect, especially considering the Vikes more or less collapsed after that week and the Giants, uh, went on to win the Super Bowl (I still don't believe this happened).

Seriously, are any Redskins fans wondering how this happened? The Todd Collins-led Redskins went into the Meadowlands and thumped the Giants not six weeks ago. It wasn't a fluke, since it came in the middle of the G-men's impressive second-half run, and the Skins themselves went on to beat MN and Dallas the next two weeks. Despite the ultra-windy conditions, we controlled their D-line (only 2 sacks, Portis with 125 yds on 25 carries) and were in command of the game for all four quarters.

Any other Redskins fans think that if Tampa and Seattle had switched seeds, the Skins might have gone on a kooky playoff run and the Giants knocked out in the first round? I'd sure like to have seen us get a chance at the G-Men in the playoffs. Just sayin'.

102
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:51pm

I must be in the wrong place... can anybody direct me to the Irrational Peylisha Manning/Manning thread? I understand that at the next family holiday that will battle to the death using their MVP trophies as weapons.

Or next season, 35 year-old Cooper Manning, his genetically narrowed spinal column magically repaired, will crash somebody's training camp and unexpectedly lead his team to a SB win, so Manning pere gets 3 SB MVP trophies to hang from the Christmas tree....

How'd you like to grow up as a kid in the next generation of that family? While there are all sorts of cool perks, there's also a little thing called PRESSURE! "Son, it's fine if you don't want to play football. But if you think being ranked #3 in the state chess tourney is impressing me, my little kindergartner, you got another think coming. When Uncle Eli was your age he was throwing frozen ropes through brick walls and Uncle Coops was catching them with his eyes closed. Me? That was about when invented oxygen...."

103
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:52pm

I don't have a big problem with Manning as MVP, but let's not go overboard. Manning threw two fairly bad passes on the Giants last drive, that easily could have led to a lot of rhetoric being posted today about the Pats' clutchness. The line between hindsight attributions of heroism and and the same for goathood, is very, very, very, thin. Think back to a dropped int just prior to Montana throwing the winning pass to John Taylor against the Bengals.

104
by Duane (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:58pm

Re: 91, "The Unpossible Completion". I agree, for the reasons you stated. But let me point out that Tyree didn't just crash to the gound, he was bent bass-ackwards over Harrison's body on the way to crashing into the ground, and STILL held onto the ball.

105
by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:00pm

#102

Like it Bobman! Surely though Mini-Mannings' greatest adversary will be Baby Brady. Because Baby Brady will surely win the Chess tourney with a clutch sacrifice in the endgame against the #1 rated player in the state...

106
by Mikey (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:01pm

Has anyone heard an answer to this question: When Belichick challenged the 12 men on the field on the punt, was the Pats coaching staff aware of the possible penalty before Joe Buck mentioned it on the broadcast?

107
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:03pm

I also like Troy Aikman as a broadcaster, though I think he'd be much better without Joe Buck. Aikman can offer insights into defensive formations and details of the passing game that a lot of broadcasters don't bother with, and I think he did particularly well yesterday (extra spotters, camera angles, etc., probably helped).

67:

"People use things like “heart”, “determination” and “guts” to retroactively find reasons for teams winning. I say all professional athletes have those things, or they wouldn’t be professional athletes."

Yes, certainly, and those emotional/psychological factors don't belong in a statistical metric. However, the emotions of players and teams do fluctuate: sometimes a team comes out with more energy and "clear-headedness" than other times. It's not stupid to talk about the impact emotion and psychology have on a game: it would only be stupid to try and quantify it.

108
by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:03pm

#102

Like it Bobman! Surely though Mini-Mannings\' greatest adversary will be Baby Brady. Because Baby Brady will surely win the Chess tourney with a clutch sacrifice in the endgame against the #1 rated player in the state.

109
by Dr. Doom (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:07pm

Congratulations to Football Outsiders on another year of great articles and conversation! What a Super Bowl, that was a good game. I feel so bad for you Pats fans, losing by 3...... Hmmmm a team winning a football game by 3 points..... or a Super Bowl by 3 points..... that's gotta be called... what.. lucky? coin flip? coulda gone either way?

110
by hooper (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:08pm

One quick comment to add:

All the Giants and Pats fans on the discussion board during the game handled themselves with tremendous class and dignity. They didn't hold back their enthusiasm, but they were very courteous and avoided any bickering-prone barbs that we've all seen. It was an enjoyable thread, and those fans deserve a note of commendation.

111
by ammek (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:08pm

101: The G-men didn't have an "impressive second-half run". They squeaked past the Bears and Lions (and Dolphins), and got soundly beaten by the Vikes, Washington and Dallas.

Statistically speaking, the Giants road to the Superbowl was probably even more shocking than the result of the big game itself.

- They're just the second 10-win team to earn a ring; don't let's forget, they had the same number of regular season wins as Cleveland.

- The best team they beat in the regular season was 9-7 Washington, in week three, ie well before Washington caught fire. They didn't beat another opponent with a winning record, and their victims went a combined 61-99, or .381, or "the San Francisco 49ers".

- They played their three most recent postseason opponents in the regular season, and went 0-4 (including 0-3 at home). In the postseason, of course, they went 3-0, all on the road.

That just screams "Something changed". We'll probably never know what. But I don't think we can expect DVOA to 'predict' something that doesn't add up, however you look at it.

(I guess if there's one thing to re-examine, it would be the relative importance of weighted DVOA in the postseason, vis-à-vis regular DVOA. In the past, I recall Aaron has said the whole-season model is more predictive of postseason success, but the sample size must have been small, and perhaps could be looked at again, in the light of the Steelers', Panthers' and Giants' upsets.)

112
by vikinghooper (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:11pm

Anybody know the rule on wide receiver screenS?

The Vikings used to run some for Moss and would get called for offensive PI REPEATEDLY because C Carter would be blocking before the pass was caught.

The Patriots wide receiver screens have blocking happening at the snap, making them more effective.

The two biggest letdowns in NFL history have both had Randy Moss on the wrong end. I think Moss is phenomenal, but he's got to be aging with the Falcons loss and now this.

113
by JohnR (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:13pm

wow - congrats to the Giants - this Pats fan is shaken to the core, but the Giants were the better team.

Strangely, in spite of being outplayed, the Pats had 4 plays on the Giants final drive that were within a mere inch of ending the game. A few almost interceptions, a near fumble, near sack, etc. But you knew when the Giants made "the play" that fate was intervening.

I can't imagine how great Giants fans feel today. I disagree mildly with Simmons - this was *greater* than the 2001 Pats upset. The Pats were underdogs, to be sure - but they weren't playing a team with a perfect records and all the dimensions that the Pats had. Just an unbelievable win.

114
by Eddo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:16pm

111 (ammek):
You make some excellent points. You don't really think about how the Giants had an identical record as the Browns this season.
However, at the start of the playoffs, the Giants' weighted DVOA, was, IIRC, lower than their full-season DVOA. If not, it was roughly the same, so not even weighted DVOA gave a good indication that the Giants had changed (and I do believe something changed).

115
by taxistan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:16pm

Tarvaris Jackson will turn out to be a very, very good NFL QB!

116
by Kurt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:18pm

I can’t imagine how great Giants fans feel today.

JohnR - Speaking just for myself, the three stages I went through last night:

1. Holy ***, holy ***, holy ******* ****.

2. Simmons' five year grace period is doubled for this, at least.

3. A slight tinge of wistfulness. Giant fandom peaked last night - it will never get better than this. Now what?

117
by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:23pm

#112 - What about the 41-0 NFCCG loss to the giants? Maybe not on the historic level as the other two, but that's also got to hurt.

118
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:27pm

116: 3. A slight tinge of wistfulness. Giant fandom peaked last night - it will never get better than this. Now what?

Ah, I remember that feeling in February 2002.

If it's any consolation, little did I know at the time that yes, it could get better. That win over Carolina in 2004 still gives me chills.

[Watch out - the "little Giants that could" may turn out to be the next behemoth, and in 7 years everyone will be bitching about their dominance and hoping that they lose. You never know. :)]

119
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:29pm

112: I'd add the Niners' "threepeat" letdown against the Giants in the NFCCG to the list, too. I was more shocked by that result than last night, actually. (Of course, I was 12 at the time, so I may not have been the most insightful observer.)

120
by Kurt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:32pm

Patriotsgirl - I doubt it. With all due respect, the Rams were not 18-0 and Martz - again, no offense - is not Belichick.

121
by Boss Hog (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:34pm

111

I don't know -- I think you CAN say the Giants mostly stepped it up after the Vikings game, with the sole exception of their loss to Washington.

They won tough games on the road against Chicago and DVOA-fancied Philadelphia, then (after the Skins game) they spanked a decent Bills team. After that, of course, was the epic Week 17 game against New England, followed by the miraculous playoff run.

Clearly, their playoff wins were qualitatively better than anything they achieved in the regular season. But if you look at their run of games from Week 13 on, the biggest outlier is not the SB win but the decisive loss to the Redskins. Or, at least, that's how this Skins fans sees things.

122
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:34pm

"Saying the Pats choked is unfair, but it is also unfair to say the Giants got all the breaks. Chase Blackburn didn’t get off the field on a 4th and 3. On a 3rd down before the Pats go ahead drive, Manning scrambled and missed a wide open Burress. Both teams got breaks. New England just couldn’t block the Giants well enough."

This. Other breaks the Pats were getting were a number of dropped passes by the Giants (including one that became a pick), the fumble on the handoff to Bradshaw in the first place, and the delay of game penalty (against both the Cowboys and Packers, there were a number of plays where the clock was at zero and the refs didn't throw the flag until about one-thousand-one after it hit zero). And while there was unquestionably OPI on Toomer on that play, there was the time where the Patriot player smacked a Giant in the head with the ref looking right at it, without a flag. There were a number of holds on both teams that went uncalled. Overall, I felt the breaks basically were close enough to even that in the grand scheme of things it didn't matter.

Besides, in the end, it wasn't the breaks that decided the game. It was an absolutely inconceivable play, where Eli channeled his inner Roethlisburger and Tyree became Cris Carter that did it.

I have watched that play at least 100 times already, and there are so many parts to it that are unbelievable that it is breathtaking.

The Pats rushed four, and every Giants lineman except for McKenzie got beaten and beaten badly. Snee didn't block anyone, looking like he wanted to help out O'Hara, but by the time he had decided to the defender had already blown past him. He just stood there doing nothing for the rest of the play. Diehl got beat on a speed move to the outside, but kept at it as best as he could, steering the defensive end around Manning, who was forced to step up-- right into the arms of Green, who had run right through Seubert, and Seymour, who had run right through O'Hara.

And then... what the! Manning manages to break free from the jersey-grasping, helped tremendously by the fact that Seubert, despite being beaten, had not given up and had continued to fight, keeping Green from being able to gain leverage to bring down Manning and pushing him into Seymour, pretty much doing the same to him. When Manning squirted out the back, O'Hara, Diehl, and Seubert were squared up quickly to provide a wall of blockers. O'Hara pretty much whiffed, but Diehl and Seubert sealed off the Patriots' rush at that point.

And Eli... felt the pressure coming from the left side of the offensive line. Stepped up, which was his only option, even though it put him in dire straits. Protected the ball, which is not something he has always done. Showed great balance and strength, and wrestled free-- and immediately acted like he had just taken the snap and did a five step drop, getting his balance, squaring his hips, planting his feet while looking downfield, made the instantaneous decision about where he was going with the ball, and stepped into the throw.

Not perfect, but amazing under the chaos that the play had been to that point.

You can't see all of the receivers on the play from the TV replay, but you can see a few. Smith was covered in the short middle. Jacobs, who isn't the best of hands anyway, is covered in the right flat. By the looks of the break off the line, Plaxico was covered. When the ball left Manning's hand, Tyree was standing in a hole in the coverage. It was the right decision on where to throw, which is astounding. That was great by Manning to be able to orient himself to what was happening downfield and to process what he saw quickly.

The throw wasn't perfect-- as often is the case with Manning, it sailed on him a bit. But one thing you can say about Eli, is that he can put some mustard on the throw. It might not have been the most accurate dart, but it was still a dart and it was close enough to allow Tyree to make a play on it. If that ball floats, it is easily broken up or intercepted.

And while Tyree did not get the ball at its highest point (a physical impossibility), he timed his jump so perfectly that he did get the ball at HIS highest point. Harrison's arm gets into the ball and pretty much smacks him in the face in the process, Harrison's knee in his back, flailing at the ball and bending Tyree backwards to the ground over his leg-- his leg pretty much keeping Tyree, and the ball, from hitting the ground (which would almost certainly have resulted in the ball popping loose). Tyree losing his right hand off the ball, pinning it to his helmet with his left as he desperately reaches his right arm back up to get both hands on it, somehow keeping the ball from ever touching the ground.

Inconceivable.

Tyree running off to high-five Jared Lorenzen. Brady shaking his head in disbelief. He wasn't the only one. What a play. What a play.

123
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:35pm

Will great point in 103, one I think people really gloss over a lot. So many games teams split the amount of "deservingness to win" 53%-47%. And in the post game analysis it sounds like it was 90-10. Same thing with individual performance. I didn't think his Brady was so different from every other Brady I have seen over the years, and you know if Samuel makes that catch it would have been cited as a "greatest QB ever triumphs in the face of adversity", instead of a "Bad Game".

124
by Tom Ewall (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:35pm

Regarding 2 game-ending plays (Comment 2)

1.Samuel was out of bounds, so even if he had caught the ball, it wouldn't have mattered.

2.Had Manning been sacked, it would have been 4th and about 10, so not quite a game-ending play (although it would certainly have made it much more likely).

