A Super Bowl XLVI Re-Cap

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A Super Bowl XLVI Re-Cap: The Giants Top The Pats 21-17 In A Less-Than-Superbly Played Showdown As We Count The  (Many) Errors Of New England’s Ways As Jim Sez Does His Own Bit Of Monday Morning Quarterbacking

You could almost predict the Sunday evening web site story headlines and the always-blaring Monday morning newspaper bold shout-outs:

In New York City and surrounding areas, you got stuff like “Giants Just Super” and “Play it Again, Eli” while Boston-area sports fans noticed a darker theme such as “Not Again” and “Patriots Dynasty Officially Over” …

But here’s what we took from Sunday night’s Super Bowl XLVI clash between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots:

How did either one of these teams get this far in the first place with all those mistakes (mental and otherwise)?

Okay, we’ll tip our cap to the Giants after their 21-17 win in Indianapolis but when you own the clock - as in 37:05-to-22:55 -- than maybe you shouldn’t exactly be in need of an 88-yard go-ahead touchdown drive in the game’s waning moments while the flip side wonders how/why the 3-point favorite (okay, 2½-point betting favorite in many locales ‘round the land)  Patriots left oh-so-many plays on the field from dropped passes by TE Aaron Hernandez to fourth-quarter bad aims by QB Tom Brady to a pair of fumbles by the Giants that “Big Blue” pounced on itself when a New England recovery here or there might well have changed the complexion of the game - and throw in some late-game poor clock management by Pats head coach Bill Belichick (just not what you think, we promise) and it spells out a Patriots loss every bit or more than it spells out a Giants win.
Follow along as we give you a few “bullet points” as to what helped cost New England a fourth Super Bowl crown in the Brady/Belichick Era:

HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO WIN A CLOSE SUPER BOWL WHEN YOU DON’T SCORE IN THE GAME’S FINAL 26-PLUS MINUTES?

Let the official Super Bowl records state that the Patriots drove 96 and 79 yards for second- and third-quarter touchdowns against the Giants but never put up a single point from the 11:20 mark of the third quarter to the final gun and there are many culprits here beginning with the aforementioned Brady (27-of-41 for 276 yards passing with 2 TDs and 1 INT and with a quarterback rating of 91.1).

The three-time Super Bowl-winning signal-caller may have been bothered by an injured left (non-throwing, of course) shoulder that was jammed up on a third-quarter play but forget what clueless NBC game analyst Chris Collinsworth said, that Brady-to-WR Wes Welker pass heading down and towards the sidelines was too high and a touch behind Welker with New England up 17-15 and looking to add to it and maybe ice the game with 4:06 left in the game.

Hey, maybe we were expecting Brady to be perfect here on this toss but the throw was not accurate at all and Collinsworth - who was awful all game long - should have at last seen on TV replays that the pass was high-and-wide but perhaps better to praise Brady than verbally bury him even though much of his night was spent dinking-and-dunking the ball on short routes.

Then remember that awful Brady decision/pass to hobbled TE Rob Gronkowski just two plays into the fourth quarter when a leaping LB Chase Blackburn - surprisingly enough in deep, over-the-middle coverage against Gronkowski - picked off the Brady aerial and sandwich that around a couple of New England punts and here’s a team that scored 35-or-more points on seven different occasions this year (and 30-or-more points on 13 different occasions) getting blanked for more than a quarter-and-a-half.

And you expected a shiny championship ring for this, New England?

THE GIANTS CATCH A “SECOND WIND” AND MR. MANNING DOESN’T MISS HIS TARGETS

It’s safe to say that the huge time-of-possession advantage the Giants held in the first quarter actually wound up being important come the fourth quarter … and here’s why:

The Giants’ defense was on the field for a total of only 12 snaps prior to the Patriots’ first touchdown march of the game (see 14 plays and 96 yards in all) just prior to the end of the first half and that meant there were plenty of fresh defensive line bodies come the second half and that much-ballyhooed pass rush starting to gain momentum sometime following New England’s start-of-the-second-half touchdown drive and the likes of Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul (who swatted down a couple of Brady passes) really started working over the Patriots weakened O-line and Brady was flustered, pressured and twice sacked in his rocky post-Madonna halftime play.

Than, what happened?

Well, Giants QB Eli Manning (30-of-40 for 296 yards with 1 TD and 0 INT and a QB Rating of 103.8) made a slew of key throws including that monumental 38-yard completion to WR Mario Manningham that got the Jints out of the shadow of their goal line and moved ‘em to the 50-yard line with three-and-half minutes remaining and facing a 17-15 deficit and then all Manning did was complete four more dart throws before RB Ahmad Bradshaw mistakenly registered his six-yard touchdown strike (more on that little strategy in our next “bullet point”) that put the G-men up for good here in Supe 46.

While Brady had his misfires and a couple of drops, the Giants made the plays in the aerial game although Bradshaw’s bonehead play along with the move by WR Hakeem Nicks (10 catches for 109 yards) to not stay inbounds with 1:15 left and the Pats down to one time out could have really come home to roost - see what we mean by a not-so-superbly played game even by the champion Giants?

THE REAL MISTAKE INVOLVING THAT BRADSHAW “GAME-WINNING” TOUCHDOWN

Again, we expected Collinsworth and NBC play-by-play man Al Michaels to come up “big” here on the sport’s biggest stage but that didn’t always happen and when it came to the Bradshaw TD run that put BYG ahead 21-17 with 1:04 remaining in the game the real rub was this: Okay, so Belichick “duped” the Giants into scoring there instead of chewing the remaining clock and than having PK Lawrence Tynes boot home the inevitable short-distance game-winning field goal but the Patriots’ sideline boss was the real bungler here.

Consider that prior to the aforementioned catch by Nicks where he was assisted out of bounds, the game was at the two-minute warning and it was Giants ball at the Patriots’11-yard line. Folks, that is precisely where Belichick should have informed his defense to “lie down and play dead” and thus allow the Giants to run up the gut and score and thus allow Brady and Company almost two full minutes with one remaining time out but there was the aforementioned four-yard pass to Nicks, than instead Bradshaw was tackled after a one-yard gain at the New England six-yard line (now there’s only 1:09 left) before it finally dawns on the “genius” Belichick to allow the score.

Why didn’t anyone on NBC or in ESPN’s post-game madness question this during/after the game? Wow!

It would have allowed Brady an extra three or four plays - granted, without a time out in his hip pocket - and maybe there would not have been the need to go “Hail Mary” on the game’s final play.

FINALLY, WHAT IN-GAME STRATEGY COULD THE PATRIOTS HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

Call us stubborn but we said all week leading up to Super Bowl XLVI that the Patriots needed a real smart run/pass balance on offense here and what did they get from soon-to-be Penn State head coach/outgoing Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien but 19 rushes and 41 passes! In case you don’t care to do the math, that’s 68.3 percent passes and 31.7 percent running plays.

Keep in mind that the New England ground game - while not reminding anyone of the late/great Walter Payton or anyone of that ilk - did manage 83 ground yards to the tune of 4.4 yards a pop and yet the run game was pretty much abandoned here even though - as Belichick later said - the Pats held the lead for a good portion of this game. Go figure.

New England’s lead running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried the ball 10 times for 44 yards in all - he should have doubled that work load (remember he never/ever fumbles) - and than the O-line would have not had so much pressure heaped on its collective shoulder pads as pass blockers late against this cat-quick Giants pass rush.

Shame on the Pats here.

We wrap up our Super Bowl XLVI analysis with another strong opinion:

The Pats should have been more physical and less finesse with the Giants pass-catchers. Okay, so that one sideline belt put on Nicks by Patriots S Patrick Chung got the usual oohs-and-aahs from the sellout crowd but New England should have jostled, jockeyed, whacked Nicks and WRs Victor Cruz and the aforementioned Manningham here - it was a strategy the Giants’ defensive backs employed and it had the desired effect with Hernandez missing one key pass late and with WE Welker not always rel anxious to get hit on a pattern.

Will the Patriots look at Super Bowl XLVI as “one that got away” - in our opinion they will more so than that painful loss in the desert to the Giants four years ago - and will New England ever get back to this ultimate game with Brady/Belichick sharing center stage?

Hard to say but the Giants saw the bounce of the ball on those fumbles by Nicks and Bradshaw go their way and Manning again played fourth-quarter hero and right now he’s as good in this 11th-hour role as anyone in the NFL - maybe the Giants didn’t always deserve to win a game in which they committed plenty of errors but on this night they received plenty of help from the guys wearing the blue jerseys.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you College Basketball and NBA Winners each and every day when you check in with us either right here online at www.jimhurley.com or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.

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NOTE: Catch our College Basketball Mid-Week Report in the next Jim Sez.

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