Well, that wasn’t the most exciting of SuperBowls. Certainly not a patch on the Giant victories over the Patriots in SB42 and SB46, or last year’s thriller in Arizona when the Seahawks snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with the Worst Play Call in NFL History. The game was sloppy, with way too many turnovers, and a dearth of heroics on the offensive side of the ball.
The defenses, though… ah, those were a joy to watch. And the final result proved that even in this age of high-flying aerial circuses, one old truth still holds water:
Defense wins championships.
Peyton Manning has had a great career, and it was nice to see Eli’s big bro walk off into the sunset with another ring (I do hope he has the sense to go out now, on top, rather than hanging on the way Unitas and Namath and Favre did)… but make no mistake, Peyton did not win the game. It was the Bronco D, first to last. They absolutely dismantled Cam Newton and the highest scoring offense in the NFL.
This game should be a lesson to the rest of the NFL… and especially to my own beloved New York Football Giants. When the Giants won those two SuperBowls over the Patriots, Eli Manning was MVP, and all that most people remember were his dramatic passes to David Tyree (in 42) and Mario Manningham (in 46)… but as great as Eli played, the D won those games too. The Giants pass rush terrorized Tom Brady from start to finish, just as the Denver D terrorized Cam this afternoon (especially apparent in SB42, when they held a New England offense that had been running up the score against opponents all year to a mere 14 points).
Defense has ALWAYS been a hallmark of the G-Men, since I was a kid. They had great Ds in their two earlier SB wins, under Parcells, as well… and going back to the 50s, the Giants were the first team to introduce their D at the start of games, the franchise where the chant “D-FENSE!” originated. Sam Huff, Harry Carson, Lawrence Taylor, Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora… the Giants have always had a formidable D.
But of late they seem to have forgotten that. This season, the Giants defense ranked 32nd in the NFL. Dead last. Shameful. I still reel thinking of that 52-49 loss to New Orleans. How it could be possible for a Giants team to score 49 points and lose… the mind boggles.
Come draft day, I hope the Giants draft defense, defense, defense, defense. Picking up a few pass-rushers and run-stuffers in free agency would be a good idea as well. I think the Giants offense will be fine with Eli and Odell and our new coach (and I pray Victor Cruz comes back). But for the Giants to return to contention, they need a defense that scares people again. A defense like Denver’s, that turned league MVP Cam Newton into a deer in the headlights.
Defense wins championships.
The Giants knew that once. Denver knows it now.