Almost 48 hours ago, the final gun sounded on Super Bowl XLVI. Tight end Rob Gronkowski labored downfield to make an effort on the last-second heave from Tom Brady in the end zone. The tipped ball fell harmlessly to the turf, just narrowly out of his reach. The Giants won their second Super Bowl in four seasons, and those discussions of whether Eli Manning was “elite” coming into the season shifted toward his place in the all-time quarterbacking hierarchy.
I don’t know that you’ll see a prettier ball thrown than the long pass Manning completed to Mario Manningham on the game-winning drive. That toss gave Manning the second signature play of his career, his second “I can’t believe” Super Bowl moment. All of the pre-game hype about playing this game in Indianapolis and stepping out of his brother’s shadow was deflected, and he eluded the question on the podium when accepting his MVP Award.
It was a game of near-misses, unlucky bounces and runs. Of course, the city of Boston has tabbed Wes Welker as the new era Bill Buckner and Gisele’s post-game comments have been the subject of tabloid fodder.
As I see it:
1. The Giants didn’t turn the ball over, but came close. Any one of those plays (say, the quick whistle on the 12-man penalty or the ball covered by Snee) could have turned the tide.
2. Gisele should have kept the business in the family, but the receivers’ inability to haul in Brady passes (he didn’t look quite right after being hit by Umenyiora at the end of the first half) failed to sustain drives.
3. The Welker “drop” was still a difficult catch. Yes, it’s a catch that he normally makes, but it wasn’t a “gimme” by any stretch.
4. Other than the Welker play, the play-calling in that sequence seemed too passive == the idea of running clock against the urgency to score.
5. Pierre-Paul is a monster. I don’t know that I need to elaborate.
6. Terrell Owens or Randy Moss would have looked nice running downfield. I saw Owens sprinting around the sand during the “DirecTV Beach Bowl” and wondered aloud why he didn’t have a job in 2011.
7. The odds were posted for 2013, and the Patriots rank among the favorites at 7-1. Green Bay is the top choice at 6-1. The Giants have been installed at 15-1 odds. That seems like a pretty nice line right there.
8. New York punter Steve Weatherford should have been the game’s MVP. He nailed three punts inside the 20 and set up the game’s first scoring play (the play that made a good chunk of money for players of long-odds opportunities). I stand by that.
Drop the mic.
Over the next several days, I’ll post audio, video and snapshots from my week in Indianapolis. The town put its best foot forward and nary a harsh word could be found, provided that you didn’t have to pay for parking each day.
Soon enough, we’ll turn to the NFL Combine and the reporting date for pitchers and catchers. Though our attention will be grabbed momentarily by March Madness and Opening Day, our eyes keep scanning the horizon for the dawn of a new NFL season. I can’t wait to see you all on the road to New Orleans.