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The question is not whether Saquon Barkley is the best running back in this draft class. The question is whether any running back, even one as good as Barkley, warrants a top-five draft selection in the NFL in 2018.

06 Feb 2012

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLVI

compiled by Rivers McCown

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Sunday, February 5th

New York Giants 21 at New England Patriots 17

Tom Gower: The pregame shows are over, and it's still 2012!

Sean McCormick: Eli Manning's ball placement on the first drive has been absolutely stellar. He's hit two tightly-covered receivers by putting the ball where only his man could catch it. If the Giants can complete passes when the Pats actually have good coverage, look out.

Rivers McCown: Didn't look like there was much Julian Edelman on that first Giants drive. Instead it's ex-Texans injured reservesman Antwaun Molden.

Tom Gower: Concur with Sean. That pass to Hakeem Nicks absolutely should not have worked -- Molden had outside position and Nicks had to make an out cut into him. Excellent placement by Eli, and Nicks did a great job of being physical. Then, of course, the two sacks. It looked like Eli had Jake Ballard on the first one but didn't pull the trigger for some reason, while the second one was just a bad job of blocking by D.J. Ware and David Diehl.

Ben Muth: It's tough for an offensive tackle when you underset a guy, expecting a chip, and the back whiffs. I'd put that sack more on Ware than Diehl.

Aaron Schatz: I thought Eli had guys open in the zone when he got sacked on first down. Then the Giants ran on second down for a loss. I believe I said in the Super Bowl preview that the Giants were one of the only teams that ran a higher percentage of the time on second down than on first down. They do this all the time -- first down fails, go to the run on second down. That's going to be a win for the Pats every time. Of course, usually the Pats just allow the third-down conversion anyway, but this time they got another sack.

Rivers McCown: Never thought I'd live long enough to see Echo and the Bunnymen in a car commercial.

Sean McCormick: That was a completely obvious call, but I'm stunned that the officials threw the flag on intentional grounding on the opening safety.

Aaron Schatz: Well, I guess I should say that I don't know why Tom Brady threw the ball nowhere near any receivers, but I've never seen intentional grounding called on a throw downfield. Only on throws to the sideline. Does anyone remember ever seeing that before?

Sean McCormick: Usually the refs give the offense the benefit of the doubt that there was a miscommunication.

Tom Gower: Yes, more than once, in that kind of situation. Again I concur with Sean -- that's an obvious flag, but the benefit of the doubt given to veteran quarterbacks is ridiculous. The problem there for the Pats is that the receivers seemed to have already made their cuts when Brady threw the ball. If somebody runs a dig and cuts after the ball is thrown, the refs seem to assume there's a miscommunication and the quarterback thought the receiver should've run a post, so no grounding.

Aaron Schatz: The Pats are making huge mental errors early. First the grounding, now the 12 men on the field penalty that cancels out a fumble recovery. What a mess. If the Giants were overconfident before, well, they can be confident with reason now.

Tom Gower: Add Jerod Mayo's play on the Victor Cruz touchdown to that list. James Harrison had that kind of underneath coverage on Kurt Warner's slant right before the half of Super Bowl XLIII and ended up with a pick-six. This time, Cruz gets the score.

Aaron Schatz: Were those Aaron Ross' best two tackles of the year, on the first run of the Pats second drive, then on the end around? I never remember Ross tackling that well in the open field.

Ben Muth: I was just thinking the same thing about Ross. That guy has seemed allergic to contact at times, and out of the blue he makes two real good tackles on the same drive.

Mike Tanier: Greetings from the auxiliary press booth. It is high in the Patriots corner of the end zone, with no televisions to catch the replays. The stadium replays are mostly close-ups of the quarterbacks' eyes as they hand off. I am trying to do strategy blogging. These are not ideal conditions for that.

But holy cow! I am at the Super Bowl!

Aaron Schatz: At some point, the Giants have to play action off the second-down handoff, right? I mean, they're seriously predictable, if the first-down play goes nowhere, they run on second down.

Sean McCormick: That's an NFL trope at this point.

Rivers McCown: Boy, those replays they showed of Rob Gronkowski were basically in slow motion. Doesn't look like he'll be a factor today.

Aaron Schatz: I have no idea how the Patriots are going into halftime with the lead. Just stunning. They've been totally outplayed, made mental mistakes, can't figure out how to throw a pass above Jason Pierre-Paul's hands, and yet here we are, 10-9, and they get the ball first in the second half.

By the way, there was pretty obvious holding against Brian Waters on the touchdown pass to Danny Woodhead. As a Pats fan, I'll take it, but if Giants fans want to complain they have every right. Of course, they've barely called holding against anyone all postseason.

Vince Verhei: I was just coming on here to say what Aaron said. How on earth does New York only have one touchdown in four real drives (throwing out the end-of-half kneeldown)? And it's not because New England's best defender is doing anything -- Vince Wilfork has been neutralized.

The other call that Giants fans can complain about is the holding flag that turned a third-and-1 conversion into a third-and-11 incompletion. There was barely a grab at all there. That goes uncalled all the time.

Rivers McCown: With you on this Vince -- that was a game-changing call.

Aaron Schatz: Actually, given the way they've been not calling holding all postseason, it's actually a bit of a surprise that holding has been called twice, period (once on each team).

Tom Gower: The Pats started having the ball and finding Michael Boley in coverage. On Wes Welker and on Aaron Hernandez, and both those guys have been beating him, which comes as not much of a surprise. I didn't expect Woodhead to play much of a role, but he's been out there. Rushing three, like the Giants did on Woodhead's touchdown, doesn't seem to make a ton of sense, especially when you line up Pierre-Paul at defensive end and he's not one of the three men rushing. Overall, if I'm Belichick, I'm very happy to be up 10-9 at half and looking to receive the kickoff given how the game began.

Rivers McCown: Boley on Hernandez is going to keep causing problems for New York until they make a change.

Mike Tanier: Watching the lights go down for halftime is rather magical. And watching them erect this stage is also quite cool. It is like a giant Tetris game.

The Giants have to take a long look at what they do once they cross midfield. They are taking shots downfield on early downs then checking down to Ahmad Bradshaw on third down. They need to reverse that.

My brain is melting. Halftime ... well this isn't those Black Eyed Peabrains.

Rivers McCown: I don't think the FO writer demographic matches up very well with the halftime demographic. I would have commented on that show had I, at any point, understood what was happening.

Aaron Schatz: OK, we're going to have to see about this, but I have a theory. What about the possibility that the Patriots would not give Gronk a painkiller before the game so he would look somewhat hobbled, then give him the shot at halftime when the Giants are adjusting their coverages to pay less attention to him? Is there any possibility of a painkiller given before the game wearing off before the game ended, especially during the long halftime? Because that would give more support to my theory.

Clint Eastwood ad for Chrysler/Dodge gave me the chills. Never thought I'd feel all patriotic about a car ad.

Rivers McCown: For the record, I felt more patriotic when the Dodge Challenger that took out the British.

Vince Verhei: Actually, somebody in the pregame circus (Tony Dungy maybe?) did say that it looked like Gronkowski hadn't had a shot yet. They were suggesting that he'd get it right before kickoff, not wait till the second half. Then Hines Ward started talking about playing with a bad knee in the Super Bowl against Arizona, where he played well in the first half but then his shot wore off in the second half and he disappeared. You may well be onto something there.

Aaron Schatz: Giants look like they're now leaving in a sixth man to block most of the time, even against just four. They seem worried about the Pats pass rush.

Vince Verhei: Did Al Michaels just say that the Patriots' trainers were "fondling some beads" after the sack that shook Brady up?

Tom Gower: Three-man rushes work better when both offensive tackles get destroyed one-on one, like the Giants did before they kicked the field goal to make it 17-15.

Aaron Schatz: The Giants did finally run the play-action on second down, though. The Patriots are definitely in "bend but don't break" mode today, keeping every play in front of the safeties and forcing field goals. They need to score a bit more themselves though, or the next field goal is going to put them down 18-17.

The announcers were talking about how surprising it was that a linebacker was able to cover Gronkowski one-on-one on the deep Brady interception, but it wasn't Gronk's fault that the ball hung a bit too much in the air.

New York is winning the fumble luck battle today, by the way ... but the Patriots are winning the referee luck battle. Sterling Moore just committed defensive pass interference by grabbing Mario Manningham's shoulder on third-and-10 and got away with it. I think the Pats got away with an inadvertent face mask earlier in the drive as well.

Tom Gower: That was a killer sequence for the Giants, burning a timeout on third down, then the false start on Kevin Boothe that turns third-and-5 into third-and-10, and then the no-call. Even with the no-call, if Boothe doesn't false start, they might go for it there.

Aaron Schatz: Then a killer sequence for the Pats with 4:00 left, as Brady slightly overthrows Welker and then throws behind Deion Branch and neither can hold on to the ball. That gives the Giants the ball back with 3:53 left and needing just a field goal. Sigh. This game's over, Giants will win.

Vince Verhei: Both teams have played remarkably conservatively today. A 15-yard gain feels like something spectacular. It's been death by a thousand cuts for both offenses.

Aaron Schatz: The Pats should have just let the Giants score with 2:00 left. This is over. They just have to lose in the most heart-wrenching way possible, don't they?

Tom Gower: I don't think Belichick would've really minded if Nicks had broken that tackle for 6 at the two-minute warning. I'm surprised the Pats tried at all on the first-and-goal play, and then Bradshaw's momentum seems to carry him into the end zone on second-and-goal.

J.J. Cooper: Give Belichick credit. It's an obvious play to most any Madden player, but there are a whole lot of NFL coaches who wouldn't let the other team score like New England just did on the parting of the Red Sea for Bradshaw. It may not work for New England, but it gives them a much better chance than they would have had otherwise.

Vince Verhei: Aaron called it. When the Giants had the first down completion at the two-minute warning, whichever cornerback was in coverage on the play should have just let the receiver go. They should have let the Giants score on each of the next three or four snaps instead of wasting all that time.

