Yep — just like old times (Super Bowl 46, the Sequel: Giants 21, Patriots 17)

Every football-playing kid wants to grow up to be the one who scores the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. Well, maybe except Ahmad Bradshaw. Photo: AP.

Well, the parallels between Super Bowls 42 and 46 were many: Low score. Defenses that stepped up. Long, sustained scoring drives. Eli Manning leading the Giants down the field in the final minutes. A pass for the ages to keep the winning drive going. A last-minute touchdown by New York. And a desperation heave by Tom Brady that was broken up.

And Bill Belichick being a sore loser. While this time he actually stayed around to effusively hug his old friend Tom Coughlin after the game, he blew off the NBC crew, rather than give the network the two-minute losing-coach interview.

Some things were different. An early brainfart by Brady. A Madonna halftime show where Madge wasn’t the center of controversy, but a rapper who quickly flashed the bird (which I didn’t see until later on, on YouTube, because the screen was so small). The Patriots’ most reliable receiver, Wes Welker, making a huge drop when it counted most. The most reluctant winning touchdown in the history of football. Watching the game from the office, a funeral home-quiet place most days, where my reactions were, well, a lot more muted than they would have been had I been at a party, my original game plan.

And Coughlin hugging Flavor Flav. An image for the ages. (Had the coach said “Yeeeeah, boyeee!” I would’ve fallen out of my chair.)

But for all intents, we have, indeed, been there before. Giants over the Patriots in the big one, by less than a TD in the final minute. And Eli winning the MVP trophy again, only this time in the house his brother built.

*****

Y’know, I just didn’t feel it going into the game. Maybe part of it is I was asked to work during the game. No complaints — I mean, the job that’s keeping me out of extreme poverty is an on-call one, and I need the money, so there wasn’t a question I’d be forsaking the annual Super Bowl party at the Landmark just before the kickoff. (I would’ve been the only true Giants fan in the place, wearing my Super Bowl 42 T-shirt among a throng of Niner fans, noncommittal fans and Patriot-haters.) But not before stopping in for a drink and some potluck food.

And the consolation was that there was another potluck at the office. The drawback is that, even in the most boisterous times, the newsroom is as quiet as a funeral parlor, minus the light music playing lightly. But I was the only fan of either team in the room, so my occasional claps, touchdown “Yeah!”s and “Oh shit!”s resonated a little louder than normal.

Plus, Giants-Patriots II didn’t have the same historical weight. Not only was the last one the first time two of the three regional teams squared off for Coach Lombardi’s trophy, there was the history being written depending on the outcome — the first 19-0 team or the second-biggest upset in football history.

This time, around, the Pats weren’t 18-0, and had one of the worst pass defenses in the league; the Giants, as mentioned in the last post, would be the worst regular-season team ever to win a Super Bowl. Never mind the record number of viewers watching nationally; someone I knew posted on Facebook that the bar where she was watching the game back home in Connecticut — the middle ground for these two teams — was subdued. I’m figuring most people were watching for the party, the food, the hope of a great game and seeing Madonna at the half.

*****

Of course, the scoring started in weird fashion and it ended in equally weird fashion. I read some kid from Jersey actually threw down a grand in Vegas on a Giants safety as the first score and walked away 50 times richer. And it wasn’t even a sack — The Unflappable Mr. Brady called for an intentional grounding, throwing to an empty space 30something yards downfield, in the center of the field. (How the hell often does that happen?) And since it was from his end zone, it was 2-0 Giants.

And it wouldn’t have been a Giants Super Bowl without their breakout star, Victor Cruz, getting to do a salsa, capping a 78-yard drive. And it was Giants 9, Patriots 0 at quarter’s end — which sucked for me because, in the first-quarter Landmark pool, I had Patriots 9, Giants 0. Oh, well — guess I wasn’t meant to add to the Moving Home to Connecticut Fund after all …

But then the game went back-forth. It didn’t feel like a titanic defensive struggle, more like a raging ho-hum, which let me get some work done. And finally, New England got untracked — first, a field goal, then Brady driving 98 yards in the final four minutes and hitting Danny Woodhead (a player I had concerns about going in) with eight seconds to go to take the 10-9 lead. And they would get the ball back for the second half.

(It should be noted here that the Giants’ punter, Steve “We’re going to the motherfucking Super Bowl!” Weatherford — an ex-Saint and ex-Jet — came through with some sick punting on Sunday. From the first time they got the ball — and immediately gave up the safety — the Pats were constantly starting from inside the 10. Just like Dave Jennings in the Shitty Seventies, Weatherford, the punter, was New York’s best offensive weapon. Well, except for Eli, of course …)

And I was concerned when the Pats came out and Brady took them 79 more yards to start the half and hit Aaron Hernandez to make it 17 unanswered points. And was equally concerned that the Giants had settled into snipping away at the lead with field goals. I mean, these were the 2011 Patriots on D, not the 2007 version.

