The falling confetti provided the perfect mascara. The coronation of Eli Manning as the game’s “money” quarterback du jour diverted attention from what should’ve been one of the NFL’s great embarrassments.
On this grandest of stages, in this contrived super battle of modern-day warriors, a team voluntarily surrendered defensively. In the closing minute Sunday, New England gave New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw an uncontested path to the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
The NFL’s offensively slanted rules make it easier to drive 80 yards with a single time-out than to prevent a chip-shot field goal.
The league is constantly tweaking the rules, such as charging defensive backs with assault and battery for looking at a wide receiver the wrong way. But the NFL Competition Committee should seriously consider making a field goal of fewer than 30 yards worth two points instead of three.
Lessening the value of a chip shot — of course, you can ask Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff about the ease of a “chip shot” — would be consistent with the offense-centricity of the NFL’s rules. The league despises defense, and this change could inspire a more aggressive offensive approach in the red zone.
But more important, it wouldn’t as easily reward surrendering.
It really bothered me that New England floating a matador’s cape in front of the charging Bradshaw actually constituted common sense with the Patriots leading by two points with a little more than a minute remaining in the Super Bowl.
Rise to the occasion. Take a stand. Make a stop. If you don’t and lose, at least there’s some solace that you left everything on the field.
Bradshaw told reporters Sunday night that, as soon as he took the handoff, he heard Manning screaming to him not to score. He tried stopping, but he awkwardly wobbled and fell backward into the end zone.
My only wish was that Bradshaw stopped so close to the goal line that Patriots coach Bill Belichick would demand an official’s review, insisting that he scored.
Defense should matter as much as offense.
The biggest play Sunday was Tom Brady foolishly taking a safety on the Patriots’ first possession. He felt pressure from the Giants’ pass rush in the end zone and heaved a desperate aerial nearly to the 50-yard line. The problem was that the closest New England receiver was 15 yards shy of the football.
Brady was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone, which resulted in two points for the Giants.
That such an inherently aggressive play could count less on the scoreboard than a 20-yard field goal only exacerbates the NFL’s embarrassment.