Last night, New England watched in horror as Eli Manning executed a once-in-a-lifetime, win-one-for-the-Gipper comeback touchdown series to beat the invincible New England Patriots 17-14. For those watching, it was truly football history in the making.
Mind you, I was sitting on the Patriots side of the ball, eating my guts out, along with all of my friends and neighbors. The last series before The Downfall, Tom “Achilles” Brady finally began to look like his old self. He figured out the right rhythm: go for short yardage, unload the ball fast, and don’t even think of the run. It’s a pity it took him three quarters of the game to finally get his sea legs, but that last full-on possession, the Pats started behaving like the Pats once again.
Two problems though: despite cramming the Giants deep in to their own territory on the last Patriot kickoff of the night, there was an eternity left on the clock. And second: in one of the most amazing feats of skill and daring, Eli managed to avoid getting sacked in a blur of tug-on-the-jersey evasion and fancy footwork. You could hear all Massachusetts (and Rhode Island and New Hampshire, for that matter) screaming “SIT ON THAT GUY! DO HIM LIKE WAS DONE TO BRADY!” But no. Manning managed to fire off a completion to the 13 yard line that spelled doom for the Bluecoats.
All the palaver on the radio this morning restated the obvious: the Giants knew that the key to winning was to go after Tom Brady, and to go after Tom Brady, and when that was done, to still go after Tom Brady. Mr. Brady was looking haunted and desperate by the third quarter, and only after the Giants went ahead 10-7 he finally managed to settle in to his zone and marched the Pats upfield and down like the scoring machine they had been all year. If only he had shaved another minute off the clock…
If. If. Well, he didn’t and the two minutes and thirty game clock seconds that followed stunned New England into silence and, for the first time this season, humility. Despite the defeat, though, you have to admit: it was one hell of a football game. History in the making. Yeah. All that.