By Josh Flagner
One thing I know is that I was wrong, by a lot. I’m not that beat up about not getting the pick right – I’ve always said that one score, last minute games are beyond predictions – but I’m pretty sad about being so wrong about how the game would play out. I finished off the 2011 NFL season 176-83 (67.9%) straight up and 119-111 (51.7%) against the spread. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be picking games in a different format next season, so this 67% straight up might be the only representation in history of guy who talks too much picking every game played. I put the handicap in handicapper.
What I Know This Week
Both teams could have won by two touchdowns. I know that sounds a little crazy, but I really think that an adjustment here or a break there could have resulted in a snooze fest.
The New England secondary was a hot mess to begin the game, and should have been exploited all night by Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. The Giants were getting anything they wanted underneath the coverage, but those dink and dunk passes are never enough to put a game away. Instead of running pick patterns or sending Cruz deep on a regular basis, the Giants were content to let their outside receivers get manhandled at the snap and get pushed right to the Patriots safety help. The biggest mystery of the Super Bowl for me is why New York waited until late to throw deep passes. Sure, they did enough to win, but I’d rather put the game away early in the third than have to rely on some New England dropped passes.
The Patriots couldn’t catch a break. Or a pass. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m goating Wes Welker because there were a handful of unlucky bounces or self-inflicted errors that cost New England a shot at immortality.
The drop by Welker is the bad break that everyone is talking about, but how about the strip and recovery in the first half that was negated by a 12-man penalty? Or either of the other two strips that bounced right to Giants to keep possession? Or the Branch and Hernandez drops on the final drive?
After the scoring drive to end the first half and the scoring drive to begin the second, New England really should have been able to keep their foot to the gas. The offensive line handled the vaunted Giants pass rush, but they just couldn’t execute.
Kudos goes to Head Referee John Parry for making the right call on Brady’s intentional grounding penalty. That grounding call couldn’t have been easy to make, no matter how clearly the rule book explains the penalty. To throw that flag well after the play was over on Tom Brady – in a situation that was going to directly result in points being awarded – was both gutsy and absolutely correct.
In fact, aside from a third down missed holding call on the Giants and the missed pass interference call on the Patriots, the officiating crew did a bang up job.
No sarcasm, either. Refs miss calls, and both of the aforementioned misses are the kind of thing that can happen at any time. What Parry’s crew didn’t do is take over the game. I never felt like the referees were making a lot of calls or were trying to even the playing field with flags. So, to John Parry, umpire Carl Paganelli, head linesman Tom Stabile, line judge Gary Arthur, field judge Gary Cavaletto, side judge Laird Hayes and back judge Tony Steratore; great job.
Football season has been fun, and I appreciate all of the readers that kept all the different incarnations of Tailgate Confidential and the recap columns going by reading and passing them along. The fork is officially in football for the summer, and I hope that you’ll stick with me while I switch to writing about any damn thing I want and the NL East. I’ll be sticking it to the Phillies, Braves, Nationals, Mets and Marlins. Stick around; I’ve got Ozzie Guillen in my division. This is going to be fun.
Have NFL questions? Want to argue with me? What do you think about the Super Bowl?