The 2012 Super Bowl was hyped up the past week, with it being the rematch of two East Coast, media-heavy teams. And as predicted, the game lived up to the expectations set forth in the week leading up to the game. The Pats were given a slight advantage, which came with a disclaimer to watch out for the Giants given the outcomes of this season's game and the 2007 Super Bowl. The Giants, in seemingly familiar fashion, put up a strong drive in the fourth quarter, which led them to an "upset" victory and another Super Bowl title.
Now, with the game and the season over, it is time to look back on the game of the year, and look at the highlights and low-lights of the Patriots-Giants match up.
A Giants Highlight: Mario Manningham's sideline catch
The highlight that is shown every time the 2007 Super Bowl is mentioned is the one where Eli Manning broke through a pile of defenders and launched a shot to David Tyree, who fashionably caught the ball on his helmet for the completion. This Super Bowl will now be known by a couple of plays, but more importantly the sideline catch by Mario Manningham. Earlier in the game, Cris Collinsworth pointed out that Mario Manningham often runs his routes too close to the sideline, which doesn't give Eli enough room to complete a pass in-bounds. As if Manningham had heard this, he ran a similar route later with two defenders on him and caught the ball on his fingertips, taking two steps quickly in-bounds before stepping out. This catch by Manningham was one of two turning points in the fourth quarter that were vital in the Giants' win last night. Giants fans had to feel great for Manningham, who fell into the third wide receiver role once Victor Cruz emerged as one of Eli's favorite receiving options, causing Manningham to have a lackluster 2011 season overall.
The Patriots Folly: Tom Brady's 1st quarter safety
I have watched a lot of football throughout the years, and I have seen very few safeties in the games I've been watching. Of those safeties, none were worse than the one on Tom Brady last night. Tom Brady was not sacked in the end zone. He was flagged for intentional grounding, on the first play of the Patriots first drive of the game. He didn't even try to throw it out of bounds. The safety really set the tone for the rest of the game, especially when the Giants scored a touchdown on the next drive.
A Giants Highlight: "Cruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuz"
Victor Cruz had been pretty quiet through the Giants' post-season this year. Cruz had yet to score a touchdown in the post-season going into the Super Bowl, and fans were troubled by this given his performance in the regular season. Cruz picked the perfect time to rebound, scoring on the drive that followed Tom Brady's safety. I know the game took place at the home of the Colts, a team that does not favor the Pats, but it was amazing listening to the fan support for the Giants in Indianapolis. The chanting of "Cruuuuuuuuuuuuz" almost sounded like the game was being played in New Jersey.
The Patriots Folly: Tom Brady to Wes Welker for an incomplete pass in the 4th Quarter
Wes Welker's failure to catch Tom Brady's pass most likely changed the outcome of the game. Cris Collinsworth stated that Welker makes that play "100 out of 100" times. I think what Collinsworth meant to say was 99 out of 100, which Al Michaels eluded to later in the broadcast. Whereas Giants fans will remember the catch by Manningham, Pats fans will always remember the Welker catch that wasn't.
A Giants Highlight: Bradshaw's attempt to NOT score in the final minutes of the game
The Giants, on a roll after Manningham's sideline catch, marched down the field ready to take the lead. In the red zone, Ahmad Bradshaw was handed the ball and quickly ran to the goal line. Realizing how much time was left on the clock, and given that the Giants only needed a field goal to take the lead, Bradshaw tried to stop the ball on the one-yard line. Unfortunately Bradshaw had too much momentum going into the end zone, and in turn fell backwards into the end zone for the Giants second touchdown. While it was nerve wrecking that the Giants left so much time on the clock, Bradshaw's touchdown will go down as one of the more humorous touchdowns in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots Folly: Rob Gronkowski's Performance
Earlier last week I wrote a piece listing a number of things that were detrimental to a win for each team. For the Giants, one thing I mentioned was that Victor Cruz needed to perform, and he did. For the Pats, I had noted that a healthy Gronkowski was vital to a Pats win. Gronkowski was not near healthy, as anyone could tell by his on-field performance. Gronkowski had trouble running his routes, slow in his step. Gronk only caught two passes for a total of 26 yards, and was rarely targeted throughout the game. It was Gronk, in fact, who had the best chance of catching Tom Brady's hail mary at the end of the game, but he simply couldn't come up with the ball.