The game was not meaningless, however. The Patriots were on the road to a perfect season, and the Giants were their final opponent. Giants "season ticket-holders" were selling their tickets to Patriot fans at exorbitant prices, and the NFL Network felt the pressure of this demand, as well.
If the Pats won, it would be a historic game, and the NFL Network would go down in history as "hoarding" the broadcast from the majority of football fans. This was a bigger problem than they bargained for, when they chose this as their final week's game.
I don't know what this portends for the NFL Network's future, but they caved to the public demand to see this game, and allowed it to be simulcast on NBC and CBS, two of the networks that have broadcast contracts with the NFL. They deserve a backhanded compliment for this decision, because the public was treated to one of the best games of the season.
Personally, I have a reason to laugh about this. My darling Anna was at my apartment, where I don't have cable, and the game was on 3 of the 7 broadcast channels I receive. She is not a football fan, but tolerates my fanatic analysis of the games every week, during football season.
I get to watch TV at work, when I'm not dealing with customers, so I watched most of the game. Imagine my surprise, when I got a phone call from Anna, less than a minute into the halftime break, with her saying "the Giants are winning!" Pigs were flying, and it was a cold day in Hell, and not just because the Giants were winning. ANNA WAS WATCHING A GIANTS GAME ON HER OWN ACCORD! My honey was enjoying a football game, and knew enough about it to tell me the highlights she noticed, which included plays I missed while at work. Did I mention how much I love this woman, and how much more it grows every minute, day, and year?
Unfortunately, I had to catch up on my paperwork at halftime, and couldn't listen to her express her new found jubilation for football for more than a few minutes. Still, I have to thank the NFL Network, for showing (or in Anna's case, practically FORCING) this game to a wider public audience.
I watched the first Giants game of the year at Anna's place, and they
lost miserably, to the Cowboys. The Jets lost the later game that day, to the
Patriots. Anna was in "football denial," sometimes flinching when I yelled at
the TV. However, I remember her telling her daughter "that's the first fumble of
this season," after one particular "shout." I explained that if she watched the
game along with me, she wouldn't be "shocked" out of her shoes by my yelling;
she would be able to anticipate it, in fact.
It took most of the season, but by the time we watched the
Giants/Buffalo Bills game on Christmas Eve, she was with me. This brings me back
to the Giants vs. the "Greatriots."
The Pats got caught cheating * in the game against the Jets, in the first week (or second?). It does not change the fact that they are the best team in the league. They have proved it against some of the best contenders from both conferences, while playing some of the worst teams twice, as divisional foes.
The Giants are the team that couldn't "do it," until they could. They are a better team this year than they were last year, which should be credited to Tom Coughlin's "new" coaching approach this year. Though they lost "the game" to the Patriots, they scored more points against them than any other team had all year. I had a smile on my face as the clock ran out.
This game was a win for both teams, as well as the fans of football everywhere. While the outcome of the game didn't really matter in this season, this game gave the Pats several records, besides the perfect season. It also gave the Giants a kick in the ass, just when they needed it, as well as giving all of us a great game to watch on a Saturday night.
Another thing I am pleased to report is that almost all of the starters played throughout the game, refuting the rampant media speculation about "coasting" through the game. Both teams played to win, as if they were being paid millions of dollars to do so (oh, that's right, they are). I was proud of the Giants, even in losing.
At one point, I had to laugh out loud, yelling "it wouldn't be a Giant game, if Manning doesn't fumble a snap!" to the TV. At least he fell right on it. I was lucky enough to be able to bury myself in paperwork, as they completed their self-destruction. They have played much worse this year, but they are minimizing that "self-destruct" factor every week, lately.
The Patriots have an impressive receiving cadre, with Wes Welker and Randy Moss at the top of the list. They made the Giants' coverage look inept (which it was, at times). The Giants faced them without Jeremy Shockey, who is out for the year. Brandon Jacobs is the next best thing that the Giants have in their offensive arsenal, and I predict a long, and great career for this rather large young running back. Remember his name, because you're going to hear it alot in the future.
While both of these teams were already locked into their respective playoff spots, this game showed us something. The Giants are playing at a higher level than they have been through most of the season, and the Pats are fighting the odds, if they want to extend their streak to 19-0. I don't know if either of them are up to the challenge, but I think that the Giants can beat them, if they have a rematch in the Superbowl.
Thanks to the NFL Network for sharing with the broadcast networks, so that more of the people reading this may have actually seen the game! And kudos to Ty Phoon and Robert F., who wrote about the game on Gather already! Call 'em the "Hatriots," or the "Greatriots," the New England Patriots have made history, with a perfect season! *
PS: I stated in my last post (on Christmas day) that the Giants won't make it to the Superbowl this year. After watching them lose to the Pats last night, I have to recant that statement. It sounds crazy, but I sensed a continuation of the "change of momentum" I felt during the game against the Bills. I think it's growing, and they are going to get better each week of the playoffs. Even if that's wishful thinking, Tom Coughlin has done an excellent job at developing a winning team this year.
*(Google "Patriots spygate")