NFL’S HOTTEST TEAM UPSETS NFL’S BEST TEAM, 17-14
When New York quarterback Eli Manning hit lanky 6-5 wide receiver Plaxico Burress with that 13-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds left in Super Bowl XLII and the Giants trailing New England 14-10, cheers could almost be heard from the Big Apple by the millions of Giants’ fans watching the event at home on TV.
But that raucous approval of the Giants ending New England’s 18-0 season with its first loss to spoil the Patriots’ bid for a perfect unblemished year was quiet compared to the cheering coming from a group of senior citizens in the Miami, Florida area.
The 17-14 final score that favored the New York Giants Sunday night was appreciated almost as much by those aging 1972 Miami Dolphins players as the members of the Giants that had just won Super Bowl XLII at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
The reason for the former Dolphins players’ sudden glee was that their record of having the first and only perfect season in NFL history remained intact.
This can be attributed to the Manning-to-Burress connection that sunk the Patriots and their bid to win 19 straight games including the Super Bowl, surpassing the Dolphins’ 17-0 mark, including a 14-7 win over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII on Jan. 14, 1973.
Such notable names as quarterbacks Bob Griese and his understudy Earl Morrall, running backs Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris, lineman Larry Little and Head Coach Don Shula just to name a few were relieved their historical accomplishment was not one-upped by this great Patriots’ team.
Quite a number of the fans attending this Super Bowl wanted very much to watch NFL history being made first-hand and were quite disappointed when Burress hauled in that perfect toss from young Manning.
But nobody was more down in the dumps than Patriot head coach Bill Belichick, the architect of what many believed was one of the NFL’s greatest football dynasties.
“Disappointed,” was the one word Belichick used when asked by the Fox TV post-game interviewer what the mood was in the New England locker after the game. “We had our chance to pull the game out on our last drive, but the Giants made some big defensive plays to stop us.”
The hype that occurred for nearly two weeks before the game indicated that most sports analysts in the know were expecting a great game. Although New England was favored by 14 points early last week and 12 at kickoff time, the Giants were the hottest team in the league, having won 10 straight games away from Giants Stadium.
This was the ninth straight game the Patriots were heavily favored to win, but it also was the ninth straight time New England failed to cover the Las Vegas point spread.
Sunday’s huge upset was the third Super Bowl win for the Giants’ franchise in four appearances. New York waxed Denver 39-20 in SB XXI, nipped Buffalo 20-19 in SB XXV and lost SB XXXV to Baltimore 34-7. Sunday’s win marked the second time the Giants pulled off an upset as a decisive underdog. They were a two-touchdown underdog to Denver in SB XXI.
The Giants had heroes all over their locker room after the game, from coaches who drew up that brilliant and confident game plan to the players who made it happen.
“We didn’t listen to anyone that said we couldn’t do it,” commented gap-toothed veteran defensive end Michael Strahan, a Houston native who played his collegiate football at Texas Southern. “I think we shocked the world. We might have even shocked ourselves,” he told the Houston Chronicle reporter.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, owner of four winning Super Bowl rings and currently an analyst for Fox TV, pretty much summed up Super Bowl XLII when he said after the game, “This was the greatest Super Bowl I’ve ever witnessed.”
His sidekick Howie Long, who also played in a Super Bowl and now works for Fox added,” New York Giants head man Tom Coughlin had coached in 205 NFL games before ever reaching the Super Bowl and won on his first try.”
From this Korner’s perspective it’s a very simple analysis because the New York Giants outplayed New England, the defense pressured quarterback Tom Brady all game and didn’t allow a single completion longer than 19 yards and Manning stepped up and made the big plays when the chips were down.
The Giants maintained a similar pattern throughout the playoffs. They lost twice to our Dallas Cowboys in the regular season and then beat them in the playoffs. They were shellacked at home by Green Bay 35-13 and then beat the Packers in the NFC Championship game.
They lost to New England 38-35 the last regular game of the season, so it was inevitable they would win the rematch where the loser goes home. The lead changed hands five times, with the last occurring on the Manning to Burress winning touchdown pass with 35 seconds left in the Super Bowl.
Manning was named the Most Valuable Player and presented the keys to a new Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, which is due to hit the marketplace this fall. “We believed in ourselves all season long,” Manning said when interviewed after the game, “even after getting beat by them in the final regular game of the season.”
New England joined the 1934 Chicago Bears and the 1942 Bears as teams that lost the title game to keep them from a perfect season.
KWICKIES…Fox News business reporter Neil Cavuto was asked by Bradshaw and his sidekicks to make a prediction before the game. “Being from New York, I’m taking the Giants. If they don’t win, people will say ‘I’m the business guy who doesn’t know sports’. But if they win, they may even listen to some of my business observations and predictions.”
New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who received a lot of criticism even from some of his teammates for publicly guaranteeing a victory last week, personally backed up his boast by catching the game-winning touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning with 35 seconds left in Super Bowl XLII Sunday night. “I guess when I opened my mouth, I put a little pressure on them (my teammates),” Burress admitted after the game.
Former Port Arthur Thomas Jefferson standout football player Kevin Everett attended Sunday’s Super Bowl game and sat alongside NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Everett, the Buffalo Bills special teams player who earlier suffered a serious spinal cord injury that temporarily paralyzed him, is now walking and continues his rehabilitation in Houston.
With Jasper and Kirbyville leaving District 21-3A this fall, it looks to this Korner like the West Orange-Stark Mustangs have a real good chance of going another season without ever losing a district football game since dropping down to Class 3A five years ago. Jasper moves to District 18-3A and will compete against Carthage, Diboll, Center, Huntington, Lufkin Hudson, Pollok Central and Rusk, while a downturn in enrollment caused Kirbyville to drop down to Class 2A, where it should be a powerhouse in football. The Mustangs will play both Jasper and Kirbyville in addition to Nederland, LCM and Brookshire-Royal to round out their pre-district football schedule this fall.
JUST BETWEEN US…Those cynics waiting for Tiger Woods to falter and slip a couple of notches down toward mediocrity are going to have to wait a little longer. Tiger overcame a four-stroke deficit behind leader Ernie Els going into Sunday’s final round of the Dubai Classic by ripping home five birdies on the final seven holes, including a twisting, bending 25-footer on the 18th hole to post a seven-under par 65 and beat Els by two shots. It was the largest comeback for Woods since he made up a five-shot deficit at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am in 2000. Tiger has now won his last four official tournaments and six of his last seven dating to the Bridgestone Invitational in early August.