I have heard, ad nauseum, how the Giants gave the Pats a great game, and almost won it.
Did they really?
The Giants scored 35 points—which, on the surface it sounds like a great performance against the Pats.
But was it really? Here's a brief synopsis:
The Giants scored one TD by virtue of a kickoff return.
Another Giants' TD was set up by one bad defensive play by the Pats, when Plaxico Burris beat CB Ellis Hobbs cleanly for a 52-yard reception, setting up another Giants TD.
And another Giants' TD was scored with just under two minutes left in the game—when the Pats were playing soft, allowing the clock to run down, and holding a 10-point lead.
That's 21 points out of their 35 total that were scored against the Pats—not by dominance, but by one play, or against a prevent-type defense.
In addition, the following stats do not, in any way, suggest Giants dominance, or even any state close to equality:
Patriots 27, Giants 19
Patriots 390, Giants 319
NET YARDS PASSING
Patriots 346, Giants 237
Patriots 32, Giants 22
Patriots 1, Giants 0
TIME OF POSESSION
Patriots 36:18, Giants 23:42
Those stats alone show a game controlled by the Patriots, with respect to yardage, time of possession, and any and all other facets of the game.
Yes, the Giants played well, and the score of the game was close—until the Patriots decided that enough was enough, and surged to a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Patriot's soft, prevent-type defense, allowed the Giants to keep it close on the scoreboard—but as the stats and comments indicate, it was the Patriots who actually controlled the game, not the Giants.
A valiant effort by the Giants? Of course it was—but in the end, the 60-minute men won out, as they have all season long.
Will they stay unbeaten throughout the playoffs? No one knows for sure, but for now, the Patriots can enjoy their 16-0 season, knowing that they earned it—not that it was handed to them, much in the way the Indianapolis Colts laid down and handed the Tennessee Titans a playoff berth.
In that game, Coach Dungy once more showed the world that he is far from the class act many suggest he is. Reggie Wayne set personal record, leading the league in receiving yardage over Randy Moss.
That was what was important enough to keep Manning and Wayne in the game. As soon as he got the yardage needed, they were done with first teamers, allowing Cleveland to get screwed out of a playoff spot.
One can only hope that what goes around will come around, and the Dungy's Colts, wil never see action past their first game in the postseason. That would be fitting, if nothing else.