2012 Super Bowl
by Tony Medley
As I predicted
before the playoffs began, lo, these many months ago, the New York
Giants were the best team in football and won the Super Bowl, running my
record to 10 correct picks out of 11 games. The only game I missed was
San Francisco's last-second victory over New Orleans.
The NFL was
really lucky because the last three games were among the best playoff
games ever played, including the Super Bowl. There can be few doubters
now that the Giants were the best team. They even overcame horrible
refereeing. There were three blatant wrong calls against them when they
played Green Bay or the game would have been more of a rout that it was.
This continued against New England Sunday. There was a phantom holding
call in the first half that turned a Giant first down in Patriot
territory into a third and long that the Giants couldn't convert. When
the holding call occurred (the Giants led 9-3 at the time) I told my
friend that that one call probably made the difference between a 16-3
halftime lead for the Giants and a 10-9 halftime lead for the Patriots.
Sure enough, after the Giants were forced to punt, the Patriots drove
98 yards for the leading touchdown.
Then in the
fourth quarter, with the Patriots still leading, on another Giants third
down at midfield there was a blatant pass interference that wasn't
called, so once again the Giants were forced to punt. Despite all this,
they came back to win the game due in large part to a great pass by Eli
Manning and an equally great catch by Mario Manningham. The catch itself
wasn't that difficult. What made it great was the way he got both his
feet inbounds and retained possession of the ball while falling out of
bounds being hit by two Patriots.
Cover 2 is a
terrific defense, but very few teams play it correctly. Manningham's
great catch (made possible by an incredibly accurate long pass by
Manning) was enabled by New England misplaying their cover 2. But give
Manning credit. His first look was to his right. Seeing nothing there,
he quickly determined that the New England safety was out of position
and threw the pass to Manningham, point on (and under pressure).
There has also
been a lot of criticism of Nicks for going out of bounds in the last two
minutes when Manning hit him with a short flat pass. But I didn't think
he had any choice when watching it in real time and confirmed it when I
replayed it. Nicks caught the ball on the 12 yard line and had to get to
the 8 for a first down. There were two defenders between him and the 8.
If he turns in, he doesn't have a chance for the first down. So he
angled toward the sideline and made the first down, but was forced out
of bounds. If he doesn't angle to his left, which caused him to go out
of bounds, he doesn't get the first down. But all the talking heads are
just assuming that "Nicks made a horrible decision by going out of
bounds," and I've not heard one person challenge this. As with most of
the stuff the talking heads say, they are dead wrong.
That said, this
victory should be a tribute to Giants coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin made
one of the great decisions of all time in 2004 when, as a rookie coach,
he benched my all time favorite NFL player, Kurt Warner, to allow rookie
Eli Manning to play. I was incensed at the time, but even then I
realized it was a courageous decision. Warner had won 5 of the first
nine games. Manning only won one of the remaining games. Warner went to
Arizona, where he won the starting quarterback job and took Arizona to
the 2009 Super Bowl, coming within less than a minute of winning it.
But Kurt is now
retired. Manning struggled for awhile, but has become a premier
quarterback and this is his second Super Bowl victory and second Super
Bowl MVP. Coughlin deserves a lot of the credit.
See you before
next year's playoffs.