What a weird Super Bowl. So many mental mistakes by New England. Tons of big hits by the New England secondary. A bunch of great throws by Eli Manning and the Giants receivers that somehow rarely led to the end zone. Penalties that ended drives or erased turnovers. Dropped passes. Offensive mistakes a go-go, by both teams. A defense that seemed determined to play keep away from its own offense. And a game- winning touchdown that the defense wanted to give up, that the offense scored literally on accident.

Ben Muth: I'm not sure how I feel about this game. It was a close game. It wasn't exceptionally well-played, but it wasnt sloppy to the point of being offputting either. The only two plays I'll remember in July are a long catch that got the ball to midfield, and a redundant touchdown run. The Giants win and they deserved to, but I feel like if you played the 2012 playoffs 10 times they would win once. I guess it was kind of a let down to me after a really exciting few rounds in a row.

Danny Tuccitto: Everyone's going to remember the Manningham catch at the end, but the play that will stick in my mind was Blackburn's interception in coverage on Gronkowski. You have your all-world tight end being covered by a middle linebacker, and, even though Gronkowski's slowed by the high ankle sprain, he beats his man by almost three full yards, only to see Brady underthrow him by five to 10 yards.

Sean McCormick: In a way though, it served to re-affirm the importance of the regular season, because the final results were heavily determined by specific matchups. If New Orleans played at home, I have no doubt they would have won the Super Bowl, but they had to go on the road and play a tough match up in a venue that didn't accentuate their strengths. The Giants caught Green Bay on a good day, but otherwise had great matchups throughout the playoffs. Pittsburgh could have knocked New England out early, but they had a gimpy Ben Roethlisberger and went into a tough place to play.

Rivers McCown: So, Justin Tuck for MVP? I mean, after they award it to Manning because he's a quarterback. (Not that he wasn't also awesome.)

Sean McCormick: It should go to Manning. He made multiple fantastic throws, and he very much powered the offense.

Vince Verhei: I nominate Steve Weatherford for MVP. He punted four times, one touchback, and three downed deep in Patriots territory.

Mike Tanier: My brain is pudding right now. Being in a quasi-fan section was great. We could hear the crowd and feel the energy, unlike in the press box, where it is often very hushed.

There was no clear-cut MVP in this game, so Eli will get it. This was a clear team effort though, especially when you think of the contributions by players like Chase Blackburn, the tight ends, and so on.

Tom Gower: Eli was outstanding, and showcased consistently great ball placement. I have no problems with him winning MVP, especially without a single other player having, in my mind, a particularly standout performance.

J.J. Cooper: It's hard to complain in any way about a Super Bowl that features a game-winning touchdown in the final minute and a final play that actually had drama. I wouldn't say it was the best Super Bowl ever, but I'll happily watch that game replayed again and again.

Sean McCormick: I do think this complicates the Patriots' legacy quite a bit. They just lost their second Super Bowl to an inferior team (that was even more inferior than last time), and this time around I'm not remotely surprised. What does that say?

Vince Verhei: I refuse -- refuse -- to consider a season that ends with a Super Bowl loss as a black mark on a team's/player's legacy.

Aaron Schatz: When it comes to the Patriots, you are very clearly in the minority.

Sean McCormick: No, I'm not suggesting anyone should. It's just interesting.

J.J. Cooper: I don't want to offend the Pats fans by saying this, but to me it's very hard to say the Giants were inferior this time. They beat the Pats twice this year. I felt the fact that the Patriots were ahead in the final two minutes was a testament to an amazing coaching job and gameplan.

I mean this with all kinds of respect, but is it fair to ask how good this Patriots team was? New England has an all-time great quarterback, an all-time great coach and a couple of great tight ends. But they also lacked a signature win -- they finished the season with one win against a winning team and a 1-3 record in games against teams with winning records. They were good enough to beat everyone on the schedule they should have beaten, but in the end, the Ravens' game is the only time they managed to pull out a win against one of this season's elite teams. Admittedly they didn't have many chances with their schedule.

It's amazing how the Patriots' coaching staff pieced together a competitive defense from a random assemblage of spare parts. But when the game was on the line, the Giants were able to hit play after play against an outmatched secondary.

Tom Gower: This isn't 2007. The Giants weren't great, but they don't feel like a crappy team like they were for the first 15 games of 2007. Eli's been outstanding all year, and the problem was the defense swooned in the second half of the season. When the defense (defensive line in particular) started playing really well, they were clear Super Bowl contenders, and everybody who was paying attention at all realized it. Meanwhile, nobody thinks these Pats are the 2007 Pats, because they weren't. The defense sucked all year, and the offense, while great, didn't have the vertical threat of Randy Moss like they did in 2007.

Sean McCormick: Agreed on all counts. Plus, the Giants clearly matched up well with this team, particularly once Gronkowski was hobbled.

Aaron Schatz: Well, a lot of it comes down to the question we just don't seem to be able to answer. Why is it that the Giants every year collapse on defense in the second half of the season, and how on earth did they manage to stop that collapse and turn things around in 2007 and 2011 and not in, say, 2008? It's strange that the two worst regular-season teams to ever win a Super Bowl are both a Giants team with the same coach, quarterback, and a lot of the same players. I think it is fair to say that this means those teams are better than their regular season records, but it doesn't answer the question of why their regular season records were like that.

Vince Verhei: Yeah, it's totally fair to question how good the 2011 New England Patriots were. Had they won today, they probably would have been considered one of the weaker Super Bowl champions. As for the Giants, they're certainly not an all-time great team, but I tend to agree with Tom's viewpoint: In hindsight, most of their in-season struggles can be chalked up to some key injuries along the defensive line, and when they got those guys back, they had as good a chance as anyone.

And part of that is that there were no dominant teams this year. Green Bay, New England, and New Orleans had defensive issues. San Francisco and Baltimore had offensive questions. I thought the best team going into the playoffs was Pittsburgh, and they crashed and burned worse than anyone. New York wasn't so much the best of the best as they were the last team standing.

Danny Tuccitto: My view is that probably a good part of the answer is right in front of our faces. We all know how much luck plays into the outcome of a single game, and -- with all due respect to New York's performances over the past month -- they got incredibly lucky over and over and over to win games. At Green Bay, Cruz fumbles in his own end so clearly that everyone in America can see it, but Bill Leavy somehow comes back with the call standing as down-by-contact. They score on a Hail Mary to completely take control of the game. Then, at SF, they won -- and I'll take this to my grave -- because of two ridiculous fumbles by the opponent that they did recover, and another of their own that, although the other team recovered already in field goal range to win the game, was called as forward-progress stopped. That's a 17-point swing in a three-point game. Finally, in the Super Bowl, they find themselves once again on the positive end of fumble recovery luck, yet again have another one of their own lost fumbles nullified, and yet again have another wide receiver make the catch of his life.

Not to mention coming back against the Jets to get in the playoffs in the first place thanks to a 99-yard broken-tackle-assisted touchdown.

All of this is just to say that when a mediocre-to-good team gets lucky every week for a month, and that month-long string of good luck coincides with the tail end of the season, you end up with said team winning a Super Bowl. It just so happens that it's been the same team twice in four years. I mean, all year long, we sat there explaining away Tim Tebow's success as an incredible string of luck. We felt comfortable doing so because Tebow is not a good quarterback, and Denver is not a good team. We have to remember that good teams and good players get lucky too. When we see completed Hail Marys, 99-yard scoring plays, two fumbled punts by the same player in the same fourth quarter/overtime of the same game, nullified lost fumbles, and opponent fumbles bouncing into the hands of defenders, we shouldn't be reluctant to call a lucky duck a lucky duck.

I'm not saying that the Giants should have some kind of asterisk as champs, or that they didn't play well enough to win a lot of the games during their recent runs. Homer bias aside (honestly), the only game where I thought they got outplayed was against the 49ers. I'm just pointing out that, if we're going to acknowledge that luck plays a big role in the short run, and five weeks is a short run, then it stands to reason that luck can produce a Giants-esque anomaly.

Tom Gower: Two other notes: officiating is not a storyline coming out of the Super Bowl. Given that it ended a one-score game, I'm very happy about that. There were a couple calls that could've gone one way or the other, notably the non-call on Moore, but they didn't decide the game. Also, the announcers have not been a storyline either. Michaels and Collinsworth were professionals, occasionally adding things to the broadcast and never, in my mind, detracting from it.

Sean McCormick: The Belichick Patriots have now played in five Super Bowls. Their point differential? Plus-2.

That contrasts with the dynasty-era 49ers putting up a point differential of plus-109. It's worth looking at simply because of the way the results structured the resulting New England dynasty narrative.

J.J. Cooper: Rodney Harrison emphasizes again he'd rather have Eli in the fourth quarter than Brady. I don't think he's staying on the Brady's Christmas Card list, but I'll give him credit for not being the normal post-playing career jock who won't criticize ex-teammates.

Rivers McCown: I was really hoping we'd get a shot of Tiquan Underwood in Giants paraphernalia in the stands, tenting his fingers and saying "Good, good."

Robert Weintraub: I go back to something Belichick said a couple days ago after a practice, words to the effect of "our concepts are solid, we feel good about what we are going to do, but there are a few places where we are just a little bit off, either physically or mentally." I feel that pretty much summed up what happened. They clearly had a good gameplan, especially on defense, but either due to mental mistakes or simply being out-athleted by the Giants they came up just short.

I have to say I'm surprised the Giants won only because it defies the "when everyone likes one result, go the other way" construct. I was pretty sure the Pats would win for that reason alone.

I suppose the main lesson from this season (and the Giants run in general) I take is that my Bengals should draft another pass rusher, even though the defensive line is already pretty good. Adding Pierre-Paul to replace Michael Strahan put Big Blue over the top.

Sean McCormick: Yes, as a Jets fan, I can't help but notice that the Giants' strengths and weaknesses are essentially the inverse of the Jets. And they keep beating New England while we keep losing. I hope Rex Ryan is taking notes somewhere.

Vince Verhei: "Pass rush uber alles" is certainly not a bad philosophy, it seems.

Sean McCormick: Have a vertical game, a receiver set that runs three deep and provides a mismatch in the slot, either thanks to a receiver or a tight end, and have a pass rush.

It certainly explains recent and not-so-recent NFL draft trends.

Tom Gower: Looking at the box score, both teams ended up with not many possessions: Eight for the Giants, not counting the knee at the end of the first half, and nine for the Patriots, including the final drive. The Pats had terrible field position all night -- their best start was their own 29. The Giants didn't have great field position, but it was better, and the two third-quarter field goal drives both had good field position.

Rivers McCown: Congrats Giants fans!

Aaron Schatz: New England ended up with the higher VOA thanks to fumble luck. With opponent adjustments, since the Patriots were better than New York this year, the two teams ended up equal at 13%. Agonizing.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 06 Feb 2012

470 comments, Last at 29 Feb 2012, 9:51pm by rich31689


by GlennW :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:22pm

"Underrated" from a standard of complete and total crap still leaves you with crap. The Steelers O-line is not good; I don't think it's even average.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 11:50am

I really wish there was stop watch charting data going back a decade, to see who did best under pressure, with 7 or more defenders in coverage.

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:32pm

Yeah, it would be nice to see.

Based on my own lying eyes, my top 5 QB's against pressure over the last 5 or so years would be

Both Mannings

by Yaguar :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 11:51am

Some of Brady's decision-making speeds were abominable last night. Particularly the opening safety and the sack early on in his one-minute "drill."

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 11:58am

Isn't that true of almost every QB in the history of the league? Hardly any QB does well with six guys failing to block four, and seven guys covering receivers. I don't see it as an indictment of Brady so much a notch of respect towards guys like Tarkenton and, for a portion of his career, Dan Marino; those are the only two I can think of who could actually pull it off.

Peyton Manning is an interesting case, because his worst playoff losses occurred when exactly that occurred. I remember the Colts OL doing well against speed rushers, but getting consistently blown up by New England's & Pittsburgh's 300-pound defensive linemen. Peyton would get flustered by the pressure up the middle, leading to the infamous 'Manning Face'. The most notable thing about the year he made his Super Bowl run was that all of a sudden, Peyton could move laterally in the pocket and throw accurately on the run.

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 12:21pm

There were reports in that preseason if him working all offseason on it. Like so many things, more hard work than magic was involved.

by Subrata Sircar :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:07pm

I was watching a Patriots v. Colts game with a Patriots fan that year and noticed that Manning was completing passes despite ending up most plays on his back. Then they focused on the line for a bit and the Patriots were consistently popping a free rusher in after about 2 seconds ... and Manning was getting rid of the ball in no more than 2.1 seconds, having shuffled to a clear spot starting at about 1.8 seconds. It was jaw-droppingly uncanny how well he was reading the rush, the coverage and making plays on the move.

I turned to my friend and asked if it was just me or did Peyton step up his already-awesome game? He had this glum look on his face and answered "If he keeps this up, he'll be unstoppable; that was the only weakness in his game".

That Peyton is the one I'd want if I had a mediocre or worse O-line, as long as they spent the whole offseason working on schemes and timing.

by Dales :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:33pm

I didn't have any particular person that I was watching all of the games with to make that comment, but I remember very much coming to the same realization regarding Peyton that year. Probably not in the same game, but during that season it was clear that Peyton had changed his game.

I swear it looks like Eli has changed his game. He may regress, but I would be shocked if he does so all the way back to where he was in 2010.

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:08pm

Not Fran Tarkenton!

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:22pm

Even more that the bad early expansion team Vikings, I wish I could see some of Tarkenton's games from his time with the Giants, from '68 through '71. Paul Zimmerman said a game played by Tarkenton, on the road against a championship caliber Dallas team, in 1971, was the single greatest individual performance he
ever saw. I was a tiny kid, and I have a faint memory of that game. I'd love to see it again.

by SandyRiver :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 2:27pm

Once they fell from grace in 1965, those Giants became one of the worst teams in NFL history - holes all over the offense and defense. All the draft picks they sent to MN for Francis didn't help fill the holes, but he was able to lift an awful team to mediocrity (and sometimes better than that) for several years before the loss of high picks sank his supporting cast to the point where no one could do well.

IMO, Tarkenton was the best ever at getting something good out of a totally busted play. Had a few spectacular 25-yard sacks, too, while trying.

by Lester Bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 12:21pm

But when he's facing any kind of pressure from a 4 man rush, he's frankly awful, or at least has been the last couple of years.

If only defense were that simple. Pressure with four! Cover with seven! Easy!

Every quarterback can (and often does) look bad when you pressure him, especially when the pressure comes without the defense selling out. Conversely, just about any QB can look good if he's given time to throw.

by brownsrage (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 11:45am

i really feel like the Pats should have made more of an effort to Parcells the game on the drive where Welker had that huge drop. two runs, maybe a screen pass, short completions instead of seam routes and deep crosses. maybe even bring in an extra OL and call the Law Firm. really should have tried to run as much time off the clock as possible. maybe the young defense doesn't know how to stiffen up because they're never asked/expected to. oh, and don't Favre the ball down the middle late to your gimpy TE. That was just stupid.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:22pm

The Pats were moving the ball with ease on that drive. And then it just stopped. They tried a run on 1st down and it went nowhere. And then the pass behind Welker that he couldn't get. (I'm not going to call it the "Welker drop" because that language inappropriately blames the receiver for a bad throw.) And then with 3rd and long, another bad pass.

I don't know what you mean by "Parcells the game." The Pats were running their own offense. It was an offense that had worked all season, and seemed to be the best way for them to get more points on the board. At that point in the game, a TD would have sealed the game, and a FG would have made it very hard for the Giants to win. And the Pats made it all the way to the Giants' 44. One more 1st down and they'd have scored.

I might assume that by "Parcells the game" you're referring to the game plan used in the Super Bowl against the Bills. Belichick was the one who devised that plan. The purpose is to reduce the number of possessions when facing a team with a much more explosive offense. In this game, the Patriots had the more explosive offense, albeit not by much. I don't see why they would dramatically change their offense out of fear of the Giants.

Brady's interception was stupid, but it had nothing to do with Gronk's injury. Gronk was open and he was running at full speed. The ankle injury wasn't keeping him from running fast, but it make cuts basically impossible. A 'go' route is a good idea under those circumstances. Blame Brady for a terrible throw.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:25pm

Brady's throw on that ball that hit Welker's hands wasn't all that bad, if I'm right about where the safety was, without having seen the all-22. From some of the camera angles I saw, a throw more towards the middle of the field allowed the safety a play on the ball, or allowed the safety to get a huge shot on Welker.

by GlennW :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:55pm

Welker should have caught that ball, and caught it rather easily (as he graciously conceded). Fact is, if you analyze every throw that's 30+ yards in the air (as this one was), you'll find that a low percentage of those throws are perfect or even close to perfect. Receivers have to make adjustments to the ball as a regular matter-- some intended due to the defensive coverage, some unintended-- and Welker even did that. He just didn't catch the football, a football that was in both of his hands and barely above his head. It happens.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:04pm

I have to disagree; the only reason he got his hands on it was by twisting his body completely around while his momentum carried him the other way. That was not a routine catch by any stretch of the imagination; it took a supreme effort just to be in a position to get his hands on it. I can't fault him for not completing the catch, when the chances of even having the opportunity was so low to begin with.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:21pm

I sort of fall between these two points of view -- My impression was that it was a pretty routine catch for *Welker*, but only because Welker is such a fantastic receiver that he makes very difficult catches like that seem routine.

by GlennW :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:26pm

No, it wasn't a routine catch, but it wasn't a terribly difficult one either. I think Welker's "99 times out of 100" comment was an admirable exaggeration in self-deprecation, but I'd put that number at about 90, for Wes Welker's above-average pass-catching ability.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:07pm

Yeah, pretty much. I heard Cris Carter say this AM that shorter guys have more trouble with that catch, which I thought was interesting.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:39pm

I believe it was NFL Network's postgame that pointed the same thing out. Welker had three Giants near enough him to break up a pass. One was downfield and to his right, the other two were upfield and on either side of him; they almost formed a perfect right triangle, if you will. The spot to throw the ball was over his left shoulder, which Brady did.

Hopefully, this diagram works (W=Welker, G=Giants defender, (b)=where the ball was thrown to):

|| ^^ end zone ^^
|| (b) . . . G
||. . . W . .
||. G . . . .G

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:59pm

I love the ascii diagram.

by MCS :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:45pm

"Belichick was the one who devised that plan."

So the Defensive Coordinator devised the offensive game plan? Do you have some link or source for that information?

by brownsrage (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 10:17pm

I think I understand the points you are making, but here are some elaborations and counterpoints...

1. I know that all-pro WRs believe that if they get two hands on it, they must catch it, no excuses (Welker said as much, and the immortal Kordell Stewart drove that point home this morning). I think Brady made the best throw he could on that play, given the coverage and the pressure, and Welker made a great effort, but since he's Welker and it hit his hands he should have caught it (although one could say that since Brady is Brady he should have thrown a far more easily catchable ball, but from what I saw on TV this morning, 'blame' for this particular play is in the eye of the beholder).

2. In your 3rd paragraph you described "Parcells the game" perfectly. Just because your 1st down run was stuffed doesn't mean you can't try it, or something like it (screen to Woodhead, tunnel screen to Welker, hell, even another Hernandez run) on the next down in order to continue eating clock. They had the lead, so ideally, they'd possess the ball and chew clock and convert 1st downs and kick a FG and leave the Giants with insufficient time to score a TD (since they'd have been down by 5). You can change your offense based on the situation without it being a fear-based decision. And from what I've seen over that past two years, if Belichick is afraid of anybody, it's his own defense's inexperience and occasional ineptitude.

3. If Gronk was %100, he'd have out-jumped Blackburn & ripped the ball away from him. It was a scramble drill throw, basically a Hail Mary-ish desperation jump-ball, late, and over the middle. Favre-esque. Not smart.

by Passing through (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 12:37pm

I was told in elementary school that if a ball hits your hands, you've got to catch it. That isn't a pro thing.

A big difference is that pro athletes can get themselves in position to attempt many more catches than I could. Also pro QBs throw balls a lot harder.

