Monday, February 6, 2012

It is 2 a.m.
I am watching the Super Bowl.
That happens a lot in the newspaper business, at least when you’re a sports writer. You often are in the office or in a press box during the evening hours, so you don’t get to watch as much live TV as some people seem to believe.
There was a TV set on at work on Sunday night, but it’s hard to focus on it when you are trying to write and paginating sports pages.
So . . . I set the PVR and watch in the wee hours. (One of the real beauties of watching the recorded version is you can fast-forward through the barrage of CTV promos, not to mention halftime shows that include Madonna and whoever else showed up.)
In the end, this game went about as expected, with the Patriots’ defence, their weak link, simply not able to get the key stops. With a troubled secondary, they weren’t able to bring safeties up to help against the run and they paid a price for that.
The Giants outrushed the Patriots, 114-83, but the key statistic was time of possession — Giants, 37:05; Patriots 22:55.
The other key was this — Eli Manning’s receivers outplayed Tom Brady’s bunch.
Still, despite that, Brady was able to keep New England in the game. Remember, the Patriots only lost by four points, 21-17.
Brady’s 96-yard TD drive to end the first half was sublime — he was 10-for-10. But you have to wonder why defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul, who had been wreaking havoc on the offensive line, dropped back into pass coverage on the play on which Brady hit Danny Woodhead for the score?
And when the Patriots came out for the second half and Brady drove them 79 yards for another score and an eight-point lead, well, you bet that Giants fan were sweating it.
But who would have guessed that the Patriots wouldn’t score again? Tight end Rob Gronkowski is going to see that game-ending Hail Mary play in his sleep for a long, long time.
Which brings us to Manning, who is money. His demeanour in the fourth quarter was something to see. The result is that he now has two Super Bowl rings to his brother Peyton’s one.
It was interesting on that last New York drive that New England's safeties were still playing 15 yards off the line of scrimmage. They were still having to run full speed to get up and try to stuff running plays, something that didn't work all that well.
The game’s big play? Mario Manningham’s 38-yard catch on the game-winning drive, although the sack by Jason Tuck on Brady on the third play of New England’s last drive was huge because it forced the Patriots to use their final timeout.
An unsung hero? New York punter Steve Weatherford. He is deadly.
As for New England head coach Bill Belichick’s decision to have his defence stand up and allow Ahmad Bradshaw to go into the end zone uncontested, did he really have a choice? Do you want Brady starting a potential game-winning drive with 57 seconds on the clock, or with about 20 seconds?
All-in-all, this was a fun and entertaining game to watch.
Unfortunately, the football season is over for another year.
And for the next three weeks TSN will bombard us with blorf, telling us over and over again that the NHL trade deadline is on Feb. 27 and that the network is massing its army for another trade-day marathon.
TSN . . . meet my PVR.
For a good read, check out this piece by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. He followed Tom Brady through the postgame angst and came up with a terrific column.
Mike Wise of the Washington Post takes a look right here at Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin, and how they were overshadowed all week by a brother and two coaches.

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