Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"Everyone has a plan until they get smacked in the mouth..."

Super Bowl XLII Post-Mortem: Well, add this game to the list of things--along with Boys Don't Cry and Games 1, 3, 4, and 5 of the 2006 World Series--that were really compelling but that I never, ever want to see again...

I hate that I'll have to read Easterbrook's column tomorrow, complete with some sort of tortured Good vs. Evil analogy and blanket statements that the Pats "deserved" to lose because of past indiscretions...and I hate that Tom Brady is no longer invincible in Super Bowls....but mostly I hate, hate, hate that they'll always be known as the undefeated team that didn't win the Big One.

Before venting, I will concede this: the Giants were the better team yesterday and deserved to win. There's no disputing this. That said...

Let the record show that super-genius Bill Belichick had two weeks to prepare for the Giants and came up with a gameplan that was astoundingly ordinary. The Patriots seemed ill-equipped to stop the Giants pass rush and, worse still, showed no inclination to adapt to the persistent rush (like, I don't know, going to a 2 tight end set or using Evans or Faulk to chip block). They abandoned the run too soon (48 passes vs. 16 runs--and I don't care if Maroney was only averaging 2.6 yards a carry, they needed to keep him involved to keep the Giants D honest). They passed up a 48 yard FG try in the first half to go for an absurd 4th and 13 (and nothing says "I have zero confidence in you, Stephen Gostkowski, just in case you were trying to psych yourself up to try a game-winning kick down the stretch"). They made, as far as I can tell and completely inexplicably, no haltime adjustments whatsoever. And, worst of all, the Pats opted to run an all out blitz on 1st and goal with 35 seconds to go, as if it wasn't the simplest thing in the world for Manning to loft the ball up to a (as it turns out) wide open Plaxico Burress, who had a good 7 inches on Hobbs (who was single covering him) even if he hadn't fallen down.

I'll even go so far to complain that the Pats had three timeouts and only needed 45 yards on that final drive and thus didn't need to heave the ball downfield, but this concern is overwhelmed by my anger at the fact that Moss barely even made at play at either of those final two passes (remember when you used to jump for the ball, Randy?).

Let it also show that the Pats had three legitimate chances on that final drive to secure their legacy: the 4th and 1 where they couldn't quite stop Jacobs; the certain interception that just slipped through Samuels hands near the sidelines (it would've been tough, but he had a shot...and he's supposed to be their marquee defender, so...); and Eli's Great Escape on 3rd and 5 (if Manning gets sacked, it's fourth and a mile, and if Tyree doesn't make that sensational catch, it's 4th and a season and I'm betting the Pats get that stop).

And, while we're at: fuck you very much, Darin Jordan. Jordan, a glorified third-stringer for the 1995 Super Bowl Champion San Francisco 49ers, appeared on today's episode of Off the Record, and, in his infinite wisdom (he did, after all, make one whole tackle--yes, I looked it up--in the aforementioned Super Bowl--the only game he played that year), saw fit to accuse Tom Brady of playing a terrible game, and then went on to suggest that, had Steve Young or Joe Montana played in Brady's place, the Pats would've won. First of all, you were such a minor contributor to that team, that I wouldn't be surprised if those two legends couldn't pick you out of a police lineup. Second, way to be a class act and way to be a shit-stirrer without providing even a modicum of factual support.

I will say that this outcome looks good on (1) Tiki Barber (who displayed an appallingly large lack of class this season for someone who's roundly hailed as a great guy) and (2) Bill Simmons. Admittedly, Simmons appears sufficiently chastened, but he really dropped the ball with his absurdly premature "Who's Better: the '86 Celtics or the '07 Pats?" column from two weeks ago. (Couldn't you have run one of your bullshit mailbags where everyone sucks up to you? Were you that starved for content??)

(Also, his whole "even-though-I-said-I-thought-it-was-going-to-be-a-rout-more-or-less-constantly-for-the-past-two-weeks-I-saw-signs-during-warmups-that-tipped-me-off-that-an-upset-was-on-the-cards-but-couldn't-tell-my-readers-about-it-until-the-next-day" angle drives me batshit crazy, especially since his arguments--mainly, they weren't pumped enough, Brady shook hands with Pat O'Brien before the game, and Simmons forgot to bring his lucky Welker jersey to the game--are kind of pathetic.)

(Also, him not having a single piece of Pats gear with him in Arizona ranks right up there with the Starbucks trip* during Game 4 of the 2004 World Series on my "are we absolutely sure this guy is a hardcore sports fan?" meter.)

* - Fun fact: in his otherwise pretty great book (Now I Can Die in Peace), Simmons mentions in a footnote that he totally fabricated the Starbucks story to fill a gap in his running diary, which flies directly in the face of what he asserts in the above column.

And, lest there be any doubt that I'm a horrible gambler and shouldn't get within restraining order distance of my mom's pension (losses in red, wins in green)...

1. Jordin Sparks to sing the national anthem in under 1:42, at -115. Bet: $5 (to win $9.34). My girl Jordan (who I pegged as the AI winner last season with about eight weeks to go) finally betrayed me, clocking in at 1:55. I'm now 0 for 2 on this bet.

