By Brandon Niles, Explorebigsky.com Sports Writer
I can’t remember another game where the team favored wasn’t picked to win it. The New England Patriots were favored in gambling circles by up to three points, and yet most experts and media personalities chose the Giants to emerge victorious in the 2012 Super Bowl.
In what turned out to be a great game, the Giants defeated the Patriots 21-17 to end the NFL season. As the Giants finished off a harrowing fourth quarter drive, punching in a late touchdown to take the lead, everyone in my living room had a knowing look. It was as if we were all agreeing that we had known it would end like this.
Despite the bravado shown by the Giants, including reports of a pre-emptive victory scroll surfacing on the team’s web site prior to the game, the Giants simply had the look of a champion. Fighting their way through talented foes en route to a compelling rematch of the 2007 Super Bowl, the Giants seemed poised to cement their role as Patriot stoppers in the annuals of football lore. With a dominant defense and a talented trio of wide receivers, there was little doubt in the minds of fans as to which team would emerge the victor on Sunday.
The Patriots on the other hand waltzed through the playoffs, defeating a Broncos team that was in over its head and a Baltimore team that self-destructed on its way to the Super Bowl. Besides, the storylines of payback for the 2007 loss were a little too well orchestrated to come to fruition. Based on their superior record and the abilities of their future hall of fame quarterback, the Patriots remained the official favorites in this game, despite the fact that everyone knew they would lose.
I remember there used to be a time when I presupposed a Patriots victory in virtually every game I watched. With cunning coaching and the precision of quarterback Tom Brady, I could never imagine the team failing to rise up to the occasion.
However, could this be a turning of the tide? Could this be a shifting of the balance of power in the NFL? For the past decade, the Patriots have been synonymous with title contender, and rightfully so. Now, with Brady 35 years old and a Patriots team that looks vastly different than the teams that have dominated for so long, one has to wonder how much longer they can remain on top. Even Brady has to be wondering if this was his final shot at an increasingly more elusive fourth Super Bowl ring.
For the Giants however, this victory proved wrong those who doubted the abilities of their own quarterback Eli Manning. Prior to the start of this season, Eli was criticized for proclaiming himself an elite quarterback in response to an interview question. Most believed he didn’t deserve elite status. Whether they were right or not, Eli now has two Super Bowl MVP awards, each earned while facing another quarterback who nearly defines the phrase elite.
Alas, it is now time to bid adieu to the NFL season. Sadly, I’m already pining for free agency, the draft, and of course for next year. All football fans greet the Super Bowl with the same feelings of mixed emotions. On the one hand, it’s the pinnacle of the year for a raving fan. On the other hand, it marks the end of a season that always seems far too short. So congratulations Giants, better luck next time Patriots, and which NBA games are on tonight?