Super Bowl XLVI

We are two hours away from kick-off for Super Bowl XLVI! And Not Another Sports Blog will have a live blog of the game, starting at 6 PM. It will be here, on this same page.

But first, a little preview. First of all, I think this is going to be another Super Bowl that comes right down to the wire, like the last four Championship games have done. There are some things I’m going to be looking for early on in this game. One, obviously, is the flow of the game. The Giants want to slow this game down, keep the scoring relatively low, and limit possessions for Tom Brady and the dangerous New England offense. Three and outs, for the Giants specifically, are going to hurt them. You can’t keep the Patriots offense off the board all night, and the more chances you give them, the more chances they have to burn you. If the front seven of the Patriots can stop the running game early on, and put Eli Manning in situations where he has to pass it, we all know that Bill Belichick can create defensive schemes to confuse Eli Manning.

The second thing I’ll be looking for is how many times early on in the game that the Patriots use max protection on passing plays. We all remember that in this game four years ago, Tom Brady had virtually no time to throw the ball. The Patriots, for most of the game, still went with a spread offense. It wasn’t until they went to a max protection scheme in the fourth quarter that Brady went on one of his classic drives. That helped the Patriots take a 14-10 lead late in the game, but we all know that their defense could not stop the Giants in the end. Four years later, I don’t think Belichick is stupid enough to think that the Giants pass rush won’t affect Brady this time around. The question is whether on not Belichick will be as arrogant as he sometimes can be. Most of the time, his faith in his knowledge of the game ends up being right decision. On more than a few occasions, it has not, such was the case in Super Bowl XLII.

It comes down to a pick and I think that the Patriots had four years to think about this game. I do not think that Brady and Belichick let the Giants win it again. It will be close, and again, I would not be surprised if the Giants do win. It could come down to a freak, David Tyree type play, or a dropped interception, or something strange. But I will pick the Patriots, in an entertaining 27-23 game.

I’ll be back at 6.

And back here at 6:15, congrats to Matt Birk for winning the Walter Payton Award. And for anyone wondering, the team introduction thing was a whole lot cooler when the Patriots did it in 2002, and were the first team ever to do it. Now, it’s just bleh.

John Parry is the official in tonight’s game, and the Patriots win the toss, but differ to the second half. I can’t remember Parry officiating in any other game of significance, and this is his first Super Bowl.

Giants get the ball first, let’s see how the game flows.

After a few short plays, huge third down conversion made by Victor Cruz on a great throw from Manning. The Giants are continuing to control the pace of the game, Manning has had  a lot of time and the running game is keeping the Patriots honest. A really great catch by Nicks for a big first down, and the Patriots respond by sacking Manning. A second sack will end the Giants drive and will be forced to punt. Good punt sets the Pats back at the 5.

Solid drive for the Giants though, and you have to think that if they can keep that up, they’ll have a decent shot at winning.

That changes things!! Giants go up 2-0 on an intentional grounding on a bomb. Good call, bad mistake by the Patriots early on. And the Giants are on a great drive right now, able to do anything they want to against the Patriots. New England’s defense really has to step up.

Another New England mistake with a 12th man on the field allows the drive to continue down inside the 5 yard line. Very uncharacteristic of New England to beat themselves. Eli hits Cruz for a 2 yard touchdown strike and more shoddy defense by New England. 9-0 Giants.

New England absolutely must respond with a drive here. A 3 and out is unacceptable. They need to stop the New York momentum right here.

And they do convert on a big 3rd down conversion, as Brady hits Branch. Again, this is such an important drive for New England’s confidence. And Welker makes another big play.

The first quarter ends on a Patriots reverse play setting them up inside the Giants’ 20. Patriots have indeed responded like they needed to. But the Patriots can’t do anything more and have to settle for a Gostkowski field goal to cut the lead to 9-3. Finally, some signs of life from New England.

Brandon Jacobs with a powerful run right up the middle. But Ahmad Bradshaw drops a screen pass. He had tons of room to run afterwards and if he had caught it, would have given momentum right back to New York. Injury time out.

More confusion on the field and the Giants are called for 12 men in the huddle, and is part of the reason why they will have to punt. Another chance for the Patriots to get back into this game. First quarter was all Giants, second quarter has been more New England so far.

But unlike last drive, the Patriots can not convert a 3rd down play, as Welker ended up just a few inches short of the marker. Giants will get the ball back and Bradshaw starts it off with a run. The running game for the Giants is picking up as the game gets further along. Offense is starting to flow very nicely for New York, and its very dangerous for New England.

Penalties kill. They kill drives, like they just did for the Giants right there. Special teams has been a big edge to the Giants, as for the second time tonight, the Patriots are forced to start from inside their 5 yard line.

Rob Gronkowski shows up! Big play to the tight end, and the Patriots escape the shadow of their own goal post. He needs to be more involved in this offense. We hit the two minute warning with the Patriots trying to put on a late first half drive and maybe take the lead.

That’s a classic, CLASSIC Tom Brady drive. Just dinking and dunking short and over the middle and using a hurry up offense. Brilliant drive and it looks like they will at least get points before the first half ends.

They got not just points, but Danny Woodhead catches a touchdown pass from Tom Brady and the Patriots take a one point lead. Bad tackling, no pass rush from the Giants contributed to it. Patriots will take a 10-9 lead to the locker room.

But that means it’s time for Madonna. Oh… no!

Well, the halftime show is over, and I didn’t kill myself. So let’s begin this second half with the Patriots on offense.

At 8:23 PM, an Ochocinco sighting! The Patriots continuing to move the ball on the Giants, as Brady has all sorts of time to throw. And the Patriots do add to the point pile with an Aaron Hernandez touchdown pass, and it’s now an 8 point lead. If you give Brady enough time to throw, he’ll burn you. And that’s what’s happened since the end of the first quarter. Giants now need to respond.

A big third down conversion for the Giants to keep the drive alive in a very important drive. The running game is picking up little by little too. I think we are in for a waterfall of points here in the second half. Tynes will put three points on the board, and it’s now a five point game. Let’s see if the Giants defense can return to their first quarter form.

Not good for Jason Pierre-Paul as he is injured after the first play of the Giants defensive stand. Need him to get back soon or for someone to step up in a BIG way. And it is Justin Tuck that steps up, recording a sack on Brady and giving the ball back to the Giants. Huge play and it’s still a close game.

Giants are responding. They caught a bit of a break with the Nicks fumble, but they are looking like they’re going to put points on the board. Giants still controlling the pace of the game, which they must do. Still no lead for the Giants, however, as Manning is sacked and the Giants settle for a field goal. It’s going to be an exceptional fourth quarter!

Interception for the Giants ends the Patriots drive, and the Giants have a shot for the lead. Another break for the Giants as Bradshaw fumbled, but the Giants get it back and take a time out. I don’t like the field position the Giants have, best not to take any chances inside their ten yard line.

Again. Penalties are detrimental. Giants get a second chance because of an offsides penalty, and convert a third down attempt. Big play. More clutch plays by Manning and the wide receivers.

At this point, I’ll leave you so that you all, and that I, can enjoy this fantastic ending. I’ll be back at the end of the game for a wrap up.

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