Does anyone have any idea how the New York Giants only scored 21 points? Maybe that’s just their deal. They held onto the ball for 37 minutes against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, two weeks after the Giants’ time of possession almost hit 40 minutes against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
They only scored 20 points in San Francisco, and without a couple special teams miscues they would’ve only scored 10.
The Giants only scored 19 points on offense. And they only accumulated that many because the Pats allowed Ahmad Bradshaw to run, stop, turn and slowly fall backwards into the end zone with a minute left in order to give the Bradys enough time to score. What a strange play that was — not the Patriots’ decision, but Bradshaw’s method of scoring.
Bradshaw’s “I’m running fast! Wait, stop! Oh no…” moment almost burned the Giants, but Tom Brady couldn’t capitalize. It didn’t help that he was nowhere close to sharp for the entire fourth quarter, but Aaron Hernandez had an inexcusable drop. Deion Branch had a drop that was a little less egregious, but that pass early on in the Patriots’ last drive was still one he should’ve caught.
Neither team could run. The Patriots double-teamed Victor Cruz and lived with the consequences (Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham both had very good games). The Niners probably should’ve done the same thing, although their defensive effort wasn’t the reason why they lost to the Giants.
The 49ers shouldn’t have lost to the Giants. Forget the referees, since Vernon Davis looked like he might’ve stepped out of bounds on that first touchdown (to a Giants fan, at least). The Niners’ offense clenched up at the wrong time and Kyle Williams had a flashback to his college days, and the Niners were eliminated even though their defense was clearly the best in the NFL Playoffs. However, they lost. No excuses, like Mark Jackson might say.
But if they had won the NFC Championship…
The Niners probably would’ve held the Patriots to 10 points. First, they would’ve done a better job pressuring Tom Brady. You can have the Giants’ more heralded foursome of Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwhatever. Give me Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.
Rob Gronkowski was useless in the Super Bowl (nice Braylon Edwards-esque effort to prevent that interception, Grahhhnk), and the Patriots’ receivers aren’t all that fantastic. All they would’ve had to do was keep Wes Welker from gaining mega-yards-after-the-catch and focus on Aaron Hernandez. No deep threats, and an even worse rushing attack than the Giants feature.
The Niners’ safeties, not having to worry about Ochocinco (adios, Ocho) downfield, could focus exclusively on keeping an eye on Welker and Hernandez. Danny Woodhead’s dwarf-speed wouldn’t have had nearly as much of an impact against the 49ers, either.
What about the Niners’ offense, dummy?
Glad you asked! Judging by the fact that the Giants were able to run somewhat effectively (the Patriots couldn’t stop Bradshaw on the Giants’ last drive, even before they parted the sea for him with a minute left), and the Patriots’ performance against the run over the course of the season (mediocre), the Niners would’ve been able to control the clock — especially with Frank Gore getting two more weeks of rest.
And Vernon Davis would’ve crushed the Patriots.
Sour grapes? Absolutely, but what else would you expect from an independent Bay Area sports blogger who grew up with multiple posters of Jerry Rice on his bedroom walls? The 49ers had plenty of chances to win and they didn’t, and to end the NFL season listening to the Mara family trumpet the virtues of Giants fans is a bitter pill. It wouldn’t matter if the Niners still sucked. But they didn’t. They were terrible at throwing third down passes and catching punts in the NFC Title Game, and that was enough to sink them.
All that’s left to do is make sure every home game is almost as loud as Candlestick Park got against the Saints and the Giants games, and watch how Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh refine and reinforce this team over the next few months. I already can’t wait for next season.