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Giants 17, Patriots 14 February 3, 2008

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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Perhaps the most painful thing in sports fandom is to be on the receiving end of a huge upset – though when the favored team is basically one win away from being considered the greatest team in NFL history, the upset loss that instead consigns them to “just another good team” status hurts them a lot more than it hurts me. Instead of being compared to the ’72 Dolphins or ’92 Cowboys or ’89 Forty-Niners, they will now be alongside the ’69 Colts and (ironically) the ’01 Rams, along with the ’70s Minnesota Vikings and ’90s Buffalo Bills and other teams that just couldn’t win the Big One. I’m not sure what sort of psychological effect this will have on them as they take the field next season – will they want to win every game as badly with fire in the belly? Or will they prefer not to have the burden of those wins riding on them as they hopefully head into the post-season? We’ll have to wait and find out.

As a guy on the radio put it while I was out running a postgame errand, “Eli Manning out-Brady’ed Brady” in this game, especially in the 4th Quarter. In the play that really gave the Giants the game, Manning broke free of what should have been a drive-crushing sack grasp and threw a fluttery ball downfield that his receiver caught against his helmet while being brought down for a 32 yard gain that set up the winning touchdown a couple of plays later.

The overall situation was put in place by an awesome Giants pass rush which repeatedly pressured Brady, sacking him five times, and rushing his throws just enough so that long passes to Moss were just out of reach. It held the Pats to 14 points and essentially gave the Giants the opportunity to win the game, that is if they could step up to the pressure and score touchdowns late in the game. Which they did.

Bah.

I suppose it could be worse. I could be this guy. Or I could have married this. (Poor Donnie Baseball! No wonder he retired young!)

Actually when you think about it, sports fandom means being disappointed in your team for the vast majority (if not the totality) of your devotion. They’ll fall short of winning the championship far more often than they will actually win it, and seeing your team win it at all is something that fans like me have over the poor schmucks who have been rooting for the Chicago Cubs or the Detroit Lions or the Atlanta Hawks all their lives. My dad rooted for the Red Sox and the Patriots for his entire life. He never saw either team win a championship, and saw them lose heartbreaking shoulda-woulda-coulda chances at it (especially with the Sox). If you don’t love watching the sport itself, you really have no business being a fan unless you’re really into pain, I guess. Deep down underneath all my bummed-outedness over Superbowl XLII, I know that it was a great & exciting game, one of the best Superbowls ever. I was just rooting for the team that lost it.

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Bah.

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