Posted by: Nate | February 4, 2008

Super Collapse

[Content Note]
First of all, I just want to apologize for not getting my Super Bowl preview and pick up before the actual game happened. I went away for the weekend to watch the game with friends and never got around to posting what I wrote. At this point, it’s clearly no longer applicable so I won’t even bother posting it anymore and I’ll just give you the summation of it:

I picked the Pats to win a close game by a TD and said that being able to run the ball, convert on third down and take care of the football would be the keys (as I stated a few weeks ago in my Championship Recap). I also included an interesting piece at the end detailing some of the articles, stories and various media hype on both teams and their overall effects on the karma scale, telling which team I thought had the karmic advantage going into the game. I’ll post this tomorrow, as I think this particular part is still interesting and somewhat relevant.

[End Content Note]

Giants 17, Patriots 14

I still feel sick seeing that final score and thinking about the game. Like the rest of the region right now, I am some combination of stunned, baffled, confused, upset and disheartened. Not only did we lose the Super Bowl to the Giants yesterday, but we lost by doing all the things that Patriots football aren’t about. We committed costly penalties, we made mental mistakes and missed blocking assignments, we looked rattled and frustrated down the stretch and didn’t make the plays on third and fourth down when we needed to – usual trademarks of Pats football.

As I mentioned in my now trash-can fodder piece previewing the game, I felt that Brady’s ankle was a non-issue and that he would be fine if he said he was fine. I was shocked that there was so much hype surrounding it and amazed at the number of times it got mentioned during the two weeks leading up to the game. Whether or not it was bothering him more than he let on during the game, I’ll never know unless he says so (highly unlikely by the way), but I can only infer that it was a much bigger issue than many people assumed it would be. He looked flat from the start of the game, and many of his passes were either behind receivers or well off target, either over-thrown or under-thrown. A great example of that is in the second half when he tried to throw a deep ball to Moss who split the coverage and was open in the endzone, but the ball was 10 yards short and out of bounds instead of on target. These plays were happening all over the place, and I realize the Giants D-Line was in his face all game (more on them later) but even when he did have time he didn’t look right. It didn’t help that our running game was so ineffective that he had to throw the ball 48 times either.

Breaking down the game statistically, the stats back up the fact that the game was close. Both teams converted 50% of their third downs (8-16 for the G men, 7-14 for the Pats). Time of possession was essentially even at about 30 minutes apiece. Both teams had about 35 yards in penalties and each had 1 turnover. With all of these things being relatively equal then, how is it that the Giants ended up winning?
Watching the game instead of peering over the stat sheet and you’d notice that the Giants 3rd down conversion came when they were most critical: on their tone setting opening drive they had four, and they made the key conversions on the winning TD drive as well when it matter most (see the Most Ridiculous Play in Super Bowl History for evidence). The Giants were also 1 for 1 on 4th down, to our 0 for 2, including the bizarre “we have no confidence in our kicker” 4th and 13 play where Brady threw it out of the endzone. I thought Gostkowski’s upside was that he had great leg? We don’t want to at least attempt a FG there from 48 yards?

As far as turnovers go, the Patriots also had numerous opportunities to force more turnovers and swing the balance in their favor. The Bradshaw fumble that Pierre Woods seemingly had, but then lost in the ensuing scrum was one good example. The near interception in the endzone by Ellis Hobbs that hit him in the hands and the near interception made in the flat by Randall Gay on a tipped ball would have been huge momentum turners for us, but we couldn’t quite make the plays. The biggest one that could have been of course, was the Asante Samuel whiffed INT on the final drive with 1 minute to play that would have sealed the win. He was just a fraction too quick in closing his hands though, and the ball grazed off the outside of his closing grasp. We also didn’t make much use of the turnovers we did get, going three and out after the Manning interception and failing to get points after getting the 12 men on the field penalty called via review.

The biggest underlying factor in the Giants winning the game though was something that won’t ever appear on a stat sheet, and that was heart and intensity. Their defensive line especially was playing fired up and hungry the entire game and they used their best asset to their advantage superbly. Strahan, Umenyora, Tuck, Alford and company had Brady rushing, scrambling or getting his ass slammed to the turf all night long. They made the highly regarded offensive line of the Patriots look foolish and overmatched all game long and they essentially thwarted our game plan, which hinges on Brady having time to pick apart the opposing D. In my mind, these guys were the ones deserving of game MVP honors. For almost the entirety of the game the whole Giants team was playing like the D line: loose, confident and motivated like they had nothing to lose. The Pats on the other hand just looked tight, flat and generally confused for much of the contest. Combined with their timely (and sometimes lucky) conversions and ability to establish the run somewhat, intangibles like intensity and heart put the Giants over the top.

Offensive lineman Nick Kaczur had this to say after the game:
“The Giants just outplayed us. They’re just better than us.”

On this night, that was certainly true for most of the 60 minutes on the field. As Patriots fans we have only images like these of the game burned into our memories:

Brady Super Bowl

(image from NFL.com Super Bowl Galleries)

On the bright side, Pitchers and Catchers report in 11 days…

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Responses

  1. pretty much they played like ass, and let everyone down.

    I’m just looking ahead to NBA playoffs and spring training.


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