‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.”
An interesting query was lodged in the comments section of Monday’s entry.
By virtue of their 21-17 Super Bowl XLVI victory over the Patriots, are the Giants the best team in football?
We hate punting questions 60 yards and downing them inside the 5, so maybe we’ll just pooch this one.
What we’re trying to say here is that you can take either side of the issue with equal legitimacy.
The first question one must settle is the basic one. Does a Super Bowl win by nature make a team the best in the league?
Some say yes, it does. And they’re not entirely wrong, especially if one goes back into the history of the game.
Years ago, way, way back like, until about six years ago, the Lombardi Trophy usually went to the teams with the better records. You might see a wild card win it like Pittsburgh did in 2005, or Baltimore in 2000 respective 11 and 12-win teams. Normally, the Super Bowl was reserved for big-win division winners.
In fact, until the Giants started this fad of fourth-quarter victories in Super Bowl XLII, which the Steelers followed up the following year with another heart-stopper against Arizona, the best teams from the regular season generally won, often in anti-climactic fashion.
In other words, the Super Bowl used to be a big snooze as coaches cranked up the defense and reeled in the offense.
No more. The pass-first philosophy that has propelled numerous division champions through the regular season — Giants included — has now transferred to the Super Bowl. And that has led to a more dynamic game, and a contest that can by won by even a 9-7 team.
The entire postseason has turned into a kind of small-scale NCAA tournament. It doesn’t matter if you’re North Carolina or Butler. Remember in 2010 that Butler, that Indiana school that plays in the shadow of Lucas Oil Stadium, came within two points of upsetting mighty Duke in their first of two straight final appearances.
While it’s true that the mid-majors have yet to hoist a trophy, it kind of makes you wonder when Gonzaga’s going to pull off a miracle.
The philosophy that anything can happen once you make the tournament holds true. A break here, a break there might be all that separates the tournament winner from the loser now.
It’s the same with the NFL. Just make the tournament. Doesn’t matter if you’re the worst of the division winners at 9-7, or 15-1 like Green Bay. Get a break, and the whole world changes for the little guy.
A strip and fumble in overtime against San Francisco. A red-hot quarterbacking performance against Green Bay. And, yeah, a miracle throw and a catch by a sometimes faulty receiver in the fourth quarter of the big one.
The key is getting to the tournament, as the Giants did.
So, is that team that will parade up the Canyon of Heroes today the best team in football?
They do hold the worst record ever for a Super Bowl winner. But when it counted, down the regular-season stretch and the playoffs, they indeed turned into the league’s most feared club, the one nobody wanted to play.
The one that had it all together.
In the end, the coach and quarterback of the 13-3, top-seeded Patriots went home empty-handed. Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin stood on the podium, the Lombardi Trophy in their hands.
Does it really matter when all that counts is that silver piece of hardware?
Oh, that punt was a beauty, no?
Does the Lombardi Trophy prove the Giants are the best team in football? Sound off below…