Monday, February 6, 2012
You Can't Spell "Elite" Without...
It was De Ja Blue all over again! The New York football Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI 21-17 in a rematch of Super Bowl XLII from four years ago which the Giants also won 17-14 in come from behind fashion.
It wasn’t that long ago that people were choking on their saliva when Eli Manning told ESPN radio talk show host Michael Kay that he was an elite quarterback that should be mentioned in the same sentence as Tom Brady. Manning had already beat Brady in Super Bowl XLII, stopping the New England Patriots perfect season in the process, but he also had an NFL-leading 26 interceptions last season. For this reason ESPN analyst (and former Dallas Cowboy) Darren Woodson ranked the likes of Tony Romo (surprise) and Matt Ryan in his top ten quarterbacks leaving Eli on the outside looking in at number 11.
For Eli, whose reputation has been Derek Jeter-like since he refused to play for the San Diego Chargers team that drafted him and came to New York, this “elite” statement sparked the biggest controversy by far in his NFL career. As unflappable as his demeanor on and off the field, Eli proceeded to amass a record 15 4th quarter touchdowns, pass for over 4900 yards (another career high), and engineer 6 comeback victories.
The Giants could not beat the Washington Redskins in the regular season. They could not beat the Philadelphia Eagles. They did beat the Dallas Cowboys, the team with the division lead, when it mattered most (when they were 6-6 snapping a four game losing streak and to win the division and secure a playoff berth). Oh, lest we forget one of those 4th quarter comebacks earned the Giants their 6th win of the season and a 6-2 record. The opponent: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
The Giants were 7-7 and left for dead. They went on to beat the reeling cross town rival New York Jets, the Cowboys, a good offensive team in Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs, the 15-1 Super Bowl favorite Green Bay Packers, and a tough defensive team in the San Francisco 49ers. These aren’t pushovers.
How ironic Eli Manning earned a trip to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, where big brother Peyton dominated for so many years yet may be let go in favor of a rookie. Eli, so many years in the shadow of Peyton, is now, dare I say, better than his older brother. Eli has beaten Tom Brady 3 out of 4 times in the last four years (including 2 Super Bowls) while Brady and the Patriots proved a formidable road block for Peyton during the early 2000s in his quest for a Super Bowl. Eli has beaten NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and Brady in the same playoffs, while Peyton beat Rex Grossman (?) to win his only Super Bowl.
Tom Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick are a mediocre 3-2 in the Super Bowl. They could have easily been 5-0 if not for a quarterback named Manning. While Brady and Belichick are locks for the Hall of Fame, the same can now be said for Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin (who was fired multiple times in the New York media when the Giants were 7-7).
There will be no revenge for New England. Who says the Patriots don’t lose to the same team twice in the same season? The New York football Giants have New England’s number. And yes, you cannot spell “elite” without Eli.