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First and 10 after the Super Bowl …

By Pat McManamon

First and 10 from the Super Bowl, after watching on TV:

1)      Ever seen a game end with a defense letting a guy score while the guy tries not to score? Think about it. The Giants needed a score, and tried not to. The Patriots needed a stop, and allowed the score. Yep, that’s what happened.

2)      That being said, Bill Belichick made the right call in letting New York score with just more than a minute left. The Giants were down two and had a gimme field goal at the ready. Belichick had burned a timeout foolishly trying to challenge that incredible Mario Manningham reception. The Patriots couldn’t stop the clock three times, so he had a choice: Hope the Giants miss the field goal, or let them score and see what Tom Brady could do. It’s possible the Giants could miss the field goal. But given Billy Cundiff’s miss sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl, relying on another miss was asking a bit much. It’s sort of like the guy who (pre 9-11 days) heard the odds of being on an airplane were 5,000-1. Then he heard the odds of being on an airplane with two bombs was 50,000,000-1. So he carried a bomb with him every time he flew. Belichick tried to make the odds in his favor. New England simply could not rely on a missed kick. He tried to let his best player – Brady – win the game. The amount of time left made it tough, but it was New England’s best chance.

3)      Seeing Ahmad Bradshaw try to not score but score anyway was comical. He kind of squatted into the end zone. But you wonder if this will change end-of-game strategies for the near future. Earlier in the playoffs, San Francisco scored late on an Alex Smith against New Orleans, then saw the Saints take the lead. The 49ers made the discussion moot by scoring again, but the entire end-of-game thing might now change. Teams may start playing to run out the clock rather going for the immediate score. There will be risks, and somebody will lament doing it because they’ll miss a kick. But the odds at times favor not scoring right away, because scoring quick gives the other team a chance to come back to beat you.

4)      Of course the first person to use this strategy in a big game – at least the first person to admit it – was Browns president Mike Holmgren, who let Denver score late in a Super Bowl when he coached Green Bay. Holmgren figured his best chance was to let Brett Favre try to win. It didn’t work, but not many questioned the strategy.

5)      That missed pass to Wes Welker that so hurt the Patriots chances … put the miss as much on Brady as Welker. Yes, Welker should have caught it. But Brady could have thrown a better pass. He threw the ball to the outside and behind Welker, which forced him to twist and leap. Brady could have been trying to protect Welker by not leading him into the Giants safety, which is always appreciated. But it wasn’t his best throw. Responsibility on that one goes 50-50.

6)      After the Welker drop, Cris Collinsworth said on NBC that Welker makes the catch “100 out of 100 times.” Which prompted by buddy Dave from Westlake to quip: “No he doesn’t.”

7)      Of course it wasn’t as harsh as Gisele Bundchen made it sound. Someone videotaped her as she walked from the suite to an elevator, and when a Giants fan taunted her (class), she responded by saying her husband couldn’t throw and catch the ball. With an expletive thrown in. She looked mighty good doing it too. This proves two things: The development of the camera video phone has not helped society because there is never a private moment anymore, and Bundchen should be careful what she says around elevators.

8)      That was really a well-officiated game. Really well-officiated. I say that because it was, and because if it was not I’d probably be pointing that out as well. From the safety call on New England’s first play to the Mario Manningham catch, the crew got it right. To think the official got it right on the Manningham catch live, too, is really impressive, as Mike Pereira pointed out.

9)      Speaking of passes, next time Madonna wants to publicize a new CD by appearing at halftime, the NFL ought to take a pass. That show was brutal. Plodding, slow, seemingly lip-synched (Lipsynching? Really?). Reruns of Andy Griffith would have been more entertaining. The Super Bowl halftime gets more and more ridiculous every year – do we really need guys dressed up in ridiculous costumes doing backflips? Between M.I.A. flipping the bird and the costuming and dancing, halftime has become a caricature of itself. Madonna had moments, but she started like she was scared to death, as if she was thinking of each dance move. Step, step, kick, show I’m flexible and in shape, step, fake sing, squat, stand, kick. Then she had that song about “luv Madonna,” which is about as narcissistically emblematic of the Super Bowl as anything. Perhaps it’s time for the NFL to change gears completely. If it can’t get Elton John next year, or perhaps Mellencamp, then perhaps it’s time for something completely different. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir comes to mind – though given their values they might not even agree to sing at an event of such excess.

10)  Love the way the Giants are built. They have a relentless pass rush, and they get it from four guys. They have three receivers who run routes and can catch the ball. They have an excellent kicking game. They have an incredibly accurate quarterback who is as clutch as any in the game. Their scouting staff and decision makers have to be among the best in the game. Some may lament a 9-7 team winning, but in the playoffs the Giants won three times and played some tough, hard-nosed football. They deserve it.

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