125
by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:37pm

I hate the patriots. A LOT. And even I could see that Toomer had unquestionable OPI, and the patriots unquestionably recovered the fumble. Anyone who says the FO staff are biased for saying so should consider watching a different sport becuase you obviously dont know shit about this one.

moving on to happier things. The patriots win 3 superbowls in 4 years, on the verge of 4 in 6 years along with what would go down as the greatest season of all time. Creating what will become known as a great football dynasty never to be forgotten. Now they wont ever be forgotten, but they will be known as CHOKERS and CHEATERS. I hope their superbowls get stripped and all involved get fired. It wont be long before this can of worms comes open and the Patriots go down in history much like the blacksox in baseball.

126
by Ryan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:39pm

I keep reading post #35, and for some reason the words "Eli Manning" and "Giants" keep registering as "Jake Delhomme" and "Panthers" in my mind.

127
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:40pm

"My question to those who watch New York on a more regular basis: we saw a hint of what this D could do against the Eagles in week 3. It really came together in the playoffs. What happened the rest of the regular season?"

My answer is that our linebacking play was not good for much of the season. Part of this was Mathias Kiwanuka-- he's a talent but OLB is not his natural position and there were a lot of growing pains until he got injured. We were extremely vulnerable to screens and to tight end/running back passes until they started playing better as a unit. We also were very vulnerable to patient running backs who would exploit the tendency the Giants' LBs had to over-pursue.

When the linebacking play solidified, there were much fewer options for stopping the pass rush.

128
by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:43pm

#122

Gerry, do you work for NFL Films? That description is almost poetic.

129
by Tom Ewall (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:44pm

Great description, Gerry, of an incredible play. It reminds me a bit of the McNair play, the 2nd to last play I think, in the Rams-Titans Superbowl.

130
by Kurt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:51pm

126 - Other than Manning being the #1 overall pick in the draft, and Delhomme going undrafted, I'd say they were virtual clones.

131
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 7:58pm

120: And, with respect, these Giants aren't the old Patriots. Before February 2002, I had seriously convinced myself that I'd never see any Super Bowl win in my lifetime. The franchise was that pathetic. The fact that they won their first Super Bowl against one of the greatest offenses ever (and make no mistake, those Rams were a great team that would have been on many all-time lists if they'd won) - it was the icing on the cake.

Whereas the Giants - they did have some good games in the 1991 postseason, as I recall. Including beating a legendary team trying for a historical threepeat and an awesome Bills offense along the way. And there was the 1986 season.

(To be clear - I'm not diminishing what the Giants fans are feeling AT ALL - just trying to explain my comment why I thought it may be similar to 2002. We can agree to disagree, though, because it's so freaking subjective.)

132
by Justus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:00pm

Re: Brady going down easy. On the one sack it looked to me like he thought he thought he was going to get hammered and became more concerned with protecting the ball than escaping.

133
by Kurt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:06pm

pg - there are definitely some similarities between the 02 pats and these Giants. I just have a hard time imagining that a win in a few years over Jacksonville or Cleveland or some other nondescript team could compare to taking down the dynastic, 18-0 Evil Empire. (again, no offense!)

134
by McL (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:07pm

You guys keep up witht the Giants are/were a mediocre team. When will you admit that, while DVOA is a nice tool it does not and will never capture everything about a football team. A team is a collection of human beings. And over a short period of time, humans are notoriously inconsistent. The problem with DVOA in evaluating the Giants regular season is twofold. First and foremost is that the Giants have had a maddening tendency to do stupid things and shhot themselves in the foot. For example, they led the league in dropped passes. Does this mean that all the GIants have hands of stone and will never start holding on to those balls. NO! What is means is that they had a problem with lack of concentration. The Giants are a team with about a similar amount physical talent as the teams they beat in the playoffs. They just stopped beating themselves. They are the 3rd youngest team in football. May, they finally got it, whatever it is and didn't have to think about what they were doing and could judt do it. Maybe the coaches simplified things so they didn't have to think as much. Clearly something happened to Corey Webster from the first 2 games, where he was awful (couldn't cover or tackle) and was benched, to the end of the season where came off the bench because of injuries and played lights out. Whatever IT is, they stopped making the mistakes that killed them and lo and behold, the physical talent took over and won games. There is no way for DVOA to predict this sort of mental/psychological turn-around to a team. Perhaps it took most of the year for the players performance to truly respond to the changes in the way Coughlin was handling the team. Who knows... The second issue, and I think less of a factor, is injuries. Despite his early season success, clearly Buress was struggling with his injuries most of the year. He was getting healthier toward the playoff run and was practicing. Amani Toomer had reconstructive knee surgery and did not look like himself most of the season. He looked like a guy who had lost a step that he could not afford. He has admitted that his knee improved as the season went along. It is not typical that players end a season heathier than when they started, and this can throw DVOA off. Perhaps you should look at the Giants DVOA numbers in the post season, and consider them against the rest of the league and see where that would place them. Perhaps then you might begin to see the true nature of the Giants...

135
by Dylan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:14pm

@117 -

As a Viking fan, the 41-0 loss in the NFCG didn't really hurt too badly, especially up against the '98 loss. The team that got slaughtered just flat out wasn't very good -- once they got strafed in back-to-back-to-back weeks by Favre/Manning/Warner (in some order), it was pretty obvious that this team didn't have enough on defense to be a really viable contender. The beating sucked, but it wasn't like '98.

That '98 team was just something else. The defense sucked, but the offense was SO ridiculously good that it usually didn't matter. People forget that they never scored fewer than 24 points in a game (in the loss @TB where the Bucs never punted) and that Cunningham could've set a bunch of records had he started the whole season. All this year I've been asking myself if the '98 Vikings or the '07 Patriots had the best offense I've ever seen. After the last couple of weeks, I'd give the edge to the Vikes, but I'm a homer on that one too.

Really, how amazing is Moss? The guy is a force of nature. That's the type of guy you bust your cap for.

Anyways, those last couple of paragraphs are a long way of saying that the loss to Atlanta in the NFCG is the worst experience I've had as a sports fan. Those Vikings are the best team I ever rooted for, and I will have an irrational hatred of Gary Anderson until the day I die for missing that field goal. He could've at least been shaky at some point during the year -- we really didn't need those 6 FGs in the beatdown of the Jags.

Okay, I'll stop whining now.

136
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:16pm

133: Ah, got it. I misunderstood what you were saying.

(And given that you guys have what, 3 SBs now?, I can see your point. Bet you never thought the 1990-91 season would be topped, huh?)

And while I'm at it, I want to second hooper's comment in 110. Seriously, one of the things that made the result more palatable was how classy and respectful the Giants fans were in the thread.

137
by dmb (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:22pm

To echo the sentiments of some other folks, I wanted to say that I was almost as (pleasantly) surprised by the civil and sportsmanlike discussion about the game as I was about the outcome itself.

Now, for something different: does anybody else here think that BOTH quarterbacks are getting a little too much credit for their late-game play? Eli threw the one obvious near-pick, but that wasn't the only dicey play on his part. He deserves kudos for having great pocket presence -- he knew when to tuck and run -- but his throw on the "Umpossible" play seemed like terrible decision-making. I loved seeing the play, and I don't want to take anything away from his escape, but it seemed like that could have easily been one of those boneheaded plays he makes. Brady, meanwhile, had a mostly solid drive for the go-ahead TD, but people are neglecting to note that he missed a very open Moss on first-and-goal; his touchdown throw wasn't exactly a great play on his part, since the DB slipped and fell.

I'm not saying that they're bad players; I definitely think Brady is one of the top 2 QBs, and that Eli is average-to-above-average. But they really didn't impress me last night.

Finally, the "Umpossible" play reminded me a little of McNair's crazy scramble against the Rams: they were in similar situations, and I expected the final outcome to be the same. The main difference is that there was a superhuman effort on the receiver's end last night.

138
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:23pm

Watch out - the “little Giants that could” may turn out to be the next behemoth, and in 7 years everyone will be bitching about their dominance and hoping that they lose. You never know.

I doubt it, actually. Everyone agrees the Giants won that game because of the strength of their front four - and while Strahan leaving won't be that much of a loss (since they're ridiculously deep) it still will be a loss. They'll still be a very strong defensive line, but I don't think they'll be able to take over a game for 60 minutes like they did yesterday.

139
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:24pm

Seriously, one of the things that made the result more palatable was how classy and respectful the Giants fans were in the thread.

Which was very refreshing in comparison to the thread when the Colts lost, and Patriots fans came in taunting.

140
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:26pm

If Bradshaw continues playing as he has, Eli gets a little better over the offseason, and the receivers get a little better, they could be a very very dominant team.

Most teams are pretty far away from dominant. Some teams are closer than others. Having my QB young, my RB's young, a young TE which has been outstanding...

I'd rather be sitting there, than with an aging QB, again RB, etc.

141
by dmb (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:28pm

129: You just beat me to the comparison.

142
by Johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:28pm

"Dallas/Green Bay/New England in the playoffs" Oddly another 18-1 team did. A team that almost everyone forgets. The 1984 49ners beat the Bears, Giants, Dolphins. The 1984 Dolphins everyone remembers and like this Pats team featured a soon to fall apart old defense, The Bears would win the next super bowl in famous fashion and the Giants the next one after that. Yet some how that's the forgotten 49ner team. I really have to throw out props to Coughlin a guy everyone had fired. I feel great for all the Dolfans that had to endure a livin' hell on their message boards from the insane Pats fan. I feel bad for Aaron and the gang here. I always find Football Outsiders pretty fair in it's evaluation of the AFC east. A few insane fans can ruin an image of a fan base. This has to suck for those guys.

143
by langsty (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:29pm

re: 89

"It was also great watching that game and seeing the Giants front four do some of the things I’ve been saying for the past several weeks. Targeted pressure up the middle, and then shift to the outside when they start to have the guards help out inside.

I do have to agree with Rich Conley now regarding the Patriots offensive line. I think most of the credit I was giving to the tackles was purely a result of the guards being very, very good. Force the guards to start paying attention inside with blitzes and a DE playing at DT, and the tackles struggle.

:: Pat — 2/4/2008 @ 4:27 pm"

the impression i was getting last night is that the pressure the ends were getting was forcing the pats to widen their line splits, which opened up the A-gaps for those LB blitzes~

144
by langsty (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:30pm

the concept remains the same tho, which is that you need to pressure brady up the middle so that he's constantly shifting his launch point

145
by Tom Ewall (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:36pm

On 113, regarding which is a greater upset, now or Pats-Rams, personally I expected this game to be close, but the Pats Rams game surprised me.

146
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:36pm

Pat, the Giants are a young team, including a young qb. What we have seen over the past 6 weeks could be closer to their new norm than what many expect. No, I'm not predicting 4 world championships, but if they get some trade value for Shockey, depending on cap details, and draft as well over the next couple years as they did this year, I think the rest of the NFC could have their hands full. Especially if Strahan has a couple years left in the tank; the Giants really should consider giving him a very light training camp work schedule for the rest of his career.

147
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:38pm

the impression i was getting last night is that the pressure the ends were getting was forcing the pats to widen their line splits, which opened up the A-gaps for those LB blitzes~

You're talking about the successful gap rushes which is obviously going to be the opposite of the pressure points (unless the offensive line really, really sucks). We're saying exactly the same thing. The ends were having success because the guards couldn't help out.

148
by jack (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:39pm

#28 (and 42): I don't understand the idea that refs should "let the players play." If the refs don't call penalties they should call then they're deciding the game just as much as if they call penalties they shouldn't. At any rate, thanks to FO for another great year of football insight. Even if you started the year wrong (leading to FF suckitude on my part and others) and ended the year wrong, you still provided more interesting and entertaining analysis than all the other experts (who were also wrong).

149
by martial (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:39pm

There was a play (3rdQ I think) where Mankins shoved Tuck right out of the play, just blew Tuck up, and went looking for another guy to block. Tuck recovered his balance, got back up to speed, and got a hit on Brady with Mankins desperately trying to get into position to re-establish the block.

That play was emblematic of the Giants D-line all game. They were so freaking good. They never gave up. They made great play after great play. If it hadn't been against my team, I would have loved every second of it. As it was, I and my Pats fans friends were yelling/crying about the Pats blocking for all four hours and when I woke up this morning I started again.

Great game. Congratulations, Giants.

150
by j (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:43pm

I know it's a different era, but try this for a comparison - the 1934 NFL Championship (known as the 'Sneakers Game') featured the NY Giants at an unimpressive 8-5 (equivalent to 10-6 in a 16 game schedule) against the perfect 13-0 Chicago Bears. The Giants won 30-13.

151
by Doughboy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:45pm

Thanks for the great discussion everybody...

I'm sure the FO folks are on it already--but what's the evidence for a "turning the corner"/learning curve discontinuity phenomenon in QB's? To the naked eye, it damn sure looks like Eli has, and all the former QB's on tv say there's a fairly discernable moment when things start to click in the NFL.

This is a study that I'm sure everyone would like to see, if you haven't already done it.

152
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:46pm

Did anyone really see that many uncalled penalties?

I thought it was a well played game by both clubs, and the CBs on both teams did an excellent job playing the position like it should be played. I think given the fact a penalty would screw up your chance at a championship, both teams were particularly careful to not be that guy ruining the game for their team.

I thought the CBs did a superb job of not holding, not pushing too much, and playing like CBs should.

I really enjoyed it. I wish all games had so few annoying penalties. It was an absolutely enjoyable game to watch, and there are way too few of those.

153
by Kyle (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:46pm

The Giants are the third youngest team in the NFL. This run was not supposed to be possible for at least another year or two. Winning ahead of any conceivable schedule of developing players... oh what fun the next few years can be.

Multiple titles? Repeats? Of course not. Such talk is nonsense and exaggeration. Having my team in contention for the next few years is all I care about, and that looks very possible and perhaps likely.

154
by ammek (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:47pm

136, 139 and others:

Yeah, I agree about the Giants' fans (though at least one notorious such hasn't dropped in yet). The few gratuitous insults and pointless chest-beating have come from non-participating, random Patriot-haters.

I think some of the reasons for this agreeable atmosphere are:

- the Giants were clearly the better team on the day;

- the refereeing was excellent, and there were no late hits or dumb bickering on the field;

- there is as yet no irrational thread related to the Giants - though I'm looking forward one day to a debate about how Kevin Gilbride and Ted Cottrell have produced two of the best game plans in this postseason.

