Giants D, Eli Stun Previously Perfect Pats
by David A. Lane of Predictem.com
The New York Giants on Sunday showed us at least two things we hadnt seen before: Quarterback Tom Brady getting hit again and again by their fierce pass rush and just how pedestrian the New England Patriot offense became while amassing their lowest scoring total of the entire season - fourteen points! Constantly it seemed, Brady was running for his life as Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolos squad continuously pressured, blitzed and hurried the Pats vaunted offensive machine - so much so that they dictated play calling. Instead of throwing downfield most of the passes were screens or quick flares designed to allow Brady to avoid being hurried or hit.
The Giants defense rushed the quarterback so hard and so often that they almost seemed to wear themselves out by the fourth quarter - something else never seen before. Although Brady (29-48, 266 yards, one td) was sacked a total of five times and hurried at least a dozen more, still he found a way to bring his team back. After New York had gone on an 80 yard drive in only six plays capped by Quarterback Eli Mannings five yard touchdown pass to David Tyree with eleven minutes left in the game, Brady somehow found a way to drive his team back. Although the Giants touchdown gave them a 10-7 lead, they wouldn’t enjoy it long.
After both teams had the ball for one possession, Brady found a way to rally the Patriots to a clutch twelve play, eighty yard, 5:12 drive that ended in a six yard Randy Moss touchdown catch with 2:42 left in regulation time. The drive included everything that champions are made of as the offense seemed to be in rhythm for the first time all day as most fans had to think that the Patriots 14-10 lead would stand up. Once again, as theyd done so many times before during this magical season, the Patriots had come up with the clutch plays at money time as it looked as though their defense merely had to make one more stop of the Giants offense - it was all that stood between them, their perfect season and their fourth title in six years.
Also during this Patriots drive, the Giants defense got little pressure for the first time all day, which all of a sudden, they looked a bit vulnerable and a lot tired. Several times during the drive, the referees had to call time for injured defensive players. The defense, which had played their hearts out all day, was just about out of time and definitely out of gas. It was going to have to be up to the offense now to decide the game - everything was going to be in Eli Mannings (19-34, 255 yards, 2 tds) hands - and they were awfully lucky to have so much time left on the game clock.
Manning proceeded to draw from the seemingly bottomless cup of confidence he found just before the playoffs began - many would say he found it against these very same Patriots in the last game of the season - while expertly driving his team he needed 83 yards in 12 plays in only 2:07 against the best the NFL had to offer and with everything on the line.
Among the plays in the drive, there was one in particular that occurred on a third down and five from the Giants 44 yard line that was just short of amazing. Manning, who was almost sacked, scrambled and in fact, many thought he was in the grasp and that the whistle to end the play should have been blown, however, he pulled away from a lineman just in time to lob up a wounded duck of a pass to receiver David Tyree, who made nothing short of a spectacular leap before making an incredible catch for a huge 32 yard gain that took the ball to the Patriot 24 yard line. A huge momentum changer to say the least and one of the best all-time catches EVER made during the NFL playoffs. Five plays later, Eli found his favorite receiver Plaxico Burress wide open for the game winning 13 yard touchdown pass.
What is most amazing is that most didnt see the Giants improbable run coming at all. Eli Manning, who grew up right before our eyes and during the most stressful of times- during the playoffs - obviously showed the kind of poise and moxie that champions are made of. They came together largely on the road and against more adversity than most teams face in several seasons only to show us some things we hadnt seen before during this season - the New England Patriots being throttled. Whether or not these Giants will be good enough to ever be a dynasty of their own remains to be seen but on this day they were good enough to make an almost perfect team 18-1.