Sunday, December 30, 2007

Well that was anticlimactic: Patriots 38, Giants 35

Bow before your victorious overlords, peon! (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Okay, okay, Pats fans. You won. You won in stirring, come from behind fashion. You faced good Eli (who, incidentally suffers from some of the sloppiest receivers this side of Atlanta), had to double team Michael Strahan all night, and you still won. You faced a team that: a) knocked Tom Brady around a lot b) managed to get an 12 point lead on you c) made Laurence Maroney look like he was running in a waist-high vat of institutional grade mashed potatoes…except when it counted. They figured out the formula for hanging with you (give you Wes Welker and take away Randy Moss most of the night, eliminate whatever it is you're calling a run game, knock around Tom Brady, exploit your D's age/softness against the run to set up 10-20 yard passes), and triumphed.

Tom Brady broke Peyton Manning's touchdown record; Randy Moss did the same to Jerry Rice's. The Patriots broke the 1998 Vikings' scoring record with 589 points on the season. Somewhere, Larry Csonka is weeping, wondering why the new American Gladiators didn't want him as announcer and how many people he'll need to have over for New Year's to get rid of all that champagne.*

But you know something? I still don't want to give the Pats this game, just like I didn't want to give them the Ravens game. The Pats looked eminently beatable last night. The Giants, however, looked out-coachable. Tom Coughlin and associates totally screwed their team in the second half. Never have I seen a coach, up with a cushy lead against a team that should be blowing his team out of the water, open up the fourth quarter with such a conservative, fusty and (if you will) nutless series of drives, and end the game—with the whole kit and caboodle still up for grabs—with absolutely no regard for the effin' clock. Dude, how much is the NFL paying you to tank?! Why didn't it occur to anyone to play a little ball control football in the second half, instead of going all pass happy? Why call passes in the red zone when Brandon Jacobs has been making the Pats miss all night? And hell, given the high rate of success of handing off in the shotgun this season league-wide, you'd think it would have occurred to someone on the Giants to like, you know, do that? Maybe once? To keep them guessing?

I'd take the beatable Pats over the out-coachable Giants any day of the week.

*I don't want the Pats to go 19-0. I want their quest for perfection to fall short. Preferably embarrassingly short, against a team like the Titans or the Browns (although I'd be cool with the Jags schooling them too). I don't care how insanely good the Patriots are. Leave my team's one cute little record alone!

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