155
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:49pm

#146: I don't think Strahan has a couple of years left in the tank. I'd be very surprised if he didn't retire this offseason, and when he does, that pulls the defense back to the pack a fair amount. Even if he doesn't retire, injuries will take their toll.

The team's also not that young. Burress will be 31, Toomer will be 85... er, 34. Based on Year One results, the Giants just had the best draft in the history of the NFL (every single one of their draft picks contributed significantly this year. Every one.) but they'll be hard pressed to replace Burress and Toomer. Both of them make up for Manning's inaccuracy quite a bit. Remember, receivers are one of the hardest positions to replace (behind QB).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not heavily criticizing the Giants. I think they'll be an above average team for a while. But they have a couple of things working against them.

The main thing is simple: they play in what I now feel comfortable saying is the best division in football (narrowly edging out the AFC South). There were no doormats in that division this year, there will likely be no doormats next year. Dynasties just don't form in that kind of a division.

156
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:51pm

At 31 with Burress's height, do you really see a downturn in his play for the next 3 years?

He doesn't really outrun people, which is what usually fades from age.

157
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:52pm

#146... They're not trading Jeremy Shockey.

#138... No one is predicting a Pats' type run for the Giants, but this team should have some staying power. They are a VERY young team on defense and the only age they have on the team is at the WR position. Their biggest problem is they reside in a division that won't have even 1 awful team for quite some time.

158
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:53pm

#155: Beh, the "every one" should've been "all but one." I was pretty sure I was missing a round (and I was: Koets, in the 6th) but stuck "every one" in there and forgot about it.

159
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:55pm

138: You never know. The 2003 Pats and the 2001 Pats didn't exactly win in the same way. If those receivers (and Webster/Ross) mature and the Giants add some pieces through free agency...well, they may not be one-and-done. (Or what Will Allen said.)

My original comment was along the "you never know" route - seriously, who would have thought the Colts that got killed by the Jets would be a dominant team? How about the Pats that beat the Rams? Who would have thought the Rams would fall apart? I'm certainly not projecting a dynasty, but it's not completely insane to think they'll contend for a number of years - and after that, who knows.

And 139: I'm not sure what you're referring to, exactly - the game thread for the playoff game was pro-Colts, if anything. (I certainly was pulling for them and was open about it.) A number of SD fans complained about it. In any event, it's long past, and no need to flog Barbaro.

160
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:56pm

#156: Speed is so overrated it's not even funny. It helps when you're young and don't know how to play wide receiver. Age kills receivers due to injury and slower recovery time, not loss of speed.

That's kindof why Burress scares me even at 31 - a long, lingering injury like he had this year is usually a harbinger of doom.

161
by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:57pm

Where's Rich Conley today?

162
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:57pm

"and there were no late hits or dumb bickering on the field"

You are right-- and I can't believe I did not notice this. There was one incident early, where some Pat slapped a wideout (Toomer?) upside the head in front of the ref, and I was upset at the non-call (but figured it made up for Toomer's OPI non-call).

But after that, nothing. Jacobs kept his cool. Shockey wasn't there to be Shockey. I had gotten so used to the Giants doing something stupid in regards to that sort of stuff, that in retrospect I can't believe I didn't really notice its absence. Good job by them, and the Pats, keeping it pretty darn clean in this regard.

163
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:58pm

ammek, I truly am ready to bury my enmity for Cottrell; if I can go through one season in which he fails to put forth an egregiously bad scheme which defies all reason, I shall do so. Furthermore, in a gesture of good faith, I vow the name "Cottrell" shall never pass from fingertips again unless I witness such a thing once more.

164
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:02pm

re:160

Speed being overrated I'll accept, but Harrison seemed like he lost a step. Obviously he's a perfect case for your injury issue as well, but his lost step made a difference before that.

Eh.

165
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:02pm

Something I mentioned in one of the preview threads that I don't think has been pointed out: teams with a perfect regular season record are now 1-3 in NFL Championship Games. Only the '72 Dolphins have overcome that particular hurdle.

166
by ammek (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:07pm

Wow, Will, I didn't expect such a repenting response! I can't get over Gilbride's success myself, having watched him repeatedly design offenses which require the opposite skills to those of the QB he's supposed to be coaching. Maybe I should make a similar pledge.

Re: the Giants' future. It is repeated here and elsewhere that they're a young team and, ipso facto, should get even better if they stay together. Evidence is scarce, but seems to contradict this: in recent years, the more successful teams have won *while* they were young.

A case in point: this year's youngest teams are (depending on how it's calculated) Green Bay, Indianapolis and the Giants. Tennessee and Dallas are also youthful. They're all good teams. Presumably, then, if the younger teams are being successful, then the older ones are not. That contradicts the idea that a young team will have a bright future. It might be truer to say that young teams have a bright present.

167
by John Gach (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:09pm

1) Echoing #109, kudos to the FOs for an always interesting and sometimes brilliant discussion.

2) I'm surprised that no one has compared the Giants' defensive performance to that of the Ravens in the 2001 SB. After adjusting for the, er, slight difference in quality of opposing offenses, this year's Giants' defensive performance might have been even better.

3) I've been thinking a lot about DVOA this year. It's clear that DVOA predicts the past, not the future. I don't even think that it predicts anything like a simple probability for a future outcome. There are far too many interrelated and contingent factors (probably infinitely many, even for one game). I'd tentatively suggest that DVOA at best predicts the probability of a trend, assuming that x-many not necessarily yet determined variables stay reasonably constant.

4) As of January 15th, Mike Harris assigned the Giants a 6.7% probability of winning the SB. That was with only two possible games left to play, the second one being the SB itself. Roughly one chance in 14. I think the game opened with the Patriots favored by 14 points, then quickly moved down to 12 points, and finished on Sunday at a number of places at 11.5. There was, however, a startling disconnection between the money line wager and the wager with points. At 12 points, the money line should have required putting up about $750 to win $100 -- the very definition of "prohibitive favorite." Instead, it was 4.5 to 1 (and 4 to 1 at a site with an 11.5 point spread).

5) I mention all this in some detail, not to encourage wagering on football, but because it suggests the following: the "smart money" (i.e., the guys who actually make money wagering on sports contests) immediately wagered on the Giants. The house then had to lower the point spread to get sufficient action taking the Patriots' side. The public, notorious for betting late and for wagering on favorites, was in effect being bribed to bet on the Patriots.

6) So, what did the "smart money" know that nobody else seems to have known? And, whatever it is, how did they know it?

7) Given the intimate connection between the development of probability theory and gambling and insurance (occasionally a kindler, gentler form of gambling), these seem worthwhile questions to raise at a statistically oriented site.

8) It seems to me, though, that what beggars belief is not that the Giants won, but that they clearly outplayed New England almost the entire game, and that, except for two drives, they throttled the Patriots' offense. As Aaron Schatz put it, it is more the case that the Giants won the game than that the Patriots lost it. Wouldn't almost any sane person, if asked before the game, have said that the chance that the Giants would completely outplay the Patriots on both sides of the ball was minuscule, barely worth fantasying about? Ned Macey proffered a reasonable explanation -- in essence: the Patriots in the second half of the season weren't the team we thought they were -- but thought it too loony to mention beforehand.

9) Now that we've seen the game, we can point to the matchups that ended up favoring the Giants. I recall that Aaron mentioned (in, I think, his last article before the game) what the Giants had to do to win, which they then proceeded to do, as though they were checking off points on his list.

10) And last, what might have impressed me most is that the Giants did not play a perfect game. They made a number of mistakes that could easily have cost them a game they deserved to win (see the Ravens - Patriots for such an instance). As Belichick said in a post-game interview: "They made more plays than we did." Yep, that's what my eyes saw too. One doesn't game plan for The Greatest Catch and the Great Manning Escape.

168
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:11pm

ammek--

Seeing as the youthful Giants are the Super Bowl champs, I think it is safe to say that they have a pretty bright present. :-)

I doubt they are about to put together a dynastic run. But there are enough pieces that should be together for a few years that it is not reasonable to think they'll be in the hunt a few times in the next couple of years.

At least this greedy fan hopes so!

169
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:15pm

#159: I think you're missing the main comment, though. The Rams falling apart is unimportant to the Patriots rise - different conference, so that's just a question of who the Patriots faced in the Super Bowl.

The Giants are in too stable a division. The recent "dominating" teams (Patriots, Colts, even the Seahawks, Eagles, Steelers) all were in divisions that had at least one doormat, usually two, and sometimes even three.

170
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:16pm

Yeah, I wasn't predicting a Shockey trade, but I think it would be a smart thing to do, depending on the cap implications, and realizing, of course, that it is hard to get fair trade value in the NFL for a young player with talent. If he stays, somebody oughta smack him upside the head; he ain't good enough to justify his being an undisciplined route runner.

Pat, I have a very strong suspicion that Steve Smith will easily replace Toomer in importance next year, and although the division is tough, I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see Jerry Jones return to his habit of overrating his player evaluation skills, and begin to sabotage his team again. Who knows what'll happen in D.C.?

171
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:17pm

So, what did the “smart money” know that nobody else seems to have known?

That the Giants play in New York, and there are a crapload of Giants fans who bet.

172
by Doughboy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:18pm

I was reading Strahan's quote this morning, where he quotes Mike Tyson as saying, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth". In a round about way, this led me to finally put my finger on why people find DVOA a bit unsatisfying, and it has nothing to do with its predictive success:

I think even stats-sensitive people intuitively think that DVOA is limited in that its "roughgrainedness" appears to be insensitive to considerations of stylistic match-ups, and could not account for the plausible confidence that the Giants had before the Super Bowl (after having played the Pats in week 17) that they were a good physical match-up... what do I mean? Well, by rough-grained, I have in mind this: baseball statistical analysis, which is reductive to the level of individual abilities--such that one can predict fairly well how a team composed of 25 players who have
never played together before will perform as a team, based on a simulation... We don't have that in football, and probably can't in the near future for many reasons.

So DVOA is a better predictive system than, say, any madden-like football simulation. And maybe it always will be. But DVOA does not provide the tools for simulation, unlike a lot of baseball stats systems. And that, I think, is what makes it seem unsatisfying for a lot of the folks (including the trolls), because it doesn't *explain* success in the same way as statistical analysis in baseball does, viz., as a product of individual match-ups.

173
by Greg (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:21pm

The main thing is simple: they play in what I now feel comfortable saying is the best division in football (narrowly edging out the AFC South). There were no doormats in that division this year, there will likely be no doormats next year. Dynasties just don’t form in that kind of a division.

Agreed. Their defense is tough, and will probably continue to be even without Strahan. But I'm still not convinced that Eli is or ever will be anything more than a slightly-above-average quarterback, their receivers are old, as you note, and their secondary is still a bit shaky. Playoff contender? Yeah. Burgeoning dynasty? I really doubt it. I wouldn't be surprised if they failed to win the division next year - I think the Redskins will take a step back, but the Cowboys aren't going anywhere and the Eagles are likely to improve with a healthy McNabb and upgraded offensive talent.

174
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:22pm

Well, ammek, I do think my rhetoric directed towards the Coordinator Who Shall Not Be Named was entirely justified, so I'm not exactly repenting. Life's too short though, to rail endlessly about linebackers not getting lined up right, or six man fronts deployed against teams that can't pass but can run extremely well, so until I actually see such things again, I'll remain silent.

175
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:24pm

#170: The thing is, Jerry Jones could easily screw up the team enough to make them struggle. As in, 8-8, 7-9, or even 6-10 struggle. But unless Jerry Jones loses his mind, nothing will get rid of the large surplus of talent on the team. Ditto with Washington. The team's got too much talent to put them into doormat territory.

Those two teams easily have enough talent to coast for the next 3 or 4 years.

I haven't mentioned the Eagles, obviously, but when a team's had one losing season this decade, it's safe to say they're well managed.

176
by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:26pm

#155 - they play in what I now feel comfortable saying is the best division in football (narrowly edging out the AFC South). There were no doormats in that division this year, there will likely be no doormats next year. Dynasties just don’t form in that kind of a division.

What about a divisional dynasty? The NFC East produced seven super bowl champs in 10 years ('86 NYG, '87 WAS, '90 NYG, '91 WAS, '92-93 DAL, '95 DAL). That Dallas (ptooey) was the only true 'dynasty' (and due largely to the age-related decline of the other 3 teams... and, er, Arizona) probably means no individual team dynasty, but it wouldn't surprise me to see the division dominate like the old days.

177
by Doughboy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:30pm

171,
Apologies, but I so rarely have the opportunity to say such things so:

Regarding the "smart money"... I think Macey's explanation (Pats 2nd half/playoff run wasn't that dominating just looking at final scores) has it. (Since I rarely have a chance to say "i told you so", click my name and see the 1/22 post to see my invoking both Macey's thinking before the game...)

178
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:31pm

#176: Yeah, in terms of the NFC, at least, I think the NFC East is primed to take over the conference for quite a while. How well they match up against the AFC is another question. The only real competition they have in the NFC in my mind is Green Bay - the other strong teams (Seattle, Tampa Bay) to me are just older teams held together with duct tape.

179
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:33pm

I dunno, Pat. We're talking about a guy who turned one of the more talented rosters in NFL history over to Barry Freakin' Switzer. A decent case can be made that Jones has lost his mind already. Just about any conceivable disaster is possible.

180
by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:42pm

#178 - I know we've been saying this for ages, but Arizona also seems to have a good young nucleus and a front office/coaching staff that knows what it's doing. Then again, the Cardinals were the 'other' team in the NFC East, so one could conceivably still consider them part of the family.

#179 - I'm salivating at the thought.

181
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:53pm

Oh, goodness yes, George. My favorite moment for the entire year was the shot of ol' Jerr standing on the sidelines at the end of the playoff game with the Giants, with that priceless look on his face. If I could get it blown up Fathead-style, I'd do have plastered on the wall whenever I watched a Cowboys game. The funny thing is I actually like watching many Cowboys' players. The pleasure of seeing Jerry Jones in discomfort is just to good, however.

