Forget ESPN. If you want to know how the biggest upset in Superbowl history came about, read Football Outsiders.
Vince Verhei: I’m trying to find a metaphor that describes my surprise.
I feel like I have learned which religion is correct, and it is not my own.
I feel like aliens have been walking among us, and they have chosen to reveal themselves en masse.
I feel like my life has been one great science experiment, and I am not in the control group.
I’ve got a mini-notebook filled with play-by-play notes and reactions, but … we all saw the game. The Patriots’ pass protection was futile. If the Giants blitzed, the blitzer came through unblocked. If they rushed four, those four got pressure anyway. The Patriots were outschemed (Steve Spagnuolo is a genius) and outmanned.
When Brady did have time, he was highly erratic. One example: He’s got Randy Moss open on first-and-goal in the fourth quarter, and throws it way high and outside. Didn’t matter much, because he found him on third down, but it was the most notable example of his un-Brady day.
The Patriots got away from their identity for the first 55 minutes of this game. Where were the slants and quick outs? They didn’t show up until that last touchdown drive. It seemed like Brady was looking for the home run every play, and some of those sacks came because he held the ball too long.
I still can’t believe this, but the Patriots were completely outcoached today.
I’m not sure what exactly to say about the Giants offense vs. the Patriots defense — that’s the only part of this game that went largely as expected. Eli Manning was great again, really going without a turnover (that interception was clearly not his fault, and the Giants recovered both of his fumbles) and leading two go-ahead drives in the fourth quarter. Is that a Super Bowl first?
So, here’s what we say about the Giants: They were a very ordinary team for 17 weeks. They then caught absolute fire (Has any team ever beaten three better teams than Dallas/Green Bay/New England in the playoffs?) and won the Super Bowl. Why did that catch us off guard? Because there was no indication this was going to happen. It’s unprecedented. It’s inexplicable. It defies all rational thought.