I make no bones about it. I am a Pats Pulpit vulture (I find that analogy slightly more apt than troll). I come here when the Pats lose (although that wasn't as true when the Colts were plus one Manning - because life as a football fan was far less depressing). And I am back. But I come in peace. I know what it feels like to lose a Super Bowl that was legacy defining (I guess you all knew what it felt like as well). I know what it is like when nothing goes your way in a game. For us, it was Garcon's huge drop on what would have been a 30+ yard pass up 10-3. Or Kendra's lap-dog husband muffing that onside kick. Or our coach asking our ancient kicker to attempt a 51 yard field goal. For us Colts fans, because of the events of the following 24 months since February 2010, that game hurts more and more. I don't want the Pats to win another Super Bowl in this era (maybe one around 2030 will be fine), but I hope that you feel worse about the game today than you will in February 2014 (and also that your QB is not having a public pr game with an over-his-head owner).
As for the game. It was one of the most even Super Bowl's I have ever seen, and a game where I think every unit played well. The Pats defense tightened in the red zone like they always do. The Giants defense held the Patriots to only short gains, and once the rush got going in the middle of the 3rd quarter, they effectively held the Patriots at bay. Both offenses had their moments, with the Giants starting hot and rarely having a bad drive (just too many that petered out even before field goal range), while the Pats for two straight drives looked like a machine on offense. This was a Super Bowl, but after all the hype and the buildup it was just a game of football. A good one. A beautiful one.
I like defense. By rule, this made me hate the ridiculous offensive numbers that the 2011 football season produced. That opinion might have changed had my favorite quarterback been able to get it on the fun, but it still hurt me to see three teams score 500 points, and three QBs throw for 5,000 yards and two of them smash Marino's record. I mean, nothing better exemplified this ridiculous season like Matthew Stafford throwing for 5,000 yards and 40 tds and being statistically no better than the 4th best QB in the NFL in 2011. Nothing then made me happier than the last three games of the 2011 NFL season. No team scored more than 23. No QB threw for more than 316 yards, and that QB needed 61 passes to do so. More incredibly, no team topped 400 yards of total offense. I loved it. I might have hated the outcome of the AFC Title Game, but it was good to know that defense still mattered.
And nowhere was this more true than in Super Bowl XLVI. One team scored 19 offensive points, and the other scored 17. This was probably the best game the modern pass-happy NFL can give you. Each yard was hard to come by. Eli Manning had to hit some really tight windows. Tom Brady was pressured, and when he wasn't, nothing was open downfield. The defenses weren't perfect, but a 9-6 game would have been boring. The defenses were good enough. The offenses were good enough. In all honesty, both teams were good enough. One team just got a little more breaks.
This wasn't Super Bowl XLII. That was one of the greatest teams having a bad game against a good team having a great game. This was different. This was two teams that by this point of the season were both about equal, and both played about equal, but one team just made one more play. This is the type of game that the NFL is all about. The fact that it was a Super Bowl made it all the more special. To me, this was the best, most evenly played, Super Bowl since the Rams evaded overtime by a yard. This was pure football. And honestly, it made me feel for the Pats for the first time ever.
I obviously felt nothing but glee after the last playoff game the Pats played in Indy. I felt nothing but more glee about seeing 18-0 go down in flames in the most amazing way possible. I even lapped up every bit of that beatdown the Ravens handed to them two years ago. But this, I actually felt bad. It might have been that haunting look at Robert Kraft react to the hail mary bouncing on the ground, and realizing that the season that helped him escape his personal tragedy was over. It humanized Kraft. Seeing Wes Welker, a man that I've never liked ever since his "F**k you" that he yelled after catching the game-icing pass in Super Bowl 41.5, reduced to tears because he dropped what was, in my mind, a damn hard pass humanized him. (I should say that to you all these guys have always been human, but to a Pats hater, not so much). I actually felt bad for even Brady, who I think was hurt in some way by that sack by Tuck in the 3rd quarter, as he was quite mediocre after that. He was playing lights out in the biggest game, but was undone by his body (again, I'm assuming he was injured in some way). I hate the fact that this game made me feel bad about hating the Pats so much.
This was a great exhibition of football played well. It wasn't just great offense, just great defense, it was good everything. It was the definition of a good, close, tight, well-played football game. And, if the end result is it makes me reconsider my hatred of a team that doesn't do anything but win and get silly levels of praise from people living from 7 years ago (see: "You can't bet against Belichick with two weeks to prepare"), then I'll take it. That's a fine side effective of a beautiful game.