There were two days of shock, and now there will be about four months' worth of bitter recriminations. It's been a long time since Boston's sports community has been able to indulge all of its ancient addictions, but people are off the wagon now, lolling in the gutters, intoxicated by their own misery and still soaked by the great big bucket of fail that the New England Patriots dumped all over them last Sunday night against the New York Giants. Unreformed drunks are always more pathetic than prereformed drunks, largely because the old habits come back so very easily. Believe me, the town's capacity for maudlin self-loathing is still limitless. To its credit, very little of this has been aimed at fate or the referees. The team's partisans—and those objective observers who predicted an undefeated season in pixels that looked very similar to these—seem quite content to give the New York Giants credit for knocking the Pats history over teakettle. (The only real kindergarten moments came when several local pundits opined that an 18-1 season was somehow a failure because now the rest of the country could go "nyah-nyah" at New England for the foreseeable future. Jesus, have a cookie and take a nappy-nap, OK?) In fact, given that Eli Manning was the least deserving Super Bowl MVP in history, it should be noted that the only vote garnered by the actual MVP—Justin Tuck, the ferocious young defensive end—was cast by Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe, which leads one to the painful conclusion that Reiss was the only journalist in attendance who actually watched the game. Just give a vote to Tom Petty next time.
I mean, my lord, for most of the final drive, Manning was cracking like a walnut. Like pitchers who can say they've had someone struck out three times only to have the calls go against them, the Patriots had the New York quarterback picked off three times on that final series of plays, and they had him sacked once, and they failed to close the deal on all four occasions. Most memorable was the third-and-five play when Manning, to his credit, wriggled free from two New England defenders and heaved the ball downfield so that David Tyree could make the greatest catch I've ever seen on a football field. (Come to think of it, why wasn't Tyree, who also scored the first New York touchdown, the MVP? You're going to see his pinned-to-the-noggin catch on highlight reels until Steve Sabol's great-grandchildren are making myths.) On the New England side, both Tom Brady and Randy Moss have decided to pass on this weekend's Pro Bowl in Hawaii. In all fairness, based on their performance last weekend, the three New England offensive linemen who were chosen to participate probably should have been politely disinvited.
The game was a great and wonderful throwback—a puncher's battle in which, even though he spent most of the game limping for his life, Brady managed to get the Patriots into the lead with a little more than two minutes left. At that point, it looked like something out of the late 1960s, when the Giants were the only football team whose games were pumped into the New England market. (At one point, before the blessed founding of the American Football League, Homer Jones was the favorite player of entirely too many of my childhood friends.) Chris Schenkel should have been behind the mic. Or Ray Scott, the great minimalist. ("Manning ... Burress ... touchdown!")
Even though the stadium was in suburban sprawl laid upon a desert, it almost felt as though they were playing it in the snow.