Super Bowl XLII Snap Judgments
Plax the Predictor, the Tuck Rules, Eli, Spags & more
Posted: Sunday February 3, 2008 10:39PM; Updated: Monday February 4, 2008 8:42AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight from Super Bowl XLII, a game so ugly it was absolutely beautiful. And historic. And dramatic. And everything a New York fan could have dreamed of ...
Unless he's a complete stiff in the interview process -- and I don't think he will be -- we might want to go ahead and give Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo the Redskins' head-coaching job. That's how hot Spagnuolo will be, now that his Giants defenders shut down the most prolific offense in NFL history.
Oh, the delicious irony! Jim Fassel, the former Giants head coach had to be sick watching this game. I believe he was the leader in the clubhouse for the Redskins job, unless Spagnuolo made up some ground with a stellar outing by his unit in the Super Bowl.
Spagnuolo's unit got after Tom Brady all night long and played with a passion and intensity that will speak volumes on behalf of his candidacy in Washington. It's hard to imagine a scenario where you could be deemed a hotter assistant, or a more sought-after head-coaching candidate than Spagnuolo is, thanks to tonight's prime-time audition.
Hey, you gotta hand it to Plaxico Burress. The guy predicted a Giants upset, then went out there and backed it up, catching the game-winning touchdown pass with 35 seconds remaining.
So what if it was 17-14 rather than 23-17? Joe Namath, move over. You've got company in the Super Bowl Legend's Club.
David Tyree? David Tyree? Name me one person in America who predicted that David Tyree would turn in the game's most important and amazing play? That 32-yard Eli Manning-to-Tyree completion -- which he secured one-handed, with the ball trapped against his own helmet -- will be replayed as long as there's sports in New York.
And let's not forget the miracle escape by Manning on that play. He looked all but sacked by Patriots defensive lineman Jarvis Green. What an unforgettable play it was.
The city of Boston's remarkable sports-related hot streak just officially ended.
In every radio or TV interview I did all week long, whenever I was asked what the key component of a Giants upset would be, I always said it was New York's pass rush. If the Giants' league-leading sackers could get to Brady, or at least leave him harassed, hurried and harried, New York's chances to beat the unbeaten Patriots would soar.
In the second quarter, that's what started to unfold, as Brady was sacked by Kawika Mitchell and Justin Tuck on successive plays. All told, the Giants got to Brady three times in the second quarter, and hit or hurried him on a half dozen other snaps. Tuck had two of those sacks and also stripped Brady of the ball on one of them, ending a Patriots drive that had reached New York territory.
The Giants moved Tuck around on the defensive line, and New England never had the answer for him. Tuck abused Pro Bowl-bound guard Logan Mankins at times.
Trust me when I tell you that folks close to Brady were very, very worried about his ankle on the Sunday night after New England had beaten San Diego in the AFC title game earlier that day. Brady basically couldn't even walk on his sore ankle that night at home, which tells you how fortunate the Patriots were that there's a two-week gap between the conference title game and the Super Bowl.
Still, Brady appeared to have trouble with his deep-passing touch against the Giants, which could be attributable, at least in part, to his inability to plant that foot and follow-through on his throws.
With the Patriots up only 7-3, it's hard not to see New England's refusal to go for a 48- or 49-yard field early in the third quarter as anything but a lack of confidence in second-year kicker Steven Gostkowski. In an indoor setting, with no elements to contend with, you've got to believe your kicker can bang that one home. Strange strategy from Coach Hoodie, who could have used an extra three points at game's end.
Until that last fateful slip on the Randy Moss touchdown, what a job Giants cornerback Corey Webster did on the game's most dangerous receiver. What in the world got into Webster this postseason? He was Champ Bailey and Lester Hayes rolled into one.
These were two entirely different games, but the Patriots beat the Giants by three in that offensive slugfest in the Meadowlands in December, 38-35, and the Giants beat them by three Sunday, in a 17-14 game where the defenses starred and neither offense ever looked entirely in sync.
Kind of fitting.
Have to admit, my first thought when I saw the Patriots successfully challenge that the Giants had 12 men on the field on that third quarter punt was: New England gets still more help from video.
The Patriots' dynasty started with the tuck rule, and it ended with the Tuck Rules. As in Giants defensive tackle Justin Tuck rules, after the dominant game he just turned in against New England.
I'm pretty proud of that one.