Eli's elite, and everything else Super Bowl XLVI
Yes, Eli Manning.
Trailing 17-15 with only 3:46 on the clock and one timeout remaining, Manning led the New York Giants on a 9-play, 88-yard touchdown drive that gave the G-Men their second Super Bowl championship in five years.
On the drive, Manning completed 5 of 6 passes for 74 yards, including a 38-yarder to Mario Manningham that is now included among the signature plays in the history of football's biggest game.
After the game, Manning became just the fifth player in history to win the Super Bowl MVP award more than once, joining Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Tom Brady.
Yet somehow, some around the country are questioning whether or not Eli is among the "elite" quarterbacks in the game, or is just maybe moving toward the elite level.
Are you kidding me?
Of course Eli Manning is an elite quarterback. He's in the club with Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and his older brother, Peyton. Period. End of story.
Manning has put up similar regular season numbers to all other current quarterbacks in the "elite" category in the last five years, and he's been even better in the playoffs. He's led the Giants to an 8-1 postseason record, with seven of those wins coming away from the Meadowlands.
And in that five-year stretch, he's the only one with two rings.
Eli's elite. No question about it.
Welker's drop: With just about four minutes to play, the Patriots had possession of the football and a two-point lead. On 2nd down, Tom Brady threw a deep pass down the left numbers to a wide-open Wes Welker, the man who caught more passes than anybody in the NFL in 2011.
The pass was a tad high, but ultimately catchable. Welker stretched out to catch it, but it squirted through his hands, falling incomplete at the Giants' 20-yard line. Two plays later, the Pats would punt. Three minutes later, the Giants scored to take the lead that would stand up for the victory.
Welker took responsibility for the loss. "It hit me right in the hands. I mean, it's a play I never drop, I always make," he said after the game.
But that's not exactly right. Welker did catch more passes than anyone this season. But he also dropped more than almost every receiver too. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Welker dropped 13 of the 169 passes that were thrown his way on the year.
Halftime Schmalftime: Don't you think that an event as hyped as the Bridgestone Super Bowl Halftime Show featuring a colossal star should actually include some actual singing?
Madonna became the latest superstar to grace the stage for the halftime spectacular, and lip-synched and awkwardly "danced" her way through a 4-song set that included "Vogue", "Like a Prayer" and some other new song that apparently you can download on iTunes, if that's your bag.
I don't hate Madonna. I was in my formative teenage years when she became a pop phenomenon. Heck, I even owned a Madonna cassette at one point of my adolescence (True Blue - and it was a birthday gift).
What I do dislike is the fact that a normal NFL halftime is 12 minutes long. On Super Bowl Sunday, it's 30 minutes long. In the biggest game of the year, and for a lot of players and coaches, the biggest game of their lives, they're asked to adjust their routines so Bridgestone can sell a few more tires.
I realize that everything about the Super Bowl screams "showbiz", and the halftime show definitely falls into that category. But when it potentially affects the quality of the game, that's when it's got to go.
About the quality of the game: On Arizona Sports 620's Facebook page Sunday night, we posted a question about where the Giants' victory over New England ranked all-time.
I was almost shocked to see as much criticism as I did.
Here's a sampling...
"Pretty sloppy game by teams we've seen in this match up recently. Not a great super bowl."
"I would give the game at best about a 6. Up until about the last 7 minutes...a 4. Boring game. Very few big plays on offence or defense. Looked more like a week 2 game."
I don't rate this as the best Super Bowl ever (that honor goes to Arizona-Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLIII), but this was a very good football game.
There were only 42 yards in penalties, one turnover, the quarterbacks completed over 70% of their passes combined, it featured one of the more memorable single plays in the history of the game, and the last play was a potential game-winning Hail Mary pass.
Outside the lack of big plays on offense, this was a great ball game.