By Neil Keefe
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When the fourth-and-20 pass attempt from Tom Brady to Randy Moss hit the ground with two seconds left in Super Bowl XLII, I was in a state of ecstasy that not many people get to experience in their sports lives. Because of the final 2:39 of that game that started at the Giants’ 17 with them trailing 14-10, I have somewhat of an idea of what it feels like to win the lottery.
Four years ago today was the best night of my sports life. (If you don’t believe me, look at this picture from when the Patriots turned the ball over on downs with two seconds left. FYI: I might have had one or two beers during the game.) The Super Bowl win salvaged my college career in Boston after having to watch the Red Sox embarrass the Yankees freshman year and then win another championship to begin my senior year. The Giants’ 17-14 win made up for the devastation from the loss in the 2004 ALCS, but it didn’t erase what had happened (nothing ever will), however, it did put a dent into what happened. The same look on the faces of the Patriots fans that I watched Super Bowl XLII with after the game was the same look I had when Ruben Sierra grounded out to end Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. It’s a look no sports fan ever wants. It’s a look I don’t want back on Sunday night.
One last time…
Super Bowl XLVI … let’s go!
(Home team in caps)
New York Giants +3 over NEW ENGLAND
This is the last game to be picked of the year. 269 games later, and there’s one left for the 2011 season. The regular season was a disaster (as you can see by the record below), but everything turned around in the playoffs for me, and the Giants.
I’m calling this the “Biggest Super Bowl Ever” and it is from the Giants’ perspective to save and preserve what happened four years ago today. From the Patriots’ perspective, Sunday is about revenge from that day. It has to be. Maybe not for 46 of the 53 guys on the roster who weren’t on the 2007 team, but for the ones that matter (Tom Brady and Bill Belichick), it’s totally about revenge, and if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t feel right. The 2011 Patriots can’t completely erase what the 2007 Giants accomplished, but they can put a serious dent in it the way the whole New York/Boston thing was dented and altered after Super Bowl XLII. But if the Giants win? If the Giants win, I will look the way I did after that pass intended for Moss hit the ground.
I have told my friends that to win this game and to beat Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, the Patriots and the city of Boston again on this stage, I would gladly take the Giants being awful for the next decade and never making the playoffs. That’s how significant this game is, and that’s how important winning this game is.
As a fan, you never know when your team is going to get back to this spot and back to the place where for two weeks everything you read, see and hear about revolves around your team. If you have never been here, you might never get to be. And if you have been here, you might never get back. I’m sure there are Jets fans who expected to be back in the big game the year after their win in Super Bowl III, or at least within a few years. But 43 years later, they’re still waiting for their chance to get back to this spot.
The longer I have had to sit around and listen to the same theories, ideas, analysis and predictions get reviewed and recycled, the more I have questioned my own personal views and opinions on this game. I feel like I took a standardized test right after the NFC Championship Game ended and I picked the Giants to win, but now for two weeks I have just been thinking and thinking and thinking some more about if my answer is right. It’s torture. Two weeks is too much, and at this point, I’m be willing to have the Yankees extend A.J. Burnett’s contract two additional years if the NFL outlaws any reports or sources commenting on Rob Gronkowski’s ankle between now and Sunday night.
Before the Giants’ divisional playoffs game against the Packers I turned to Coach Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights for an inspirational and motivational preview, and then I did the same before the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers. It worked both times, but I’m not doing it this time even though if the Giants lose I’ll wish I did.
Instead of turning to Coach Taylor, I thought about getting up on a stool and recording myself doing the whole Rudy “We’re gonna go inside, we’re gonna go outside, inside and outside. We’re gonna get ‘em on the run boys and once we get ‘em on the run we’re gonna keep ‘em on the run. And then we’re gonna go, go, go, go, go, go and we’re not gonna stop ’til we get across that goal line. This is a team they say is … is good, well I think we’re better than them. They can’t lick us, so what do you say men?” Fortunately, I decided against it.
There’s nothing left to be said about this game that I haven’t already said in previous columns and podcasts. I don’t think Tom Coughlin needs to say anything to his team either. I think a “You know what you have to do” from Coughlin and then him turning around and leaving the locker room will do on Sunday night.
I still can’t believe we’re here. And “we’re” is the New York Football Giants and their fans, and “here” is the Biggest Super Bowl Ever. The Giants have to win.
Giants 21, Patriots 17
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!
Championship Week: 2-0
Regular Season: 118-129-12
Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilKeefe