Most sequels come out three or four years after the original. So I suppose it is natural that the rematch pitting Tom Brady and the New England Patriots against Eli Manning (pictured) and the New York Giants will be played four years after their last, incredible Super Bowl matchup.
It should never have been. The Baltimore Ravens won the AFC Championship Game on a touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Lee Evans with 22 ticks left on the clock. Evans had the ball in the end zone but the New England cornerback stripped the ball away. AFTER the touchdown catch with two feet in bounds and control of the ball. But there was no review of the play and the Ravens had to settle for a sure thing, 32 yard, gimme of a field goal to tie the game and force overtime. But Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff whiffed, sending the ball wide left, waaaayyyy wide left, and the Patriots and their lucky leprechaun are heading to the Super Bowl.
The Giants weren’t supposed to be there, either. They stumbled through the regular season without ever looking any better than mediocre. They walked into the playoff because they played in a woefully weak division. They weren’t supposed to have a chance against Atlanta, but they beat them like a drum. Everyone knew the Giants didn’t stand a chance against the mighty mighty Green Bay Packers who had been anointed as the NFC representative in the Super Bowl months ago. And they really, really couldn’t pull off three upsets in a row by upending the San Francisco 49ers – in San Francisco.
And they shouldn’t have beaten San Francisco. They wouldn’t have if Ted Ginn hadn’t missed the game with an injury, leaving his unprepared backup to make two HUGE gaffs that cost the 49ers the game and their shot at Super Bowl glory.
Yet here we are. New York and New England battling for NFL supremacy. Belichick vs. Coughlin. Brady vs. Manning. Not a single Harbaugh in sight. There is no David in this story. This is Goliath vs. Goliath. It’s like watching their MLB counterparts – the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox – compete for the American League Championship. One of them has to win, but you just can’t bring yourself to feel too sorry for the loser.
(Photo: President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports)