I want to get this out of the way first: the Patriots did not lose that game — the Giants won it. Period. The Pats were simply outplayed; most specifically, the Pats offense was outplayed by the Giants’ defense. That wasn’t lousy officiating (the officials didn’t even have that much to do tonight), that wasn’t crappy play by the Patriots, that wasn’t any other lame excuse. It was just superior play by the Giants. New York deserved to win that game, and if I wore hats, I’d tip mine to them.
I originally picked the Pats to win this game in my initial thrush of excitement after beating San Diego in the AFC Championship game, but over the last few days I was starting to re-think that decision. The Patriots were themselves tremendous underdogs to the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl 36, and they stunned the team that they supposedly had no chance to beat. That fact had been tickling the back of my head, apparently with good reason. I still thought New England would win, but my confidence in that victory shrank slightly as the days went by.
Over the last six weeks, I’ve watched every game played by both the Patriots and Giants, and over the last six weeks, the Giants have been the better team. The Giants nearly beat New England in Week 17; they went into Dallas and beat the Cowboys; they went into Green Bay and beat the Packers. Everyone kept saying this team had no chance, and yet they kept winning game they were supposed to have no chance to win. And then over the last two weeks, being disrespected and trivialized that way by almost everyone, telling the Giants that they were just a speed bump on New England’s expressway to history… well, that can have an awfully powerful motivating effect on a bunch of professional athletes.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tom Brady take that kind of beating before. Even with three Pro Bowlers on their offensive line, New England could do almost nothing to stop New York’s front seven — hell, I think I could count on one hand the number of times anyone from the Giants’ secondary was even mentioned during the broadcast, that’s how dominant a performance that was by their D-line and linebackers. Even a quarterback as tremendous as Brady isn’t going to be able to do all that much when he’s under constant pressure, especially when the running game has also been totally shut down. Brady’s going to be having nightmares about being chased by Giants for quite awhile, I’d imagine.
Win or lose, that was a helluva game and the Giants deserve all the credit in the world for a damn impressive win. And I hope that this loss doesn’t minimize what an amazing accomplishment it was for the Patriots to make it through the regular season undefeated (though of course it will). My sincere congratulations to the New York Giants, a deserving, if surprising, Super Bowl champion.