Belichick: "This is still a Cruz and Nicks game. I mean I know we're right on'em; it's tight. But those are still the guys. Make'em go to Manningham, make'em go to Pascoe, all right. But let's make sure we get Cruz and Nicks."
It's a couple of days since the end of Super Bowl XLVI, and we are entitled to enjoy the win for... well, a lifetime. Each title is a gift of timeless memories. Electric Simms in XXI. 3rd and 12 in XXV. The Helmet catch (and 3rd and 11, my favorite) in XLII. Super Mario's 38 yarder in XLVI.
Super Bowl XXI ended an entire childhood of chronically bad Giants football. Super Bowl XXV buried Flipper Anderson. Super Bowl XLII healed my wounds from the 49er Prevent Offense 38-14 insanity. Super Bowl XLVI ends the Eagle playoff loss in Jan 2009.
It's better to be lucky than good. In Super Bowl XLVI, it was better to be good and lucky.
The Giants had so much good fortune in that game. I rewatched the game in condensed version, which took 36 minutes. The number of times you see the ball get put on the ground is scary. Bullet after bullet dodged. The Giants ran the gauntlet and grabbed a championship.
If you want a view from the other side, this piece is a MUST READ. I must have laughed out loud between 10 and 20 times, listening to the torment that Eli is now putting on Patriot fans. This QB of ours is most definitely New England's daddy. The only way to do it right is just to read the linked article. You learn a lot about your team's mental toughness when you see the cracks on the other side.
Banner update: It may be a few weeks, but rest assured that we did not think for a minute about jinxing our chances with any preliminary work on the banner before the win was in the books. When I did the banner before moving over to Bloguin, I purposefully made it so that we could celebrate EVERY title the Giants won with another notch. This is the kind of intentional obsolescence that should happen to the site as regularly as possible! I like the idea of 4 titles becoming dated. As they said yesterday at City Hall, see you next year. That'll work.
I want to take a moment to thank the rest of our staff for a great season and a great year. Many of you diehard supporters who are with us all year know that it wasn't easy posting through the entire NFL strike when we didn't even know if we would have a season. That period dragged on and made blogging more like slogging. We couldn't have made it through everything without the entire Giants community. The writers, the readers, the commenters, the Giants, we got through. This team and this blog are labors of love. Getting rewarded with a title is just crazy good. Thanks Paul, Glenn, Pete, Wonder, and Rich. Celebrating a 4th Super Bowl title with our Giants community has made it a great ride.
Was it the smart call? Why did Belichick allow the Giants to score the eventual game clinching touchdown in Super Bowl XLVI?
Sam Borden, writer for the New York Times, tackles this subject. In his article titled, After Giants' Surreal Touchdown, Debates on the Strategy. Because the Patriots lost the Super Bowl, many people think Belichick's decision to let the Giants score was a miscalculated gamble. But was it?
With the Giants trailing the Patriots by two points 17-15, the Giants had the ball on the Patriots six yard with a little over a minute left in the game. After taking a hand off from Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw runs toward the end zone. It was all too easy as he reached the goal line. Despite not getting any specific instructions from head coach Tom Coughlin, Bradshaw teetered at the goal line. His mind wanted him to fall short of the end zone. On the other hand, his body fell forward. The Giants score a touchdown and are up 21-17.
After the game ended with a Giants victory, Belichick was asked about his controversial decision. His rationale for letting the Giants score was based on how short a potential winning field goal attempt would have been. With the ball inside the 10, Belichick said, it is “a 90 percent field-goal conversion” rate for N.F.L. teams. Indeed, there is a kernel of truth to his reason.
But there were other factors involved here.
As Andy discussed in yesterday's recap, the Giants got lucky breaks on this Super Bowl run. And none luckier than seeing a sure-handed Wes Welker drop a crucial pass with four minutes left in the game. If Welker makes this catch, the Patriots and not the Giants are celebrating a Super Bowl Championship.
Even with critical miscues, from the four minute mark of the second quarter , the Patriots were able to move the ball against the Giants defense. Yes, the Patriots scored only 17 points. But this is somewhat misleading. The Patriots had 5 possessions in the second half. They scored a touchdown on the opening possession of the third quarter. After that it was punt, INT, punt, and failed Hail Mary. On the third and fourth possessions, the Patriots were getting into a rhythm. Brady's long pass intended for Gronkowski was picked by Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn. And the fourth possession snarled because Welker could not secure the football. I believe Belichick made the decision to let the Giants score because he KNEW their best chance of winning was by scoring a touchdown. I do not think he has faith in his kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
In 2006, after clutch kicker Adam Vinatieri left the Patriots and signed with the Colts, Stephen Gostkowski has been the Patriots plackicker. If you look at his statisitics on ProFootball Reference, he appears to have good numbers. In 2011, he had a very admirable 84.8 percent FG conversion rate. Over his entire NFL career, Gostkowski has an 84.4 percent conversion rate. So with these impressive numbers, it would seem he is a better than average kicker. But is he?