But only as the game entered the fourth quarter with the teams separated by just two points did the game graduate from ho-hum to uh-huh. Only then did it take on the trappings of a Great Super Bowl.

And Brady, despite having his non-throwing shoulder driven painfully into the turf by Justin Tuck, was starting to get into a rhythm. Except that his receivers didn’t. As his wife Yoko Gisele so famously said afterward, he couldn’t fucking throw the ball and catch it. Hernandez dropped one. Deion Branch, former Super Bowl MVP, did the same. But Wes Welker? The team’s most reliable, ball-possession receiver? This was no Jackie Smith deal — Brady was just off on the throw — but Welker did have both hands on the ball at the Giants’ 20 and let it go. Killing a drive and giving Eli 3:46 on the clock with which to kill the Patriots again. And 88 yards from the end zone.

*****

“Holy shit! Did he catch that? How the fuck did he hold onto that?” she said in one of her rare newsroom outbursts.

I’m not sure how Manning threaded that first-down pass between two Pats defenders, or how Mario Tyree Manningham was able to do the tightrope in double-coverage, but they did it. Granted, it was first-and-10, not the third-and-15 of Manning-to-Tyree four years ago — and none of the Patriots had a fistful of Eli’s jersey — but still, it gave the Manning some needed breathing room with which to operate.

Which led to improbable moment No. 2 on the final drive.

Belichick called a timeout, at second-and-goal on the 6, and ordered his team to let the Giants score the TD on the next play. Ballsy call. Ballsy but smart. Of course, otherwise, the Giants would’ve run down the clock for a Lawrence Tynes chip shot and given Brady about 10 seconds to do something. If New York scored here, there would be just under a minute to go.

Except that the Giants were on to it. Except that old, ingrained habits forged over a couple of decades of running the ball die hard. And Eli yelled for Ahmad Bradshaw to fall down with the ball before the goal line. Except he didn’t hear him. And then — duh! — it hit him. But not before he fell in ass-backwards. Every kid who plays football wants to grow up to be that Super Bowl hero. Except, in this case, Bradshaw.

And, thankfully for him, his teammates and us fans, it was a moot point 57 playing seconds later. But even then, the Hail Mary for Hernandez in the end zone bounced just a little too unsettlingly, time-freezingly high in the air before Rob Gronkowski just missed on his dive for the ball.

A few “Yeah!”s and a couple of fist pumps and back to work.

And you definitely can’t spell “elite” — now figuratively as well as literally — without “Eli.”

I’d read a story about him when he was still quarterbacking at Ole Miss. About how, even in a family of quarterbacks with a legend for a father, Eli always marched to his own rhythm. Unlike Cooper and Peyton, he was Olivia’s boy, not Archie’s — definitely of a different cloth than the other male Mannings.

And he’s never been mistaken for Peyton, except when he occasionally calls those audibles and rearranges all the furniture before the snap. He’s calm to the point of seemingly unassuming, not fiery, and he’s been a lot more erratic than Middle Brother, and probably always will be. Some days, you wonder where the real Eli went. But he’s turned into that clutch player. And now, as he stated before the season, you really have to count him among the elite. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, the last two Super Bowl-winning QBs, weren’t there Sunday. (Well, Rodgers actually was, as an NBC analyst.) And Eli just won his second ring — one more than both of them and one more than Peyton. And he just beat Brady, owner of three rings, for the second time in five years. You’d have to consider him as the second Manning to go to Canton at this point.

And, by extension, Coughlin — who just matched Bill Parcells, who certainly will be inducted next year; like Parcells, Coughlin now has two trophies with Big Blue in a five-year span.

And personally? Though I was muted about this one, I’m now officially spoiled — my two favorite teams have collected three of the last five Lombardi trophies, counting New Orleans two years ago. Makes up for those days in the mid-’90s, when both teams sucked.

*****

Oh yeah — halftime.

You could’ve done what Blair, my friend from the old New York garage-rock scene, did this past Sunday — held his annual Anti-Super Bowl Party. Some of his musician friends brought instruments and played a request-jukebox full of ’60s tunes for everyone in the living room.

And this year, the anti-halftime show included a friend of a friend who just happened to come to the party — Mark Lindsay, the singer from Paul Revere & the Raiders. Jamming in the living room to “Just Like Me” and having Mark Lindsay sing it? That’s entertainment.