182
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:53pm

#179: Sure, fair point. But jeez, Eli could turn into Jake Delhomme II for that matter. It's all a question of likelihood, and that's all I'm saying - it'd take a lot of things falling the Giants way for them to be a dominant team over the next few years. And several of those things are completely out of their control.

183
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:55pm

Just saw something on Newsday that is... interesting.

All season, playoffs included, the Pats gave up only five touchdowns in the last two minutes of either half of the game.

Three were by the Giants, including the Super Bowl winning score.

184
by seth (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:15pm

re 167- you raise some very interesting points. i mentioned 2 or 3 weeks ago that the giants seemed to be getting bet like they were a better team than DVOA, or the "eye test" indicated they should be. the answer that the giants "have more fans who are bettors" doesn't make sense, because professionals don't allow lines to be skewed by amatuer bettors- they will come back and drive the odds down to what they see as the "correct price." for example, 30 years ago a pro might have been able to get a slight edge by betting against the most popular teams (notre dame was always the example used) but those days of unspohisticated, rabid fans skewing the odds are basically a thing of the past, according to what i've learned.

so that doesn't explain why the giants were held in relatively high esteem during the regular season...BEFORE the first game against the patriots, before eli stopped throwing interceptions, before ahmad bradshaw emerged, before corey webster starting playing like a man possessed, before shockey was hurt and replaced by kevin boss, before steve smith returned from injury, etc.

so what was there to like about the giants during the regular season?
this: the outstanding play of both the offensive and defensive lines. both lines played very well throughout the season, and were able to stay remarkably healthy, too. this is what i think the "smart money " was seeing this year. what i believe drove the DVOA (and the "eye test") down were mistakes, interceptions and dropped passes by the offense (i believe the giants led the league in both catagories), and, on defense, blown plays, often by the secondary.

so when the giants were able to limit these mistakes, their performance improved markedly.... it may be that it's more likely to be a dramatic shift in number of mistakes such as interceptions, fumbles (at least fumbles lost, we know), and dropped passes (one way to improve in this regard is simply to throw less to the players who do the dropping- i.e.- brandon jacobs.

the giants may have been a team with 2 excellent lines just waiting for more consistent, less mistake-prone play from the rest of their team. when that improved play arrived the big pieces (in both senses) were already in place for a serious playoff run.

in a related note- FO was ahead of the curve in at least a couple regards:

1.michael david smith's EPC all-pro team was the only one i saw that named chris snee. snee didn't even make it to the pro bowl as an alternate- but, we can expect voters, always a day late a dollar short, to name him for the next 5 years.

2. On october 19th (i just looked the date up) mike tanier had a feature on the giants defensive line called "four aces" - and discussed the havoc created by having 4 ultra-talented pass rushers on the field at the same time (of course, at the time he wrote that kiwanuka was still playing). mike also discussed the techniques that spagnuolo was using to take advantage of the line's talent.

185
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:19pm

169: Eh, I was just making a flippant comment (complete with happy face) to the effect that "dynasties" are highly unpredictable. The AFC East of 2002 (with Jets, Pats, and Dolphins all fighting for the playoffs) isn't the AFC East now. Who knows what will happen with the Redskins, or anyone else?

(And IIRC, weren't the Niners in a strong division for years? I remember the Rams often being a playoff contender, and sometimes the Saints, too.)

The Rams point had nothing to do with the Pats - it was just a statement to the effect that in 2001, many intelligent people felt the Rams would be the next dynasty.

186
by Vince Verhei :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:22pm

“Dallas/Green Bay/New England in the playoffs” Oddly another 18-1 team did. A team that almost everyone forgets. The 1984 49ners beat the Bears, Giants, Dolphins.

Um, no. The Giants just beat three teams with a combined regular season record of 42-6, that had a combined +589 point differential. The 84 49ers beat three teams (Giants, Bears, Dolphins) that went 33-15, with a combined +290 point differential. Really, the only unusually good team they beat were the Dolphins (14-2). The Bears were 10-6, and the Giants went 9-7 and actually allowed more points than they scored. Unless there was some REALLY weird scheduling going on, the 07 Giants' playoff slate was MUCH more impressive.

And that doesn't even include the win over Tampa Bay. This really was one of the craziest, most incredible playoff runs of all time, and I didn't even realize it until it ended.

187
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:35pm

It's not quite the same, but the Colts last season knocked down a 13-3 team, a 12-4 team, and a 13-3 team--and those were the top three defenses (by points allowed) in the league that year. Beating the top three defenses in the league (with a combined 38-10 record) is pretty impressive, though not as difficult as what the Giants just did for a few reasons.

And oddly, the year before that the Steelers took down, on the road, an 11-5 team, a 14-2 team, and a 12-4 team, then a 13-3 team on a neutral field. In the last three seasons we've seen some spectacular playoff runs.

188
by vanya (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:41pm

Aaron says "As for me as a Patriots fan, I’m surprisingly serene about the loss."

I think you're atypical. This is by far the worst loss that a Boston sports team has ever experienced - worse than the Sox in '86 or '03. You lose a Superbowl, someday you may get another chance. There is no way the Pats get another shot at 19-0 in our lifetimes, probably no way any team gets a real shot at 19-0. The Patriots choked like no team has ever choked before. Which is not to take anything away from the Giants and how well they played - I'm just saying if you call yourself a Pats fan and you're not devastated by this loss I have a hard time understanding you.

189
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:44pm

Another thought just dawned on me.

The only team the Giants played this year and did not beat was the...

Minnesota Vikings.

190
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:55pm

Some hooch-head today used that fact to claim that I was on the hook for fine scotch whisky for about 100 people. Nice try.

191
by seth (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:59pm

re MYP:
there probably should be an offensive and a defensive MVP for every super bowl. it seems the only way for a defensive player to win it now is with a multiple interception performance.

192
by Richard (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:02pm

I'm surprised there is not one mention of Asante Samuel dropping the interception that would have sealed the deal on 19-0.

193
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:13pm

#67 Kevin--
First of all, I spent all last week on the threads, BEFORE the game went down, writing about the fallacy of minimizing the Giants and warning those people looking for, shall we say, an edge--to not go against NYG yet again.
Secondly, I most certainly do not call DVOA worthless--re-read #40 please--I call it the best effort ever yet devised at football analysis. It's just that past performance can only take the analyst so far at rating "likelihood" of winning or covering or even predicting a good effort. Let's face the facts--the majority of people that were carrying on in these threads about how "mediocre" the Giants allegedly were--were emotional after having lost going against them. That's why the people that run the house live in palaces and drive Porche's and Lamborghini's etc. and the others complain in internet threads after the fact of an unsuccessful prediction !

194
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:20pm

187: I can't speak for Aaron, but I am managing to be crushed (hence frequent posting) and serene. When I dwell on the loss, I think two things: "if proposed to me in 2001 (or heck, 1991) that the Pats would win three SBs and come a play away from 19-0, would I take the deal?", and "am I happy to have supported a team that was a play away from perfection that was thwarted by a performance for the ages?"

The answer to both questions is an unqualified "yes." I'm crushed, but I'll get over it. Mostly.

(Not to mention that it's just a game. It's not, say, terminal cancer.

195
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:26pm

Vanya (#187 currently )

I think you have to have lived through the bad : Bucky Dent, Too many men on the ice, Buckner, 85/86 Bears, Len Bias, Reggie Lewis, Pitino era, the Parcells story leaking the week before the Green Bay SB...

and the good: '81 & '86 Celts, '01 '03 & '04 Pats, '04 and '07 Sox, with still hope for this years Celts and Bruins...

...for the Giants to win the last 3 games was bigger and felt more unlikely than anything I mentioned above, but I've suffered no major damage. It's rooted in a cross between being overly spoiled and overly tortured up here (mostly spoiled lately, yes). It's VERY strange...I was even on time for work this morning. We're a numb people here.

I'm still amazed and impressed with what the Giants accomplished. It was such a well executed and well deserved win, that I just can't be mad. Its a very strange thing.

196
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:33pm

Oh, you Pats fans can't even remember anymore what it means to be crushed, after winning three Super Bowls, although you had an inkling once upon a time. Put yourself in the shoes of a Vikings or Bills fan who endured four Super Bowl losses in a very short time, and never any victories. Or think of a Broncos fan before Elway had his time in the sun. You guys are pikers in the crushed by football suffering department.

We're the champs, and don't you Lions or Cardinals fans utter a peep; ya gotta get close to summitt to really know the bitterness of a crushing fall! We know suffering better than anyone, so there! We're number one!!!!!

197
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:37pm

Personally, I'm glad for football that the Patriots lost. I said it previously at the end of the Week 17 game, but I think all of the hype for the "unbeaten season" was really unhealthy for football as a whole. The season should be enough, because the season will always be there.

I'm also surprised no one's suggested that Belichick should've rested players in the latter portion of the season. Especially given the age of several of the players, it's certainly possible to make the case that they just wore down.

But, see, that's a question for Patriots fans as well. Would they have been happier with not going undefeated during the regular season, but still winning the Super Bowl? I don't know. I know what my answer would be in their place (yes, of course) but my team hasn't won 3 Super Bowls in the past 6 years.

198
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:47pm

I think the reason the comments are so subdued because we are all in shock. Being that this is a pretty rational corner of the Internet, I imagine most Giants posters had slight hope for winning the game. Especially when Brady drove the Pats back. Did anyone else really believe that Eli would out-Brady Brady? I know I didn't.

Well, its nice the welcome Pat's fans to the land of ifs so common to being on the losing side. You guys had escaped the "if only" game for 18 weeks. You guys have been on the other side. You guys got to see other fans say: "if only Feeley doesn't try to be a hero", "if only Rex Ryan doesn't call timeout", "if only Norv Turner could will his team into the end zone", "if only Northcutt had caught the ball", "if only Webster didn't fall down guarding Moss". Such is life in the NFL. It seemed to me the Pats players were just as shocked as we were.

I'd like to call Eli-Tyree "The Escape". My co-worker kept arguing me over lunch that the ball hit the ground and the NFL Network didn't show any clear replays because they didn't want to take away from the catch. The only time I remember seeing a catch like that was Lee Mayes in 1993 Notre Dame vs. Boston College, but I'm sure there have been others, but not in the stage, scale, and pressure of the moment that Tyree was able to capture.

Re: Manning MVP
Absolutely he earned it. Is it him and Montana who led their teams on game winning TD drives in the final minute of the Super Bowl? It's really odd to make the comparison between Eli and Montana.

Re: Toomer OPI
Yes it was OPI, but I think it's great that after a regular season where Moss got away with his share of pushing off one finally comes and bites the Pats.

Re: "Controversial fumble recovery"
I think most people felt that there was no way Bradshaw recovered the fumble, until they showed the instant replay. It looked like the guy trying to recover the fumble was laying on it but didn't have possession (well clearly, if the ball gets taken away like that he didn't have possession to start with).

I've seen various plays where a ballcarrier fumbled as he was being tackled and he didn't have full control, even though it was pinned against his body. I think this type of analogy works.

Re: Redskins hiring Spags
Thought Buck-Aikman were way over-hyping his influence over the game. The DL execution was awesome... how is it to the coaches credit that his d-line is completely whipping the o-line? Didn't make any sense to me, then again I don't know all that coaches do, but that D-line was unstoppable.

Re: Officiating
Thought it was average.

One play where Brady was in his endzone and it looked like he committed intentional grounding. At the same time he took a clear blow to the head that should've been roughing (I guess they've gone to 2004 rules).

Also ball spotting was an issue and there were a few DPIs that were missed (players making contact early).

199
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:03am

#192: I would have been here doing the same thing right along with you had I not been absolutely disgusted at the way things were going here. I'm loving how these "NYG minimizers" are suddenly coming out of the woodwork saying that a Pats loss was possible due to how they looked the last 7 games. Yeah, and hindsight's 20/20. Should've said all that *before* the game, fellas. You get lots more credibility that way, see.

#195-197: Preach AWN~! The reason Pats fans and players are taking this so casually is because they all just KNOW the Pats will simply go 19-0 next year. They really have taken winning for granted.

I used to be the same way when I was a kid in the early 80's. Whenever the Dolphins lost, I'd always just shrug it off because I *knew* they'd win the next game. Why wouldn't they? And then the '86 season happened, and all my smugness vanished real quickly.

200
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:04am

Re 131: "Before February 2002, I had seriously convinced myself that I’d never see any Super Bowl win in my lifetime. The franchise was that pathetic." Patriotsgirl, I respectfully disagree with you--I get very tired of the Pats fan mantra “I rooted for…the Pats when they were a joke,” partially because some (PRESENT COMPANY EXCEPTED) seem to think it entitles them to strut and preen shamelessly about their admittedly excellent team during recent seasons. A few years back when the Patriots started getting really good, this website seemed awash with Pats fans who seemed to believe that they’d spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness or something.

Here’s some insight–almost every team has had some seriously bad stretches. The team for which I root, the Steelers, varied between dreadful and average for my entire childhood, adolescence, and into my young adulthood before finally becoming good in the 70’s (and, yes, I’ll admit it, inspiring a lot of annoying strutting and preening by my fellow Steelers fans.) From an outsider’s perspective, I honestly don’t recall the Patriots being a laughing-stock. According to one historical website, which I have no reason to doubt, the Patriots were in the AFL championship game in 63, were division champions in 78 and 86, and almost annually since 96, made the playoffs in 76, 82, and 85, and went to the Super Bowl in 85. Yes, the Super Bowl…even before Belichick. While this is not a history of domination, neither is it a disgraceful record of ineptitude.

I’m sure if you looked at, say, Cincinnati’s history, or that of the New York Jets, or the Steelers or the Colts or the Bears or whoever, you’ll find some periods when they were good and others when they were pitiful. Let’s not even delve into the history of the Eagles or the Arizona/St. Louis/Chicago Cardinals or the Saints. That’s just the nature of a team/franchise…maybe even life itself. That’s why VH-1 made dozens of episodes of “Behind the Music” without having to revise anything in the script besides the band’s name.

The Patriots have been an excellent team during this decade and this year’s edition, despite losing the super bowl, can reasonably claim to be one of the historically outstanding teams. You are fortunate to be a Patriots fan, just as I am fortunate to have been a Steelers fan when Bradshaw and Ham and Greene and Lambert etc. were playing. Does remembering the lean years make the fat years any sweeter for you now or for me then?…yes, it does. Do those lean years set you or me apart from the fans of other teams, and somehow add extra validation to our excessively and sometimes even obnoxiously glorying in the accomplishments of a group of men who we’ve never even met?* I, at least, don’t think so.
*Full disclosure: I have met Rocky Bleier. He was pleasant and engaging, but if he’d been a jerk, I still would have appreciated what he did as a football player.

201
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:07am

#200: Oh now you've done it. Now you've caused this thread to be besieged by Pats fans moaning about the lifetime's worth of suffering caused by the 1990 season, and how it was hands down the worst season by any NFL team ever. (Because the Fins' 1-15 season is just chopped liver to them, see.)

202
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:08am

Will (195), if your reaction is to my post, that's an odd interpretation, particularly in the last 2 sentences of your post. That reaction wasn't my intent - if you did pull that sentiment from my post, it may because you skimmed the first 2 sentences and reacted quickly. But I didn't jump in for an argument - if it upsets you that much, I retract. As I mentioned, we've been mostly spoiled lately.

203
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:08am

BTW the Pats are officially the worst 18-1 team in NFL history, because all the others won the Super Bowl. And that's more than good enough for me :-)

204
by goathead (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:09am

The pass on The Escape was nowhere near hitting the ground. Just watched it again - it is still just an impossible play on both ends.

205
by Arson55 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:09am

Will Allen (too many comments here to list), why is it so apparently inconcievable to you that Jerry Jones has learned his lesson, and that he knows better than to do what he did before? I'll admit that I was a little worried initially after Parcells left (though it was time for him to go), but the Spencer pick during the draft convinced me that Jerry must still be listening to his coaches and personel people because I don't think there is any chance he picks another linebacker in the first round otherwise.

206
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:10am

195: Wait a minute. You mean there's also good? I live in Minnesota and I simply don't believe you.

207
by Empty until March Madness (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:18am

This is a great site because it is objective. DVOA rocks!

The reason I am posting (for the first time) is because so many are ripping Belichick for going for it on 4th & 13. He may be wrong: it wouldn't be the first, although it would be surprising. The reason I'm writing is: where is the analysis?

The GridIronMine has done objective analysis on this
decision.
They show that there is not much difference between a FG attempt and going for it. Although, the final analysis depends on probabilities of making a FG and making a first down.

Keep up the great work!

208
by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:24am

t was an absolutely inconceivable play, where Eli channeled his inner Roethlisburger

For that play, I've seen Eli compared to Roethlisburger a few times on this thread, Chris Berman compared him to Tarkenton last night, and I believe I've heard one or 2 other QB comparisons for 'The Great Escape'.

But as someone who was a little kid in New Orleans when #8 played, the obvious comparison is to Archie Manning, who was eternally running for his life to give his team a chance.

209
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:26am

Herm, it was just a joking reaction to Patriotsgirl's statement that she was crushed but serene; sorry if the humorous intent didn't come through.

Arson, it's conceivable, but I don't want to believe it, because it would deprive me of hoping for seeing many, many, many, more shots of Jerry Jones on the sideline like I saw three weeks ago.
Don't take my sentiments personally; I really do like watching many of the Cowboy players. Other than a Vikings victory, however, there is nothing more enjoyable to me in the NFL than watching Jerry Jones' sour puss as the Cowboys go down to defeat.

210
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:31am

My take on the 4th and 13 was that Belichik had absolutely zero confidence in his kicker at that distance, which may mean he won't be back next year. Of course, it also means that Belichik can be held responsible for having the guy on the roster to begin with.

211
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:36am

206 Pacifist Viking, I really don't know how to react to that, seeing what's happened in Minnesota, across all sports with all the tough trades and free agency. And I probably don't have the right to. But does it not give you hope that in one year, a team with a good defense and a good running game, but a ridiculed QB turned everything around and won a Superbowl? They're not 100% parallel, but the Vikings are getting better next year, right?

212
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:45am

The Patriots run in 2004 was pretty impressive too.

12-4 Colts (+171 points)
15-1 Steelers (+121 points)
13-3 Eagles (+126 points)
That's 40-8 and +418 points.

The 16-0 Patriots with their +315 points just distort everything and a lot of that margin is meaningless run up the score touchdowns.

Some others:

The 2001 Patriots beat:
10-6 Raiders (+72)
13-3 Steelers (+140)
14-2 Rams (+230)
37-11 and +442 points

The 1997 Broncos beat:
13-3 Cheifs (+143)
11-5 Steelers (+65)
13-3 Packers (+140)
37-11 and +348 points

The 1990 Giants beat:
11-5 Bears (+68)
14-2 49ers (+114)
13-3 Bills (+165)
38-10 and +347 points

213
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:52am

Herm, I won't speak for PV, but I'd feel a hell of a lot better if Plaxico Burress was on the Vikings roster. Who knows if they'll be able to go downfield next year, and I fear I might lose my mind if I have to watch 16 games of opposing coordinators putting nine guys in the box. On the bright side, their 2007 draft indicates they finally have their personnel department squared away after, years of McCombs era mismanagement. Unfortunately, I have doubts as to how much patience Wilf will show if he doesn't get stadium subsidies, which I don't see happening (and which really rub me the wrong way) until 2009 at the earliest.

214
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:53am

On 4th and 13, I'm willing to believe most teams have a chart immediately available (much like the one March Madness linked) adjusted for the opponent and their (lack of?) confidence in the kicker.
The chart is probably handled by the same coach who handles all punt, field goal, and 2 point conversion decisions.

The Patriots had been very successful on 4th downs, but this one is more easily questioned in negative light for a couple of reasons:
1. They were stuffed handily on a previous 3rd and 2.
2. In the spirit of a Monday morning quarterback, well, they needed those 3 points.
3. Not only did the 4th and 13 not convert, it failed miserably on a pass out of bounds to a double covered #3 receiver.

215
by Will (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:03am

The Giants are about TEAM.

