Tom Brady always wins…except vs. the Giants

Tom Brady always wins – except against the Giants. That adage will be put to the test on Sunday when the unbeaten (8-0) Patriots visit Met Life Stadium to face the 5-4 Giants.

“We’ve always had a hard time beating these guys one way or another,” Brady said. “So hopefully we can get over our struggles and finally go out and play well and beat them”

Super Tom Brady, the quarterback who squeezed the air out of the NFL in Deflategate and won, has lost his last three meetings against the Giants, all decided by four points or less. In 2008, the Patriots came into Super Bowl 42 unbeaten (18-0) and huge favorites, only to bow to the Giants 17-14. That Super Bowl, one of the most famous in history, featured David Tyree’s helmet catch and Plaxico Burress’ game-winning TD catch with 35 seconds left – both on passes by Eli Manning.

Years later, Brady told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, “I remember after the game I was trying to think, ‘Man, am I dreaming?’ Let me wake up and then start the day over. I just didn’t think we could lose.”

Four years later, the Giants again beat the Pats, this time 21-17 in Super Bowl 46. Manning led the Giants to another last-minute, go-ahead touchdown drive that featured an amazing pass and catch by Mario Manningham.

The Giants also beat New England 24-20 in a 2011 regular season game at Foxboro, a game the Giants won on a Manning touchdown pass to Jake Ballard with 15 seconds remaining.

Brady has a pair of wins against the Giants in his career. The Patriots edged the Giants 38-35 in the final game of the 2007 campaign to finish the regular season unbeaten. And in 2003, Brady led the Pats to a 17-6 win over the Giants and QB Kerry Collins when Eli was still at Ole Miss.

Overall, Brady is 2-3 against the Giants, averaging 226 yards, 1.4 touchdowns and 0.6 interceptions per game. Rather pedestrian numbers for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.


Pete Carroll lives with worst call in NFL history

If Pete Carroll had a chance to do it again, he would have run the football.

20 years ago, I met the man who would go on to make the worst play call in NFL history. Yep, I sat next to Pete Carroll on a flight from New York to San Francisco.

We had a wonderful conversation about the New York Jets and the Grateful Dead. Little did I know that two decades later this man would make an infamous decision that would cost the Seattle Seahawks a Super Bowl.

The Seahawks were one yard from making history and winning the Super Bowl for the second year in a row. They had a beastly back named Marshawn Lynch who is built for situations like this. Lynch nearly scored on the previous play, and was primed for a short run into Super Bowl history and MVP honors.

But instead of making the obvious call, Carroll had Russell Wilson throw the ball on a short slant pattern and Patriots’ rookie Malcolm Butler made the biggest Super Bowl interception ever.

C’mon Pete. Go with your best. Go with your beast.

Instead of Carroll and the Seahawks repeating, Bill Belichick, the coach he replaced in New England, took home the ring. Belichick and Tom Brady now have four championships together, the same as Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers.


Covering it all, from Joe Willie to Deflategate

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Joe Namath and the SportsLifer going over the game plan prior to Super Bowl XXV in Tampa. Here’s 10 observations while wading through the interminable hype and waiting for the kickoff.

1. Giant break: The Patriots are just happy they’re not facing the Giants. Admit it, New England fans.

2. Who let the air out? Here’s my theory on Deflategate. The Patriots have been doing this for years, they finally got caught. Somebody, probably from the Colts, tipped off the league and they measured the balls. The ball boy will take a fall, but if a high-level individual like Belichick or Brady can’t be fingered, the team will pay a price. To paraphrase a recent Yogi Berra tweet, if you’re gonna cheat, you better not get caught.

3. Crusader investigator: Ted Wells, who is leading the Deflategate investigation, attended the College of the Holy Cross and graduated a year ahead of me. We’re hearing his name an awful lot these days.

4. If the Seahawks win, they will be first two to repeat since the Patriots in 2004-05. It’s happened eight times. The Steelers have done it twice (1975-76 and 1979-80), and the Packers (1967-68) in the first two Super Bowls, Dolphins (1973-74), 49ers (1989-90), Cowboys (1993-94) and the Broncos (1998-99). There has never been a Super Bowl three-peat.

5. If the Patriots win, they will join the Packers and Giants with four Super Bowl rings. Only the Steelers with six and the Cowboys and 49ers with five have more. This is New England’s eighth appearance in the Super Bowl, matching the Steelers and Cowboys.

6. What happened to the old highlights? Not big on the avalanche of pre-game hype. Years ago. someone aired those classic half-hour highlights of each Super Bowl, game by game. May have been ESPN Classic, but can’t find anything out there now. If anyone knows, let me know.

