The Giants beat the Patriots and all of a sudden, we've got a new meme. The idea that Tom Brady is incapable of beating Eli Manning gained some serious traction on Sunday night, as the New York G-Men beat New England's favorite son for the second time in the biggest game of them all.
While the biggest story at the water cooler on Monday morning might revolve around the half time show and the maybe-controversy of Madonna's guest M.I.A. flipping the bird, there was plenty of football to comment on, too. The game, while sloppy in many places, proceeded at a pace that was far from predicted. The 38 total points fell pretty easily under the Vegas-based line of 53, and probably surprised many people who were expecting an offensive slugfest with little defense.
With 2 points scored in the first six minutes of play, the Giants seized control of the game quickly, thanks to an unusual safety. Brady had attempted a pass from his own end zone, which was ruled intentional grounding, resulting in the 2 points and a return of possession to the Giants.
Just five and a half minutes later, the Giants scored on that drive, making the score 9-0. The Patriots were seemingly on the ropes. However, New England started the second quarter by chipping in a field goal after five minutes. They proceeded to make two strong defensive stands, sandwiched by an anemic offensive set of three and out, but followed up that weakness by going 99 yards in just under 4 minutes - a performance that netted them a touchdown and the lead to go into halftime.
After the halftime controversy that wasn't – although it's probably a good thing Heather Wilson isn't our Representative here in New Mexico anymore – the big surprises started coming. The slow start might have been expected, given Super Bowl-sized nerves, but surely no one counted on 19 points in the first half being repeated in the second.
The Patriots grabbed a lead, seemingly confident even as the Giants first kicked one field goal and then another, to pull within two points. But the 4th quarter opened with Brady throwing it deep, only to be intercepted. The following drive by the Giants, while resulting in no points, killed enough clock that things were getting to an end point no matter what. With that same two point lead, the Patriots were in delicate positioning.
That perilous footing proved to be disastrous when, following a null Patriots set, the Giants got deep enough field position that New England coach Bill Belichick gambled on allowing the touchdown to go through, leaving Brady and Co. just under one minute to put together a game-winning drive.
It wasn't to be. Despite making one first down. the clock continued to murder any chances of New England making their come back, and Brady's final two Hail Marys resulted in nothing but false hope for those who were rooting for the Patriots.
Belichick and Brady are now 2-5 in Super Bowls together, and Manning is 2-2. No one can deny the Patriots their place as a (mini-) dynasty, but it appears as though there is a new force to be reckoned with at the top of the heap.