They sent a message when they came out of the tunnel as a TEAM.

~~~~~

As a Rams fan, I was really disgusted by the weird moralizing that came after the game in 2002. They were soft -- physically and mentally -- they were arrogant, they were selfish, they were individuals, etc. etc.

There was even a 9-11 angle, with all the linkage to the name Patriots.

Last night wasn't payback, but I'll be interested to see what the spin is over the next few days.

216
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:09am

Is Manning getting better?

Annualizing his last 8 games, he's gone:
272 of 498, 3244 yards, 24 TD, 8 INT, 84.1 rating

He's had two other stretches as good as that in the past.

Week 9 to Week 16 in 2005:
266 of 516, 3622 yards 30 TD, 12 INT, 85.5 rating

Week 13 2006 to Week 2 2007:
300 of 514, 3166 yards, 28 TD, 12 INT, 84.8 rating

If we look at a 4 game stretch, his recent annualized pace was:
288 of 476, 3428 yards, 24 TD, 4 INT, 95.8 rating including the Super Bowl and:
300 of 468, 3412 yards, 32 TD, 4 INT, 105.1 rating including Week 17.

The only comparables are Week 2 to Week 6 2005:
280 of 516, 4112 yards 32 TD, 4 INT, 97.9 rating.

and Week 1 to Week 5 of 2006:
392 of 584, 4596 yards, 36 TD, 20 INT, 97.1 rating.

and Week 17 2006 to Week 2 2007:
288 of 492, 3140 yards, 32 TD, 12 INT, 89.0 rating.

So he hasn't done anything unprecedented performance-wise yet that he has never done before. The question will be if he can finally keep it up for a longer stretch than 5 or 6 games.

217
by Empty until March Madness (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:10am

Will: re 4th & 13. Belichick didn't literally have zero confidence in Gostkowski. The question is at what level of confidence does eschewing the FG makes sense?

GridIronMine.com's analysis shows that given reasonable probabilities for FG and pass, the choices are nearly equal. Even using extreme probabilities doesn't make the decision ridiculous, as often suggested.

It looks like good analysis to me.

218
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:12am

200: Eh, part of the problem with being young is that you don't have the emotional historical memory. I was a child and an adolescent from the first to the second Super Bowl, and so what I witnessed was either inept, or semi-successful but (like the 85 Pats) seen as a punch line or (like the 96 Patriots) losing in heartbreaking fashion (Desmond Howard?!).

Plus, I lived in Bills country, and was reminded all the time of how the Pats sucked in comparison.

But what I was referring to in part was the pre-Kraft off-the-field shenanigans: sexual harassment (and horrible owner response); an owner bankrupt from losing money due to a failed Michael Jackson tour; a cocaine scandal. Etc. The team almost moved to St. Louis, even.

And this isn't an attempt at martyrdom, it was just a comment that (for all of these reasons) the 2001 victory was a welcome surprise.

(Keep in mind that in 2001, the Lions of all teams had had recent regular-season success - I don't think anyone would have begrudged a Lions fan who said "boy, it's about time!")

Apologies if I'm coming across as entitled; I certainly don't mean to be. It's almost like the opposite: like I still can't believe the New England Patriots have won 3 out of 7 Super Bowls and are a major power. It's my meager attempt to try to restore historical balance to the "ZOMG Pats are the greatest, have always been the greatest, and will always be the greatest" media spin.

And way to go, Will Allen in 209 - kick the girl when she's down! *g*

219
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:15am

Will, I tend to agree that any moralizing that comes in the wake of a football game is pretty damned silly. I'd say the Rams lost to the Patriots that day because Martz was too damned stubborn to hand the ball off to Marshall Faulk. I suspect that if Faulk had been running behind Pace and Co. several more times, all the morality bloviating would have been relegated to the dustbin of history. I suspect, although I certainly don't know, that as a whole the '76 Vikings were a better bunch of human beings than the '76 Raiders. Didn't help them much in that Super Bowl, however.

220
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:29am

211: Well, earlier today I tried to picture Tarvaris Jackson doing any of the things Eli Manning just did, and I couldn't. Then again, a year ago I might not have pictured Eli doing it, either. But Will Allen is right: WR is the Vikings' biggest weakness. Hopefully Sidney Rice improves, and they sign somebody who turns into a playmaker (I like D.J. Hackett).

But a MN pro team hasn't even been to the championship round of any league since '91, so I have a hard time imagining any of our teams being relevant.

Of course, this is all a discussion for later in the offseason when we're bored, not right now while there's still a fresh Super Bowl to talk about.

221
by johnt (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:30am

192: Probably because he had to leap into the air as high as he could and backwards to even get his hands on it. And then he came down OUT OF BOUNDS because he had to stretch out so far to get it. I've seen Pats fans talking about how distraught they were when Samuel "dropped the interception" like it was thrown right to him and clanged off his hands. If he makes it it's a really jaw-dropping play.

222
by johnt (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:31am

Also, I'll add that I think it's become an issue mostly because Pats fans don't like Samuel very much after he held out and are looking for a scapegoat.

Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OIPdvCBewA

223
by njgiantsfan86 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:37am

I feel these analysts are giving too much credit to a New England collapse than a New York victory. I'm sorry, but to me, that game looked more like a Giant victory. Eli played well and really was not given credit, especially for that spectacular play.

That's the problem with DVOA. It cannot predict such plays that are pretty unique to football. That, and these analysts are obviously not fans of New York. Too bad that "experts", even ESPN "experts", are biased in their analysis. All I care about is that my team won, for the first time where I can actually appreciate it, MY team won. This is quite a feeling.

224
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:37am

Ok folks, let's think about this. You've got 4th and 13. That means you gained -3 yards on the first 3 yards. Why do you think you'll gain 13 on the next down? 4th and "less than" 7 is more defensible, but you had to get 13 yards! When your offense wasn't having the best night!

Play for the points or field position. Just a bad job of the Patriots FO at going into the season with an untrusted kicker and really bad punter.

225
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:38am

Andrew, who did he compile those numbers against, and in what circumstances? Part of his recent streak, for instance, came against a pretty good defense, in a championship game, on a night with a -25 below wind chill factor.

226
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:39am

Ok folks, let's think about this. You've got 4th and 13. That means you gained -3 yards on the first 3 downs. Why do you think you'll gain 13 on the next down? 4th and "less than" 7 is more defensible, but you had to get 13 yards! When your offense wasn't having the best night!

Play for the points or field position. Wouldn't any other coaching staff have gotten rid of the kicker or punter? Except it wasn't important until it really mattered.

227
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:46am

A modification to my naming of the "The Escape"... it should be called "The Great Escape"... my friend swears that the ball touched the ground on The Great Escape... he's an idiot but NFL Gameday didn't show a clear angle so he was crying conspiracy...

228
by Empty until March Madness (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:59am

#226: Ok folks, let’s think about this. You’ve got 4th and 13. That means you gained -3 yards on the first 3 downs. Why do you think you’ll gain 13 on the next down?

Remember that earlier that night the Pats lost 3 yards in only 2 plays yet gained 13 yards (actually 26) in one play.

If you really believed your argument, you would punt on second down after losing yardage on first down.
However, no one believe that because the result of one play is not a good predictor of the immediately following play.

But more importantly, you don't choose to pass on (or not to pass) 4th & 13 because you "think you will make it." You do it because you think it is your best chance to win the game.

229
by dbt (Bears fan) (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:11am

"Remember that earlier ... the Pats ... gained ... 26 ... in one play."

"the result of one play is not a good predictor."

uh..

More generally, sometimes you just need to take the 3 points. They goalposts don't just exist for after touchdowns.

230
by JerseyChris (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:28am

Fergasun-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OIPdvCBewA

Check it out here, the ball never touches the ground.

231
by old (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:33am

3. I know that it was probably not going to matter by that point, but I found Brady/McDaniels’ decison to start chucking one Hail Mary after another on the last drive a bit surprising. They still had approximately 30 seconds and all 3 timeouts. They had plenty of time to complete at least 4 or 5 passes, which could have easily gotten them into FG range. However, they acted as if they didn’t even have time to complete 2 passes. It was “All or Nothing”, an approach which actually seemed to plague Brady’s decision-making and McDaniels’ playcalling throughout the first half, but which appeared to have vanished during the previous go-ahead drive.

:: MC2 — 2/4/2008 @ 1:12 pm

The play calls astounded me, especially from a group who usually never panic in a situation like that. They had 30 seconds, and all three time-outs, and had to get at least into field goal range. I thought for sure the Pats would get the field goal, tie the game, then win it in overtime. I was astounded.

232
by anotherpatsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:35am

Vanya (or Stan or Karl Cuba or whatever troll monikers he prefers)said: I’m just saying if you call yourself a Pats fan and you’re not devastated by this loss I have a hard time understanding you.

What you are just saying is you want Pats fans to be miserable today. A sentiment that if expressed by an a-hole Pats fan to a Chargers or Colts fan would be held up as an example of why all Pats fans are a-holes. Your comment speaks volumes -- about you.

A Pats fan not devastated by this loss might be a Pats fan with, oh, say, a family. A job. In general, a life. (although I have questioned Aaron's Pat fanhood when he says things like he doesn't hate the Colts. All real Pats fans hate the Colts. Because they are good, and can beat the Pats. Same goes for the Chargers, and the Giants might now be on the list. But hating the Colts doesn't mean I want Bobman to stroke out when they lose). Life goes on -- they may call the Pats chokers the rest of their pro lives, but I've probably faced all the crap at work I'm likely to get.

The Pats choked on the opportunity presented by the game and got beaten up by the Giants. Perhaps trying to keep things all wound up for the undefeated season raised too much pressure or tired some of the old guys out. They had it all to lose in the Super Bowl, as the season is effectively a failure. It is silly to ask if the undefeated regular season was worth losing the superbowl. The answer is no. 18-1 would have been dandy. Being in the mix for the second or third or fourth tier of all time teams would have worked.

Sigh. As "Hitler" said in that YouTube video, "at least I won my fantasy league."

As for 4th and 13, the decision was double-o stoopid. I'll agree the punter is not good, but Gostkowski is a good kicker with a stronger leg than the former/now Colts kicker. He hadn't kicked a 49 yarder this year (a 52 last year), but FGs not a huge part of the Pats offense this year (only 22-26, which is at least OK). Giants would trade Tynes for him. If you miss, you just lost 7 yards over doing what you did. Silly.

If you are going to make that call, maybe send 2-3 deep and throw the slant or WR screen and let Stallworth or Faulk run for it, and at least gain some yardage. One would think a coach might tell Brady 'if you go to endzone, throwing it out of bounds is dopey, as an INT is ok'. Or it was just another errant throw by Brady, who too many times, even when he had some time and stepped up and looked like he knew where the pass was going, missed badly.

Arrrrrrrrgggggggg. Pulled into the vortex...

233
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:50am

Checking the gamebook, I roughly count 40 offensive plays prior to getting to 4th and 13. Of those plays 3 of them gained more than 13 yards. Sure they had a decent 3rd down conversion rate, but something reasonable to convert would've been less than 7 yards or so... not 13. I'm just saying, I wouldn't have gone for it because logically it doesn't make sense.

234
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:55am

Re: The Great Escape
I was on the other side arguing unequivically saying the ball didn't hit the ground (or if it did he maintained control all the way through).

At the time I thought it merited a review. Does the Replay official look at the Fox replays unofficially decide if he buzzes the play? Because I thought it was close enough that they should've at least taken a look at it to make sure it was legit. It was a good call not to do a booth review as it kept the flow and excitement of the game going, but made me wonder at the time...

235
by Toast Patterson (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 3:36am

Re: "The Great Escape"

I kind of like keeping it simple: "The Play."

236
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:10am

#207: The GridIronMine has done objective analysis on this decision.

It's not really objective - it's entirely built on the "victory factor" model, which is moderately subjective - there's not enough data in the history of the NFL to support, objectively, the "chance of victory" change between those three outcomes.

Really, the whole thing is dependent upon what Belichick thinks the chance of success of his offense is, and there's no way to determine that objectively. Just going by approximate points (1.5 points for attempting the field goal, 1.5 points for punting and gaining 25 yards), you'd probably need at least a 25% chance of converting that down for it to be the right move.

Personally, I think it's fairly obvious. You're up 7-3. It's obviously going to be a low-scoring game. Even converting the first down is no guarantee you'll get a touchdown. Don't bother attempting to convert - either punt or kick the field goal, and I think Belichick would trust Gostkowski more than Hanson.

237
by Loyatulla (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:29am

Congrats Giants: The Pats didn't lose it, you won it (man, I did so want that 19-0). I find myself asking the same same question for the third straight year: How much 'genius' went away when Weis and Crennel left? The playoff gameplans and adjustments just haven't been at quite the same level since.

238
by Dori Reichmann (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:39am

A request: Can Mike do a TDZ on how the Giants defense fornt could push rush without loosing contain of the screen ?

239
by fogarty (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:53am

Re 235: Sorry, Toast Patterson, but "The Play" will always be associated with the unbelievable ending to the Cal-Stanford game (link in my name).

240
by Mystyc (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:10am

I sort of like "The Jersey Miracle" - both referring to Eli's jersey and the fact that the Giants are technically from Jersey. Not quite the same zing, though.

241
by zug zug (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:21am

I kind of like "the perfect play". So much of the chatter before and in the game was about pursuit of perfection, or simply being perfect when it counts. While obviously a broken play, it was a perfectly executed broken play, as mentioned by Gerry, the O-line's second effort, Eli's slip and Tyree's catch.

242
by mush (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:00am

188. This is by far the worst loss that a Boston sports team has ever experienced - worse than the Sox in ‘86 or ‘03.

I COMPLETELY disagree with that. The events of October 2003 almost killed me. At that point I'm thinking that not only will the Red Sox never win a title in my lifetime, but I finally accepted that maybe, just maybe, they were put in this world for me and my family and friends to suffer.

Any rational Patriots fan has to think that, hey, we've had a heck of a run, and while the events of Sunday night were disappointing, we were beaten by a better team that night in a wonderful game to watch. Tip your cap, move on. I'd say 99 percent of the Boston-area fans I've surveyed see it in the same general way I do. Comparing it to what the Red Sox fans went through in 1986 and 2003, fans who had no recent title success to fall back on, just doesn't add up to me.

243
by Subrata Sircar (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:09am

Re 149:
As they ran that play, I saw Tuck go down and figured "Ah the Patriots have adjusted to the pass ru - wait, who just crumpled Brady?!" Then they showed the replay ... I mean, Tuck wasn't just pushed, he hit the ground ... and bounced up and was back at the QB in two steps. Just ridiculous second effort on his part.

I don't blame Mankins; normally if you put a guy on the ground, you've done your job and more on that play.

244
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:32am

Well I was going to do a big long post but Doug Farrar's last comment summed up my thoughts pretty well.
I kept thinking the Pats were going to make a big play on offense, but it never really came. After the Pats got that lucky pick and the 12 men on the field call I thought they would score to put it away but they never could. Also agree that on the 4th and 13 going for it was a terrible call. It was also nice to see a game where it didn't seem like Brady was standing behind a brick wall. every time he dropped backed to pass.

I don't think I've ever been so happy for a sports event that I wasn't actually playing in in my life (seeing as how my teams never win). That was completely amazing. I was at a party for most of the time but went to a sports bar for the last 10 minutes and there were people crying and hugging who had never even met and one guy walking around with a big 18-1 sign. Pats fans sat there silent for a good 15 minutes. I'm still kinda shocked.

After all of the ridiculous Pats comments that many people have had to endure the whole year (Although not so much here, but Ben Rileys (paraphrasing) "Hate to break it to everyone, but the Pats are winning the SB" along with "The Colts/Pats AFC Championship game aka the SB" keep playing over and over in my head) it was the greatest feeling to see them have to be quiet in the end. And I'm no expert but I have to say I tried to point out that the Pats were nowhere near the team they were in the first half of the season (outscored opponents by only half as much) but was recanted with the "Vanilla defense/Other team's superbowls nonsense. After a year of frustration watching ESPN's lovefest over the Pats its nice to know I'll remember this whole ordeal in a good light.It was pretty clear the Pats had taken a huge step back, they just didn't dominate. I said all along the odds were they lose in the playoffs but who would off thought to the giants. Oh yeah and I was wrong about the pats losing to the colts. Very wrong. At least I got it right that the Pats would lose though! :)

It was ironic how it seemed like in the AFCCG it seemed like the Pats would have lost to the Colts and maybe the Chargers if they were healthy, but of course staying with the theme of this season they avoid both. This had to be one of the easiest roads to a SB you could ask for, one good but not great team and two average one (when you factor in the Chargers injuries).

Also I think it must be said that many of the Pats fans were ragging on LT/Chargers for being classless. Yeah, after Bellicheck's (the ultimate representative of the "Patriot Way") extremely weak move to leave before the game was over I think they might just want to be quiet now. Stay classy Pats, stay classy.

And how crazy will the NFC East be next year. The SB Champs, the team with the best record in the NFC, another playoff team, and the Eagles, who were 8-8 and probably should have been better, especially if they had been in a different division. It should be really fun to watch what should be the best division in football over the next few years.

Last thing, at the end of the game there was a commercial with the '72 Fins and the Giants. If you click on my name you can see what would have aired had the Pats won. All I can say is, the ending was perfect! And I guess thats kind of a long post. ;)

245
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 8:11am

#244: That is the greatest post I've read since the Super Bowl ended. Just magnificent. You summed up all my thoughts before and after the game perfectly, sir.

In a strange way, I believe all the media fellatio the Pats received actually hurt them. In today's sports world the last thing you want to be is the heavy favorite going into a game of this magnitude. It's been proven time and again in recent years that's just not a good position to be in.

Contrast this to the '72 Fins, who had SI predicting an easy win in the Super Bowl--for the Redskins. Not to mention another team's owner coming out and saying their coach would blow it. At that time, it didn;t seem like *anyone* in the media gave them a chance, and they were practically the underdogs.

The '72 Fins were motivated to go 17-0 because of the humiliating thrashing they'd received in the previous Super Bowl. The Pats were motivated to go 19-0 because they were caught cheating. We all saw which motivation was stronger :-)

246
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 9:11am

Congratulations to the New York Giants and their fans. Fantastic game.

Takes the sting out of the GB loss seeing the Giants smack the h&ll out of the Patriots. There was NO WAY the Green Bay defense gets anywhere close to this effort. And this was the recipe for beating NE. Green Bay outscoring them is a laughable notion. The Packers would have been beaten and beaten soundly.

The sight of the NY Tight End leaving Rodney Harrison in his wake is my personal memory from this Super Bowl. I laughed and laughed and laughed. And then I laughed some more. I am delighted that the Patriots keep this guy on the team. He makes moments like this possible. Relishing in another person's misery without any guilt because said stooge is such a miserable excuse for what constitutes a human being. It's a rare opportunity. Gracias.

Way to go Giants.

And Rodney--I am still laughing dude. Come and get me.

247
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 9:17am

Almost forgot, thanks again to the team at FO. Great work this season.

As to the critics here and in previous threads, f*ck'em. I could provide advice on a bit higher plane, but this cuts to the chase so why bother with the more pleasant wording? To h&ll with those clowns. They mock that which they don't understand. Been happening for thousands of years. Some evolve and those who don't become critics.

And the thread begins with PV making some obtuse point as opposed to anything to do with the actual game.

Just like a Viking fan. Ha!

248
by Empty until March Madness (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 9:27am

#236: [The GridIronMine is] not really objective."

Well, its analysis may not be good; it may even be objectionable. But it uses a mathematical formula based exclusively on data. That makes it objective.

#236: ... you’d probably need at least a 25% chance of converting that down for it to be the right move.

Let's suppose you are right. The Pats converted 1 out of 2 3rd and long. For the season (according to GridIronMine), the Pats were 23.8% in 3rd and long.

249
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 10:23am

Re 246: "And the thread begins with PV making some obtuse point as opposed to anything to do with the actual game.

Just like a Viking fan. Ha!"

Don't you mean "abstruse" instead of "obtuse"?

Just like a Packer fan. Ha!
(Although your bikini girls are really cute.)

250
by vanya (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 11:14am

#200, you're exactly right about the Pats - they were never really a laughing stock franchise - even in pre-Kraft era from 1960 to 1994 they were far more successful than the Browns, the Lions, the Falcons, the Saints, the Bucs, etc. etc. There is certainly no reason at all for Pats fans to feel self pity - I find that annoying as well. The myth that the Pats were ever a laughing stock is pushed by the Boston media, who despised the Sullivans for being Irish trash upstarts and, after '67 anyway, were all die hard Red Sox fans.

And #232, you sound just like one of those die hard Red Sox fans who turns to the Pats as an afterthought. Maybe you're actually Dan Shaughnessey writing under a pseudonym. Those of us who have been rooting for the Pats since the 70s have every right to be miserable, and most people I see around Boston today are pretty miserable. 19-0 may be something nobody should attain, but it would have been pretty damn cool. Maybe Boston fans really are spoiled and jaded, but after 42 of the things a Superbowl really isn't as big a deal as it once was, as you get older you realize there will always be more Superbowls. And winning a Superbowl is very fleeting, the clock gets reset in August and no one really cares today, say, that Tampa Bay won a Superbowl in 2002. Big deal. 19-0 would have been glorious, a true win for the ages. Now the Pats are just another good team. If you take this loss with equanimity I don't think you're much of a fan, sorry.

251
by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 11:58am

#244: "It was ironic how it seemed like in the AFCCG it seemed like the Pats would have lost to the Colts "

Dude, I am a Colt fan, but even I can't join you on that fantasy world. Without Freeney (and Booger all year long), the Colts would not have had a good enough pass rush to stop Brady and Co. from scoring 30+. Not sure Peyton and Co. could have put up that many.

The Pats lost to the Giants, but they wouldn't have lost to many other teams. The Giants had what you need: a great pass rush. The Colts, in 2007, did not have that.

252
by anotherpatsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:03pm

249 Vanya, if you are a miserable Pats fan right now, I feel your pain -- I took your post for something else.

I am not Dan Shaungnessey or a bandwagoneer, and am a lifelong Pats (and all Boston sports) fan -- grew up in Newton, went to BU and MIT, and am old enough to have watched the Pats play in Fenway Park. Equanimity not really in abundance in me since the game, but I am more pissed than anything. Perhaps I just got to the anger stage of grief pretty quickly. It was an awful loss, and left me feeling like I wasted 5 months of emotion in watching this exciting team (including the last 2 months where they seemed to fray a bit and seeming needed to be held together with more and more duct tape), which is the wrong feeling, but there it is. I still laugh every time I watch the Hitler Cowboy fan You Tube video, and I wish someone would do one for Pats fans.

Today Mike Reiss discussed the puzzling 4th and 13 call, which was still a WTF at the time and in hindsight inarguably the wrong call -- Reiss (and he seems a little pissed too) says:

The Patriots had advanced the ball to the Giants' 31 midway through the third quarter, gobbling up the clock on a 14-play march. Holding a 7-3 lead, and facing a fourth-and-13 situation, it was time to make a critical coaching decision.The options seemed clear:

Attempt a field goal of 48-49 yards.

Go for it, figuring that even a completed pass short of the first down serves a similar purpose to a punt.

Punt or pooch punt, with the idea of pinning the Giants inside their 10.

The percentages, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, indicate that Belichick and his staff should have sent kicker Stephen Gostkowski on to try a field goal.

NFL teams that went for it on fourth and 13 or longer this season were 4 of 22. There were three running plays and 19 passing plays - none of the runs made it and only four passes were successful. Overall, that's an 18.2 percent success rate.

On the flip side, kickers were 88 of 158 on field-goal attempts of that distance (approximately 47 yards) or longer, for a 55.7 success rate.

The Patriots went for it, and the play didn't have a chance.

Lined up with three receivers, a tight end and running back, hurried quarterback Tom Brady unloaded a long pass down the left sideline for Jabar Gaffney that sailed out of bounds. Incomplete.

Statistics aside, it was a puzzling choice given the route run by Gaffney, and Brady's decision on the low-percentage throw in his direction.

Ok, so if you do the math and assume that if they make the first down they score a touchdown X percent of the time and a fieldgoal Y percent of the time (and X plus Y should be 90 percent or more by then), it still seems there is more positive expectation in a fieldgoal (if the field goal is a coin flip and you score a touchdown every time you make the 4th down the field goal yields more expected points). This doesn't factor in the negative expectation from leaving the Giants with the various field position options, but I doubt that makes much difference -- ultimately, just an indefensible call.

253
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:06pm

You don't take your season conversion average on third and long to estimate what your odds are of doing so in a particular game, especially when your offensive line has been getting it's ass whipped for almost the entirety of that game. The only thng that makes sense is that you have extremely little confidence in your kicker, which calls into question why he has been kept on the roster.

I watched some highlights last night, and didn't see any max protect schemes from the Pats, so I guess I'd really like to see a breakdown of their pass blocking schemes. Moss had a definite mismatch, even against double teams, from what I saw on the broacast's narrow scope. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened with a more classic Gibbsian approach to offense; a commitment to try to run the ball, with some max protect/downfield strikes mixed in.

254
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:12pm

Badger, I don't think Rodney can hear you, Atari Bigby was covering his ears.
Let me check...
Oops, I was wrong, it must have been hole in zone...we know Bigby can't cover anything (I kid!)

I imagine a lot of people enjoy the Tyree highlight on a second level because of who he kept the ball away from. But if you wanted the Giants to win, you'd have to partially thank him; he pulled his patented "injure your own teammate by hurling your body violently at a pile of people." Randall Gay was his victim this week.

255
by Viva Pedro (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:24pm

RE: 212

The Steelers also had an amazing run. Not including the Wild Card game against the Bengals, Pittsburgh beat:
Indy (14-2) +192
Denver (13-3) +137
Seattle (13-3) +181
Total (40-8) +510

They beat the top 2 offenses in the league on the road (NFL stats) and the 2nd and 3rd rated defenses (again, NFL stats).

256
by crack (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:33pm

244 - Thank goodness you didn't do a _long_ post.

250 - I took it that the "if they were healthy" was meant for both the colts and chargers. I could be wrong, but that's how I took it. Which would mean the Colts with Freeney.

257
by Judy B. (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:37pm

251-It didn't make any sense, unless you've convinced yourself that your offense can work miracles and your kicker can't do anything right. Rationally, even the best offense shouldn't be expected to work miracles, and Gostkowski seems trustworthy enough for a long-ish FGA indoors.

258
by Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:53pm

Fumble recoveries in the field of plays are not reviewable. That's the rule.

259
by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:07pm

Apropros of nothing, the BBC produced a fine piece of Television during halftime.

Rod Woodson was talking about his win with Baltimore, and Mike Carlson said that while the Ravens D was dominant, their O had a clever game plan, which he called "The Angie Harmon Offense"; when pressed Carlson said that the Ravens decided to "Strip Jason Sehorn Naked".

It made me chuckle.

260
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:07pm

Re: Patriots and Max Protect
It kind've reminds me of the discussion we had on another thread where the Pats were said to have the greatest offense because they could adjust to the situation. But dealing with heavy pressure from 4 and 5 man rushes could be the one think the Pats roster wasn't built to deal with. Who do you keep as the extra blocker? I'd think you'd still want Faulk as an outlet, so you'd keep Watson in, and you'd still need to keep one of Welker/Moss/Stallworth in to block. Additionally, didn't the Giants pressure successfully keep a 4th WR off the field?

Re: Pats desperation drive
I'm actually a fan of throwing hail mary's earlier than expected. So even though the play didn't work, it came pretty close. If you wait until it's a really obvious situation the Giants will have everyone deep.

261
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:08pm

Updated as of 1/15 (before the Conference Championship games), these are the odds posted on the playoff odds link.

TM DivWin SB Win
NE 65.7% 44.5%
GB 71.8% 31.3%
SD 34.2% 17.2%
NYG 28.1% 6.8%

I not posting to criticize this, it holds the same feeling I had about the Giants chances of getting to (slim) and winning (almost none) the SB.
Which is why we love this game.

262
by goathead (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:09pm

I'm very happy to see people using my naming of "The Escape" or even "The Great Escape", keep it up, I want this name to become part of the folklore of the greatest game in Giants history (or at least the last 30 years of Giants history since thats how long I've been a Giants fan).

263
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:26pm

I'll push The Great Escape.

I'm also laughing right now because reading above, I think Bucky Bleeping Dent and Aaron Bleeping Boone are getting a couple of cousins this week - Eli Bleeping Manning and Justin Bleeping Tuck

264
by Roscoe (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:28pm

Something nobody has commented on (I think) is the remarkable contribution that the Giants were getting from their rookie class. Smith (Rnd. 2 from USC)and Boss (Rnd. 5 from Western Oregon) had great games. Ross, the 1st rounder from Texas started for most of the season (although he seemed to be having his problems with Welker, but so did a lot of other people). Bradshaw, the 7th round pick from Marshall, was the game's leading rusher. Michael Johnson (7th round from Arizona)also contributed. And that last sack was by a rookie, (Alford out of Penn State).

265
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:28pm

Fergasun, I agree that when you have a receiver who has beaten double coverage as frequently as Moss has, a hail mary early makes some sense. Along the same lines, when a Gibbs offense goes max protect, it typically means at least seven, and sometimes eight guys blocking, and simply deciding whether one of the two or three guys that are running patterns can win their match-ups. With a receiver like Moss who is always a threat deep, no matter the coverage, and a guy like Welker who has a knack for finding soft spots, well, it's something I would have liked to see. Combined with a real commitment to try to run the ball, which helps keep the safeties less than 25 yards off the line of scrimmage, it may have been an interesting matchup. It certainly seemed as if Moss was capable of running past the Giant's coverage schemes, if only Brady had time to wait and step into his throws.

266
by Kwame Flaherty (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:35pm

Re: 100

The reason the defense didn't peak like it had at the end of the season is the secondary. It could be argued that the pass rush was even BETTER midseason because they had Mathais Kiwanuka playing DT on 3rd down (the 4 aces package that was discussed here early in the season).

However the secondary was still a work in progress. Webster was awful and was often inactive. Madison was battling injuries and was just inconsistant. And Ross was just getting settled as a starting corner. James Butler seemed to miss a tackle or coverage (see week 17, both Cowboy games) that would turn into a TD every game.

However, I think due to injuries forcing everyone to play (even Dockery started a few games and they started backups at both safety spots for two games) the Giants somehow became deep in the secondary. While outside of Ross, nobody has great tools, by the end of the season they seemed to all be on the same page. Even back ups like FS Mike Johnson. They were sound enough to give the pass rush that extra half second to get to the passer.

267
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:40pm

Nah, herm, the "bleeping" moniker works best when applied to a guy who does something that he normally sucks at, like Dent or Boone hitting for power with men on base. Manning and Tuck are good players. Now, "David bleeping Tyree"; that's a workable concept!

268
by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:43pm

#260:
"I’m actually a fan of throwing hail mary’s earlier than expected. So even though the play didn’t work, it came pretty close. If you wait until it’s a really obvious situation the Giants will have everyone deep."

If the Pats had been in a spot where they had to have a TD, I'd agree, since it would be very tough to go the length of the field without at least one long bomb. But in this case, I think they probably could have avoided throwing the Hail Mary altogether.

With 30 seconds left and all 3 timeouts, they had plenty of time to complete multiple passes. If they complete 4 or 5 passes for an average of 10-12 ypc, they would have probably been at least at the edge of Gostkowski's range.

Maybe Will Allen's right, and it comes down to Belichick's lack of faith in Gostkowski.

269
by taxistan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:51pm

Anyone outside of Arizona who thinks their NFL team is awful should be forced to live in Atlanta and be a Falcons fan for five years. Heck we even have an owner named BLANK!

270
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:56pm

Re: #265

It certainly seemed as if Moss was capable of running past the Giant’s coverage schemes, if only Brady had time to wait and step into his throws.

Strike "It certainly seemed as if" from that. Moss was beating the Giants coverage (including one time where he ran straight through and split a double-team), but Brady couldn't get it there. More than once he had Moss open and the ball fell short. And even on the final drive, if Brady had been able to put 2-3 more yards into that first bomb to Moss, I think there's an excellent chance Moss would have caught it. That said, I agree with everyone who was shocked at the desperation heaves at the end. Of course, if the Pats hadn't held on the return, the drive would have started from around the 34 instead of the 17.

271
by panthersnbraves (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:23pm

Re 182.

For Eli to become Jake Delhomme II, he needs to have a wide receiver named Steve Smith complimented by a big veteran possession receiver. He would also need for a strong defensive line to give him good field position and keep the game close.

Oh wait, never mind.....

272
by bengt (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 2:32pm

#32: I have no idea what the nickname for that play will be
I propose 'The Backbreaker', in reference to both the Pats and David Tyree.