7. Broadway Joe: Pete Hamill once wrote: “Joe Namath legitimized his team and his league, the old AFL, and more than any other player, he transformed the Super Bowl into a national event instead of a post-season payday.” Now that sounds about right.

8. Silent treatment: Does anybody really care what Marshawn Lynch has to say? He’s getting my silent treatment. And there’s no fine.

9. Attitude: Roger Goodell once more shows his arrogant side responding to a question from CNN reporter Rachel Nichols.

10. Rick’s pick: Going with my pool numbers, picking Seattle 21-19 in a low-scoring. New England scores late, but is denied on a two-point conversion.


10 things to know about Super Bowl odds

It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you beat the point spread. Super Bowl XLIX is upon us, and if the odds hold true, this will be one of the closest Super Bowl games in history. The Patriots are favored by one point over the Seahawks, the tightest spread in 33 years. Impress your family and friends with the 10 things you need to know about Super Bowl odds:

1. One is Enough: This year’s spread equals the closest in Super Bowl history. The 49ers were favored by one over Cincinnati in 1982 and the undefeated Dolphins by one over the Redskins in 1973. Both favorites won, San Francisco, 26-21, and Miami, 14-7.

2. ATS and Straight Up: Overall, Super Bowl favorites have gone 26-18-2 against the spread and 33-15 straight up.

3. The Push: Only two Super Bowls have ended in a push – 2000, when the Rams (-7) beat the Titans, 23-16, and 1997 when the Packers (-14) beat the Patriots, 35-21.

4. Underdogs: Have won 10 of the last 13 Super Bowls.

5. Favorites: Won 10 of the first 14 Super Bowls.

6. Biggest Spread: 49ers (-18 1/2) over the Chargers in 1995. San Francisco justified the odds with a 49-26 victory.

7. Biggest Upset: Jets  (+18) beat the Baltimore Colts, 16-7 I,n 1969.

8. Over/Under: The cumulative mark is 24-24. There was no over/under in Super Bowl I.

9. Failed to Cover: Six teams have won but failed to cover the spread. Steelers 2009, Patriots 2005 and 2004, Cowboys 1996, 49ers 1989, and Steelers 1976.

10. Out of Luck: Four teams have never had a Super Bowl line – they never played in the big game. The Lions and Browns both won NFL championships before the Super Bowl. The Jaguars and the Texans were expansion franchises.

Historic odds courtesy of Las Vegas Insider.


Here’s 10 things the Super Bowl ain’t

The Lions beat the Browns, 59-14, for the 1957 NFL title. Neither has had a Super Bowl sniff.

Tired of hearing everything the Super Bowl is. Here’s 10 things the Super Bowl ain’t….isn’t….and never has been.

There’s never been a Super Bowl…..

1. Shutout

2. Overtime

3. Punt returned for a touchdown

4. Appearance by the Lions, Browns, Jaguars or Texans

5. Victory by the Vikings, Eagles, Bengals, Chargers, Bills, Falcons, Titans,  Panthers, Cardinals and, yes, Seahawks

6. A run of more than 75 yards

7. In snow

8. Where a quarterback passed for more than 360 yards (outside of Kurt Warner)

9. Three-peat

10. In New York


The most unlikely Super Bowl QBs

Baltimore’s Trent Dilfer may have been the least likely quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Yeah right, back in September you figured Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick were going to be the starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl. You and all the other experts.

The list of quarterbacks who have started a Super Bowl is a long and glorious one. Many of the game’s greatest QBs  have flourished under the bright lights of football’s ultimate game.

Bart Starr, MVP in the first two Super Bowls, kicks off the list. He joins a Hall of Fame Super Bowl QB lineup that includes such legends as Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach. Bob Griese, Dan Marino, John Elway, Troy Aikman, and someday Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Joe Montana was a three-time Super Bowl MVP; Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady and Eli Manning have all won two.

And don’t forget Fran Tarkenton, who was the losing quarterback in three Super Bowls and Jim Kelly who topped that with four SB losses. Both are Hall of Famers.

But that list also has some surprises, including this year’s matchup. At least four quarterbacks defied common logic to win Super Bowls. Others got to the Super Bowl, but lost. They are the unlikeliest starting QBs in Super Bowl history.

Winners

Jeff Hostetler — A back-up for much of his career, Hostetler stepped into the breech when Phil Simms broke his foot near the end of the season — and piloted  the Giants to a dramatic 20-19 win over Buffalo in SB25.

