Monday, February 4, 2008
Mercury Morris Gets to Keep Yapping
When they completed the first 16-0 regular season ever by dispatching of these same New York Giants in the Meadowlands six weeks ago, forget his neighborhood, the New England Patriots had officially stepped foot on Mercury Morris' block. When they defeated the San Diego Chargers in Foxborough in the AFC Championship Game, they strolled up his walkway. When Tom Brady hit Randy Moss for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:42 remaining in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII in Arizona Sunday night, they were standing on his porch (and every other cliche that has been used ad nausea in the leadup to the game.)
Unfortunately, they were shot down by a sniper before they could enter through the front door.
It was Giants 17, Patriots 14, and so I guess it's true that you can't win them all. It was analysed before the game that the key to any chance the Giants had of pulling off the upset centered on the ability of their front four to get past New England's stellar offensive line and to Brady, who's jersey is usually as clean at the end of the game as it is before it. They did, 5 sacks and many more hits on the game's best player. Just as important was Eli Manning, who contrary to the petrified look on his face as he ran onto the field for the drive of his life, who showed major poise and flair in answering Brady's testical-size by leading his team downfield for the game-winning drive and making one of the most memorable plays in football history.
In a sequence that will certainly become a part of Super Bowl lore forever and ever and ever, Big Game MVP Eli (19 of 34, 255 yards, 2 touchdown passes and 1 pick) somehow managed to escape the grasps of three Patriots defenders and loft the ball to the middle of the field to wideout David Tyree, who jumped to the highest point and gripped it away from safety Rodney Harrison, clutching it against the side of his helmet with his right hand on the way down to the field. Unbelievable on both ends of the play. It was at this point that you began to believe that maybe the Giants were a team of destiny - and as it turns out they were. Shortly thereafter, Eli floated one to the corner of the endzone to an open Plaxico for the deciding touchdown. Good for the Giants. God bless them.
As for the Patriots, winning the first 18 games of the season and then losing the Super Bowl, missing out on immortality by a mere 35 seconds, ranks right up there with the collapses of the '86 Sawx, '04 Yankees, and anybody else in terms of all-time most devastating defeats. As Tom Jackson pointed out on ESPN after the game, the fallout that will come from the Patriots organization in the wake of such a loss is unimaginable. How do you respond to something like this? Five months of the highest level of football ever played, rendered meaningless in a little more than two minutes? I feel for the players, I feel for the coaches, I feel for management, I feel for Robert Kraft. And if I'm a Patriots fan - which I am, although I'm of the bandwagon variety, so it's not gonna lay on me like it would a diehard, the only kind that exists in Boston - it's gonna be hard for me to really get myself back into football next season. Actually, the Pats could win the next three Super Bowl's and it still wouldn't fully ease the pain of losing the one that was played Sunday. This was a huge missed opportunity.
But the worst part, for everybody involved? The '72 Dolphins. They live on. It seems we may never get rid of them.