Welker should have caught that ball.

by DavidL :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 10:28am

If your receiver has to stop on a dime, spin 180 degrees and leave his feet to catch your pass, you threw a bad pass. The fact that Welker could have bailed him out by being amazing doesn't mean Brady isn't responsible for his own competence.

by AnonymousAnon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 11:50am

To answer your Giants 2008 question.. It wasn't the defense that did them in. It was Plax shooting himself in the leg. Giants were 11-1 at that point. They had the home game vs Philly in the playoffs and were one and done.

That was definitely not a normal history repeats itself defensive collapse.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 11:56am

What superbowl team isn't "lucky"? Teams rarely win a bunch of games against good teams without a bit of luck, and teams rarely win the Superbowl without beating a bunch of good teams.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:23pm

The '85 Bears weren't "lucky".

by NYMike :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:50pm

The Patriots game plan for that Super Bowl was to play two tight-ends and run a lot. Their second TE broke his leg on the first offensive series. Everybody gets lucky.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:38pm

Your description of the game plan differs from what I've heard from John Hannah. He said that the Patriots had decided to switch to a passing attack for the Super Bowl based on the success the Dolphins had had in the one Bears' loss that season.

In any case, I find it very hard to swallow that the Bears just dodged a bullet because the #2 TE was injured. They won 46-10. Eason was awful. The Bears were a much, much better team.

Should we switch to the 49ers 55-10 victory over the Broncos? Sometimes a dominant team is much better than its opponent and doesn't need luck to win.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:44pm

Your description of the game plan differs from what I've heard from John Hannah. He said that the Patriots had decided to switch to a passing attack for the Super Bowl based on the success the Dolphins had had in the one Bears' loss that season.

I know I'm not being fair, but this just cracks me up. Dan Marino managed to beat the 46 by flicking his wrist and whipping the ball to his receivers at 100 mph before they've even come out of their breaks. We should do that too! You can do that, right Tony?

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:59pm

Also, make sure Jim McMahon gets hurt, pick off Fuller 3 times, and get plenty of lucky breaks in the passing game.

by GlennW :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:06pm

Raymond Berry was the head coach of the Patriots, and Berry was half crazy but kept falling out of trees and landing on his feet that season (until the debacle against the Bears). Any half-baked idea or strategy was possible.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:06pm

Hell, it was worse than that. It was 44-3 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Steve Fuller and Matt Suhey got extended playing time!

And NWE was lucky to get the 3. The Giants and Rams were shut out.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:14pm

Didn't they get their 3 points after the Bears fumbled the kickoff?

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:45pm

Payton fumbled on the opening drive.

by jjewell (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:53pm

The '85 Bears were lucky the Patriots beat the Dolphins in the AFC Championship game.

by Bill Walsh's Holy Ghost (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 4:24am

But if the Dolphins had won, society would not have been graced with "New England, The Patriots and We".

by Harry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 12:12pm

To Sean's remark "Yes, as a Jets fan, I can't help but notice that the Giants' strengths and weaknesses are essentially the inverse of the Jets. And they keep beating New England while we keep losing. I hope Rex Ryan is taking notes somewhere.""

I don't think that's an accident. Belichick supposedly builds his teams first and foremost to win the division, and then hopes that some talent and luck will get them deep into the playoffs most years. So the Patriots are designed to beat the Jets, Dolphins and Bills, which they do fairly regularly. Not surprising they would have trouble with the mirror image of the Jets.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 12:56pm

Is there any trick to beating the Dolphins and Bills? The rest of the league manages to do so quite well with no particular effort.

by jsa (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:29pm

Sean's statement isn't accurate either. Rex's Jets are 3-4 against the Pats, with a playoff win. Not as good as the Giants, and it's a losing record by one game, but better than most teams. Certainly doesn't suggest that Rex's Jets are designed in a way that renders them unable to beat the Pats.

by Whale (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 12:12pm


"At Green Bay, Cruz fumbles in his own end so clearly that everyone in America can see it, but Bill Leavy somehow comes back with the call standing as down-by-contact."

To say that a fumble in the Green Bay game went AGAINST the Giants is crazy talk. Did you see the Jennings fumble that was clearly a fumble and wasn't overturned upon review? I'm a Jets fan and that was a horrible call. The Giants should have gotten the ball there. What are you talking about?

You guys do such an awesome job with stats and everything--things that I mostly can't understand, but then I read something like this and there is an enormous amount of fan bitterness and bias skewing you toward New England. Did you think that the New England post-season run didn't have any luck to it? You guys played Denver...uhhh...pretty lucky to get that matchup, no? NE executed well and crushed them. Then NE played Baltimore, and I'm sorry, they did not look like a great team. The Giants wins over SF and GB were much more impressive as an outside observer than the NE win against Baltimore--a missed FG and a crazy drop from Lee Evans!


by Rocco :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 12:16pm

Remember way back when Michael David Smith wrote that Eli was crap and only a 1st round pick because of his last name? Anyone have that article handy?

by Paul M (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 12:46pm

Luck?? I dunno-- I thought the Pats were very lucky to be within a TD at halftime, let alone one point ahead. The better team won-- not by a lot in either case: game or ability, but deserved nonetheless.

Here's a question-- I'm going to rank the Top 10 teams in terms of their chances of winning the SB in the next four years. Of course, some outlier could infiltrate this group-- maybe the Colts with Luck or the Rams with a rejuvenated Bradford-- who knows?? But I do have a perspective about conference strength-- and it is reflected here.

1. Green Bay (QB just entering his prime; loads of young talent; need defensive upgrade)

2. New York Giants (altho I wonder how long Coughlin keeps going. But the core is solid, starting with the QB)

3. Detroit Lions (talent all over the lot. Maturation a probability. Only issue is the coach)

4. San Francisco 49ers (would be higher but for lingering questions about the QB)

5. New England Patriots (dwindling every year. But they are still tops in a weak conference and at least may get another shot)

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (defense aging. Questions now about offensive philosophy going forward. Not sure what to think about coach, which is strange for someone who has been to SB twice)

7. Houston Texans (would rank them higher if I was sold on Schaub. Or Kubiak, though he took a leap forward this year)

8. Baltimore Ravens (I think the window may close after next season. But Flacco could become Eli)

9. Philadelphia Eagles (all they need is Vick healthy when it matters, and a defense willing to play together, and they become a huge threat)

10. Chicago Bears (Cutler is now in his prime, Firing Angelo may help solve some personnel issues. If Forte and Cutler had stayed healthy, they weren't that far away this year)

No Falcons/Chargers/Jets/Cowboys on this list. The first seems like an old-line Saints/Chiefs perennial bridesmaid, or worse. Is Norv still the coach? Is Sanchez still the QB? Is Jurrreh still the owner? Nuff said. No Peyton Manning team because we don't know yet if there will be one.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 12:49pm

Sorry-- Saints should rank ahead of Eagles/Bears-- make them 9th, and the other two tied for 10th. My bad. Brees has probably peaked and they can only win if they get homefield, which is going to be hard.

Panthers might be the other outlier that should be on this list.

by t.d. :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 6:37am

the Saints being bad on the road was a 'this year' thing, not a 'part of their makeup' thing. they've had a better record on the road than at home in four of Brees's six seasons in New Orleans, including the super bowl year. this year, it was more a case of 'alex smith is much better at home' (and he is) that cost them, not that they don't travel well. i don't think they can be easily dismissed, and i'd have them right there with the giants and packers as co-favorites

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:00pm

If the Giants can improve their offensive line, they are going to be very formidable. Manning has just enetered his prime, and should be there for at least a couple more years, if not more. They have a lot of good pass rushers who are not old, even if Osi leaves. Good pass rushers can cover for average dbs. Their receivers are young, and rapidly improved as the year went on. If Manningham commits himself to getting a big payday with his next contract, and thus puts the work in to minimize his deficiencies, the Giants are going to have, 1 through 3, maybe the best wideouts in the league (excepting perhaps the team with a white and green "G" on the helmet), with an oustanding qb to throw them the ball. A couple good draft picks or a nice free agency signing on the o-line could go a long, long, ways.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:21pm

I agree about the Giants OL. McKenzie is on his last legs, and while I appreciate Diehl's efforts, he's horribly overmatched at tackle. Boothe and Baas are below average; the question is, do you overpay for Carl Nicks (if he's available), or try and get three average-to-above average guys on the cheap? Nicks would be a huge upgrade, but the Giants have always been a 'greater than the sum of its parts' kind of OL. It wasn't long ago that they had the best OL in the league with only one pro-bowl player.

I'm guardedly optimistic about the Giants DBs. Is Aaron Ross now a legitimate NFL defensive back? I'm so used to him being terrible, but Corey Webster made a similar transition back in 2007. I'm hopeful that Amukumara will pan out with a full training camp & preseason, and I think Kenny Phillips is underrated player at safety. The defensive backfield used to be a liability, but may in fact be respectable going forward. And they're all relatively young, too.

I think the Bears window is nearly closed. Cutler is a franchise QB, but his injury wasn't luck; it was due to a horrendous OL that's been a liability for at least three years now. His biggest strength is his cannon arm, but he's got no deep threats to throw to, and doesn't have the time to wait for routes to develop regardless. In the meantime, Urlacher, Peppers, and Briggs are all on the decline phase of their career. At that level, they'll still be good to above average, but they won't dominate the way they used to.

They've just got too many parts that need to be replaced in too short a period of time.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:33pm

Yeah, there is enough promise among the Giants dbs that, with their pass rushers, the Giants don't need to make any big moves there, epsecially if Ross continues with the Antione Winfield imitation he did last night.

I have no knowledge of draft classes, but if there is depth among offensive linemen and linebackers among the college players coming out this year, the Giants are in good shape, with a little luck on that weekend.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:54pm

Caveat on Ross. Both Tramon Williams and Sam Shields of GB looked to make a jump from solid to awesome and nobody to competent (respectively) before getting repeatedly trashed this season. Now some of that is certainly the nonexistent GB pass rush. But not all of it.

Ross looking great for a few games shows he CAN play well. Whether he will for an extended period of time is unknown.

by mansteel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:03pm

Don't forget starting CB Terrell Thomas!

by TomC :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 12:12am

I think the Bears window is nearly closed. Cutler is a franchise QB, but his injury wasn't luck; it was due to a horrendous OL that's been a liability for at least three years now. His biggest strength is his cannon arm, but he's got no deep threats to throw to, and doesn't have the time to wait for routes to develop regardless. In the meantime, Urlacher, Peppers, and Briggs are all on the decline phase of their career. At that level, they'll still be good to above average, but they won't dominate the way they used to.