Mark Rypien — The MVP of SB26, Rypien, right,  passed for 292 yards and two touchdowns as the Redskins beat Buffalo 37-24. Two years later he was banished to the bench, then to Cleveland. (Hey, try winning with the Browns).

Trent Dilfer — Dilfer played for five teams in a 13-year career and never threw more than 21 TDs in a season. In his one-year with Baltimore he beat the Giants in SB35 despite a pedestrian 12 for 25, 153-yard effort

Brad Johnson — A ninth round draft pick out of Florida State, Johnson did throw for 166 TDs in an otherwise mediocre career. Helped by three pick sixes by the Tampa Bay defense, he led the Bucs to their only SB victory in 2003.

Losers

Vince Ferragamo — He threw 30 TD passes and led the Los Angeles Rams to SB14  in 1980, where they lost to Pittsburgh 31-19.  Ferragamo had a decent game in what turned out to be the high point of his career.

David Woodley — Woodstock as he was affectionately known in South Florida. was 4-for-14 for a mere 97 yards in Miami’s 27-17 loss to the Redskins in SB17. Two years later Dan Marino arrived. End of story.

Stan Humphries — Perhaps the most unlikely starter in Super Bowl history, Humphries’ Chargers were victimized by the 49ers, 49-26, in SB29. Three years later he was out of the league.

Chris Chandler — Chandler had a long NFL career, but never came close to equalling his 1998 season when he threw 25 TD passes and took the Falcons to their only Super Bowl.

Rex Grossman — Only once in his career (in 2006 when he threw 23 as the Bears advanced to SB41) did Grossman throw more than 16 TD passes in a season. Oh yes, Chicago lost to the Colts.

Two-time loser

Craig Morton — In SB5 with the Cowboys, Morton, left, was 12-for-26 with three interceptions. In SB12 with Denver against his former team he was worse, 4-for-15 with four INTs. He finished his career with more picks (187) than TDs (183).

Dishonorable Mention

Joe Kapp — A CFL refugee who played four years in the NFL, Kapp was the QB when the Vikings lost to the Chiefs, 23-7, in SB4. Although he threw just 40 career TD passes, he had a record-tying seven in one game in 1969.

Jim McMahon — His Bears won SB20 over the Patriots, but the storyline was Chicago’s relentless defense. McMahon never threw more TDs than the 15 he tossed in 1985.

Tony Eason — He started SB20 for the Patriots against the Bears, but after failing to connect on any of his five passes he was relieved by Steve Grogan.

Jake Dolhomme — Delhomme passed for 323 yards and three TDs in SB38 as his Panthers lost to the Patriots. It was all uphill from there for Jake.

Neil O’Donnell — He threw three picks helping the Cowboys beat the Steelers in SB30. Then he made the mistake of leaving for the Jets and….oh well


Deja blue all over again

Quarterbacks Tom Brady, left,and Eli Manning of the Giants have been there, done that. 

Here are 10 similarities between the two New York Giants Super Bowl runs, in 2007 and 2011:

1. In 2007 the Giants lost to the undefeated Patriots in the regular season. In 2011, the Giants lost to the undefeated Packers in the regular season. The final score of each game was 38-35.

2. In the 14th game of the 2007 season, the Giants lost to the Redskins 22-10. In the 14th game of the 2011 season, the Giants lost to the Redskins 23-10.

3. The Giants won playoff games on the frozen turf of Green Bay’s Lambeau field in 2007 and 2011.

4. The Giants won both the 2007 and 2011 NFC Championships games on field goals by Lawrence Tynes in overtime; beating the Packers and the 49ers respectively.

5. Without a first-round bye, the Giants won four consecutive playoff games in each Super Bowl run.

6. Eli Manning was the MVP in both Super Bowl wins (XLII and XLVI) against the Patriots.

7. Justin Tuck had two sacks of Tom Brady in each game.

8. Each game-winning, late fourth quarter Giant drive was sparked by an outstanding passing play,Manning to David Tyree in 2007 and then Manning to Mario Manningham in 2011.

9. In each Super Bowl, Manning vs. Brady was the quarterback matchup. In fact, Super Bowl XLVI marked only the third time in history that quarterbacks who had won previous Super Bowls faced off. Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw and Dallas’ Roger Staubach met in 1976 and again in 1979.

10. Tom Coughlin of the Giants and Bill Belichick, each of whom served as assistants to Bill Parcells when the Giants won Super Bowl XXV, matched wits in both games. Super Bowl XLVI marked only the fourth time in history that coaches who had won previous Super Bowls met, joining Bill Walsh (49ers) and Don Shula (Dolphins), 1985, and Chuck Noll (Steelers) and Tom Landy (Cowboys), 1976 and 1979.