Now that was a hell of a Super Bowl. The New York Giants roped the New England Patriots into another slugfest and won their eighth world championship 21-17. It was a mirror of Super Bowl XLII all over again only this time there was a glaring difference. The Patriots were unable to stretch the field as they could in 2007 and the Giants knew it. During the second half of yesterday’s football game the Giants played plenty of subtle tricks on Tom Brady that ultimately won the game. OK Eli Manning had something to do with it.
Once the Giants gave up the touchdown to start the second half, the Giants deployed an interesting defense. They came out in a nickel cover 2 look with a linebacker taking the deep zone and safeties Kenny Phillips and Antrell Rolle actually playing just fifteen yards downfield. They stayed put rather than go deep. Think back to the Patriots final drive. Remember the two passes over the middle that were incomplete to Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez?? Well the first one you’ll note was tipped by Phillips and went behind Branch. The second Hernandez took his eye off the football. This was an example of that play. Another was when we watched LB Chase Blackburn run all the way down the field to intercept a bomb for Gronkowski.
You’ll notice that Tom Brady had to come off his first and second reads many times in that second half and up until that final drive was the story of the game. They got pressure on him by crowding his crossing routes without a deep threat. The forgotten sparkplug to it all was Antrel Rolle (The [[_]]) who came over from the Arizona Cardinals over a season ago. His athleticism as a former cornerback, helped disguise when the Giants were going to blitz, go man to man, or deploy him as a slot corner with his taking on Wes Welker much of the evening. Welker caught 7 balls for 60 yards and had little yardage after the catch. These defensive tactics were overlooked by pundits thanks to Eli Manning’s final drive. The Patriots were exposed for being slow just as the Jets had in last year’s AFC divisional playoff loss.
Yet there was Eli Manning, whom we dubbed the silent killer before the NFC Championship Game, just played his way into the Hall of Fame. How?? Did you see that laser of a pass to Manningham for 38 yards at the start of that final 88 yard drive?? In the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl with everything on the line, he threw atop the cornerback and before the safety in cover 2?? In XLII, he fought off the pass rush and got lucky with David Tyree holding the ball against his helmet making a circus catch. This time he looked off the safety, kept his feet in throwing position and rotated into the throw. One of the best passes ever in a championship game. The throw was perfect and took guts.
Today’s quarterbacking has been reduced to throwing to the running back if the read takes away your receivers. Very passive. Manning knew where he was going the whole time. Even when the read tells him to go elsewhere with the ball. You’ll notice him take those subtle steps in the direction of Manningham to shorten the throw and gain the trajectory necessary to squeeze that throw in there taking the angle away from S Patrick Chung. THAT is quarterbacking!! Not only did Eli Manning gain 7 first downs on that drive, just like Super Bowl XLII. Not one of his throws was off during that final drive as he methodically marched the Giants to the go ahead touchdown. Going 30 for 40 for 296 yards and 1 touchdown.
Hall of Fame?? Well the last time we saw Peyton Manning in a Super Bowl, he threw the critical interception that Tracy Porter returned for a touchdown to put the nail in the Colts coffin in Super Bowl XLIV. Eli didn’t do that. What about the 92 yard drive in Super Bowl XXIII, when Joe Montana drove the 49ers to the winning touchdown against Cincinnati?? Eli equaled that with an 88 yard drive in this one and Montana didn’t have a throw as lethal as the 38 yarder to Manningham. Eight years ago in Super Bowl XXXVIII, we anointed Tom Brady to Hall of Fame status when leading his second Super Bowl winning drive against the Carolina Panthers. Well guess what Eli just led his second. Yes he’s a Hall of Famer!! Yes we said it just as we forshadowed this may be his run to greatness before the NFC Championship Game.
What is the legacy of Tom Coughlin now that his Giants won Super Bowl XLVI over the Patriots this past Sunday?? Talking heads are bantering in Indianapolis over this 5 game run to the Super Bowl, yet no one is regarding that he may be a great coach. He won his second Vince Lombardi trophy in five years. Equal to that of his mentor Bill Parcells who won two in a four year span. Is he a Hall of Fame coach?? Well they just removed the 1988 San Francisco 49ers from the record book for winning the Super Bowl with the lowest record. (9-7 to 10-6 for 49ers)
Everyone also forgets he almost went undefeated in 1999. His Jacksonville Jaguars went 14-2 and had homefield throughout the playoffs. Before game 15 they were on pace to break the record for fewest points allowed in a 16 game season also. However they got swept during the regular season by the Tennessee Titans and Jeff Fisher. The Titans also beat them in the AFC Championship Game to end Coughlin’s Jags season 33-14. They did have a rousing win in the AFC Divisional round with a 61-7 win over Jimmy Johnson’s Miami Dolphins.
Want some irony?? Fisher had some parting verbal shots at Jacksonville and the Jaguars were never the same. Coughlin gets fired a few years later. Fisher goes on to lose Super Bowl XXXIV to the St. Louis Rams. Now Jeff Fisher is the St. Louis Rams head coach after NOT winning a Super Bowl in Tennessee. Guess what Fisher did this Sunday?? He sat his ass on a couch and watched Tom Coughlin win his second Super Bowl to put his name on the short list of great coaches who have accomplished that.
Right now, the New York Giants are World Champions and a parade awaits. Congratulations on a remarkable run.
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