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I don’t know who said it but time heals all wounds, even when your team loses the last game of a 20 week quest of immortality. You see, I respected the New York Giants. They were a great team and I had watched many of their games all year, thanks to NFL Sunday Ticket. It was here that I made my mistake, however. I neglected to realize this was the Super Bowl, and I just could not get over the fact that the Giants just looked so frigging vulnerable all year long. I neglected to take into account their playoff victories and their momentum and their underdog mentality that they carried into the Game of all Games.
Contrary to popular belief, I as a Patriots fan will not and unfortunately cannot make excuses for why we lost. I can however, dispute a call made by the coaches. This is not an excuse of course, but a confused thought, if you will. Let me set the scene. There was a bit less than 7 minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Patriots were up 7-3 and it was at about this time that a fan of either team begins to look to the end of the game. Halftime is too early. But when you near the end of the third quarter, when you are about to go into the final quarter, most fans of the game begin to think of the chess side of football in their mind. What could happen in these final twenty minutes that would affect the fate of my team? It was 4th and 13 at the Giants 31 yard line. The Patriots, up by a mere 4 points heading into the fourth quarter, decided to go for it.
Let’s pause for a minute here shall we? Now, I respect Bill Belichick as a coach – please emphasize the coach part. He’s a football mind like I have never seen before. Do I agree with some of the decisions he makes in regards to his peers? No. If I was an NFL coach and he did what he normally does to me, would I want to break his jaw? Absolutely. Does that make me respect him any less? Of course not.
But it was at this 4th and 13 in the Super Bowl, in the quest to go 19-0 and become football’s best team for the remainder of time, that I finally understood Bill Belichick. I enjoyed when he went for it on 4th and 1 and even sometimes 4th and 2 in regular season games. That was fine, I did it in Madden and agreed with doing it to some degree in the NFL. It was cool, it was hip, no other coach did it. I enjoyed it. My coach had more balls than your coach was the way I phrased it in my warped ADHD mind. It didn’t bother me.
After a while, with the Patriots having the best 4th down conversion percentage in the last couple years in all of the NFL, Bill started to get a bit more greedy. He would go for it on 4th and 3, 4th and 5 and to the best of my knowledge (not saying this is true, I blame the Bud Light) I think I saw him go for it on a 4th and 8 one time. I’m too lazy to go and research it, I apologize.
Anyway, back to the scene: 4th and 13, the third quarter is running out. The Patriots are up 7-3 in the biggest game in the history of the franchise, perhaps the biggest game in the history of the NFL. What happens? Bill goes for it, on 4th and 13 in the second half of the Super Bowl. It was all well and good before, Bill, but WHAT THE FACK WERE YOU THINKING? Its 4 th and 13! It’s not 4th and 1, or 2 or 3 or even 5! Who does that in the Super Bowl?!
Like I said before, it was at this time that I really knew who Bill Belichick was as a coach. I love the guy to death for all he’s done for the Patriots and to a lesser extent, for my life. I don’t know about you all, but my week hinges on whether my home town teams win or lose. I don’t go into a depressed isolation or anything, but you can be sure I won’t be holding doors for old ladies and smiling at everyone throughout the week. Okay, I still hold doors for old ladies but I am a timeless gentleman who always does good for my elders – but if my team loses, I still have a sourpuss on my face.
But why, oh WHY, would you go for it on 4th and 13 when you’re up by 4 in the Super Bowl? If you get a field goal there, your up by a TD going into the 4th quarter. Isn’t that basic football strategy? I get you’re an on the edge coach who does some different things than other coaches but this went too far. It was by far one of the dumbest decisions I have ever had the misfortune of seeing in the history of my watching the New England Patriots. It’s not like the New York Giants defense had been lying down all day, they were playing A+ football!
In short, I was confounded by this play call. If a field goal attempt was called and was successful, the Patriots very well could have taken it into overtime and won. But that’s neither here nor there; I just needed to get it off my chest.
On the other side of the ball, the New York Giants played a great game. Thankfully, I like the Giants as a football team and enjoy watching them. It’s good to see Michael Strahan get a Super Bowl ring, he’s a class act and an entertaining personality. It’s also good to see Eli Manning get out from the massive shadow that’s been placed over him since birth, and which got bigger with his older brother's massive ascent to stardom. As the youngest brother of four, I know how it is living under the shadows of your older siblings.
Also, props to Tom Coughlin for having the cajones to mix up his coaching style entirely for the good of the team. Known as a tough guy coach for his entire career, he threw it all out the window and listened to his players more and axed the tough guy routine. He is a great coach and I commend him for his game plan as well as his coaching abilities.
It’s sad to see football go and even though basketball is currently in mid swing, I will look forward to baseball to lighten my mood. As for next year’s football season, I would like to go on record and say that every single member of this team will return next year, save for Asante Samuel. If I had to put my life down on a Super Bowl winner next year, I would easily take the New England Patriots. But for now, congratulations to the New York Giants, and their fans -- I’m already looking forward to next year’s NFL season. Go Sox!