The Super Bowl opponents are set. The two teams that will face each other for the Lombardi Trophy at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on February 5, 2012 are the New England Patriots, and the New York Giants. It is a rematch of Super Bowl 42 where the Giants defeated the then undefeated Patriots in a monumental upset.
Through the next two weeks, the so called experts will be debating who is going to win. NFL Network will be showing starting this Saturday, all the Super Bowls. Of course, highlights of Super Bowl 42 will be played, particularly that David Tyree (who is out of the league) catch ad nauseum.
I will do a Super Bowl prediction/preview blog later. This blog is going to be about all the odds and ends coming out of the AFC and NFC Championship games that the national media (Fox Sports, ESPN, Profootballtalk) is making a big fuss over. There is a lot of stuff being said, and mountains being made out of molehills, and now a strangle backlash against one of the QB that is going on that I wanted to put my two cents in.
I will start with some of the complaining by the media, specifically Jason Whitlock who wrote in his Foxsports.com column, that the “best teams didn’t win, ” and “flukey plays decided the outcomes.” http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/AFC-Championship-Game-NFC-Championship-Game-were-big-letdowns-012412 Let’s see, being a horse racing fan, I know that anything can happen once those starting gates spring open. Sometimes the favorite doesn’t win. That is true, but I don’t think that happened here.
In the AFC Championship game, it should not have come to Cundiff’s foot. The Ravens scored only 20 points. The Ravens , much like the 2006 Chargers (14-2) , could not take advantage of a sub par performance by Tom Brady (more on that later). If anyone remembers, in the divisional round at San Diego, Brady was having a bad game, and threw 3 or 4 INTs, and the vaunted Chargers with Marty Schottenheimer as head coach still could not beat the Patriots, a lot of it due to gaffs on the part of the Chargers. The Patriots much maligned defense, led by Vince Wilfork (who had a hell of a game) made crucial plays, particularly Sterling Moore who knocked what would have been the winning TD for the Ravens out of Lee Evans’ hands. Had Lee Evans fought off Moore like he should have, there would not have been this so called “fluke play” when Cundiff missed.
Now with the NFC Championship game, I admit the 49ers were the better team as far as records go with them being 13-3 and the New York Giants being 9-7. However, let’s get real here. Look at the head coach/QB combinations of both teams. It is hardly a contest which team had the better combination. Yes, Alex Smith beat the vaunted Saints. However, all those Saints do defensively is blitz, blitz, and blitz some more. Hardly a great defense. I mean, the Saints’ defensive coordinator at that point, Gregg Williams is no Dick LeBeau by any means. The Giants bring pressure by rushing four guys. Their secondary can be suspect, I admit, but it wasn’t as if the 49ers were playing against some talentless team or something.
Eli Manning did get hit, and knocked down, and all that. Eli could have been picked off a couple of times. That is true.. However, what happened to Alex Smith in the game. There were plays to be made. WR Michael Crabtree pretty much disappeared in the game. What about the lack of third down conversions by the 49ers in the second half? That could not have been a fluke. Yeah, I know about the ref’s call on the forward progress concerning Ahmad Bradshaw, and how some thought it should have been called a fumble. Well, I have yet to read anything from the NFL saying the ref blew the call. As for the two screw ups on special teams by Kyle Williams, well, he took responsibility, and it is hardly his fault that Ted Ginn, the regular punt/kick returner got hurt and could not play in the game. It was unfortunate that during overtime, he got the ball, and got the ball stripped from him. The Giants made the play.
What I am annoyed about is reading columns like Whitlock, and hearing some of the so called experts like Skip Bayless, and Mike and Mike ,etc act like total crybabies.. In my opinion, it seems to me that the media, especially ESPN has some sort of agenda. Mind you, I don’t see this a lot on NFL Network, but there are a couple of them that do this also (Sapp, Deion Sanders, Mike Irvin) If the teams that they are marking out for don’t win, they do one of two things: They make up excuses for why the team/athlete loss, or they will disparage the team/athlete that beat their team. If you don’t believe me, take a listen or watch some of their shows some time. Both Giants and Patriots are being treated as if somehow they got to the Super Bowl by fluke plays or by underhanded means. I say this because I think the national sports media so wanted that “Harbaugh Bowl.” Well, I want to hear about the players, and I don’t want to hear about the coaches for two weeks, and I don’t want to fall asleep during the Super Bowl waiting for someone to score. That is just my opinion.
Now, to discuss some of the other nonsense that I have been reading about. Fans have to put things into perspective. In the long run, it is only a game. No one is going to die because your team lost a big game. There is always next year. However, you always have those numbskulls that take sports way too far. They are in every fanbase, be it the NFL, MLB, WWE, whatever. After the NFC Championship games via his twitter account, Kyle Williams received tweets of support, but also death threats. Fans sending death threats to an athlete are just disgusting lowlifes. They are just idiots. I mean, what kind of person sends a death threat over a game? Williams likely felt terrible as it was (even though they lost as a team), but he didn’t need to see that on his twitter page. Fans then wonder why athletes, celebrities, wrestlers, etc don’t want to stop and sign autographs, or carry bodyguards with them to keep fans away.