They've just got too many parts that need to be replaced in too short a period of time.

Generally agree, but I think you must be mis-rememebering the Cutler injury. He broke the thumb making a tackle on an interception where he had plenty of time to throw (as he did that entire game) but the receiver fell down.

by Independent George :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 12:31am

Ack; you're right, of course. I was thinking of the torn MCL.

by Steve in WI :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 2:13pm

You're right about the Bears' O-line, but I'm cautiously optimistic that they can upgrade it enough with a decent draft or through free agency that it will be at least decent next year. They do need at least one very good receiver. I really feel that on the offensive side of the ball, they're close. Take away the Cutler injury and they were probably a 10-6 team this past season, or maybe 11-5. I don't think they would have gone far in the playoffs, but who knows?

I agree that the window is closing on the defensive side of the ball, which is why as a fan I want to see them go all-in on the next couple of seasons. I know they need to start thinking about drafting replacements for Urlacher/Briggs/Peppers/Tillman, but it's going to be hard to add the pieces they need to contend now and build for the future at the same time.

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 3:18pm

I very well might be an insane homer, but I think there is a good amount of talent on the o-line for the Bears right now. However, they can't stay healthy, and that has lead to problems. I think there is a good chance at them being average or better at every position except left tackle, and I'm still holding out hope that even Webb can be passable.

by mansteel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:54pm

Manningham is almost surely gone. Aside from the fact that he'll get a chance to start elsewhere, the Giants don't like his level of commitment and won't go out of their way to re-sign him.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:00pm

Didn't know his contract was up.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:01pm

I can't believe any list that has the Lions at #3 on the odds-of-winning-a-Super-Bowl. One playoff win since 1957 is a hell of a mental hurdle to overcome.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:07pm

Steelers hurdle as of about 1971-72 was nearly as bad. They hadn't won anything basically ever prior to that. And they had a very similar core that exploded into greatness. Not saying Lions will ever be that good, of course, but with a very talented young QB, a very talented mostly young defensive line, a super talented wide receiver just about to enter his prime-- they have a lot of pretty good pieces in place.

by DRohan :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:57pm

It was definitely a different time in terms of keeping a team together. Much harder to manage the roster now.

by Jerry :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 11:42pm

The Steelers were worse. If you'd said forty years ago that in 2012, people would look at them as a model franchise, you'd have been laughed at. One reason the Immaculate Reception became what it did is that it was the Steelers' first touchdown in a meaningful postseason game, in the fortieth year of the franchise's existence.

by t.d. :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 6:52am

but Calvin Johnson's contract is almost up, and the nfc north blog on espn makes it sound like he's got the leverage to force them into a roster-crippling Fitzgerald-esque deal. Detroit's got a one season window

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 10:48am

Don't forget that Seifert is both an idiot and a Vikings Homer (but I repeat myself).

Johnson made $9 million this year and $14 million next year. Even a Fitzgerald contract isn't a huge change. One upside of the Lions having so many high draft picks from the old draft price structure is that second contracts won't be as troublesome, cap-wise, because the Lions are already paying veteran prices for guys.

by Lance :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 7:22pm

Past results not indicative of future performance.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:26pm

You have the Lions at #3?


by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 7:11pm

3. Detroit Lions (talent all over the lot. Maturation a probability. Only issue is the coach

That's one heck of of a single issue to overcome, isn't it? And I've seen enough players and teams fail to mature to not consider that a "probability" given the Lions coach and track record.

by Drunkmonkey :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 12:50pm

So... is Eli going to the Hall of Fame? This might have been started earlier in the comments, but I skimmed through and didn't really see anybody talk about it.

Eli has 2 Super Bowl wins, along with 2 Super Bowl MVP's. He's beaten some really good teams, and he has a very impressive fourth quarter resume. I feel like he only needs to pad his stats a bit more and he's in.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:02pm

Ack; I was hoping nobody would broach the subject.

Eli has had 3 good seasons, and 5 bad seasons as a QB. He's in the conversation if he keeps playing at this level or better for 4 more years, and a lock if it's 6 (he's currently 30 years old). Until then, it's way too premature.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:05pm

Eli's career reminds me a little of Bradshaw's. A decent regular season QB who seemed to have fantastic success in the playoffs, and generated a ton of rings.

The funny thing is that Brady is basically having a bizarro-version of Elway's career. A lot of early rings when he was the super-enthusiastic caretaker of a juggernaut team, followed by a consistent failure in the Super Bowl as the entitled focus-point of the offense, versus Elway, who seemed to always lose as the strong-willed wunderkind who forced his way out of Indianapolis, but got two titles as the venerable old-man on a team led by defense and rushing.

by Drunkmonkey :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:15pm

See, that's exactly what I was thinking- he needs at least 4 more years (6 would just about do it though) of stat padding and about 4 more years with at least a playoff win, and he'd be in.

I almost feel like I'm trying to convince myself that Eli is definitely on the track, and not that far from the finish line into the Hall. I feel like winning 2 SB's is about the biggest bump he could have, and just continuing on this path I think he's got a very realistic shot.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:09pm

Here's a more interesting question: what does Justin Tuck have to do to get into the HoF?

He's only 28, so he's got probably another 4 years in his prime, and another 4 years of decline. If you evaluate him as a pure pass rusher, he's way behind guys like Jared Allen or Dwight Freeney. As a complete defensive lineman, though, he's an incredibly versatile and disruptive force which gives a defensive coordinator a lot of room for creativity.

His raw sack numbers aren't great, and he's only got two pro bowls and one 1st-team all pro to his name, but he's on the short list of players offensive coordinators struggle to game plan against precisely because of his versatility. He's also had two incredible performances in the Super Bowl, deserving the MVP one year and being in the conversation in the other.

by Alex Smith: killing coaching careers since 2005 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 12:45pm

I don't see Tuck making the HOF unless he becomes a pro bowl regular.

by Dean :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:14pm

If he retired today? No.

If this year turns out to be a career year and he looks back at '11 as the year everything went right? Borderline.

If this is the year the lightbulb went on and he plays 5 more years like '11? Then he's a no brainer.

There's too much of the story still to write to really give a definitive answer.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:29pm

Jim Plunkett is the only QB to win more than one Super Bowl and not make the Hall of Fame. And he really wouldn't deserve it. So, no, I don't think it's automatic quite yet.

by Mash Wilson :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:58pm

You guys might not think Eli's a Hall of Famer and I might not, but we're not the ones who vote. I don't think a football player's been more universally beloved by the media since Montana. Even QB Packers always had some detractors, and there's a difference between being Green Bay's darling and New York's.

by John Doe :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 10:52pm

Eli Manning loved by the media? Maybe this year due to his fourth quarter numbers but he sure wasn't loved by the media early in his career or last year.

by DavidL :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:02pm

Will he deserve it? Possible. If he keeps playing at or near the level he reached in the 2011 season, he'll have a very good case. If he regresses back to the '07 model, he'd be a stretch, stats-wise.

But will he make it, deserving or not? Absolutely. I'd bet my arm. He's got two Super Bowl MVPs. Sooner or later, the voters will give him a pass based on that alone.

by t.d. :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 7:12am

Well he's the best quarterbacck either New York franchise has ever had, and he plays in a stadium that deflates his stats, so it's hard to say.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 8:15am

It's not clear he's better than Namath. Plausible, but not clear. Revisionist Namath-bashing has gone quite a bit further than the facts warrant.

by AJ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 12:57pm

I personally think Danny is being unfair to the giants(full disclosure, im a colts fan). The giants got lucky alot these playoffs sure...(they recovered a bunch of fumbles against gb and lots of drops), and the superbowl and sf games have already been mentioned. But again, so what? Did the saints not get equally lucky in their vikings game with all those fumbles and the onside kick? Did the Pats not get ridiculously lucky with that shanked fg and dropped td, not too mention, the cupcake broncos in the first round? Or even the packers last year with desean fumbling and all those picks being returned for tds?

The pt is, the giants got lucky, sure, but they were the least flawed team of all the others in the pool. NO, GB, NE were all historically great offensively, but horrendous defensively and those were the reasons they were knocked out in success. Ditto for the ravens and 49ers, whose erratic offenses simply did not do enough to match their stellar ds.

No, once the giants beat gb, i think they were a real favorite to win it all and so they did, fumble luck be damned. As for a team building perspective, the giants really epitomize the correct adaptation to todays nfl. Passing rules and with a good qb and good set of receivers, you can sidestep bad o line play and a poor run game. Todays offenses are forcing teams out of base packages and testing their subs more and more. The giants have built the counter- pass rush and 3 safety formations to deal with those irritating tight ends, slot wideouts, and running backs out of the backfield. In time, i suspect more defenses will go this route and eventually offenses will evolve again.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:13pm

To be fair, the Saints were knocked out because for 30 minutes they forgot how to hold onto the ball.

by NYMike :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:37pm

I think you need three things to win it all: talent, health and luck. You have to be good and healthy to take advantage of your luck. The Giants had plenty of luck, but they also had the talent, and eventually the health, to use their luck to win the whole thing.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 7:43pm

The Saints were knocked out because they forgot to show up to play the Rams.

Seriously, they were the team built to beat the Giants, and they would certainly have beaten the Niners at home in the playoffs (Niner fan speaking). Would have been able to handle the Pats (without effective Gronk) I imagine. They were absurd offensive juggernaut at the end of the year.

They've gotta be kicking themselves.

Of course, so do the Niners (for injury to Ted Ginn?!), Ravens, and Pats (what if Gronk was healthy). Such a fine line between winning it all and disappointment. As another poster alluded, if you had 10 SB tourneys in parallel universes, probably would have had about 6 different champions. 7 if Schaub is healthy.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 8:19am

Maybe 8 or 9 if Cutler and/or Roethlisberger are too.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:15pm

Eli was actually pretty bad right up until the SB run in '07. Not Joey Harrington bad, but he didn't hit a 60% completion percentage until 2008, which is sort of a rule of thumb for QB competence. To be fair, he's always played in a downfield passing, big play offense. But that isn't an excuse for his play in '05 and '06. But then it's like a light switch was flipped. He hasn't had a year with a completion percentage below 60 since, and he has steadily built up his yards per attempt.

