That bodes well for those who want to see 19-0. At the same time, it’s a good omen for what’s coming in the Super Bowl XLII. If you go by history, which is all we have to go on, the odds are excellent that what could be the biggest championship game ever played will also be one of the closest. Especially if the Giants keep winning and can replicate their Week 17 performance.
And that’s all we can ask for — a game that goes down to the final quarter with the possibility of an upset remaining. If we’re going to have a perfect season, let’s make it worth watching to the very end.
The biggest fear going into any Super Bowl from a fan’s standpoint is a blowout that’s over before the big halftime extravaganza. The game’s showcase event too often ends up with people who never watch football except on Super Bowl Sunday scratching their heads and trying to figure out what all the excitement is about.
We know the Patriots are capable of winning big. They’ve done it often enough this year, rolling over teams by eye-popping margins. But as the season wound down, they’ve been more likely to make it exciting; to give at least the impression that they could lose.
It was close for three quarters against the Cowboys early in the season, then down to the wire against the Colts. The Pats had to fight for their lives to keep the streak going against the Eagles and Ravens, then needed their biggest second-half comeback of the year to close the regular season against the Giants.
In the playoffs, it’s been the same thing — victories that seemed inevitable, but were anything but that while the game was on.
That’s what has made this team so great. They’re not perfect in the sense that they do make mistakes. Tom Brady threw it away three times on Sunday, one of them on what should have been a touchdown.
But they overcome their errors and force their opponents to return the favors. And you can’t stop one part of their game and expect to stop them.
For most of the season, the thinking was that this is a team that passes the ball like no one else but runs it indifferently. If you could just stop Brady, you might stop the Patriots.
Football is awash in clichés, and the Patriots embody every positive one in the book. They’re not invincible or all-powerful. But they have more options than you do. They’re in better shape than you are. They’re better prepared than you are. They adjust on the fly, maybe better than any team that’s ever played the game.
Someone is sure to say that the reason they keep winning is because they want it more than the other guys. The Chargers wanted it awfully bad, and the Jags wanted it awfully bad, too. The Giants wanted it in the season’s last game, and the Ravens wanted it more than anything this year.
Put everything else on top of that — the preparation, the great talent on both sides of the ball, the best coaching staff in the game — and they’re hard to beat. At 18-0, that’s obvious.
But they’re not unbeatable. They’ve been there to be had a half dozen times this year, and there’s no reason to think it can’t be the same in Glendale on the first Sunday in February. And that’s all we can ask for — a great game to end a great season.
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