Remember in Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots were leading the Giants 7-3 early in the third quarter. The Patriots were looking to pad their lead. On a important 3rd and 7 from the Giants twenty five yard line, Brady was dumped on the ground by Michael Strahan for a six yard loss. Strahan's sack moved the ball back to the Giants 31 yard line. Instead of opting to attempt a 48 yard field goal, Belichick decided to go for it on 4th and 11. Again a risky decision by Belichick, and like his decision in Super Bowl XLVI, it too was foiled. Brady's pass fell incomplete. The Giants got the ball on downs. And Belichick did not trust Gostkowski in 2008. It sure seems he still does not trust him. Why is this?
Let's look at Gostkowski's numbers from 40-49 yard field goals. Over his career, he has attempted 34 field goals and converted only 25 of them. Therefore, despite having 84.4 percent overall conversion rate, his longer field goal percentage is 73 percent. So he is not as accurate from longer distances. Most likely, if Belichick did not use his matador defensive strategy, the game could have come down to a long field goal. When Belichick was the defensive coordinator of the Giants in 1990, he witnessed first hand a pressure packed Super Bowl deciding kick. Buffalo's Scott Norwood's 47 yard attempt went wide right. And Norwood talked about his missed long field goal in Super Bowl XXV, "Maybe you overdo the analysis," he says. "The truth is that, at 47 yards, the percentages are against you. If it were 30 yards, O.K., but 47 .... At that distance, the average in the NFL is under 50 percent. You're working against the numbers. Maybe you break everything down too much. A quarterback doesn't get two throws a game and then sit down and analyze where his feet were and how his arm worked on the one he missed. It's 1.3 seconds. You go out and do it."
Speaking of the percentages, like Norwood stated, the rate of field goal conversion from long distances especially in a Super Bowl are against you. This is why Belichick made his gutsy decision.
SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS! 4 TITLES! Incredible. Winning is all that counts! Nailbiter to the end! Eli Manning has ice water in his veins. Two Q4 Super Bowl drives for TWO TITLES. Words do not do this celebration justice.
I have a few thoughts to put on this post and to let everyone comment and celebrate this title together.
LUCK! You need to have luck to win titles. We talked about the breaks the Giants got 4 years ago, like dropped balls by the Cowboys and the Flozell Adams injury. Well, this Super Bowl victory came complete with AT LEAST SIX HUGE LUCKY BREAKS FOR THE GIANTS THAT I CAN COUNT, probably more:
1) The 12 man on the field penalty by the Pats negates a Cruz TURNOVER. Two plays later the Giants score 7 on a Cruz TD! That is incredibly good fortune.
2) The Nicks fumble is recovered by a Giant. Disaster averted.
3) The Bradshaw fumble is recovered by a Giant. Disaster averted.
4) Welker drops a sure reception right in his hands. After the game, he took the blame: "It’s a play I never drop, I always make." The drive is stopped and the Giants get the ball back in the hands of Eli to go ahead and win it.
5) The Hail Mary goes the Giants' way when the Pats can't get the tipped ball before it hits the ground.
6) ROB GRONKOWSKI WAS INEFFECTIVE. Thank you Pollard.
Karma? GRATITUDE!! The Giants were better than the Pats in so many ways, but they couldn't show it on the scoreboard until the end. The Patriots were worthy opponents who simply fell short. One bad bounce of the ball and we are downcast. Someone had to lose, and Eli made sure we won!
Tom Coughlin and his staff get all the props enabling the Gmen to win a title! We have to give so much credit to Perry Fewell for changing and making this Super Bowl run happen. The Giants kept Rodgers to 20. The Giants kept Brady to 17. DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS.
Let's respect every ounce of effort from both sides. The Giants were also screwed on a few penalties, particularly the Q2 dagger of the Boothe call which set the entire tempo in reverse, turning a potential 16-3 game into a 10-9 deficit with nothing to show for the first half. That chicken sh*t call was the kind of stuff that Bill Walsh quantifies as the 20% of the game you cannot control. It is fantastic that we never have to think about that call again, the way we still remember the holding call on Keith Hamilton in Supe XXXV. This is why you need breaks. So that you can forget about the garbage that can cost you a title.
If you are a Patriot fan, you are reliving a nightmare from 4 years ago. Frankly, I for one and am so grateful for the Giants to be on the winning side of this game.
We'll have all week and the rest of our lives to celebrate this win and every single tremendous achievement: Super Mario's 38 yard reception was sweet music. Chase Blackburn's INT. The quiet great work of our corners, Aaron Ross and Corey Webster. The OL for keeping Eli clean when it counted. Hynoski and Snee on the fumble recoveries. The Tuck Sacks. The JPP menacing, with batted balls and ubiqitous impact. The Tuck Safety that makes this a TD margin (for Pats at end) instead of a FG margin. Great WR catches all day long by Cruz, Nicks and Mario. All the small ball guys (Hynoski!) underneath. Linval Joseph for a solid game. Keep adding to this list. (Weatherford great punting, physical Jacobs, Boley 9 tackles..)
