Well that should put a bad day in perspective. Sure you day might be bad, but did you cost your team a chance to go to the Super Bowl by missing an easy field goal? Or by not securing a winning touchdown catch? Or by muffing not one but two punts that let the other team score the winning points? And did you do all of those things in front of the entire nation? Probably not, so hopefully that should put your bad day into perspective. However, the guys who did have those types of bad days have helped set-up what is sure to be the ultimate revenge Super Bowl. The Patriots have a chance to show the Giants exactly what they thought of that field goal defeat they suffered the last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl. They don’t have a perfect record this time around, but I think a win this time would be much sweeter. In any event, here’s how they wound up being thrown together for this year’s Super Bowl:
Ravens 20, Patriots 23: Brady was not nearly as sharp as we predicted. He missed some big plays that could have made that field goal at the end of the game entirely moot. However, the defense did their part and the Patriots offense found enough of a ground game to help them get the win. Meanwhile, Flacco played brilliantly and did everything possible to help his team get to Indy. Who figured the kicker would miss an easy field goal? Brady went 22 of 36 for 226 yards and 2 INTs. Not even close to our prediction. Meanwhile Flacco also broke the mold with 22 of 36 for 2 TDs and an INT, which interestingly enough is closer to what we predicted Brady would do. The Patriots D kept Ray Rice in check with just 67 yards, while Green-Ellis found more running room than predicted with 68 yards and a TD. The one thing we couldn’t predict was the kicker missing a short field goal to give the Patriots the win. Crazy.
49ers 17, Giants 20: Speaking of crazy, how crazy is it to think that if Williams would have just hung on to the football on those two punts, the Niners would in all likelihood be on their way to Indy instead of the Giants. Just grab the ball and hang on. But he didn’t, and the Giants scored on both muffed punts, and now they will face the wrath of a Patriots team out for revenge while the 49ers spend some time wondering “what if”. Alex Smith didn’t have the magic this time around that he did against Brees, going just 12 of 26 for 196 yards and 2 TDs. Interestingly enough, that’s pretty close to the 12 of 21 for 215 yards and 1 TD we had in our sim. Manning, meanwhile, took the hits and still made the plays with 32 of 58 for 316 yards and 2 TDs, which is comparable to the 22 of 29 for 389 yards and 2 TDs from our sim. Gore and Bradshaw both rushed for 74 yards in the real game, while Davis was the key target with 112 yards and 2 TDs, a bit short of what we predicted; 152 yards. The big difference was in our sim, the Giants fumbled twice which lead to 14 points for San Fran, but in the real game, it was the 49ers’ two muffed punts that the Giants recovered and got 10 points off that made the difference in the game. And so the Giants are on their way to see if they can continue to repeat history; should make for a great game.
Baltimore 9, New England 20: The question in this game may not be whether or not the Ravens D will slow down New England’s offense, but I’m pretty sure they will, the question is whether or not the offense can score enough points to keep up. One things for sure, if Ray Rice doesn’t have a big game, then that doesn’t seem very likely.
Things got off to a bad start for New England, as Brady threw a pick on their first possession. With a short field, the Ravens were able to drive into the red zone, but the Patriots D held and the Ravens had to settle for a field goal, which is not the way to win against Brady and the Patriots.
The Pats chewed up the rest of the first quarter and finally got within field goal range themselves early in the second, scoring on a 35 yard kick. The Ravens looked like they might be able to control this game, but then Flacco threw and ugly pick. It didn’t take long for Brady to get down the field and in the end zone on an 8 yard pass to Gronkowski.
The Ravens showed some resolve with a solid drive after the turnover, but it eventually fizzled and they had to settle for a 41 yard field goal. Unfortunately, they also left Brady with just over a minute in the half and a couple of timeouts. You know what the means, It wasn’t long before New England was scoring again on a 3 yard TD pass to the other tight end, Hernandez.
The third quarter started with New England in possession of the ball. They slowly and methodically made their way to the one yard line, where the Ravens D held the line. Hoping to put this game away entirely, New England went for it on fourth and goal at the one yard line…and didn’t get in. The Ravens took over and spent the rest of the quarter driving back the other direction.
Baltimore eventually made it into the red zone early in the fourth, but once again couldn’t find a way to punch it in, and so they settled for yet another field goal. The Patriots then worked the field and the clock and eventually got close enough for a 26 yard field goal. With time against them but the game still within reach, the Ravens did their best to make a comeback, but their hopes ended with yet another interception.
Once again Brady got off to a slow start but ended with a big day. He went 26 of 37 for 331 yards, 2 TDs and an INT. Meanwhile, Flacco was limited to 10 of 17 for 160 yards and 2 INTs. The running game was pretty much nonexistent once again for the Patriots, but even the Ravens had trouble on the ground with Rice getting only 54 yards. Gronkowski once again had a monster day, 162 yards and a TD while Smith was the big playmaker for the Ravens, keeping drives alive and ending the day with 66 yards. The Ravens D did their part, but the offense just couldn’t capitalize on scoring opportunities, and if that’s what really happens, get ready to see the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
San Francisco 27, New York 19: The Giants are surging once again, but will it be enough to carry them back to the Super Bowl. They have to get past that solid 49ers defense first, and the winner of this game will be the team that controls the offensive and defensive line.
The Giants got the ball first and had not trouble moving it down the field. However, in the red zone and with a chance to score, the 49ers defense broke through the line and got a sack/fumble on Manning which San Fran recovered. The Niners then drove back the other way and opened the second quarter with a 4 yard TD rush by Gore.
The Giants recovered nicely on their next drive. Once again they didn’t have trouble moving the ball, but eventually the Niners defense stopped them and New York had to settle for a 34 yard field goal. San Francisco used up plenty of clock getting in range for a 23 yard field goal of their own, but if we’ve learned one thing from the Giants game last week, any time on the clock before half-time is too much time to give Manning and the Giants. With a minute left and a couple of time outs, the Giants roared down the field before the half, and with just seconds left, Manning found Ballard in the end zone who made a diving 11 yard TD catch to tie the game right before the half.
San Francisco didn’t let that last frantic scoring drive frazzle them. They came out in the third, controlled the clock and moved methodically down the field. Eventually, Crabtree broke free and scored on a 28 yard TD toss.
The Giants move the ball back the other way, but once again the Niners D kept them out of the endzone, and New York settled for a 35 yard field goal to keep the game a one score affair.
The Giants D got their first big stop on the 49ers early in the fourth, and with a chance to pull ahead, New York confidently drove down the field. However, San Fran’s defense came up big once again, forcing a fumble that they recovered. Using lots of Frank Gore to use lots of clock, the Niners scored on a 3 yard TD run by Gore. The Giants weren’t perturbed, as they quickly got down the field to score a TD of their own, once again on a pass play to Ballard. The went for two to bring the score to three, but didn’t convert. Now it all came down to the 49ers ability to control the clock, so it’s a good thing Gore was having a decent game. They used as much time as they could getting in range for a 36 yard field goal, meaning the Giants would need a TD and a two point conversion to tie. This time, however, the Giants couldn’t make it happen and time ran out on another amazing run at the Super Bowl.
Manning went 22 for 29 for 384 yards and 2 TDs, while Smith had 12 of 21 for 215 yards and 1 TD. Gore made a difference on the ground despite a tough Giants defensive front. He had 96 yards and 2 TDs, while Bradshaw was limited to just 44 yards. The year of the tight end continued in this game, with Davis coming away with 152 yards for the 49ers (no amazing TD catches to win the game this time, however) and Ballard kept the Giants in the game with 74 yards and 2 TDs. The 49ers got 14 points off those two fumbles by the Giants, and that was the difference in the game. We’ll see if the Niners can win that battle for real this weekend.
So what do you think; is a Patriots/49ers Super Bowl one you’d be interested in watching?