The season of barbeque wings, busty cheerleaders, crying men, bone-crushing hits and skipping church on Sundays is almost at an end. The wind that once blew yellow penalty flags ever so violently across the emerald turf is now almost at a gentle breeze, and with one more gust, that breeze will come to a standstill for eight long months. But do not fret, for Super Bowl XLII has arrived in Phoenix, Ariz., with all the fanfare of the Ringling Brothers Circus.
On Sunday at 6:30 p.m., the gutsy New York Giants face off against the 18-0 New England Patriots. The Giants are the underdogs, as was every team that lined up against New England this season. There is not a single player, coach, CEO of football operations or even equipment manager who has not wondered if his team is “the team” to topple the Goliath-like Patriots. Well, it is time for the Giants to pick up their stone and sling it forth in hope that it will hit its mark on the heads of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Lawrence Maroney and the rest of the blue and silver.
It is a daunting task, but the Giants are the one team that can throw aside its misgivings and play at a higher level than they are seemingly capable of playing. Since the beginning of the season New York was a team of mediocrity. They never “wowed” a crowd, and when they started the season 0-2 against the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, a dismayed aura hovered above the Meadowlands. Even after they completed a respectable 10-6 regular season, including a thrilling 38-35 loss to the none other than the Patriots, no one thought the Giants could relinquish their early season losses to 13-3 Dallas and 13-3 Green Bay.
For the past eight years, the Giants struggled to prove they could become Super Bowl contenders like they were in 2000 when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens. But each year, something always blocked their path. When the Giants traded up in the 2004 draft in order to acquire Eli Manning, the esteemed younger brother of Indianapolis Colts star Peyton Manning, many Giants fans thought they would quickly prove their prowess once again. But, always overshadowed by his older brother, Eli struggle to find his niche in the NFL.
With the 23-20 victory over the heroic Brett Favre and his powerful Packers, Eli found his niche and the Giants showed NFL fans across the country that they are not afraid to take down a football icon. The Giants allowed Favre to throw 236 yards, but they also forced two interceptions.
All teams, no matter how strong they are, make mistakes. Even the Patriots proved their mortality in their game against the San Diego Chargers. The winning team is the one that bounces back from its blunders and does not allow them to affect the turnout of the entire game. Both the Giants and the Patriots have the ability to do this.
The Patriots will not pummel the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. The game will be won as time expires and as the Budweiser and Mac commercials are repeated because the other companies have run out.
A hearty New Englander by birth, I will wear my Tom Brady jersey with honor and I will root for the Patriots with pride. But I am afraid that the mighty may fall.