2. Will there be a lead change in the Second Half? Yes at +200. Bet: $5 (to win $15). Yup.

3. First made FG of the game: Giants at EVEN. Bet: $5 (to win $10). ...and it turns out I was right about NE never attempting a FG.

4. Who will the MVP of the Game thank first? Teammates at 2/1. Bet: $5 (to win $15). I was actually too annoyed to watch his speech, so I'm not positive about this one. There's some conflicting information out there, with some people saying he thanked his teammates first and others saying he thanked no one at all (dick).

5. Mike Vrabel to score a TD at +400. Bet: $5 (to win $20). Nope.

6. first Patriots interception: Rodney Harrison at 6/1. Bet: $5 (to win $35). Sheer greediness on my part here. I should've left this one alone.

7. What Song will Tom Petty sing to end his Halftime Show at the Super Bowl? "Runnin' Down a Dream" at 7/5. Bet: $5 (to win $12). Bam! Come on, admit that you're a little impressed.

8. Which Super Bowl commercial will have a higher rating on USA Today's annual Ad Meter? Other at 2/1. Bet: $5 (to win $15). I call bullshit on this one, since the Bud (paying 1/2) ad that ended up winning (the Rocky parody) was clearly inferior to at least two of the other ads I saw (E*Trade baby and the FedEx "giant pigeon" spot), but you can't fight city hall...

9. A national TV rating of over 43.5, at -110. Bet: $10 (to win $19.50). Chalk this one up to me not understanding what that rating meant. Over 43.5 would mean that at least 43.5% of all households that owned TVs were tuned into the game...which is a monstrous number. Turns out that 97.5 million Americans watched the game--a SB record and the 2nd highest show ever behind the M*A*S*H finale--so I assumed that I was golden. The national rating, however, was an agonizingly close 43.2. Damn.

10. The Patriots to win the game straight up on the money line, which is -430. Bet: $20 (to win $24.65). Again, kind of silly on my part. If I thought the Pats would win but not cover, I should have just plunked that $20 down on the Giants to cover the spread, but I guess I was hedging against a Pats blowout win.

11. Who will have more points, the Patriots or Kobe Bryant? Kobe (o.5 point underdog), at -110. Bet: $5 (to win $9.50). He's been on fire lately (including dropping 46 on the Raps Friday), so I'll ride the hot hand. Kobe had 30, the Pats considerably less.

12. Who will have more: Wes Welker's longest reception vs. Eric Gordon (+0.5) point total (Indiana University guard)? Gordon at -110. Bet: $5 (to win $9.50). Gordon poured in 29, while Welker--who had a huge game--had a long of 19.

13. What will be higher: # of goals in the Middlesbrough-Newcastle game or # of combined interceptions in the Super Bowl? Interceptions at -120. Bet: $5 (to win $9.17). Soundly reasoned (the soccer game ended 1-1), but there was only one pick.

14. What will be higher: Number of catches for Moss or number of birdies for Tiger Woods in the Dubai Desert Classic? Tiger at +110. Bet: $10 (to win $21). Bam! Tiger finished with nine birdies (and won the tourney to boot), while Moss finished with five catches.

15. What will be higher: Phil Mickelson's final round total (-24.5) or the longest field goal kicked by either team, in yards? Longest kick at -110. Bet: $5 (to win $9.50). Again, well thought out, but completely undermined by only one attempted FG. Remind me again why Belichick didn't try that one on 4th and 13 from the 32? Oh that's right, there's no logical explanation...

All told, I would've turned by $100 investment into $92. Take that, Warren Buffett!

As for how XLII stacks up, I'd probably slot it in at #6, just behind NE-Carolina and just ahead of NE-Philadelphia. While this may strike some as too low (possibly out of spite), I think this is justified, as the first half was a bit of a snoozefest, and the game didn't really take off until the final 15.

Two quick comments:

1. I watched the game with eight or so of my brother's friends (seemingly all pulling for the Giants) in our basement. After Brady overthrew Moss on first and goal with three minutes to go, I was absolutely furious. But, then, two plays later, when he connected with Moss, I leapt straight out of my chair screaming with glee...only to connect squarely with the ceiling. What ensued was me simultaneously cheering and exclaiming "ow...this really hurts." As it turns out, this might've been a bad sign.

2. About twenty minutes after the game ended, I made my way back down to the basement and watched some of the guys play Rock Band (possibly the greatest game ever--but that's another post altogether) while drinking a Mill St. beer. Anyway, at some point while watching, I managed to wedge my thumb in the neck of the bottle, and--again, at some point--must've started moving said hand (possibly to the beat, possibly out of rage), which led to me spraying myself in the face with my own beer--an impromptu faux-champagne celebration for a perfect season that never quite was. As that's probably about as poetic an ending as there could be for me last night, I'll just


Kyle Wasko said...

Still no definitive word on who Eli thanked in his MVP speech. Did anyone see this? I may have to (shudder) go to the tape.

Anonymous said...

No explicit* thanks to anybody, but he did thank Terry Bradshaw for the keys to the Escalade Hybrid, Coming Out This Fall!

*He mentioned Tyree and Blaxico, but no "and I'd like to thank my..."

Travis said...

anonymous = Travis

Kyle Wasko said...

Damn. I should've bet on the Escalade. Always bet on the Escalade.