Monday, February 04, 2008

Perfection Denied, From 1 To 19

In a historic upset Sunday, the New York Giants stunned the previously undefeated New England Patriots 17-14 to win Super Bowl XLII. The Pats had been expected to cap off an unprecedented 19-0 season, but they ended up 35 seconds short of their goal. Here’s a by-the-numbers look, from 1 to 19, at perfection denied.

1: Notre Dame’s ranking in November 1993, before an upset by Boston College. So the whole “ruining a perfect season” thing is old hat for Tom Coughlin.

2: As in Rocky II, which showed that sometimes the overwhelming underdog doesn’t win until the rematch. Next, the Giants get to take on Clubber Lang.

3: Margin by which New York defeated Miami at Wembley Stadium in the first regular-season NFL game played outside of North America. As of now, every NFL team to win a regular season game in London has gone on to win the Super Bowl.

4: Receptions during the entire regular season by the Giants’ David Tyree. So in the Super Bowl, it’s only natural that he caught a touchdown and had an insanely amazing catch on the game-winning drive.

5: New York’s seed in the NFC playoffs, marking the third consecutive year a team playing on wild card weekend went on to win the Super Bowl. Next year, look for the top two seeds to refuse their opening round bye.

6: Computer rankings used by the BCS. The NFL would rather have a playoff, allowing the Giants the chance to play their way to a championship. I know, it’s crazy.

7: Feature films directed by Michael Bay, a graduate of Wesleyan. Unlike fellow Wesleyan alum Bill Belichick, he’s SUPPOSED to be known for his filming activity.

8: Surprisingly low number of Brady Bunch episodes with an appearance by Sam the Butcher, played by Allan Melvin. Melvin died on January 17, providing a distraction for all Bradys.

9: Carries on Sunday by New York’s Ahmad Bradshaw, for 45 yards. As Super Bowl history has shown, it’s good to have a Bradshaw on your side.

10: 1979 film in which Bo Derek represented perfection. Unfortunately for the Patriots, perfection in the NFL was also a 70’s thing.

11: Consecutive victories for New York outside of Giants Stadium. Like most people, their outlook improves just by leaving New Jersey.

12: Points by which New England was favored on Sunday, as fans of every other team pulled for the Giants. Because nothing says “lovable underdog” more than a New York team.

13: Super Bowls won by quarterbacks drafted #1 overall, now that Eli Manning has joined the list. Tim Couch could do it too, if someone would just give him the chance!

14: Ranking of Some Like It Hot on the American Film Institute’s 1998 list of the 100 best American films. Its famous last line was: “Well, nobody’s perfect.”

15: Age of Miley Cyrus, a/k/a Hannah Montana, whose concert movie is currently #1 at the box office. In crunch time, Eli did his own Montana impression.

16: Points scored by New England in the “Tuck Rule” game, which began its remarkable post-season success under Belichick. This time, Justin’s pass rush had Giants fans screaming, “Tuck Rules!!!”

17: Jersey number of Plaxico Burress, who had predicted that the Patriots would score 17. Instead, his winning touchdown put the Giants at 17, much to the delight of those 17-0 Dolphins.

18: Games won by the 1985 Bears, the last 18-1 team before New England. That Super Bowl wasn’t much fun for Pats fans either.

19: Like the Patriots, I didn’t quite manage to finish this one.