The New England Patriots, aided by a botched chip-shot 32-yard field goal by Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff, are headed back to the Super Bowl after their 23-20 win over the Ravens. They will be meeting the team that shocked them in the 2008 Super Bowl, the New York Giants, in a rematch of one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played. In that game the Giants quarterback Eli Manning led an incredible game-winning scoring drive that included arguably the most incredible catch in Super Bowl history, David Tyree’s that-couldn’t-have-happened helmet catch, lifting the Giants to a 17-14 victory. The Giants advanced thanks to a thrilling 20-17 overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Patriots bested the Ravens in a classic, old school smash mouth game. The Ravens hav e been one of the leagues hardest hitting teams for well over a decade now, with linebacker Ray Lewis and free safety Ed Reed, two of the best in the game, setting the tone for their devastating defense. The Patriots, on the other hand, are a high flying offensive team with superstar quarterback Tom Brady, accustomed to throwing for multiple touchdowns a game and lighting opposing defenses up, with their own defense often credited with being something of a drag on the team. On this day, however, it was the Patriots defense that stood tough and did just enough to help their team win.
Brady was without a touchdown pass, a rarity, and as the game went right to the wire, it was a Patriots defender, rookie cornerback Sterling Moore, who had two consecutive monster plays that possibly saved the season for the Patriots. First, with 27 seconds left in the game, on second down and a yard to go at the Patriots 14 yard line, Ravens wide receiver Lee Evans had a sure thing touchdown catch in the end zone, only to have the ball stripped away and fall incomplete via an incredible effort from Moore. On the next play, Moore batted away a Joe Flacco pass intended for tight end Dennis Pitta. This ultimately set up Cundiff’s 32-yard attempt, which took a hard left off his foot, sinking the Ravens Super Bowl hopes in a matter of seconds.
The Giants are headed back to the Super Bowl thanks to some big time play from a young special team player. Tied at 17 in overtime, the Giants punted to 49er returner Kyle Williams, who was only returning punts because the usual punt return man, Ted Ginn Jr., was not in uniform due to injury. Once Williams caught the punt and started upfield, he was stripped of the ball by Giants rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams. The Giants recovered the fumble at the 49ers 24-yard line. From there, they ran the ball three straight times with Ahmad Bradshaw, setting up their kicker, Lawrence Tynes, for a 26-yard chip shot. Unlike Cundiff, he delivered, cementing the rematch that must have NFL executives salivating.
The betting line, as of today, is the Patriots at -3, once again making the Giants the underdogs. These two teams have been in this exact position before, something tells us the Patriots would prefer being the underdog for once.