Pats and Giants sneak into the big game thanks to two goats: The Raven Kicker who shanks an Overtime-forcing chip shot in the final seconds, and a Niner Returner who coughs up the ball twice, including once in Overtime to set up the game-winning Field Goal
Millions of fans in Baltimore and San Francisco are distraught tonight, but no one feels worse than Billy Cundiff and Kyle Williams — nor should they. Cundiff and Williams EARNED the right to feel horrible about themselves — ala Donnie Moore — and that’s more than I can say for New England and New York, who didn’t truly EARN their Super Bowl Berths.
Baltimore’s Cundiff hooked the potentially game-tying, 32-yard Field Goal with 15 seconds left against the Patriots, allowing NE to escape with a 23-20 victory, while Frisco’s Kyle Williams muffed one punt in the 4th Quarter that led directly to a Giant Touchdown, then fumbled another one in Overtime, which gave the ball to NY already in Field Goal range. The ensuing kick — not shanked like Cundiff’s — meant that the Giants were handed a 20-17 triumph.
Now don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying that Baltimore or San Francisco deserved to win or were the better teams — I’m just saying that both these wins were UGLY, and relied on the charity of the other team. Baltimore was driving to win the game when QB Joe Flacco inexplicably threw into double-coverage, resulting in a devastating Interception, and not only that, but the Ravens were pretty bad on Offense all day, putting up only 20 points against one of the worst Defenses in the League. But inept as they were, they didn’t come close the the Forty-Niners’ Offense on THIRD DOWNS. SF went a mind-blowing 1-for-13 on 3rd Down conversions, failing on their first 11 attempts (I believe).
Sure the Giant Defense had something to do with that, but even when the Defense left open men or didn’t pressure the QB, the Niners still choked whenever it counted. Late in the 4th Quarter, the SF Wide Receivers had COMBINED for a total of ONE RECEPTION, for 3 yards.
Even so, the Niners had every chance to win this game, and should have had the ball in O.T. with decent field position and all the momentum, when Williams — who was only playing because starter Ted Ginn, jr. was out injured — got stripped because he had not yet secured the ball. So, instead of a Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh Super Bowl, we get a rematch of NE vs. NY, while the Brothers Harbaugh both go home the victims of friendly fire — shot in the back by their own guys.
As for the UCLA-usc component of the upcoming Super Bowl, the Patriots have two Bruins — Matthew Slater and the injured and inactive Bret Lockett — and no trojans. The Giants have no Bruins, and one trojan, but that trojan — Terrell Thomas — is also inactive, and won’t be playing because of an injury that has kept him off the field for the entire year. So — only one player from the Rivalry will be playing in the Big Game, and it will be a Bruin. Slater is a Wide Receiver and Kick Returner, and was almost a semi-goat in Sunday’s game — The one pass headed his way was a bomb to the end zone, which was intercepted by Baltimore, late in the game. Slater faced double-coverage, and the defenders both judged the pass better, and made better plays on the ball. When Slater adjusted, he was unable to turn into a defender and break up the INT.
Luckily, it didn’t come back to haunt Slater, who will now represent the Bruins in Indianapolis in two weeks, with no uniformed trojan anywhere to be found.