Monday, February 4, 2008
How the Eagles won the Super Bowl
History may well end up writing this as the Super Bowl the Patriots lost, which will be unfair to an amazing end to the season of the New York Giants. After comfortably handling the vaunted Cowboys offense, and taking advantage of a game Brett Favre will want to forget, the Giants came to Arizona with a clear plan, especially on D, and executed it to perfection. I don't recall too many plays where Tom Brady had his usual time to stand around, read the coverage, check down his receivers, have a cup of coffee, call his supermodel girlfriend for a quick chat, check his stocks in the business section of the Boston Globe, and finally throw a 37 yard completion to a wide open Randy Moss.
So what did the Giants do that no-one else managed? Well, not a lot I suspect. I think Andy Reid and his staff at Philadelphia deserve a deal of credit for this performance, and here's why.
In the first 10 games of the season, including a very tight win in a loud, hostile environment in Indy, the Patriots averaged 41.1 points per game. Then they beat the Eagles, undermanned and in crisis, 31-28, only taking the game late as the Eagles defense ran out of fresh bodies to throw at the ball. That game was a real fight, and showed up something in New England's protection that might be exploited by the right team. After the Eagles game, the Pats averaged a far more mortal 25.2 points per game in the regular season, then just 22 points per game in the playoffs.
And it wasn't just the Patriots. The Cowboys flew high with a 32.5 points per game average over 13 games, including scores of 45 and 31 against the Giants, then got dumped 10-6 by an inspired and very well prepared Eagles team. Afterwards, Dallas eked out just 14.3 points per game including the playoff loss to New York. I believe that the staff at Philadelphia found cracks in Dallas and New England, and the Giants (and others) made good use of that game film.
NYC will be unbearable to live in for a few weeks, but that was a fantastic finish. Congratulations, Giants.