Monday, February 6, 2012

How 'Bout Them Super Bowl Winning Giants

I was waiting for sometime to be able to say this title phrase. Four years ago, the Patriots were 18-0 and were just coming off of one of the greatest red-handed cheating scandals of all time, known as "Spygate." The Giants were 13-6 underdogs who came close to spoiling the Patriots and their season, but then went on the road to defeat the Bucs, the one seeded Cowboys, and the Brett Favre led Packers, then finally squeaking one out against the Patriots, preventing a perfect season.

For the next three years, we had to make due with this Super Bowl win. In 2008, the Giants had an explosive start by going 10-1. Then Plaxico Burress accidentally shoots himself in the leg while going clubbing, ending his season with the team, forcing them to falter to 2-3 and falling out of the playoffs quickly. The 2009 season started strong, but ending flat, and the 2010 season started strong, but ended painfully. I can honestly say that the loss at home against the Eagles after leading by twenty-one points was the single most painful loss ever.

The 2011 season was the ultimate dark horse season for the New York Giants. After the first week, I questioned whether or not they could even last the season. Losing to the Redskins for the first time since 2007 was most definitely a heart-breaker, especially due to the difficulty of the game. The Giants had a very easy schedule at the start of the season, which included games against the Rams and Cardinals. Both were wins, though the Cardinals game ran close. The Eagles victory was a sweet one, as it was their first victory against them since 2008. While a loss against the Seahawks was painful, victories against the AFC East, including the faltering Bills and hefty Patriots were sweet victories indeed. The Patriots seemed to be unbeatable at home, but the Giants put that streak to rest.

When the schedule grew difficult, the Giants began to struggle. Much of this had to do with inconsistency on both sides of the ball. The injuries were catching up to them and either the offense, the defense, or both sides would struggle. After a painful loss to the Redskins in the first sweep since the 1999 season, the Giants were 7-7 and needed a miracle if they wanted to make the playoffs. Even if they made it, chances seem to be that with the competitors in the NFC, the Giants would be knocked out of the postseason quickly. However, the NFC East was still up for grabs. The Cowboys were in the lead, but at 8-6 and falling in a side, and the Eagles still had a chance to make it, even though they were 6-8. If they all went 8-8, the Eagles would reach the playoffs due to tiebreakers.

The Jets and Cowboys remained on the Giants schedule. One was a home game and the other was technically the same. They pulverized a struggling Jets team that had a crumbling crisis occurring in the locker room and then defeated a struggling Cowboys team in the last game. That Cowboys game was the first game of the season in which they took and maintained the lead throughout. The Giants were 9-7, but division winners and in the playoffs.

The first match was against the Falcons, the top wildcard seed. They won that game with a score of 24-2, the only points they gave up were due to an intentional grounding in the Giants own endzone. The Packers, 49ers, and Saints were the teams left in the NFC. The Giants lost to each of these teams: the Packers in a close one, the 49ers by a touchdown, and the Saints in a game they didn't even contend. My feeling was before the Packers game that if the Giants lost against the Packers in the regular season, chances were they would redeem themselves by shocking them in the playoffs. Despite a game that was poorly reffed, the Giants heavily dominated and brought the Packers down with a score of 37-20. The 49ers were the next team up, and this was a rejuvenated, comeback team. The Saints looked like the frontrunners that could have won the whole thing, but were brought down by the 49ers. Much of this may have had to do with the fact that the Saints are flawless at home, but aren't so good on the road. Luckily for the Giants, going to Candlestick Park wouldn't be as difficult as going to the Superdome. The game went down to the wire and into overtime. The inability to maintain hold of the ball and the Giants ability to recover the ball was the key to the Giants victory.

Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis would be a rematch against those pesky New England Patriots, or at least pesky to the Giants fan. The match went down to the wire and it came down to botched plays as opposed to great plays. While things could have gone better, the Giants made the least crucial mistakes. This meant they didn't botch catches late in the game. As for the run by Ahmad Bradshaw, all of the Giants fan would be able to sleep at night after the end result. I do believe that going for the touchdown would be the right decision, because it would mean the Patriots would have to get into the endzone. While running the clock could have been wiser before scoring the touchdown, a touchdown was a must. Kicking a field goal would only put them up by one and the Patriots would just need to get into field goal range and kick a winner. This isn't too difficult with a good kicker like they have. While I would have preferred a sack or interception at the end of the game on the Giants end, the fact the Patriots couldn't catch the ball in the endzone was good enough. The Giants won and that was that.

While Eli Manning was named MVP, many of the players had excellent games. While wide receivers Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham (who had a memorable catch in the closing minutes), and defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck had great games, several others who didn't have so much highlighted moments in the season really stuck out. Fullback Henry Hynoski showed some excellence, linebacker Chase Blackburn made some explosive plays, including the only interception in the game, and punter Steve Weatherford (who was an excellent offseason acquisition after punting issues last season from a rookie punter) showed he should be the long term punter. He was able to keep the Patriots deep and in one instance put them deep enough in one situation that Brady intentional grounded in the endzone and committed a safety, giving two points to the Giants.

Tom Coughlin has always been one of those coaches that has a team that plays great under pressure. In 2007, he looked like he would be on his way out and then won the Super Bowl. This season, I agreed that if he didn't reach the playoffs, he should and would be fired (three seasons without a playoff berth), and they finish with a Super Bowl victory. He just also happens to win the title in his fourth and eighth season with the team, the same seasons in which Bill Parcells won. However, there's not much comparing the two. Both of them have different coaching styles. Though there is something that is the same... both coaching styles work. Tom Coughlin is also the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl at the age of 65, breaking the record held by Dick Vermeil, who was 63 when he won the Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams in 1999. Will he retire? We'll have to see. Coughlin is an excellent head coach with a method that works for the team and it would be extremely unfortunate if he was no longer with the team. However, it would be great to see Coughlin retire on top. He's had an excellent coaching career and he deserves to retire in a respectable way. That decision will be entirely up to him. I find it likely that Perry Fewell would succeed him if he retires, which while he has experience as an interim, I don't know what to think about him coaching just yet as a Giants head coach.

This was a well deserved victory and I'm thrilled that the Giants won the title game. This is a true underdog story and the six game streak from the end of the regular season to the postseason was just excellent and well deserved. The Giants now have four Super Bowl titles, tied for fourth place with the Green Bay Packers. The only teams that have won more Super Bowls were the Pittsburgh Steelers (six titles), the San Francisco 49ers (five titles), and the Dallas Cowboys (five titles). For the Giants fan, this victory was a breath of relief and a true gift for the fans... each and every one of them.

We'll just have to see what off-season brings. The Giants have been good with ending historical streaks and bending the traditions of history. Let's hope they win one again in 2012. How 'bout them Giants! How 'bout them Super Bowl winning Giants!

No comments:

Post a Comment