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Super Post

February 6, 2012 Leave a comment

It is always disappointing when the Steelers don’t make the Super Bowl, but as Eli took the field last night to embark on what turned out to be the game-winning drive I couldn’t help but be relieved that it wasn’t Big Ben and the Steelers in the same spot. I know this makes me a spoiled prick. Every other fanbase in the nation was envious of Giants fans in that moment, and I couldn’t have felt any more pleased it wasn’t my guys. The gutwrenching stress of that moment is something I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of many times in my short life, and the exhilaration of hanging on for dear life every time the ball is snapped is special. But there was something exciting about being able to watch the culminating drive of a five-plus month season with little concern how it unfolded. 

For as much as I dislike the Patriots and their fans, I can’t help but feel a modicum of sympathy for what they’re experiencing today. Having been there just one year ago Steeler fans know all to well that there is nothing quite so cruel in sports fandom as to be so close to the ultimate elation only to see Eli Fucking Manning snatch it right out from underneath you. Again. 

As far as the game itself, it was kind of a snoozefest with the exception of some weird plays. In no particular order. 

Wes Welker is getting murdered by the fans and media (the comment section on this post at Barstool Sports provides a representative glimpse at how mouth-breathing broheems from Southie are handling the situation) for dropping a pass on the Patriots’ next to last possession of the game. My Dad always used to say, “If it hits you in the hands you should catch it,” which is a typical refrain from someone born in the 1940’s. Old guys everywhere, including Cris Collinsworth and his 280 score on the SAT math component (“That’s a catch Wes Welker makes 100 times out of 100,” says Collinsworth at the ball hits the turf) will tell you Welker should have caught it. Could he have caught it? Sure, and he usually does catch that pass. And Tom Brady usually throws it better than he did last night.  Welker was as open as he could have been in that spot. Brady threw it wide, Welker didn’t bail him out. It’s a team game, you guys. 

With about a minute to go and the Patriots down to a single time out, Bill Belichick told his defense to let the Giants score the go-ahead touchdown in order to get the ball back with more time on the clock. Someone somewhere (Deadspin, I think?) said it was the ballsiest call in the history of the Super Bowl. This would have been true had Belichick let the Giants score 60 seconds sooner, leaving the Pats down by four but with an extra minute and one more time out. As it happened, the touchdown put the Giants ahead by four with very little time remaining, putting the onus on Brady to engineer one of the greatest drives in NFL history. This obviously didn’t happen, yet some people believe Ahmad Bradshaw made a mistake by not lying down at the one yard line when it became clear the Pats wanted him to score, thus forcing the Pats to use their last timeout and allowing the Giants to run another play before kicking the go-ahead field-goal with 20-25 seconds remaining. This scenario only works if you believe that kicking the field-goal is as much a gimmie as Bradshaw scoring the touchdown that the Patriots literally let him score. 

I’m sorry, but I can’t get on board with that. Ask Tony Romo, former holder for the Dallas Cowboys, who famously fumbled a snap that ruined his team’s season a few years back, if Bradshaw should have flopped to the turf. Ask Billy Cundiff, who missed a chip shot to take the AFC Championship game to overtime just two weeks ago, if the Giants should have given up a free touchdown. Ask the handful of kickers who missed extra points this season just how automatic the field-goal kicking process is. Any number of things can – and sometimes do – go wrong in a field-goal sequence. There is nothing guaranteed about a snap, reception, hold, and kick while blocking eleven men hellbent on saving their season by giving everything in their capacity to try to keep the ball from hitting its mark. Good for you, Ahmad Bradshaw. You magnificent Patriot-killing bastard.

Eli Manning’s profile picture on his Wikipedia page is of him in a suit sitting in front of some kind of Presidential seal about physical fitness with an American Flag by his side. If you didn’t know any better you’d think he was a senator. For many years I (and I suspect many others) thought Eli would make a better senator than a quarterback. After last night? I’ll admit that he’s very, very good. He isn’t great, and should okay. Not every Super Bowl winning quarterback is great. He turns the ball over too much still, makes some bizarre decisions at times, and aside from decent accuracy he brings no tremendously exciting physical skills to the table. I’d still rather have Rodgers, Brees, Brady, and Roethlisberger over Eli, which isn’t disrespectful. In this NFL, that’s some pretty good company. 

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