The rest of us just weren’t so lucky.

I posted on my Facebook wall shortly before the half: “What’s the over/under on Madonna making an ass of herself?”

Well, she didn’t. And she wasn’t even the focus of the talk afterward, thanks to

The many moods of Madonna, in 12 minutes.

M.I.A.’s little quarter-second bird-flip — which most of us missed the first go-round, much like the only bigger teapot tempest, Janet and Justin.

It seemed, judging from the posts and tweets, that how one viewed the show depended on one’s opinion of Ms. Ciccone going in. I thought it was gonna be outlandishly stupid from the get-go, with all those gladiators “pulling” the stage — and Madge emerging in that Givenchy horned headdress that made me think disco Cher in Bob Mackie. But then “Vogue” started, followed by “Music.” Just the thought of a song sprung from the homoeroticism of the late ’80s New York dance club scene being performed at a Super Bowl was mind-boggling enough.

And had she gone on the full 12 minutes by herself — y’know, “Ray of Light,” “Into the Groove,” “Holiday” — that would’ve been fine. But then she brought in the kids, starting with LMFAO, and it went downhill. And the new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” with M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj? I was expecting Toni Basil to pop out, singing “Mickey.”  Only Cee-Lo, ushering Madge from drumline to “Like a Prayer,” saved her set. (And it was great to not have to see all those starry-eyed kids rushing the stage, faking enthusiasm, as in previous years. But the “World Peace” message in lights at the end? Puhleeeeze.)

And, at 53, the Ol’ Hydrangea-Hater looked fabulous, and I was jealous of her still being able to pull off deep knee-bends. She showed that, at least as a dancer, she still has game and then some. She took a big gamble doing the Super Bowl, which in recent years has been a lose-lose deal for the artists — look what happened to the Black Eyed Peas last year.

She ended up priming the pump for a tour or two — well, at least for people who don’t give a fuck whether she’s actually singing. My first out-loud thought once the vocals kicked in — really! — was, “What happens if the hard drive crashes and she has to actually sing?” And Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips tweeted afterward that he had it on good authority that, sure enough, she was lip-synching. You just can’t dance like that — jolt your body, labor even slightly for breaths — and be able to sing. But her fans will eat up anything she does. She did save her career here, at least for now.

But I could do without all this overhyped, prepackaged crap next Super Bowl. But you know it’s not going away. The game averaged over 111 million viewers, a record, and the halftime show averaged 114 million.

But for me? I have my ideal halftime act for next year. If any of you know Roger Goodell, put in the plug for Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings for me, willya? You won’t have to worry about any lip-synchs, obscenities or wardrobe malfunctions, and she even does a killer version of “This Land Is Your Land.” Or, since next year’s game is in New Orleans, how about a little heritage — Dr. John, Irma Thomas, The Funky Meters, Fats Domino, if his health allows …

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One Response to “Yep — just like old times (Super Bowl 46, the Sequel: Giants 21, Patriots 17)”

  1. mikejaz2 Says:

    Look what happened to the Black Eyed Peas? What happened? They sucked before the Stupor Bowl, and they still suck, albeit in a much more under-the-radar way, now.

    The only Stupor Bowl halftime show that has made any impression on me was Prince back in aught-7, was it? Playing demonic electric guitar, in the fucking rain in Miami (and making me forget about the Bears…)…now THAT’S entertaniment, almost as entertaining as Mark (or do you spell it Marc) Lindsay showing up and singing “Just Like Me”! I’ve run hot and cold on Prince, but listening to that set and watching him just SHRED in front of the Uhmerikan football teevee viewing audience convinced me that he is one of the great underappreciated guitarists of rock. Period. And I’ll fight ya if ya don’t believe me.

    As for the rumored and much discussed Wes Welker “drop”…oh, come on, people. I am so sick and tired of commentators of all stripe (and you’ve joined them by your commentary on this subject) categorizing a player’s inability to twist himself around like an effing Cirque du Soliel Chinese acrobat whilst being bludgeoned by a safety who probably should have marticulated at Attica State…and then because he got three fingertips on a ball that was poorly thrown to his wrong side, HE DROPPED IT! If Welker makes that catch, it’s a fucking miracle. If he doesn’t, it’s a good try. That’s all it is, and this insane insistence on blaming a receiver (or a running back who has the ball ripped out of his hands) for not making that play drives me nuts. A good old college try is good enough…my apologies in advance to all the fat-headed, fat-assed couch-based football “experts” who disagree.

    Just discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago, and I absolutely love it. I look forward to following your posts.

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