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New York Giants: Runnin' Down A Dream

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Confidence & Arrogance.  The difference between those two terms was the difference between winning and losing Super Bowl XLII.

As I settled into my recliner with my girlfriend last night, both of us decked out in Cowboys gear, I was still a bit unsettled with the whole idea of actually rooting for the Giants.  My reasoning was sound, at least in my mind, but it felt like I had to talk myself into something that goes against every instinct in my body, like attempting to eat a South American delicacy.  Yet, as I sipped from my Dallas Cowboys beer stein, I witnessed something in the Super Bowl Pre-Kick/Post-Song/Pre-Anthem/Post-Pre Game show that raised my spirits and vilified my doubts of loyalty:  The sight of Tom Brady and the Patriots walking down the tunnel to the field.  Remember way back in 2002, when Tom Brady nearly gave Drew Bledsoe a concussion in the tunnel because he was so jacked up?  That team was the ultimate symbol of personal sacrifice and teamwork, and became the heroes of a country torn apart by tragedy.  But it seems as if this great and incredible team got a little too full of themselves.  In 2008, the vile Patriots marched onto the field as if they were God’s gift to football, and everyone should be thankful to have the privilege of watching them play.  This absolute and untamed arrogance is what made me root whole heartedly for the dastardly Giants, and is what ultimately brought this team down.  The attitude of the Patriots from day one of the season, from Spygate to unabashedly running up the score to "prove people wrong who doubt us", all stems from one man:  Bill Belichick.   This man consistently laughs and spits in the face of the NFL, its rules and ceremonies, and has become the face for the #1 reason to hate the Patriots.  His cowardly display at the end of the game, as he brushes away Mike Carey like a buzzing fly and then heads for the hills before the game is even over, just put the icing on the cake.  Arrogance.  Not a great trait to have.

Confidence.  Mike Singletary was the guest speaker for the Giants the night before the game.  This is a man that exudes confidence, who has the ability to pass that on to a group of people and make them believe in each other and the team, and it showed on the field Sunday.  Not once did I ever see the Giants become flustered, or overwhelmed at the spectacle of playing the supposed best team ever, on the world’s biggest stage.  A team that no one would have thought had any chance to be where they are now two months ago, pulled it together perfectly in the final month of the season, and deserve everything they got.  This was a team that some media types had the gall to suggest that they might as well not even show up to the game!  How dare these insignificant Giants get in the way of perfection?  They are but a bug splat on the windshield of an unstoppable tank.  Never mind that they gave the Patriots a nice little run for their money in Week 17.  Never mind the fact that this defense had amassed an infinite amount of confidence in the weeks leading up to the game, as they took down Dallas and Green Bay, the top two teams in the conference.  This team was CONFIDENT.  They knew they had a shot, if only they would give it everything they had and if they did, then chances were there would be that one shot open for them at the end, to grasp victory away from the almighty ones.  This is what is so great about the game of football, and why we all live and die by it.  An entire season of gameplanning, practicing, and training all comes down to talent, and how you harness that talent with discipline and attitude.  The Cowboys are a perfect of example of a talented team lacking the confidence when needed to grasp what was there for the taking.

I saw some similarities between last night’s game, and the one against Dallas.  The most glaring is the way the front seven of the Giants just hounded Tom Brady.  Like Tom Brady, Romo in his brief career (Seattle Slip notwithstanding) was known for his calm under pressure, and it was just a known fact that he would be able to face the onslaught and get it done.  Yet like Romo three weeks before, I saw Brady falter, I saw unbridled frustration and anger at times, as he was consistently put into the turf.  Some may pin this on a ghost bum ankle, but you have to believe that maybe it was because the great offensive line, for some reason, abandoned their perfection of the regular season and became a poorly made sieve.  That reason was the perfect and inspired play of the Giants defense.  Sound familiar, Cowboys fans?  

As much as I hate the Giants, I had to smile at the end of the game as I watched their celebration.  I was envious, sad and frustrated, but at the same time I actually felt kind of good for them.  This was a win that no one saw coming, at least outwardly.  Yet they pulled off the unthinkable, and took down a team that I have despised like no other.  You have to admire that.  There is just something about the joy you see in the face of a victorious underdog that has to, somewhere deep down, make you smile inside.  Now before I am torn apart for siding with the Giants today, I still hate them.  I hated seeing that gap toothed loudmouth on stage, accepting the Lombardi trophy from Roger Goodell (By the way, he looked absolutely sick last night).  I despised seeing a goofy Eli Manning manage to be named MVP, and stand up there and smile that doofus smile of his as he accepted his award.  And the last person I would ever want to have a Super Bowl ring, Brandon Jacobs, has won the big game, despite doing nothing of consequence, except be exceptional at running his mouth.  And the player I despise more than any other, Jeremy Shockey, got to sit up in a booth, sip Shirley Temples and yet still manages to be listed as a Super Bowl winner.

I hope that by the Giants winning this game in this fashion, has lit a fire under the butts of the Cowboys.  The Giants were full of passion and want, and never let up for 60 minutes.  The pass rush of the Giants was incredible, and allowed a depleted secondary to hold their own against the "greatest offense ever."  And Eli, although not perfect, managed the game well and was ice under pressure.  Eli displayed the kind of leadership we desire Romo to have in a big game, to calm in the face of adversity and silence all critics.  I hope these are hard learned lessons for our ‘Boys, and it teaches them that talent alone will not suffice.  You have to have the inner drive, that something that pushes you over the edge and past all contenders that stand in your way.

The Patriots were inviting the Giants to their after-game parties, while attempting to halt the Giants from marching down the field.  A few plays later, Ellis Hobbs stumbles and the rest is history.

Confidence & Arrogance.