Not only that, but he's only thirty. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that he will be in the league another nine or ten years, and unlikely to decline significantly for four or five at least, barring injury. New York's receivers and offensive line can only get better - none of the receivers are aging and the offensive line can't get much worse - it is quite reasonable to believe that Eli's 2004 Peyton/2007 Brady season is still to come.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:35pm

When I think about Eli playing on those pre Superbowl Giants all I can think of is him pulling a face after he threw another interception (you know the same face he pulled when he got drafted by the Chargers) and I used to snicker at him from my sofa and call him a fool. A lot of these passes would be thrown at Shockey or some other dork who thought he knew better than the QB. Looking back I now think Eli was entirely correct and the receivers were letting him down. Although he did throw five feet over the head of a lot of targets but then he had big receivers.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:27pm

"The Belichick Patriots have now played in five Super Bowls. Their point differential? Plus-2."

That contrasts with the dynasty-era 49ers putting up a point differential of plus-109. It's worth looking at simply because of the way the results structured the resulting New England dynasty narrative. "

I hope somewhere in an alternate universe Tom Brady and Bill Belichek are finally throwing off the stigma of being chokers who lost their first 4 Superbowls by a combined 6 pts with their convincing 8 point win of the Giants.

The contingency of the results is exactly why concepts like "choking" are so laughable.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:38pm

I expect the phenomena of "choking" exists, but the way most people employ the term is pretty silly. "Can't win the big one" has been the dumbest phrase employed in sports for a very long time.

by Eric (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:51pm

Except in the case of Tony Romo.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:58pm

If Romo had played the exact same game Brady did yesterday, every story would be about how the safety and INT cost them the game. There wouldn't have been a single word about the Welker pass beyond blaming Romo for missing him.

ProFootballTalk ran an article after their last Giants loss--the same game where their d-backs couldn't stay in the same time zone as the Giants wideouts--on how Romo's illegal forward pass while scrambling for his life in the first half contributed to the loss. Romo's not the best qb ever, but wow does he take a beating no matter what he does.

by Alex Smith: killing coaching careers since 2005 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 12:49pm

Omg, I spoke to a cowboys fan last week at the frites n meats truck in nyc. They couldn't stop talking about how much they hated Romo. I told them that I'm a niners fan and I would love to have Romo over Alex Smith. The guy spat out "You can have 'im" and stalked off.

by Keasley (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:28pm

Re: luck. Well, the Patriots were certainly the beneficiaries of some luck along the way to their superbowl victories. See tuck rule, for example. If they'd won this year, how large does Cundiff's shank loom?

The Steelers had the immaculate reception back in the day, and Bill Leavy more recently.

The Giants of course had the helmet catch and they are also the beneficiaries of Scott Norwood's wide right. On the other hand, for all the gnashing of teeth over two weak regular season teams winning the superbowl, in 2008 they were unquestionably the best regular season team but had the bad luck of their star wide receiver shooting himself in the leg -- and in the one city in America where such an act can also land you in jail for two years.

The 49ers dynasty benefited from playing in weak division.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:35pm

The Tuck Rule call wasn't "luck" any more than the offsides on Ninkovich was "luck".

The refs are paid to correctly interpret the rules.

I really wish people would shut up already about the Tuck Rule, as if somehow the refs had made the wrong call.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:44pm

Second-and-10 on A30. After quarterback A1’s hand has started forward in a passing motion, he
changes his mind and does not pass the ball. The ball is knocked out of A1’s hand by B1 and recovered
by B2 at the A25 where he is touched down. B1 knocked the ball loose from A1’s hand, while a) A1
continues the motion of the ball downward toward the ground and/or his body; or b) after A1 has begun
to “re-cock” the ball (the ball has changed it’s forward motion and is being pulled back by A1).
Rulings: a) Third-and-10 on A30. Incomplete pass.
b) B’s ball, first-and-10 on A25. This is a fumble, because A1 is no longer “tucking” the ball. (3-
22-2-Note 3)

Brady had stopped forward momentum, and made contact with the ball with his second hand as he brought it back to his body. Even under the Tuck Rule, that was a fumble.

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:27pm

What he said.

There is a tuck rule, that wasn't the proper time and place for it.

by GlennW :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:44pm

This has always been a tough one for me. Brady's arm progress on the Tuck Rule play actually fell between the parameters described in A) and B). The football made slight contact with his left hand (not his "body" per ruling A-- this is rules language that could be clearer), and he definitely had not "re-cocked" as described in ruling B. So what's the correct call on suspended arm/ball movement that falls in between those two reference points?

My opinion has always been that the call should NOT have been overturned because the standard for overturn is supposed to be "indisputable visual evidence", but absent that caveat I still don't know what the correct call is, per the actual written rule (I know what the league's opinion of the play is, but the league has been known to fib on any subjectively close call).

But back to the original point, yeah, I might place the result of the machinations of Walt Coleman's brain while under the peep-show hood under the category of "luck". I sure as hell had no idea what decision he was going to come back to the field with.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:17pm

Of course, the official hadn't missed the blow to Brady's head (which was at least as much as the 1976 call was) then we wouldn't be having the tuck rule conversation...

by GlennW :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:59pm

Yes, but that's a call on the field, which are missed or blown all the time. I think most of us have a higher standard for instant replay, yet still, sometimes decisions from the instant replay review are completely inexplicable (like the reversal of the Polamalu INT in the 2005 Steelers-Colts playoff game, and most recently the uphold of the Jennings down-by-contact call on an obvious fumble).

by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 10:31am

Regardless of the correctness of the interpretation of the rules, it is lucky to not lose possession of the ball because you happened to pump fake the moment before getting blasted by an unseen blitzer.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:04pm

Steelers lost week after Immaculate Reception, to some team from Miami that had a pretty good record that year. At 3 Rivers, btw, despite the Dolphins' being undefeated-- they rotated home field back then.

by Jereme (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:29pm

I do not buy the Giants won due to luck. Yes they got lucky to not lose any of their fumbles but Pats are lucky to even be in the Bowl. If Evans hangs on to that TD catch or they make the field goal, it is quite likely a Giants vs. Ravens Super Bowl.

I think as much as the Manningham catch gained a lot of yards, rushing up to the line forced the challenge. Even the TV feed didn't have enough time to que up a replay. That lost time out was more important to the final outcome and the end games strategy that was used than the big gain.

I also agree with Coughlin when he was asked about whether they should have gone down at the 1. Taking the points forces them to score a TD and there is no guarantee you score if you kneel. A fumbled snap, wide kick, block, poor clock management could all derail you scoring the winning points. If scoring the TD doesn't force them to get a TD to win or tie, then I say kneel because Brady getting into range for a last second kick is more likely than scoring a TD.

Finally, I disagree with some of the posts that the Giants were outplayed in the SF game. SF '49s made 2 deep passes to Veron Davis for TDs. Without those 2 plays, their great defense is left on the sidelines wondering if their offense will ever score. 1 for 13 on 3rd or 4th downs and no WR catches until very late in the 4th is not going to win many games for any team even when the defense played so well.

by DGL :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:27pm

I don't agree with Easterbrook on much, but I do agree on what his take on this would be: Coughlin would not have instructed Bradshaw to take a knee at the 1, because if Bradshaw scores and the Giants defense then gives up an 80-yard TD drive to the Pats, the story is that Brady pulled off another miraculous comeback and the Giants' defense couldn't hold. Whereas if Bradshaw takes a knee at the 1 and the Giants botch the FG with 15 seconds left, the story is that Coughlin outsmarted himself and cost the Giants the game.

Belichick is one of the few coaches who doesn't give enough of a damn about what anyone says about his decision making to actually take the higher-probability play.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:57pm

I think Easterbrook's Raging Ego theory says more about Easterbrook than about NFL coaches.

by GlennW :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:50pm

Yeah, I disagree that this was Tom Coughlin's thought process, even subconsciously. Hell, I disagree with the premise-- if the Patriots complete that Hail Mary and win the game, you're damned right that there'd have been controversy around the endgame decision and the confusion that appears to have been present between the coaches/Manning/Bradshaw. At least as much controversy as there would be with a kicker missing an XP-length FG, if not more. You manage to lose a game that is seemingly in the bag, and you're taking a beating either way.

by greybeard :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:02pm

"Finally, I disagree with some of the posts that the Giants were outplayed in the SF game. SF '49s made 2 deep passes to Veron Davis for TDs. Without those 2 plays, their great defense is left on the sidelines wondering if their offense will ever score. 1 for 13 on 3rd or 4th downs and no WR catches until very late in the 4th is not going to win many games for any team even when the defense played so well."

So if you take out their TDs, and discount the fact that they gained 150 yards running and their non-VD receivers had also 100 yards receiving (on top of Davis's 112 yards) than 49ers offense did not do much. You are so very correct.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:12pm

84 yards. Gore (RB) had 45 of them.

Walker and Crabtree combined for 39 yards, 29 of which came on a Hail Mary against prevent from their own 30 as regulation expired.

SF managed 3 receptions for 10 yards by WRs.

by Alex Smith: killing coaching careers since 2005 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 12:59pm

I love this game! Let's remove the Kyle Williams fumbles from the NFC championships game...

... While we're at it, let's cut out the last second catch-and-run Miles Austin TD from the niners week 2 loss to the cowboys...

... And maybe not schedule the Harbaugh bowl for Thanksgiving, I didn't like those 9 sacks...

... Finally let's cut out one of those "lucky" bombs that John Skelton threw to Doucet and Fitzgerald when the niners lost to the freakin' Cardinals while running for our lives to stay ahead of New Orleans.

Then we would have been 18-0 heading into the super bowl against the Pats. Killer story. Undifeeted!!!!

by greybeard :: Mon, 02/13/2012 - 1:04am

Edit: Deleted my stupid comment.

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:48pm

Finally, I disagree with some of the posts that the Giants were outplayed in the SF game. SF '49s made 2 deep passes to Veron Davis for TDs. Without those 2 plays....