NY GIANTS SUPER BOWL XLVI CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!
ELI MANNING- YOU ARE GOING UP ON THE BANNER FOR THE 4TH TITLE! Super Bowl MVP AGAIN!
Yes, blog commenters, we've been analyzing Super Bowl XLVI more than enough times to count. So let's see if we can keep these final thoughts on the game relatively short and 'super' sweet. As a reminder, follow us on Twitter tonight for intragame comments.
1) Follow the Gronk. Be alert for a scenario of partial or reasonable effectiveness early and then a disappearing act after halftime. The Giants (and their fans) all expect him to play, so we are operating under the Dwight Freeney model of presence felt early and then significantly diminished output after the 30 minute break. Why is Gronkowski so important? Follow the TDs. GRONK LED THE PATS IN TOUCHDOWNS. And it wasn't even close. 18 for him, the next closest was the law firm with 11 from up close. Welker had 9. Hernandez 7. So the difference in that offense with and without him is huge.
2) Use the Tight End. If you are relatively new to this NY Giants blog, know this- we love the Tight End because he is the Red Zone buster. One of the reasons why Gilbride has 'fits and starts' in the red zone is because he is incredibly inconsistent with his use of the TE when he gets in close. (Wasn't that polite?!) Why is it so important in this game? Because NE has a very poor defense (#31 out of 32 by yards) but they are only 15th in POINTS ALLOWED. They bend but they don't break. Simms specifically mentioned this this AM in his final XLVI commentary on WFAN (and felt it would be a lower scoring game because of both teams stopping the opponent in the red zone). Break the PATS in the red zone with the Tight End. If Ballard has not healed from his knee injury, that means once again using Beckum and/or Pascoe. Who scored the winning TD vs the Pats on the final drive into the red zone in Week 9? The tight end. USE HIM.
3) Maybe the Giants "overconfidence" is just supreme confidence. Simms on Showtime was a little scared about just how much confidence the Giants players are exuding. (He still picks them.) But we'll take a different tack- maybe it is based on a very special and unique feeling that they are witnessing amongst their team, that everything is falling into place. Maybe it is a poker tell they found. Remember that in XLII, Strahan was relaxed and confident while Coughlin was a nervous wreck, because Stray knew the defense had a tell for pass or run on the Pats. That'll give you confidence.
3a) Eli:Lucas as Simms:Rose Bowl?? If the Patriots do not figure out how to get to Manning, this game could be a turkey shoot. No, I am not underestimating the former (see #4 below). In fact I do believe BB is going to work his damnedest to make Manning uncomfortable. (The best way to do that is with SPORADIC pressure, not the consistent pressure offered by Rob Ryan where Eli could adjust and burn you.) After Eli faced less than hospitable playing conditions the past two weeks, the benign conditions of the dome could be akin to Simms arriving in Pasadena after the 17-0 wind day. Super Bowl crowd noise is not a factor in audibling because many of the people in the stadium aren't rooting for either team. The diehards are the lottery winners from season ticket holders, and they get stuffed up into 1/4th of the upper deck for each team. So maybe I am foolishly confident too. But if the Giants protect Eli well and do not get flustered by the sporadic schemes of Belichick, Eli rates to have a very productive day in the confines of a track meet dome that has near perfect playing conditions.
4) The Belichick Evil Genius Factor. Let's face it- every Giants fan is cautiously optimistic because we believe the Giants are the better team but we just don't know what kind of adjustments that Hoodie is going to throw at the Gmen. You can count on Belichick to throw in new plays that the Giants have never seen on film. Two weeks is enough time for the evil genius to stir up a respectable brew. The Giants simply have to be disciplined and answer those punches. Simms: "The Giants need to tackle well today." It isn't that much more complicated than that.
5) Bradshaw in Space. Simms mentioned it this morning, we mentioned it Friday- the lesser known important player that the Giants have to use as a difference-maker is Ahmad Bradshaw. PUT HIM IN SPACE. We call it small ball. Boy can it be big. Simms separately noted how the Patriots will give you the underneath to protect their weaker secondary. Exploit that w Bradshaw, because if he makes one LBer miss he can carve up yards. He'll move the sticks, he'll settle down your team, he'll give the defense some rest, he'll get Eli in a rhythm... small ball creates BIG things. I'd love to see 6 screens today, but I know better than to count on Gilbride for that. Can I ask for 6 flares? If we see 6 flares to Bradshaw, that should do the trick. I'm not even talking about the checkdowns, those are extra. I'm talking 6 plays where the Giants design the WR routes to allow Bradshaw some space underneath to get the ball as the first option. One more thing Ahmad- we've given you the love; please give Giants fans the love in return by protecting the ball when you carry it.
6) Win or lose, it has been a great season. Losing in 2008 was a bitter pill because the Giants were the team to beat that year and they beat themselves when they lost to the Eagles. 2011 has been a tremendous turnaround. At 7-7, we despaired. At 9-7, we believed. If we make it to 13-7, we'll be overjoyed.