The sight was all too familiar. With just over three minutes left in the game the ball was back in Eli Manning’s hands and the New York Giants were marching down the field. An incredibly athletic sideline grab by Mario Manningham helped set up what would be the final score of the game.
The Patriots had :57 seconds to march down the field but incomplete passes ate away at the clock. The final hail mary attempt was almost good enough but the deflection tipped just wide of Rob Gronkowski in the endzone.
And with that, the confetti fell, and for the second time, Manning and the Giants beat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl with the final score 21-17.
This was an incredibly evenly matched game, except in the two categories that matter most. The Patriots turned the ball over once whereas the Giants got lucky. Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw both fumbled the ball but New England couldn’t recover. And then there was the time of possession. The Giants had the ball for just over 37 minutes and the Patriots had it for just about 15 minutes less (22:55). That’s an entire quarter if you think about it.
But the Patriots battled throughout the entire game. The defense once again stood tall. Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes both had eight tackles and Mark Anderson (1.5), Rob Ninkovich (.5) and Brandon Deadrick (1) all contributed with sacks. You never would have known this was the same defense that started the season. They really showed up when it counted this postseason and it made a big difference.
As for the offense, Rob Gronkowski was missed. It was obvious Brady was looking for Wes Welker as a substitute but unfortunately the Giants must have figured that would be the case. He had 7 receptions for 60 yards. Aaron Hernandez had a solid game (8rec, 67yds, 1TD) and I think he’s poised for an even better season next year.
The Patriots’ drive that sticks out most in my mind came in the fourth quarter. It was the drive right before the one I described at the beginning of this post. 9:24 left in the game and the Patriots are making progress down the field while eating up some valuable clock. Brady has the team at the Giant’s 44 yard line on second down. Two incomplete passes later, Zoltan Mesko is forced to punt and Manning takes over.
If the Patriots had been able to get that first down, if they had made it into field goal range, if, if, if. It could go on all night but the bottom line is, it didn’t happen. But what showed was that they didn’t quit. The character of this team spoke for itself. They left everything on the field and did all they could to bring Robert Kraft a championship in memory of Myra.
It has been a whirlwind of a season for the Patriots. From the lockout, to the passing of Myra Kraft, to the team’s fifth Super Bowl appearance since 2000, you never knew what you were going to get. That’s the beauty of being a New England Patriots fan. You trust in Bill and know that with him and Tom Brady at the helm, it will all work out, one way or another.