They weren't lucky plays. What's the justification for taking them out?

by Dean :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:31pm

For all the people who were horrified two weeks ago when I said this was a matchup that flyover country didn't give a shit about, guess what. Turns out ratings were better for Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay last year...


And when was the last time the Super Bowl DIDN'T set a ratings record? You guessed it. 2007 - the last time these two teams met.


I watched. It was a good game. Maybe even very good. But even with a minute to go and having not missed a play, I still hadn't found a team to care about. Looks like I wasn't the only apathetic one. It's lunchtime and I haven't heard a single person in the office say one word about the game yet.

by Travis :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:37pm

Less than a 1% decrease and an equal share in a nationwide rating hardly means that the country "didn't give a shit about" the game.

NEW YORK -- The overnight rating for the New York Giants' Super Bowl win over New England was less than 1 percent shy of the record tied last year.

New York's 21-17 victory Sunday night on NBC received a 47.8 rating and 71 share, Nielsen Media Research said Monday. It trailed the 47.9/71 overnight for Green Bay's 31-25 victory over Pittsburgh last year on Fox and the 47.9/68 for the Giants' 39-20 win over Denver in 1987.

by Dean :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:55pm

The trend is record setting ratings every year. Last year, two small market teams still managed to shatter the record. This year two large markets reversed the trend. And the last time that trend got reversed we had these same two markets.

In an industry where a tenth of a point can get people fired, yeah, I'd call that significant.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:19pm

I don't really want to side with RickD here (who's being a bit of an ass), but I don't think that you can really consider the tenth of a point to have "reversed the trend".

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:50pm

"The Giants’ 21-17 win over the Patriots came in with a 47.8 overnight rating and 71 share of the viewing audience, according to the Associated Press. That’s just off the record 47.9 overnight rating for the Packers’ victory over the Steelers last year, a mark that game shares with Super Bowl 21 when the Giants beat the Broncos."

omigod you're pathetic. 47.9 is oh such much better than 47.8

You understand that .1% is below the margin of error for this survey, yes?

Try going to a stats blog and making this argument. Suggest you wear flame-retardent clothing.

by Dean :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:56pm

Well, if you're already resorting to name calling, then the message itself must be pretty solid.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:02pm

you're a dimwit arguing with a professional mathematician about statistics.

I may be rude, but you're an idiot.

by Dean :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:07pm

You're all class.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:20pm

I'm sorry, that was rude. But if you're going to go to a blog populated by numerically inclined people and argue that a result with a difference of .1% is somehow meaningful, and trumpet said result as being enormously important, you're really asking for a rhetorical ass-kicking.

It's not that you're wrong. It's that you're horribly, deeply wrong. You're not even accounting for the margin of error of the surveying process. And really, your argument, even if I were to stipulate to the accuracy of the numbers, is that "only 47.8%" of the TV sets were tuned to this year's game, while last year a massive 47.9% of the audience was tuned in.

I mean, really, what the h*ll are you expecting? That people are going to be overwhelmed by a claim of a difference of .1%?

The fact that your claim isn't even statistically significant just makes it worse.

You're really hitting the trifecta of irritating me
a) You're displaying horrible innumeracy with pride
b) You're doing to usual "elite coastal states suck" victimhood of our so-called heartland
c) I'm a Pats fan, I'm still in a sour mood from the loss yesterday, and your argument is to prove how much nobody cared about the game. Apparently you cared so little about the game that you've made it a point to come here and explain just how much you don't care about it.

You sound like the guy who positively asserts every five minutes that he's over his ex-girlfriend and doesn't care what she's doing. Every five minutes.

So, thanks for the innumeracy and thanks for providing me with an outlet for my sour feelings. Suggest you crack open a stats book before the next time you come here trumpeting a result of a .1% difference in two numbers.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:02pm

I'm a Pats fan

We could tell, what with all the sanctimonious douchebaggery and Supra-Yankees level of entitled whining.

Margin of error aside, the metropolitan areas of Green Bay and Pittsburgh, combined, are less than that of Staten Island. That NYG-NE couldn't beat GB-Pittsburgh indicates that the non-CT corridor states cared far more about last year's game than this year's game. I'm curious to see Nielsen's regional breakdown.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:18pm

hat with all the sanctimonious douchebaggery and Supra-Yankees level of entitled whining.

He's just following your example...

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 8:40pm

Thanks Tommee from Quincee.

by Hurt Bones :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:53pm

Margin of error aside, the metropolitan areas of Green Bay and Pittsburgh, combined, are less than that of Staten Island.

I think you mean less than the combined population of Queens and Staten Island (2,699,452). The 2010 population of Staten Island was 468,730. The 2010 combined population of the metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh and Green Bay was 2,662,526.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:36pm

I ended up using the city limits populations. Staten Island, as a sub-city political entity, doesn't have an easily parsible metro area.

So the correct statement would be:

Margin of error aside, the populations of Green Bay and Pittsburgh, combined, are less than that of Staten Island.

by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 10:14am

Maybe a better reference for most, given that most people are not very familiar with Richmond Co., New York, is to say the metropolitan population of New York is greater (18,897,109) than more than a third of the league (11 franchises, 17,658,333, combined metro populations of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Nashville, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Buffalo and Green Bay).

by Jim D (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:15pm

"Suggest you crack open a stats book before the next time you come here trumpeting a result of a .1% difference in two numbers."

Perhaps as a professional mathematician you can recommend one

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:54pm

I'll get back to you. My primary reference is 25 years old and probably out of print (not to mention relatively obscure). These days I can find most of the basics that I would need in Wikipedia.

This ebook looks useful.

by Biebs :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:32pm

Overall Ratings are out, not just overnights:


111.3 Million Watch Super Bowl XLVI, Tops Last Year’s Super Bowl (111.0 Million)
47.0 Household Rating is Best in 26 Years, Since 48.3 for Super Bowl XX
40.5 Adult 18-49 Rating is Best for a Super Bowl in 16 Years
14% Higher Than Last Giants-Patriots Super Bowl in 2008
12% Higher Than Last NBC Super Bowl in 2009
7th Straight Year Super Bowl Audience Increases

It amazes me that the Super Bowl seems to be getting more popular, despite all the extra media outlets. Doesn't matter who plays, everything goes up.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:21pm

Estimated US population (2011): 312,974,251
Estimated US population (2007): 301,139,947
Estimated US population (1985): 237,924,000

That might have something to do with it.

by GlennW :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:06pm

Forget the statistical analysis of the TV ratings. How does still being the highest-rated program of the year in each and every region of the country somehow translate into a matchup that much of the country "doesn't give a shit about"? Talk about exaggeration.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:41pm

From SI.com. Like I thought, even if the ratings number was slightly down, the increase in the total number of possible viewers means that the total viewership was up.

"If you watched Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, you were part of the most-watched television show in U.S. history."

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/football/nfl/02/06/tvratings.recor...

by tally :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:59pm

I had money on the Giants winning outright, so I cared right to the very end.

Now, while -0.1% might not be a statistically significant difference if the null hypothesis is that this year's ratings are no different from last year's, it might be significant if we're comparing against the trendline of increase in ratings by year. But there are any of a number of factors that could have contributed to viewership not trending upwards this year as it has in years past.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:36pm

One thing I took from this game: NE badly needs a viable deep-threat. The scary part of it for the AFC, is that guys like that are probably the cheapest type of draft pick there is, especially now that Al Davis is dead.

by herm :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:01pm

Having a quarterback who is useless on 20+ air yards throws is more of a problem than any WRs they don't have.

by Alex Smith: killing coaching careers since 2005 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 1:04pm

I wouldn't overreact from this single game. The Patriots' offense is fine. They need a massive talent infusion into their defense. Everything needs help. Safety position is probably the worst off. They won't get this far again with such a bad pass defense. They were lucky that every quarterback in the AFC was either injured or a rookie.

by Conor :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:49pm

Do we really believe the Nielsen ratings enough to determine that a 47.9 is definitely better than a 47.8?

by RickD :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:00pm

No. A quick Google search suggests the margin of error is at least .3%.


There are other issues with the Nielsen ratings: how is it handling the increase in streaming video, for example. Apparently Nielsen itself doesn't publish a margin of error (or at least it didn't do so 5 years ago).

There are two ways for a broadcast to set a viewership record. It could get the highest rating (i.e., the higher percentage of TVs tuned to that channel). But recent Super Bowls have not approached the ratings of games in the 1980s, when there were far fewer channels to choose from. Super Bowl XLV doesn't have that record. And the game could have the largest viewing audience. Super Bowl XLV has that record, but that's partly because the number of sets has been increasing. If Super Bowl XLVI has .1% fewer sets out of a larger number, I suspect it would break that number. If it doesn't, I'll be puzzled. Surely the total number of possible viewers is increasing at least .2% per year.

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 1:58pm

I watched the game for the 2nd time and two takeaways are really clear.

1. Mankins positively sucked compared to the guy I'm normally used to seeing...almost to the point where you wonder if he was sick or injured and,

2. Brady was night and day with pressure or without. Of course there is a drop-off with pressure for ANY QB, but last night Brady was almost "deer in headlights" out there with any significant pressure. Bad decisions, inaccurate, too quick to go to the dump off, he wasn't not the Brady you normally get.

Manning seemed to get used the pressure and at least anticipate where it was coming from...Brady seemed to get worse as the night went on.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:42pm

Absolutely agree with your observation of Brady under pressure. Even when the pressure wasn't that bad he would take his eyes off his receivers and look at the rush while he tried to get clear, before refocusing his attention downfield. It was strange becuase he's normally so instinctive in the pocket.

I'm wondering if he was concussed. It makes sense to me that a brain injury might affect your ability to multitask - i.e. reposition yourself in the pocket to avoid pressure while you progress through your reads.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:18pm

Except he was doing that before the Tuck sack, as well.

by GlennW :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:21pm

It's always possible that Brady was concussed, but it's as likely that he just didn't want to get hit in order to protect that left shoulder. Plus, we saw the same happy-feet reaction to pressure that wasn't even always there in last year's playoff loss to the Jets. I think Brady is a great QB and overall he was good (not great) in this game, but he's not the most willing QB in the league to take contact.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:04pm

Well, if your body reacted to even minor and incidental contact with defensive players by bouncing six feet backwards and three feet into the air, flopping like a fish, and gesturing madly at referees, you'd worry about the long term implications too!

