Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 4, 2008
FOOTBALL: Big Blue David

This is truly a moment to savor, as it's the first time in 17 years that one of my three teams (Mets, Giants, Franchise Formerly Known as the Knicks) has won it all. Before the game I had expected that the Giants would hang with the Pats for at least the first half, but I never thought they would actually pull this off. And I'll admit that over the past two seasons I never believed that Eli would turn into the kind of QB who could run that incredible do-or-die drive to retake the lead down 4 in the closing two minutes. And maybe I haven't paid close enough attention to the NFL but it still amazes me that the Giants were able to do this without Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey, the two mainstays of their offense these last few years. And on top of that, a quiet day by Tiki's replacement, Brandon Jacobs.

The co-MVP of the game could easily have been David Tyree, who caught Eli's first TD pass and had a number of impressive catches including a crucial 24-yard circus catch off the top of his helmet in the final drive that looked like a throwback to the stickum age. But the play that will most likely be re-shown in the days to come was Eli evading the grasp of defenders who nearly tore the jersey off his back to complete a 45-yard strike over the middle to Kevin Boss early in the 4th quarter when the game was still stalled at 7-3 Pats.

If there was one downside to this game it was the officiating, which seemed intrusive and yet missed shenanigans caught on camera by both sides on a couple of occasions.

Nobody will weep for Goliath - least of all the now-giddy 72 Dolphins - the Pats have plenty of rings to count. But from this day forward the credcendo will build whenever a team gets to 10-0 or so that they better lose now and not wait until the Super Bowl. Which is probably unfair to the Patriots, who just looked last night like a team that got beat by another team, not a team that played too tight and choked.

UPDATE: A few additional thoughts:

1. I didn't give the Giants D nearly enough credit above for stopping the Pats' vaunted offense. This defensive unit may not have the big names of Giant defenses of yore, but they showed up when it counted.

2. I guess it's no surprise that I can't reach this morning.

SECOND UPDATE: Yeah, I somehow got the plays mixed up in my head and forgot that the Eli torn-jersey play was actually the same play as Tyree's helmet-catch. Duh.

Also, humbling moment of the day: watching scrawny little Wes Welker, realizing that he's even smaller without his pads...and being informed that Welker is my height and outweighs me by 40 pounds.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:05 AM | Football | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

Great, great win. Perhaps other teams figured out relentlessly blitzing Brady was the only way to beat the Pats (Baltimore, for instance; Philly too), but the Giants finally made it work.

Deeply satisfying victory. What's the word count over/under before Simmons uses the phrase "Mariano Rivera in 2001"? 200 seems about right. Enough room there for the standard "how unreal it all seems" self-pity before launching into specious, self-serving justification.

Ah, schadenfreude...

Posted by: seamus at February 4, 2008 8:55 AM

Also Crank-

review the '07 Giants season. You'll find an interesting relationship betw/ Shockey's injury anf the Giants' improved play.

Posted by: seamus at February 4, 2008 8:58 AM

I would have given the MVP to Umenyoura frankly. However, I wouldn't say Jacobs was quiet; his blocking was very very good. But with some great last minute drives, the quarterback will get it, and let's face it; he deserved it anyway.

The team reminds me of the 1996 Yankees--with better fans anyway. The are a likable group of players. I think that Shockey will be back next year, he is way better than Bass. One change though. The days of challenging Eli are gone. His teammates won't tolerate it either. Like everyone else, I still think the Pats are a better team, and I don't think they were beaten by simply a better game plan (unless this time they couldn't tape the other team ;-). But the 2 games they played showed, like all team sports, the better team usually wins, but it's not head to head, but matchups. And the Giants and what they can do defensively tended to match up against the Pats well. If they played 10 times, the Pats probably win 6. If they played the Packers, they would win 8 or 9.

I tell you this as a dad and Coach (and I only coach the kids): Archie Manning, after the last 2 years is the happiest "losing-never in the playoffs" quarterback in the history of the planet. Congratulations to the Manning family for raising, in as opulent atmosphere, such classy kids.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at February 4, 2008 9:53 AM

Good point about Archie, Daryl. All parents know whatever pride they take in their personal accomplishments pales next to what they feel for their childrens'. Archie's boys have, of course, exceeded him, but I do remember reading somewhere that Bob Dylan regards getting the news that "Bringing Down The Horse" went to number 1 as his proudest moment.

Posted by: seamus at February 4, 2008 10:42 AM

***I would have given the MVP to Umenyoura frankly****

Interesting that you said that as I thought it should've been Tuck. Maybe a group MVP to the defensive line should've been in order, since they played, oh, 20 times the role that Manning did in winning the game, IMO.

Posted by: RW at February 4, 2008 11:01 AM

RW, it's hard to watch line play on TV, and they sure as hell didn't announce the hockey like switches they made on the line (which makes for a very smart coaching staff more than the players), but I thought I saw Umenyoura tie up more of the Pats line, so maybe you are right. And the day you see anyone on the line, unless they put up actual sack numbers of over 5, win an award is the day you see the center win for a great job pulling.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at February 4, 2008 11:30 AM

I think Brady's ankle was worse and still bothering him, his accuracy was terrible, even accounting for the pressure, and by no means a scrambler his movement in the pocket was poor.

The Pats had every opportunity in the first half to end it with a D allowing only 3 points and a couple turn overs. Even on their last TD they passed three times, where as even one run in there might have taken enough time off to stop the giants.

Anyways the Giants played a great game, and deserve the credit for the win, and the good karma from not resting in week 17 payed off. In fact you had all sorts of Karma angles:

1. Double Ewing theory on Tiki and Shokey
2. Sports Guy 86 Celts vs 2008 Pats article jinx
3. Giants not laying down in week 17 (good karma)
4. Pats SpyGate "resurfacing" (bad karma)
5. Pats trade making "19-0" before the game (really bad jinx and bad karma"

Posted by: Brendan at February 4, 2008 11:57 AM

Truly a great TEAM win, and for all the times that phrase is used, this was the ultimate definition.

- Giants get around 95 yards rushing, almost equal amounts by Jacobs (who delivered some punishing hits) and Bradshaw.
- The O-line gave Manning great protection, and Daryl is right that Jacobs was great blocking on blitz pickup.
- Manning spread the ball around. Big catches by Boss (1st 4th Q TD drive); Toomer for some 1st downs; Smith; Plax on the TD; and of course Tyree, the special teams guy, both on the TD and the great highlight reel catch. BTW Crank, the Manning avoiding the sack play was also the heave / great catch by Tyree - and was on the game winning TD drive. You will see the highlight 1,000 more times.
- Whole D-line punishing Brady. I think the stat was they hit him on 10 of first 17 pass plays.
- 5 sacks by 4 different players.
- Great tackling for the most part by the DBs and Safetys.

Great game. So glad I saved it on DVR, I'll be watching it countless more times.

Posted by: CT Ron at February 4, 2008 12:52 PM

Burress just dusted his defender on that TD. Maybe the Pats didn't think he had that move with all his dings. Maybe he played possum all game just so he could smoke them when it counted.

I know, crazy talk. But he sure was wide open.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 4, 2008 4:03 PM

Eli lobbed up 3 ducks that should have been intercepted on that last drive. He was no MVP. The defense won that game for the Giants.

Posted by: Joel B. at February 4, 2008 6:15 PM

That was just incredible. Still hardly feels real.

Posted by: hoyasaxa at February 4, 2008 7:52 PM

Can't argue with giving the MVP to someone on the D Line, but the broken tackles and Tyree completion was one for the ages. Wild couple days, with Specter bearing down on the Pats it will be an eventful offseason. The Giants are young, Feagles, Strahan, and toomer are the only guys considering packing it in. They can compete next year as well. To think, Coughlin was getting chased, funny how things change. Is this the first ticker tape since 9/11? Tomorrow will be special.

Posted by: abe at February 4, 2008 8:06 PM

Tyree will always be synonymous with that play, which was, amazingly, even better than the Mark Ingram catch-and-run that was the defining play of the Giants-Bills Super Bowl.

It should be interesting to see how the Giants fare next year. They had a lot of rookies contributing this year, so they have some chance of improving, but the odds are always against repeating. And, of course, Toomer and/or Strahan may decide to hang it up.

Posted by: Jerry at February 4, 2008 11:45 PM
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