Sunday, January 20, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

I'm sitting there watching the Giants-Packers game, and I'm thinking, I've seen this game before. Favorite playing at home, explosive offense, Hall of Fame quarterback at the helm. Giants come out, look tougher than the favorite, completely take away the running game, play an efficient if not breathtaking game on offense, and just wait for the mistake to happen that gives them a shot at the championship.

Yep, it was the 1991 NFC Championship Game all over again. That one was 15-13 Giants, and the culprit was Roger Craig, whose ill-timed fumble gave the Giants a chance at victory - one that they did not squander. This time, it was (of all people) Brett Favre himself, throwing up what looked like - in the chaos of B.J.'s Restaurant - an ill-advised and/or poorly thrown pass, that allowed kicker Laurence Tynes a second shot at redemption, one that he took advantage of.

And so we have a rematch in the Super Bowl, of what was the best and most exciting game played during the regular season - Patriots vs. Giants, who played an epic on December 29 and will face off again in the desert climes of Phoenix. At this point you really have to give the Giants a shot. And you have to give Tom Coughlin all the credit in the world - it was a controversial decision at the time, but his call to play the starters all the way on December 29, in a game that meant nothing for the Giants, fueled a boost of confidence that New York has ridden all the way to the Super Bowl. Three straight road victories, two over teams against which they had an 0-3 record during the regular season? There's nothing anyone can say to convince me that would have happened, had Coughlin sent out the scrubs on December 29 and handed the Patriots 16-0 on a platter.

But giving them a shot isn't the same thing as predicting they'll actually win the game. I will predict that they won't allow Randy Moss to beat them this time, but in the end the Patriots have too many weapons, and their quest for history will create a mindset that just won't allow them to lose. It will be a good game, but not quite as close as the last one. For now, let's say New England by 34-24.

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