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• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud

Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

Six Impossible Things
February 4, 2008

I believed the Giants could beat the Patriots. And despite taking the long odds on the Giants (see previous column), I didn't actually believe the Giants WOULD beat the Patriots. Now they have, and like the vast majority, I woke up Monday morning asking myself if it really happened.

Like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, I'm trying to believe six impossible things before breakfast. That the Giants beat the Patriots to become Super Bowl champions isn't one of them. That the Giants are the best team in the NFL is a little trickier. If you're suffering the same feeling, try this for a reality check...

The Giants just beat four division champions in a row, and they did it on the road. They passed better than their opponents, they rushed better than their opponents, and they defended better than their opponents. Whatever may have happened between opening day and Christmas, the Giants ARE the best team in the NFL right now.

If you can cope with that, take a deep breath for the next 'impossible thing'...

Tom Coughlin is a Super Bowl winning coach (it's okay, you can sit down if you need to).

The coach that people thought was too hardline, or unreasonable, who didn't have the support of his players, and that has never had 'genius' applied to him the way other coaches have, just earned a ring. And I do mean 'earned'. He learned to rein himself in, to soften up enough that he avoided the late–season Giants blow–up that many, including myself, were waiting for. Turns out he did have the support of his players; after this, he's going to have their unswerving support forever, because he's a 'Super Bowl winning coach', with all the respect that deserves.

The third impossible thing we'd better start believing:

This Patriots dynasty is over.

Yeah, I'm sure that's one of those statements I'll end up regretting later. If somebody wants to send a link to Bill Belichick so that he can tell next year's Patriots team how disrespected they are, that's fine by me. I honestly think this year was the last chance for a team whose emotional leaders on defense — Junior Seau, Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi — might be wrapping it up soon. The Patriots will still be there or thereabouts for a while, not least because the AFC East practically gifts New England a bye to the playoffs every year, but the wider AFC is still a place full of hungry (and increasingly hungrier) rivals.

As for the final three impossible things to believe, they were all wrapped up in a single play with one minute to play in Super Bowl XVII. On 3rd down, and just one play after Asante Samuel had almost picked him off on the sideline to end the game, Eli Manning came under pressure of the pass rush. Suddenly, he was in the middle of a crush of bodies, with Patriots arms on him, clutching at his jersey. But he evaded capture, pulled away from them. Eli the escapologist: we weren't expecting that.

Then Eli rolled out and back, to set up again away from the collapsed pocket. With the next wave of pass rush in his face, he launched the ball downfield towards David Tyree for what statistics will tell you was a 32–yard pass but felt like 50. Eli the slinger: we weren't expecting that either.

Then the catch. Tyree — a depth receiver that nobody had given much regard to with Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress around — leapt to make the catch above his head, had it knocked loose by Rodney Harrison, but re–establish control of the ball between his hands and his helmet while falling to ground to end bent backwards over Harrison's knees. And still held on.

That's the play we'll remember Super Bowl XLII for, the one that led to the winning score. We may also remember it as the defining play of the month when Eli Manning came of age as a franchise quarterback, fulfilling the promise and the projections, and then some. Manning finished up as Superbowl MVP, twelve months after his brother. You could have made the case for any number of Giants defenders being the Most Valuable Player, and with two fumbles and an interception, it wasn't as if Manning was perfect.

Then again, neither are the Patriots any more. We'll just have to get used to it.


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