273
by Nicky P (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 3:15pm

As a Pats fan, the outcome was definitely disappointing. Kudos to the Giants on playing a great game and outplaying the Pats. They deserved to win this game.

There are no excuses in this one. The officiating was fine. The Giants were the better team on this day, from just about any angle.

I haven't read all the posts, but how does the pressure of 19-0 factor into this? It just kept building every week, while the Pats maintained a "just another game" attitude (at least publicly). Isn't that, in and of itself, the problem here? The SB is not just another game. The Patriots came out in a business-like manner, showing no emotion from the very beginning - just another game. If there's ever a game to raise the intensity and show some fire, wouldn't this be the one?

I also wonder if we'll ever find out the truth about Brady's ankle. Why not roll the pocket to buy him some time? They've done it in the past. Did this not occur to anybody in this game? Or was the ankle such a concern that it limited some of the playbook?

Even after being outplayed and outcoached in just about every aspect of the game, what makes it even more frustrating is knowing that there were several plays on that final NY drive that COULD have ended the Patriots season in their favor. But it just never happened.

The other thing that concerns me as a Pats fan is they were a couple minutes away from beating the Colts last year, but the excuse was the lack of offensive firepower. So they loaded up in the offseason and were doing some great things, and then against a team that I *thought* was worse than the prior year Colts, they still couldn't finish.

It kinda makes you re-think the whole "60 Minute Men" angle they were trying to sell the fans this entire season.

NOW, NOW! after 18 consecutive victories and one GIANT loss, they've been served their "Humble Pie."

274
by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 3:53pm

On the desperation drive long passes:

I wonder if the NE plan was to do this: on first down, try a long pass to catch NYG off-guard somewhat (BB usually plays to win, not to not lose), which was incomplete. But then go underneath on second down. Unfortunately, that's the play when the Giant rookie broke through the line and sacked Brady almost instantly. Then, the Pats were stuck. The clock was down to about 21 seconds, and they still had 40+ yards to get in FG range.

275
by Eric (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 4:03pm

273: "I haven’t read all the posts, but how does the pressure of 19-0 factor into this? It just kept building every week, while the Pats maintained a “just another game” attitude (at least publicly). Isn’t that, in and of itself, the problem here? The SB is not just another game. The Patriots came out in a business-like manner, showing no emotion from the very beginning - just another game. If there’s ever a game to raise the intensity and show some fire, wouldn’t this be the one?"

Yep, this would be the one. And, after having lived through the disappointment that was the 2001 Seattle Mariners (116 wins, lose in the ALCS to what turned out to be a Yankee team past its peak) when it was apparent the Pats were coming out in "just another game" mode, their chances of winning dropped dramatically. It's NOT just another game.

I don't like "businesslike" teams. I want to see some emotion, but it does need to stay channeled.

276
by Eugene (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 4:05pm

First of all I dont think that the Patriots lost this game because of the "pressure" of going 19-0. They lost because they got full of themselves, took their competition lightly, and didnt prepare well enough. The whole week I got the feeling from Patriots players that they felt the Giants were beneath them. This was clearly evidenced by Tom Brady's smug response to Plaxico's prediction.

I understand that the Patriots completed the greatest season in history. That being said I dont think it's justified to call this the greatest upset in sports history. Someone explain to me how beating a team by 3 points is the greatest upset in history, when you just played that same team 5 or 6 weeks ago and only lost by 3.

277
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 4:14pm

232, anotherpatsfan: Why on earth have you dragged me into that row? All I have said is that I thought the non OPI on Toomer was OK because Hobbs was grabbing at him. How does this equate to me being a troll?

278
by goathead (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 4:20pm

The only people are using the "greatest upset ever" line is because they made the mistake of calling it the biggest mismatch ever. As someone who saw every Giants game this year and most Pats games, this matchup was comparable to the Pats-Rams SB. I'll say again - the biggest mismatch ever was Bears Pats.

Having said that, Giants over Pats and Pats over Rams are (in my mind) tied for the biggest Superbowl upsets I've ever seen, followed closely by Giants over Bills. But in all sports? NOT even close.

279
by goathead (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 4:25pm

Re: OPI on toomer - the funny thing about this play was on the 1st replay (from behind) I thought I saw DPI on Hobbs. On the next replay I saw a clear OPI on Toomer. I haven't watched this part again (yet) but based on what I saw on those two replays, offsetting DPI/OPI (or illegal contact/OPI) seemed like the right call.

Regardless, this play had no impact in the outcome, so its mostly a non-issue.

The delay penalty on the Giants was clearly a bogus flag. But really, if you compare this to Steelers/Seahawks the officials had no impact on the outcome of the game.

280
by panthersnbraves (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 4:32pm

279, I seem to remember seeing there is a half-second gap before they throw the Delay of Game flag. It had to do with how QB's can call timeout with the clock showing 00.

281
by Gerry (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 4:50pm

280-- when that flag was called, I said on the gameday thread that it was surprising because they've been giving the QB the benefit of bit longer in the recent games I had watched.

There were some other calls, besides Toomer's non-OPI which went the Giants way, that I thought were shaky. There was a 3rd down pass that was broken up where at first view I thought we hit the receiver too soon. On one of the false starts a good case could have been made that we infringed the neutral zone. While I don't think there was conclusive evidence at all that the Pats guy who fell on the fumbled exchange ever had possession (it looked to me like his body was on the ball without his arms being around it), it was definitely a call that could easily have gone the other way.

But on the flip side, we saw a clear case of a Patriot smacking a Giant receiver upside the head with the official looking on, without a flag. I saw at least two other holds that were not called. Was Brady's pass from near his end zone tipped? I couldn't tell but if not that should have been grounding. On at least two passes, when I looked at the replay it seemed they hit the Giant receiver slightly before the ball got there. And there was the delay call mentioned.

Overall, the calls seemed to be balanced, if not perfect. Focusing in on just Toomer's hand-to-the-face is cherry picking, IMO.

282
by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:03pm

Yeah, this year I heard the officials were directed to wait about 1 second after the clock expired before throwing the delay of game flag, and that is how I saw it interpeted throughout the year. I was surprised when it was flagged in the SB because it seemed to be in the allowed time frame.

283
by Mark Glickman (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:25pm

Looks like no one's mentioned that Tyree's inexplicable catch joins that of Mark Ingram in Giants' lore, not Stephen Baker. Tyree's was more acrobatic and critical, but Ingram's play (breaking 6 tackles to gain an extra 7 yards-after-catch, just enough for a key first down) may have been as improbable and clutch. Likely Giants fans will never remember another play either player ever made, and it doesn't matter.

284
by Maxpower179 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:29pm

Congrats to the Giants. As a Pats hater, I was pleased to see them lose. The only downside is the next time some team gets to 10-0, we have to drag out the '72 Dolphins, for the same tired song and dance, yet again. A Pats win would have FINALLY meant the end of that nonsense. Oh well, you can't have everything.

285
by Toby (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:44pm

1. I've been saying all year that as good as the Patriots are (and they are great, don't get me wrong!), their weakness was slow linebackers and Rodney Harrison. The Giants took some advantage of that, but should have played Bradshaw more, Jacobs less.
2. It hurt the Pats a lot when Neal went down. He might be the best lineman they have. I think Light, Mankins, and Koppen are pretty good unlike some on here, but Neal is underrated.
3. I'm okay with Eli as MVP. Yes, Tuck, Osi, Strahan, and Cofield (why do people leave him out?) deserved it combined, but if it had to go to one, Eli was certainly a factor.
4. If the Pats win, I give the MVP to Welker hands down.
5. In the replay it's pretty easy to see Bradshaw's arm come around the ball as Woods fell on it.
6. Aikman and Buck were brutal.
7. I agree with someone at the beginning of this thread who said the officiating seemed slanted toward New England at the beginning of the game, and New York at the end, but over all I thought it was pretty decent.
8. I vote for "the Helmet." That catch might be the best play I've ever seen.

286
by anotherpatsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:57pm

277 Karl Cuba said: 232, anotherpatsfan: Why on earth have you dragged me into that row? All I have said is that I thought the non OPI on Toomer was OK because Hobbs was grabbing at him. How does this equate to me being a troll?

Sorry Karl. You haven't trolled in this thread. I recall that I have detected some trolling/virulent anti-Pats stuff from you in other threads, but I don't have the energy to find it, so I'll retract the trolling accusation. If I think that again when reading your posts I'll join the fray and we can go from there. You are certainly no Stan. In any event, I evidently misinterpreted Vanya's intent, lumping him with those publicly wallowing in Pats fan misery (which is something that when done by a Pats fan to a Colts or Steelers or Chargers fan is declared as indicative of the total a-holity of "Pats Nation"). Ultimately, perhaps this loss bugs me more than I thought -- sorry.

Looking forward to next year...

287
by BigB (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:03pm

Max Protect Questioners:
I'm fairly certain the Pats were using 6 and 7 in protection quite a bit in the 2nd half. I didn't DVR the game but it seemed like (TE) Brady was in lot more than usual and he was blocking. Even so, if you block with 7 and they send 5 then you've still got 3 one-on-one matchups. The Giants were winning a lot of those one-on-ones.

288
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:13pm

Toby, I thought the officiating, while even overall, leaned toward the Giants early and the Pats late.
And I can't for one second blame old linebackers and Rodney Harrison when the 35+ ppg offense scored only 14. If we're playing that game and blaming anyone on defense, I'd say that Asante Samuel would have to be 6 inches taller and understand the fundamental rule in goal line defense - never let the receiver get an inside position.
Sadly for him and his new team, an $8 million dollar contract will not make him 6 feet tall.
But, I still don't think we can place blame. To preach to the choir, it was that the Giants won and deserved to win.

289
by John Gach (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:19pm

Thanks, Seth, for #184, which strikes me as a good explanation of what "the smart money knew" that the rest of us didn't -- which of course means key attributes that just about everybody else overlooked or the importance of which they underestimated. The Giants' line play on both sides of the ball had been excellent all year and almost other-worldly in the playoffs. The O- and D-lines had been, as it were, sitting there waiting for the skill positions to stop bumbling.

To which one should add the historically poor record of huge favorites in the SB.

To which one should add the Belichick-Brady Patriots' propensity for playing close Super Bowl games, regardless of the relative strengths of the two teams.

To which one should add, as Aaron Schatz amply documented, that going into the SB the entire difference in the Giants' DVOA was attributable to Eli Manning's play.

To which one should add that, just as with the Rams-Patriots SB or the Giants-Vikings playoff in 2000, a great offense mesmerized most of us into forgetting that great defense almost always trumps great offense in championship level games in just about every team sport. Recall that the Ravens were mere 3 point favorites over the Giants in the 2001 SB, despite their dismantling of every offense they faced in the playoffs. But the Giants had just terrorized the Vikes 41-0 in a game in which they looked invincible. At the time I thought that the (to me) silly-seeming 3 point spread resulted from hordes of New Yorkers wagering their hearts rather than their heads. But Seth's pithy remarks make me think that perhaps that wasn't the entire story.

To which one should add that the Giants had just beaten three good to excellent offenses on the road, previous to which they had nearly beaten (albeit not exactly with defensive prowess) The Greatest Offensive Show since the Greatest Show on Turf.

To which one should add that recent years have seen strange, unlikely and never-before-seen runs in the playoffs. The Ravens winning in 2001 as a wild card; the Steelers even more improbable streak as a WC, winning four straight on the road; the Colts last year, finding a hitherto unseen first-class defense just in time for the playoffs; then perhaps the most improbable streak of all with this year's Giants (see Vince Verhei, #186). One begins to wonder: are these all statistical outliers, or has something fundamentally important changed in pro football, something that increases the likelihood of these improbable-looking playoff streaks? Is streakability a measurable trait?

290
by Toby (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:29pm

Herm,
The Giants took advantage of Junior, Tedy, and Rodney on several of their sustained drives. Keeping the ball from the Patriots offense was part of the strategy to keep their points down. I feel they could have been taken advantage of even more. I thought Asante had a pretty decent game other than the TD he gave up. Yeah, the INT would have been nice, but that was a tough play. Obviously, the Giants front four made the biggest difference in the game - but I haven't seen the Pats OL as a liability this year until the SB.

291
by GlennW (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:20pm

> I watched some highlights last night, and didn’t see any max protect schemes from the Pats, so I guess I’d really like to see a breakdown of their pass blocking schemes.

Will, Mike Reiss broke this down yesterday (also linked below):

A look at the positional groupings utilized by the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII:

3 WR/1 TE/1 RB -- 33 of 70
2 WR/2 TE/1 RB -- 20 of 70
4 WR/1 RB -- 9 of 70
1 WR/2 TE/1 FB/1 RB -- 5 of 70
3 TE/1 FB/1 RB -- 2 of 70
1 WR/3 TE/1 RB -- 1 of 70

ANALYSIS: The Patriots ran 18 of their 28 first-half snaps with either three-wide or four-wide packages on the field, but had to abandon that because of the Giants' pressure. So in the second half, the team went to more 2 WR/2 TE sets (15 times) to help in protection. ... All five times Brady was sacked came in the 3 WR/1 TE/1 RB package, a reflection of the line not being able to hold up with limited help. Only until the fourth quarter did the Patriots have consistent success out of the three-wide package, when it appeared the Giants defense tired out. The first touchdown came out of the goal-line 3 TE/1 FB/1 RB package, while the second TD came out of three-wides.

292
by crack (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:20pm

One other thing, I disagree with this:

Brady looked bad — but at least give Brady credit for leading a game-winning drive

Brady got the ball with 7:54 left, and scored with 2:45 left. If you follow this logic you have to give Eli credit for 2 'game winning drives' in the 4th quarter. Furthermore, Brady actually had a chance to drive for the tie. He needed what 50 yards in 30 seconds? How can he get credit for a game winning drive and penalized for not making a game tying drive in the same game?

293
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:50pm

#276: YESSS!!! PREACH IT BRUTHA!!!

The Giants didn't "want it more" than the Pats, it's just that the Pats were shocked that the Giants wanted to win at all instead of laying down for them and playing the patsies (pun intended) like every other team did.

Honestly, it's like the Pats thought the Super Bowl was a mere formality en route to the coronation. They didn't know what to do when the opponent actually (gasp!) competed instead of letting them win.

294
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 10:31pm

Eugene/Dolfan
I have to laugh here. You're entitled to your opinion, but if you honestly believe there was more arrogance in Brady's response than there was in Plaxico's prediction, I disagree 100%. They were right on par with each other.

And if you're going to try and take this victory away from the Giants and instead credit the Pats for rolling over, I'm sad for you. You missed a great game on Sunday night.

295
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 11:36pm

264- You are right, NOBODY did comment on the Giants draft class ????

296
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 11:43pm

For Brady to have a " game winning drive" he has to win the game. If he won the game we would have hearing "best team ever" for all of eternity.

297
by Quentin (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 11:56pm

Honestly, it's like the Pats thought the Super Bowl was a mere formality en route to the coronation.

I kind of got a sense of that as well. No matter how hard they might have tried, I just don't think they could take the Giants seriously in practices or meetings. The defense definitely came to play, but I think the offensive line might have gotten the Super Bowl confused with the Pro Bowl.

In other news, it appears that Patriots DB Willie Andrews has found a way to forget the game. Apparently he was just caught with a half pound of marijuana in his car. I can't help wondering if he was on his way to Moss's house...

http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/7762748/Police:-Andrews-had-1/2-pound...

Oh, and big Kudos to the webmaster for prompting you to copy your message if you forget the spam word. Lord knows I wouldn't want a precious gem like this getting lost in cyberspace!

298
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 11:57pm

NFC BEAST
- Dallas 13-3, finished the regular season as the top team in the NFC.
- New York 10-6, won Super Bowl 42
- Washington, was the 3rd team in the divison to make the playoffs, and with an old man coach way past his prime.
- Philly 8-8, could/should have won 2-3 more games and was the best 4th place team I can ever remember.

299
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 12:00am

AFC South is good too...
- 1A or 1B best QB in the league, SB 41
- Jax is a top 3 defense when healthy
- Vince Young/Jeff Fisher are winners and with an underrated D.
- Houston is right now, probably the most underrated team in the entire NFL.

300
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 12:20am

Did anyone else hear the Richard Seymour was taunting the Giants on the final drive, saying " go home giants, it's over"? The reason I bring that up is because I am sure he would have been feasting on that humble pie with rodney harrison after the game if they won.