I don’t know the age of my average reader but you youngsters out there don’t realize how lucky you are. When I first starting watching football in the mid-80s, pretty much every Super Bowl was a one-sided ass whuppin’. The past decade or so we’ve seen an uninterrupted string of extremely competitive games. The game has finally lived up to all the hype.
Super Bowl XLVI easily continued the streak of excellent finales. While I don’t necessarily agree with the talking heads proclaiming yesterday’s game every bit the equal of Super Bowl XLII, it was still a more than entertaining finish to the 2011 season. The prior match-up between the New England Patriots and New York Giants had the unforgettable weight of the Patriots quest for perfection going for it. And the game was a series of punches and counter-punches culminating with David Tyree’s unbelievable helmet-catch. Yesterday’s game was much more a game between equals with the game coming down to the team that made the fewest mistakes.
Which isn’t to say there weren’t any memorable moments. Mario Manningham’s toe-tapping sideline catch to get the Giants out of the shadow of their own end zone on the game winning drive was reminiscent of Lynn Swann’s acrobatic heroics in Super Bowl X. And Wes Welker’s crushing drop, which may very well have cost the Pats the game and inspired an obscenity laced tirade from Gisele Bundchen, will be played over-and-over alongside footage of Larry Brown picking off Neil O’Donnell and Scott Norwood going wide right. However, the majority of the game was a rather nondescript affair with both offenses moving the ball at will only to be undone by penalties or drops. The ferocious Giant defense that beat the bejeezus out of Aaron Rodgers didn’t really show up until late in the 3rd quarter while the inept Patriots defense barely showed up at all.
Eli Manning established once and for all he’s among the elite quarterbacks in the league. Pittsburgh Steelers fans aren’t going to like to hear this (I anxiously await hearing blowhard Mark Madden’s passionate defense of his mancrush) but Eli has clearly become the best QB taken in the class of ’04. Yes, Ben Roethlisberger has appeared in more Super Bowls but he only played well in one of them. Eli Manning has been MVP of both the Super Bowls he’s won. What’s more, he’s won both with clutch last minute drives against what is undoubtedly the team of the decade. Take nothing away from Big Ben, who is one of the top five QBs in the NFL and one of the most clutch, but let’s give Eli his due. He’s beaten the team which Ben and the Steelers have never beaten in the playoffs TWICE on the grandest stage of them all.
At the end of the day, the better team won. The Patriots were once again denied joining the San Francisco 49ers of Joe Montana and the Super Steelers as the only teams to win four Super Bowls with more or less the same core. Madonna got to relive those days when she was culturally relevant by prancing around in Thor’s helmet and watching Richard Simmons break dance on a high wire. Although, sad as it is to say, watching a creepy old lady booty-popping was still more entertaining than last year’s day-glo Mr. Roboto act with the Black Eyed Peas. And, most importantly, we got to see a lot of funny commercials, my favorite being the Doritos dog.
And, really, what more can you ask of your Super Bowl Sunday?