In their review of the Giants' 21-17 victory over the Patriots, the guys cover late-game tactics, big plays (and non-plays), Eli's status among the NFL's best quarterbacks, and Brady and Belichick's place in history.Did you agree with the Patriots' decision to let the Giants score a late touchdown, putting New York up 21-17 with 57 seconds remaining?Jesse Campigotto:
There was no other choice. As Bill Belichick said in his post-game press conference (electrifying, as always), once the ball was inside the Pats' 10-yard line, New York's chances of making a go-ahead field goal topped 90 per cent. The only hope in that spot is to get the ball back with enough time to score. And New England did give itself a fair bit of time, thanks to Ahmad Bradshaw's potentially disastrous failure to go down at the one-yard line. It looked like he knew what he was supposed to do, but either it felt too weird to not run into the end zone or he just wanted to score a touchdown, because he didn't really try to stop short of the goal-line.
I had absolutely no problem with the call. If Bradshaw had simply fallen down at the one-yard line, which he tried to do before his momentum took him into the end zone, the Giants could've ran the clock down and kicked the winning field goal. I would rather have Tom Brady attempt an 80-yard drive with one timeout and 57 seconds remaining than limit him to just one or two plays to get into field-goal range. Either way, the Patriots were in a virtual no-win spot.Jason Davidson:
Yes, I do agree with the move. It's called clock management. Otherwise, you try and make a goal-line stand and you're still giving up a field goal anyway, which puts you behind the eight-ball. Belichick had enough confidence in Brady to try and orchestrate something in the final minute, with a pair of timeouts in his pocket. The Pats came close as a result. If Deion Branch or Aaron Hernandez are able to haul in either of those Brady passes on that final drive, we could very well have had a different outcome.
The Patriots and Giants battled tooth and nail in the fourth quarter. What was the biggest moment(s) in those final minutes for New York?Tony Care:
There were three for me. The first came with just over four minutes left and the Patriots on the move. With the Pats leading1 7-15, receiver Wes Welker dropped a first down at the Giants' 20 with about four minutes left. At the very least, New England kills most of the clock and kicks a field goal because New York only had one time out left. Game over from there. The second big moment came on the Giants' final drive. Starting at the 12, Manning throws a perfect 38-yard fade pass along the left sideline over two New England defenders to receiver Mario Manningham, who - a la David Tyree - makes a Super Bowl-defining catch en route to a final touchdown drive. The third is the most underrated stat of the entire game. The Giants had a 37:05 to 22:55 edge in time of possession, a huge advantage any time you limit Brady's touches.Jesse Campigotto:
I'll co-sign on those two plays you cited. The Welker drop will haunt both him and Brady (whose pass could've been better) for a while. And the Manningham catch was just fantastic: a perfectly thrown ball by Manning combined with crazy eye-hand-foot coordination by the receiver. Those two plays illuminate the evenness of this game. If either one goes New England's way, the Pats probably win the Super Bowl.Jason Davidson
: Manningham's 38-yard, over-the-shoulder reception on what was just an absolutely perfect throw by Manning stands out for me. Now that is how you start an 88-yard touchdown drive. Even with Patrick Chung and Sterling Moore covering the area near the sideline, Manningham was able to get between them. Just a huge play. This was the defining moment for the Giants, just like Tyree's sticky helmet grab four years ago. And the way Manningham managed to stay in bounds was thoroughly impressive.
Now that Eli Manning has won his second Super Bowl trophy, where should he be ranked among the best QBs in the NFL today?Jason Davidson:
Remember back in August when Eli took some heat for saying he belonged in the same class as Brady as far as elite quarterbacks go? Well, it sure looks like he was right. Manning is now only one of five quarterbacks to have won the Super Bowl MVP twice. The others? Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana (three-time Super Bowl MVP) and (you guessed it), Brady. But in addition to Brady, you can put Manning right up there with Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and, yes, older brother Peyton, who will be hungrier than ever to win another Super Bowl. The only questions is: Who will he playing for and where the heck was he Sunday night?Tony Care:
Manning is on par with Brady, Rodgers and Brees. But this goes beyond that. Manning should now be considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Consider these numbers: He's only the fifth player to win two Super Bowl MVP awards, joining Brady, Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana. He now sports an impressive 8-3 playoff record. In the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII, he was 9/14 for 152 yards and passed for seven first downs. During Sunday's fourth quarter, Manning completed 10 of 14 for 118 yards and he also passed for seven first downs. He's now led two final-minute Super Bowl winning drives. Folks, it just doesn't get any better than that.Jesse Campigotto:
Hats off to Manning for his ability to come
through in big spots throughout the playoffs, but I don't think the
result of one game should swing a player's value too much. He's one of
the better QBs in the game, but still not as good as Brady, Rodgers, Brees and Tim Tebow (kidding on the last one - just
keeping you on your toes). Having said that, outside of the Big Three (or the Big Four of Peyton regains his health) it's hard to
argue there's anyone you'd rather have on your team right now.
Conversely, with the Patriots losing their second Super Bowl, have head coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady been knocked down a peg in your eyes?
Not at all. Like I said, one more play goes their way and they're celebrating their fourth Super Bowl win. If anything, I'm more impressed with the Brady-Belichick tandem than ever. Look at the run they're on: in the last 11 seasons, they've won three Super Bowls, played in five Super Bowls, and made the playoffs nine times. The Bills haven't made the playoffs at all in that time, and have just one winning season. In this era of liberal player movement, the Patriots should be celebrated for their habitual excellence, not criticized for losing their last two Super Bowls by a combined seven points.
A victory would've cemented both as the best at their position. You can forget that now. Don't get me wrong, Brady and Belichick are still among the greatest. But Brady, in particular, will be hurt by this loss. When you consider Joe Montana was a perfect 4-0 in Super Bowls, won three MVP awards and didn't throw an interception in those 16 quarters, Brady's 3-2 record in the big game just doesn't cut it.
No. This tandem has won three Super Bowls and I still think they can capture another Vince Lombardi trophy together. Brady is 34 and probably still has another good three or four seasons left in him. New England is coming off seasons of 14-2 and 13-3. They are consistently a playoff team and as long as they make it to the post-season, they will have a chance at winning it all. Brady has some very good receiving targets and unfortunately for him, they couldn't make some big catches when they needed to.
Well, it's been fun boys. Now we endure seven months until the 2012 season kicks off. Nice to know that there is labour peace. As far as spring/summer stories go, the most intriguing has to be the one surrounding Peyton Manning. It looks more and more like he has played his last game as an Indianapolis Colt, with Stanford pivot Andrew Luck set to be the top pick at the upcoming draft. Manning, if you ask me, stays in the AFC but moves to the East to suit up either for the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.
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