It’s now time. Two weeks of hype wrapped up in a tidy, four hour bow:
6:01: Really, NBC couldn’t fly Faith Hill out to Indy? Nonetheless, looking good.
6:18: Honored to be the Walter Payton award recipient. Thank you. Matt Burke never lets ya down.
6:20: Sacha Baron Cohen. Most talented man in the biz. “The Dictator” should be a good one.
6:26: Shocker of the year: Pats win toss … they elect to defer.
6:30: AAAAANNNDDDD we’re underway. Kickoff of Super Bowl XLVI a tad late. Giants start at their own 23.
6:33: Giants convert on their first third down opportunity of the day.
6:37: Mark Anderson with a sack on Manning on 3rd and 13. Pats defense looks decent early on.
6:38: Giants punter Steve Weatherford a little too jacked up. Nice kick pal, but you’re still a punter.
6:41: Wow. Wow. WOW. First play from scrimmage. Brady with an ill-advised pass downfield. NO ONE there. Intentional grounding and a safety. 2-0 Giants as people playing squares go absolutely insane across the country.
Aaaand I look like a fool (not the first or last time) for bashing Weatherford. I thought Parcells said that the Pats special teams was going to be better than the G-Men’s. We’ll see.
6:44: Kyle Arrington gets plowed over by Henry Hynoski.
6:49: Arrington blitzes in the red zone and nearly gets Eli.
6:50: 12 men on the field after a strip and fumble. Bad, bad, bad start for the Patriots in the mental column. Not what you would’ve expected.
6:51: Just like that, touchdown pass to Victor Cruz. Jerod Mayo would have had an INT had he turned around. Dumb play by the Pats all around and they’re down 9-0 because of it.
6:59: Pats offense in a semi-groove with first down passes to Welker and Branch. This will need to continue. End of first quarter. 9-0 Giants.
7:02: Aaaand I’m over GoDaddy. I think everyone is at this point. We really need a new Super Bowl commercial outlet for straight up boob shots. Never really got the whole Danica Patrick thing. The lesson? Always be suspect of someone who is NASCAR hot and NASCAR hot only.
7:05: Pierre-Paul with a nice play to bat down Brady’s pass. Right now this looks like the Buffalo game from early in the Patriots season. Will the results be?
7:15: Who is this homeless man with the bedazzled scarf that keeps following Robert Kraft around at these games? At least he didn’t sing the national anthem this time.
7:24: Welker with a fabulous catch at the chains but comes up just short. It’s announced Travis Beckum is out for the game – maybe a year. Never like to see that.
7:34: Brady is looking very good now out of the shotgun. Finds Aaron Hernandez back to back as the Pats offense is beginning to find its groove.
7:40: Brady finds Danny Woodhead for the Patriots first touchdown. Great drive from 96 yards out. It will be interesting to see if the Giants can slow this momentum after the half.
7:51: Patriots up 10-9 at the half.
8:04: Madonna sings “Vogue,” escapes to the back for a moment, does 10-12 reps of 225 on the bench and is ready for her next number. Amazing woman.
8:09: L-U-V MADONNA!!!!
8:25: Aaaand we’re back.
8:33: Pats offense makes Belichick’s “defer” strategy look genius again as Brady finds Hernandez for the touchdown. 17-9 Pats.
8:40: Giants field goal gets New York closer. 17-12 Pats.
8:48: Brady sacked as the Giants pass rush is getting geared up again.
8:56: Rob Ninkovich and Gerard Warren with a big sack of Manning on third down.
8:57: The Pats defense, who all things considered have played an exceptional game, force the Giants to another field goal. 17-15 Pats. Brady and the offense has to get something else, however, if they expect to get this one.
9:05: Benjarvus Green-Ellis with a big run for the first down .
9:06: Brady throws long, but is PICKED!!! A little like his ill-advised pass against Baltimore when he looked for Matthew Slater.
9:10: Things getting crazy. Patriots nearly strip and recover a fumble. No dice, however.
9:18: Things get crazier. G-men have to blow another time out. Could hurt Coughlin down the stretch.
9:21: NO CALL on Sterling Moore. It was close. Easily could have been pass interference but Moore has come up big for a typically weak Pats secondary.
9:26: Woodhead with a big third down catch. Possible MVP candidate. He was a forgotten man at many points this season.
9:28: Rolle on the turf. Patriots are hitting harder than I’ve seen them in years.
9:29: Welker with a drop at the Giants 20 that could have given the Pats a huge first down with just four minutes left. Patriots desperately need a score here to get some separation at 17-15.
9:32: Doesn’t happen. Pats forced to punt. Eli with a chance to win it.
9:35: Right out of the gate, Eli goes deep down the sidelines and it is CAUGHT by Mario Manningham in bounds.
9:38: Belichick challenges but the play stands. Costs them a time out.
9:40: Eli to Nicks.
9:41: Bradshaw with a big run to make the clock run and the Pats are now in trouble. How did we get here?
9:44: The Pats let BRADSHAW in. If you didn’t need anymore evidence that the NFL is turning into Madden the video game, we have this. Bradshaw actually didn’t want to go in and held up at the 1. Pats with time, but not much. Way too similar to 2008 for the Pats.
9:46: Branch with a drop. It was tipped but he HAS to catch that.
9:47: Hernandez with a drop. HAS to catch that.
9:49: Brady sacked on third down with 40 seconds left. Not. Good. At. All.
9:50: Brady on a 4th and 16 somehow finds Deion Branch along the sidelines. Great play by Brady to escape the pass rush.
9:51: Caught by Hernandez for a first but Pats are only at the Giants 46. Giants with too many men on the field. Ball will be at midfield with nine seconds left. Pats need a miracle.
9:53: Branch nearly makes the catch along the sidelines but falls out of bounds. Five seconds left.
9:55: Brady’s Hail Mary bomb is tipped around and NEARLY caught by Gronkowski on the tip … Unreal.
9:56: No fourth ring for Belichick/Brady.
10:00: It’s hard to recall a stranger career arc in sports than that of Brady/Belichick. Three rings early. Come close twice. But the feeling of invincibility is long gone.
Strangely enough for a Boston sports fan … the best model Brady and Belichick can follow at this point is that of Kobe Bryant’s. 3 rings early. A drought. And two rings late … but the clock is certainly a-tickin’.