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 6:31pm

I'll just leave this here:

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 9:21pm

Amazing, I've never seen that before. In pro wrestling I think that's called an "oversell."

by Dales :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 2:59pm

My thoughts--

* The Giants got lucky, but not overly so. They fumbled twice and recovered both. On average, they should have lost one of them. That's luck, but it's not as if they had shamrocks raining from the sky on them.

* Eli played phenomenally. He was consistently making throws that were Peyton-like.

* I thought the Pats played very well on defense. Despite the fact that all of the Giants playmakers were making plays, they kept things mostly contained.

* A few 2nd down runs aside, I loved the game Gilbride called.

* Chase Blackburn saved our season when he came back. Who would have thought?

* After rewatching the Welker drop play, I see why Brady felt going the outside shoulder was the way to go. Phillips was in the area, and when the throw went outside he cut back up field because he wasn't going to get there, but if it had been thrown to the inside shoulder he was in position and may have had a chance to make a play and perhaps even a pick.

by nat :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:36pm

I'd agree with most of this. But Eli played only slightly better than Brady (other than the strange grounding safety) against what is considered a much worse defense. I'd give him a good day, but not a phenomenal. The throw and catch to Manningham were special, but up to that point, you'd be right to say that Brady had had the slightly better day.

The bulk of the credit for this win should go to the Giants defense and special teams, who held the Patriots to just three scoring drives.

Basically, Eli and company produced about what an average team did against the Patriots. Meanwhile, the Giants defense held Brady and company to more than a TD and a field goal less than their average production.

Give credit where it is due.

by NYMike :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:43pm

The Pats defense did an excellent job of keeping the Pats offense on the sidelines. Not one three-and-out, and the reason the Pats lost the field position and TOP so badly. They prevented points, but contrary to BB, that is not the only goal of the defense. The other is to put your offense in a position where it can succeed, through turnovers or winning third down early in a drive.

by Dales :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:02pm

Don't get me wrong, I think Brady played very well. I think Eli slightly outplayed him overall, but in the end, the quality of QB play was very close.

And that is huge. Eli played Brady level, when Brady was playing very well.

The reason I say that Eli outplayed Brady is that more of Eli's throws seemed to be into impossibly small windows. I know the Pats defense supposedly wasn't very good, but to my eyes it looked like they were playing very well yesterday.

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 8:49pm

I don't think Brady played "very well" given his "normal" world class standard.

To be frank, I think he played like crap...27 for 41 attempts with a paltry 6.7 average and a number of bad throws in the 2nd half.

If this was your run-of-the-mill QB, I wouldn't blink...but this is the 2011 Pats...w/o Brady to carry them they got 17 points. That's not getting it done on the offensive side.

by tunesmith :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:09pm

Did anyone else think that Al Michaels seemed a bit addled? Normally so good, he just seemed kinda slow to recognize, slow to put words together, a bit hazy.

Did the game seem low energy to everyone else? Maybe it was from watching online, but you didn't get much of a buzz feeling from the crowd in the broadcast. They sounded muted and far away. Maybe it wasn't the best stadium for an intense viewing experience.

I understand all the strategy behind it, but I just can't get over the fact that in the future, we'll always remember the game-winning touchdown as the one where the Giant tried *not* to score, fell on his ass, and there was no celebration save for a Patriot doing a fist pump. It just struck me as looking pretty lame, and anti-competitive. Even though I know it's not, I don't think that's a visual the NFL is going to be happy about for the super-bowl game-winning score.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:19pm

It hasn't happened yet, but if passing becomes more and more the focus of the game, I could see where the last two minutes of NFL games becomes kind of a farce, with defenses frequently deliberately allowing touchdowns, once the opponent gets close.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:19pm

It hasn't happened yet, but if passing becomes more and more the focus of the game, I could see where the last two minutes of NFL games becomes kind of a farce, with defenses frequently deliberately allowing touchdowns, once the opponent gets close.

by Jim D (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:32pm

Didn't something similar also happen in the Denver/GB Superbowl, where the Packers let Denver score to preserve enough time to try and tie the game?

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:40pm


I know the HC for the Pats is a really smart guy but the writer for Slate slobbering all over himself over BB's decision looks pretty silly when Mike Holmgren did the same thing 15 years ago.

by GlennW :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:08pm

Especially since if this was the correct strategy, Belichick should have employed it two plays earlier.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:11pm


I thought Bill would let them score at about 2 minutes. THAT would have given the Pats plenty of time to take the lead.

If this has already been discussed and agreed upon sorry.

by NYMike :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:40pm

That's exactly right. And that worked out equally well. It's a move of desperation.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:51pm

Well if the choice is all but guaranteed a loss or giving your team some amount of time, however limited, to either tie or take the lead doesn't the latter become a better alternative?

Yes, it's desperation. It's Dr. Kimball (sp?) either surrendering to the authorities or jumping off the edge of a d*m to a river 100' below.

You at least give yourself a chance to keep living.

And interestingly enough, both teams receivers butterfingers got in the way of a heroic finish. Green Bay had several drops (as it had all game) before the drive ended at the Denver 30 and everyone saw the drops by the Pats in the final 45 seconds.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 3:59pm

My mistake. GB reached the Denver 31.

But GB got to the Denver 35 with a minute left and at the moment, especially after the Packers had driven 95 yards to score a TD at the end of the first half, every Packer fan in the WORLD figured GB was going to get at least get a few cracks at the end zone.

But Brooks and Freeman both threw up all over themselves and then Favre's pass to Chmura got tipped away. Freeman was more goat then hero that day despite the 9 catches for 126 yards. He had at minimum three HUGE drops and an awful fumble.

Remembering that game, especially Gabe Wilkins begging out with a phantom injury, makes me ill.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:15pm

It is fashionable these days to underplay Stubbleface's career, but I think people often do fail to appreciate how great he was in his prime, especially given the quality of receivers he had in those years. They were pretty decent, of course, but we aren't talking about Jerry Rice or Marvin Harrison. Favre was great, great, great, especially when Holmgren was riding herd.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 4:22pm

He made Bill Schroeder a 1000 yard receiver in the NFL. The next year Schroeder was fourth string and soon after out of the league.

Bob McGinn wrote that no Packer receiver in his lifetime could get in and out of his breaks like Freeman up to and including his great 1998 season. But after 1998 Freeman gained 20 lbs, lost a half step and spent the rest of his career trying to compensate.

by tunesmith :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 5:35pm

Yeah, that's right - I had completely forgotten about that. I guess the difference there is that Denver seemed pretty happy about it.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 3:21am

Yup. The only difference was there the game was tied. Here the Pats would be intentionally giving up the lead.

by Anonymous420 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 2:15am

After the saftey Michaels stated it was the first saftey in a SB since XXV, which was incorrect. There was a saftey in SB XLIII. The only reason I took such note of this fact was that Michaels, along with John Madden, called SB XLIII.

by canofcorn66 :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 9:11pm

I'm surprised at how much people are buying into the notion that the Giants fell apart in the second half of the season, or that they got on a hot streak to win in the end. Some of that is partially true, no doubt. But I thought that, even after the Giants beat the Dolphins in week 8 to go to 5-2, they would be lucky to make the playoffs. They went through an absolute meatgrinder in the middle of the season:

Wk. 9 @NE
Wk. 10 @SFO
Wk. 11 PHI
Wk. 12 @NO
Wk. 13 GB
Wk. 14 @DAL
Wk. 15 WAS
Wk. 16 "@" NYJ
Wk. 17 DAL

I mean, is it that surprising that they went from 5-2 to 7-7 after that stretch? Or that their defense was suddenly worse after having to go up against NO and GB in consecutive weeks? I know DVOA is opponent-adjusted and everything, and maybe still by DVOA they got worse, but I just don't see why everybody's lamenting their weak middle/end of the season when their schedule looked like this.

by Purds :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 10:56pm

And, to make the comparison even starker, look at NE from Week 9 on, remembering the QB's they faced:

Wk. 9 NYG
Wk. 10 @ NYJ
Wk. 11 KC (Palko)
Wk. 12 @ PHI (V. Young)
Wk. 13 INDY (Orlovsky)
Wk. 14 @ WAS
Wk. 15 @ DEN
Wk. 16 MIA (M. Moore)
Wk. 17 BUF

Switch those schedules (only PHI, NYJ, and WAS are the same), and I think the records might have been significantly different.

One team played KC, INDY, DEN, MIA and BUF.
Another team played SFO, NO, GB, and DAL x2.

by Mike B. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 9:46pm

The only other time I remember a Intentional Grounding call in a playoff game going deep over the middle was the 2000 NFC championship game when Kerry Collins through the ball out of the back of the end zone. He didn't really look under pressure and was flagged. It didn't matter since the Giants were up like 30-0 at the time and it didn't count for a safety.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 02/06/2012 - 11:11pm

Sooo many comments, many many many comments.

Now we can all look forwards to a real offseason, Hooray!

by TomE (not verified) :: Fri, 02/17/2012 - 4:44pm

Regarding luck, the Giants had some good luck, but also some bad luck, which wasn't mentioned in Danny's comments. Against the Packers, both the Packers' touchdowns were the result of bad calls by the refs, so that's a 14 point swing. Against the Patriots, a bad holding call allowed the Patriots to score just before the half to make it 10-9 when they easily could have been down 16-3 instead. Another time an obvious pass interference wasn't called on third down to end a drive.

Only the niners game seemed like a luck win to me. Against the Packers and Patriots, the Giants were the clearly superior team.

by rich31689 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/29/2012 - 9:51pm

On Eli to the HoF: he has very decent shot at passing his brother for #2 on the all-time consecutive QB starts list. He is 5 1/2 seasons away from Peyton for the record. The people that vote love that kind of thing. A long time, but barring terrible neck injuries the Mannings seem good for it. Unbelievable that he is still 10 seasons away from Favre...I don't think anybody is rooting for that record to go down.