Well, the final gun has sounded and the confetti has fallen. After the endless hoopla that accompanies the NFL's biggest event each year, Super Bowl XLVI has finally been played, with the New York Giants emerging as the National Football League's 2011-2012 champions after downing the New England Patriots 21-17.
However, given the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the Super Bowl, the winners and losers of the 2012 edition of "Super Sunday" weren't confined to the playing field, and here's an Internet-age version of a nostalgic look back at the best and worst of Super Bowl XLVI.
Yes, Tom Brady has started as many Super Bowls as any quarterback in NFL history.
However, after losing his second straight Super Bowl, Brady now falls to 3-2 in the Big One. While there's certainly no shame in losing two close Super Bowls to good Giants teams, in the rear-view mirror of history those losses will loom large when comparing Brady to the likes of Joe Montana.
OK, I may have made that last one up.
You'd think that, given all the drama that has swirled around Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning this week, it was him playing in the Super Bowl and not younger brother Eli.
Unless the whole thing was a brilliantly executed ploy by Peyton to allow Eli to concentrate on game preparation by deflecting attention, the whole circus surrounding the elder Manning brother has made him look selfish and petulant. It's also made me a lot more queasy about how much more talking about Peyton we'll be doing over the next several weeks.
It would seem that Lady Luck was on the side of the Giants even more so in regards to time than she was regarding fumbles.
When the Giants had to burn two timeouts by the 10 minute mark of the fourth quarter, it appeared that letting the play clock run down twice would cost them dearly.
Things looked even more dire as the Patriots then began to move the ball down the field, but milady saved the day, as the Patriots drive stalled just inside Giants' territory.
After New England marched ahead 17-9 on back-to-back touchdown drives, the Giants were able to answer the call—somewhat—with a 45-yard drive that culminated in a 38-yard Lawrence Tynes field goal.
After a Patriots 3-and-out gave the Giants the ball inside New England territory, the New York ground game moved the Giants inside the red zone, but yet again the Giants stalled and had to settle for three points, and the third quarter ended with the Giants behind 17-15.
(There were some pretty sweaty gamblers in Nevada at that point, I'm guessing.)
New England wide receiver Wes Welker made seven catches for 60 yards in the game, but was also the reason why a critical fourth quarter drive stalled.
On a 2nd-and-11 play from the New York 44 with 4:06 left, Brady had Welker wide open deep down the left side, but the usually sure-handed Welker couldn't make the catch.
It's possible that no other reception in his career will be as important as the one Welker missed here.
OK, so Indianapolis, Indiana may not have the sunshine of South Beach or the sizzle of New Orleans.
However, what they did have—at least this week—was a solid plan for hosting the biggest event in American sports and unseasonably warm weather. These factors contributed to Indianapolis receiving mainly rave reviews for their job of hosting this year's Super Bowl.
They certainly did a better job of playing host than Dallas a year ago.
Can someone please, for the love of God and all that's holy, explain to me why NBC felt it necessary to subject America to several segments of Nick Cannon bumbling through celebrity interviews during the pregame show?
Now imagine for a moment the scintillating conversations he and Mariah Carey must have. Deep stuff, I'm sure.
Mariah: "Uh, sweetums?"
Nick: "Uh, Yeah?"
Mariah: "Kookookachoo! Tee Hee!"
Nick: "Uh, yep."
I'm never getting that time back, you jackholes. Thanks.
It's not enough that former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason has been stricken with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease), a horrific malady that's robbed him of his football career, is stripping his mobility away, and will one day claim his life.
Nor is it enough that he's bravely taken his fight public in an effort to raise awareness about the disease and raise funds for research towards a potential cure.
No, Gleason also decided to gather up two other gentlemen stricken by the disease and take them to Indianapolis for the big game free of charge, with his foundation and other Saints players picking up the tab.
That's the kind of pregame segments we need to see more of.
Team Gleason. Check it out and donate if you can.
Dude, seriously, what happened?
Was Adam Sandler ever funny?
Was it all a mirage?
Next time I watch Happy Gilmore I'm not sure if I'm going to laugh or cry.
Are we really living in a world where Jimmy Fallon is funnier than Adam Sandler?
It's the Mayan Apocalypse. It has to be, right?
OK, so maybe it wasn't Whitney Houston in 1991.
However, Kelly Clarkson acquitted herself quite nicely with her rendition of the National Anthem before Super Bowl XLVI, especially given that performing that song—in that venue—is probably the hardest thing a singer would ever have to do.
One more pregame potshot and I'm done.
Former safety Rodney Harrison was once one of the most feared players in the NFL, known for punishing hits (and racking up fines for those hits).
However, during the several pregame "walkthrough" segments in which Harrison participated, not once did he lead with his helmet (OK, so he didn't have one, whatever).
Also, while sitting right next to former Giants receiver David Tyree, one of the players most responsible for Harrison and the Patriots having their hearts ripped out by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, Harrison made no on-camera effort whatsoever to strangle Tyree.
Stop hanging out with Tony Dungy, Rodney. He's making you soft.
Those were the odds being offered by many sports books that the first score of Super Bowl XLVI would be a safety.
After Tom Brady was hit with an intentional grounding penalty while in the end zone on New England's first offensive play of the game, that's exactly what happened.
Even before halftime, the Material Girl was already doomed when Bob Costas asked her what it felt like to be considered "safe" enough for the Super Bowl halftime show.
"Safe" is NFL-speak for "old."
Don't get me wrong. At the risk of sounding like a pig, there's still quite a bit of cougar in that cat.
Weird dancers dressed like ancient Egyptians, lip-synching, acrobats, and now that damn dancing hamster song. This is why everyone makes their Super Bowl beer run at halftime.
More football please.
With 4:03 left in the second quarter, Brady and the Patriots faced a 1st-and-10 from their own 4-yard line trailing 9-3.
Brady then proceeded to complete 10 consecutive passes during a 96-yard touchdown drive to end the first half, taking the Patriots into the locker room up 10-9.
New England then carried that momentum over into the first possession of the second half. Brady led the Patriots 79 yards, culminating in a 12-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez to put New England up 17-9 and punch the Giants right in the gut.
The Giants fumbled twice in the third quarter, with wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and running back Ahmad Bradshaw coughing up the ball. Fortuitously, the G-Men were able to recover the ball both times.
In fact, the only turnover of the game's first three quarters was an interception thrown by Tom Brady on a deep jump ball to tight end Rob Gronkowski. The ball was picked off by linebacker Chase Blackburn, showing just how hobbled Gronkowski really was by his sprained ankle.
It feels like Super Bowl commercials are going the way of the American manufacturing industry: a slow, steady decline that's deeply saddening to me.
It was even ironically spoken of in Chrysler's somber halftime spot.
There were some exceptions (the Doritos ads with the dog and little kid were hilarious), but for the most part the ads were just "ads" and certainly not the sort of "commercial greatness" that we've become accustomed to on Super Bowl Sunday.
And what is up at Anheuser-Busch? The gold standard has become iron pyrite.
I predicted earlier Sunday that Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham would have more yardage than Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, and he did, out-gaining Gronkowski 73 yards to 26.
I did not, however, foresee the fourth-year pro having the catch of the game, as Manningham hauled in a 38-yard sideline toe-tapper with just under four minutes left. The catch was the catalyst of the drive that propelled the Giants to victory.
Well, Peyton Manning may have grabbed the headlines all week long, but younger brother Eli stole the spotlight when it shined the brightest, completing 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards and a score in the Giants' Super Bowl victory.
Eli now owns twice as many rings as Peyton in just over half the time, and is a two-time Super Bowl MVP.
Let the Manning Mountain debate begin. For tonight, at least, youth reigns supreme.
Lest it go unsaid, Eli Manning, Jason Pierre-Paul, Victor Cruz and all the Giants players went on a fantastic run through the playoffs, culminating in being crowned Super Bowl XLVI Champions. Congratulations are in order.
CONGRATS TO THE NEW YORK GIANTS! 2011-2012 NFL CHAMPIONS!