A story that has been given unnecessary legs is this wild and false accusation by the Ravens kicking consultant that the Patriots somehow manipulated the scoreboard to reflect that it was 3rd down, instead of 4th down when Billy Cundiff came out for that infamous field goal attempt at the end of the game. Coach John Harbaugh finally put the issue the rest (at least I hope so) when he said it was “nonsense.” http://www.nola.com/newsflash/index.ssf/story/ravens-coach-harbaugh-denies-team-was-confused-in-afc-title-game/37947bc359da31129c66a800a9ef00b1 He also denied the team was confused when they went out to try the field goal which would have tied the game. According to the article, it was not uncommon for that scoreboard to be a little behind the action on the field, and BOTH TEAMS knew what down and distance it was.
The only reason this non story was a story was because of the scandal four years ago, and it involved the Patriots. Had the Ravens made this accusation against any other of their AFC rivals (Steelers, Colts, Bengals, Texans, Broncos, etc), they would have been laughed at, but since it is the Patriots, the media made a huge mountain out of a molehill. I mean, seriously, and I meant to make this point earlier, the Ravens knew the deal. They should have taken a time out if they felt something was not right. Ravens have no one to blame but themselves.
The last issue I want to address is the discussion of the two quarterbacks in the Super Bowl. I’ll start with Eli Manning. ESPN in particular is something else. The “experts” have very weird criteria for deciding who is an “elite” QB and who is not, especially when it comes to Eli Manning. One mistake, in my opinion, they keep making is that they constantly compare him to his older brother Peyton. Why is this necessary? Peyton has been in the NFL longer. Peyton is more experienced, and has played with different players. Peyton plays (at least for now) on a dome team. Eli is on a team that plays outside with swirling winds, and in the cold. I really think it is unfair to compare the two. Eli Manning should be judged on his OWN MERIT.. In other words, he should be judged on his own body of work.
Doug Stewart of the “Two Live Stews” who appear on ESPN’s “First Take” said some of the most ridiculous things about Eli Manning this past week. He said Eli was not elite because of his demeanor. I have heard that from other “experts.” What does that have to do with anything? So Eli doesn’t jump in his offensive lineman’s arms after a first down like Brett Farve did, or does that “belt” taunt like Aaron Rodgers does. And? So he is more quiet on the field.
I never thought you had to be so over the top to be considered “elite.” I also heard that Eli isn’t a winner. Eli has 15 fourth quarter comebacks which is more than anyone. He has beaten Brady, Big Ben, Rodgers, Romo, and other very good (Romo) to elite (the rest I listed) head to head. He has lead the Giants to two Super Bowls in four years. I know people knock him for having a high INT number in some of his years, but so has Big Ben (2006). No matter the outcome of Super Bowl 46, Eli Manning is elite.. He is playing the best football of his career at this point.
Now, I will address the Tom Brady backlash. Yeah, I said it. It goes back to that “agenda” bit I was talking about earlier. All season long, the national media, namely ESPN, has gone nuts over Aaron Rodgers, calling him the greatest of all time (NOT), and later in the season , embraced Tebowmania, and then when Drew Brees was close to breaking Dan Marino’s record for most passing yards in a season, all you heard was Brees and Rodgers. In the meantime, Brady was having yet another great season. However, since Rodgers and Brees aren’t in the Super Bowl this year because their respective teams got their ass handed to them in the playoffs, I guess ESPN has to create some sort of a storyline , so they decide to try to tear down Brady who only threw a little over 5200 yards, and had 39 TDs and 12 INTs.
I mean, ESPN was going nuts about Brady’s subpar game in the AFC Championship game against the Ravens. Heck, even Tom admitted he “sucked.” However, people can bring up the stats, and all of that. Sure, numbers don’t lie, but stats don’t tell the whole story. Tom played well. People who are going nuts over the performance, especially over at the World Wide Leader (especially people who have played the game and should know better) should realize that the Patriots were playing the Ravens defense, one of the top defenses in the NFL. Tom put the ball where his guy could get it. This is playoff football which is way different than regular season. I don’t know if ESPN got that message or not.
It also seems to me that ESPN and even some people on NFLN (cough *Warren Sapp* cough) can’t seem to believe that despite their 13-3 record during the regular season, the Patriots made the Super Bowl. They can’t believe their media darlings, the Ravens, or the Broncos didn’t make it. Every week, especially during the latter part of the season, and into the playoffs, the Patriots were supposed to lose to some team every week. They were supposed to lose to the Dolphins because the Dolphins were on a roll. Patriots won. They were supposed to lose to the Bills because the Bills won (talk about a fluke) earlier, and Brady had a banged up left shoulder. Patriots won, and Tom did a great job. Patriots were then expected to be bowled over by Tim Tebow who the media labeled as God in a David vs Goliath type of game. Patriots annihilated the Broncos. ESPN said the Patriots will be beaten by the “best team in the AFC,” the vaunted Baltimore Ravens. Patriots beat them and are on to the Super Bowl to face the Giants. I guess ESPN is not as smart as they thought they were.
Hope you enjoyed the blog.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead