Monday, January 23, 2012

Conference games signal dramatic Super Bowl

Yesterday's dramatic NFL conference championship games made it clear that Super Bowl XLVI should be just as dramatic.

In the first game, the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens went down to the wire, as expected. It was Baltimore placekicker Billy Cundiff, who had a very solid kicking record, who yanked a 32-yard field goal wide left with only a few seconds remaning on the clock. This sent the Patriots to their fourth big dance in the last decade. Quarterback Tom Brady did not have his best game, particuarly in the first half. But New England did just enough to score 23 points on the Ravens' vicious defense to secure the victory.

In Sunday's nightcap, the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants played well into the overtime period before the winner was determined. The rain-drenched Candlestick Park looked like a monsoon as the game progressed, but it didn't seem to have an effect on the outcome. 49ers quarterback Alex Smith had his chances to finally prove himself to be an "elite" quarterback, but he was unable to do so down the stretch, taking numerous sacks and skipping balls to receivers who had no chance to catch them. Meantime, it was Eli Manning who had a better game than his QB counterpart, ultimately setting up his Giants for an easy game-winning field goal. But it was a muffed punt on the part of San Francisco that led to this point.

So we now have our Super Bowl matchup set. It is a rematch of Super Bowl XLII in which the Giants stunned the Pats in dramatic fashion, ending their perfect season. It was Eli Manning's hail-mary-esque pass to David Tyree that set up the winning score for New York. You have to believe that Bill Belichick and his crew are out to seek revenge and claim their fourth title under his watch. And for Manning, he has the chance to add a second ring to his hand, which would be one more than his older brother Peyton. There is a great deal on the line as always in a Super Bowl, and if the game is anythign like the conference championships were, it will be exciting. At least the brass at NBC hope so.