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The Super Bowl Reviewed

Two Stars for Super Bowl XXXV

by Jonathan Wilson
January 29, 2001

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The Super Bowl Reviewed_Jonathan Wilson-Two Stars for Super Bowl XXXV The first mistake the Giants made, is they elected to "receive" after winning the toss. In the three-downs-and-punts that followed, the Baltimore Ravens crept down the field in a battle of position and attrition. Such football games are what non-fans call "boring," and this was shaping up to be a very boring game, with a half-time score of 10-0.

I credit the Giants defense for allowing only 20 points on fields that were consistently shortened by interceptions and a fumble. They were in Trent
Dilfer's face all day, sacked him a few times, and even got an interception. They even sent him to the locker-room with a sore hand. On the other hand, one gets the impression that if Dilfer had been Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, or John Elway, the final score would have been 51-7.

On the whole, the game was salvaged by a sequence in the middle of the third quarter in which touchdowns were scored on three consecutive plays. In what was otherwise a snooze-fest for everyone except hard-core Ravens fans, that sequence repaid the patience of viewers. That was also the end of the game. Everything after that was window-dressing for a Ravens offense that was able to eke out a hundred yards in rushing for its featured half-back, whose name I never knew and still escapes me.

All the good commercials had been used up by then as well. The two best commercials came to viewers courtesy of E-Trade® and Budweiser®. E-Trade® featured a chimpanzee on a horse riding through a ghost-town of bankrupt dot.com companies. One has to have watched previous Super Bowls to know why that was completely hilarious. Budweiser gave us three white Yuppies on the phone asking, "What Are You Doing? What Are You Doing?" Again, these are things you just have to KNOW.

After the first of the three consecutive touchdowns, we were treated to a cell-phone company that exploited the aspirations of mentally-retarded paraplegics. "I am very lucky." This by far offended most the sensibilities of the viewers in my group, even worse than the blonde geek in a Volkswagen® trying to break up a wedding a la "The Graduate." Women were still expressing their moral disgust with the cell phone company, even after the second and third touchdowns.

The second mistake in the Giants game plan, is that they did not try to run the ball, even in the first half. Ron Dayne should have been a household name by today (Monday), but nobody knows who he is. Tikki Barber was given a couple shots in the first half. The running game was the strength of the Giants all season. Against Minnesota, the Giants exploited coverage lapses by the Viking defense, and Collins had a hot hand. It should have been clear by the middle of the first quarter that neither was going to be true against the Ravens. That was the time to begin to punish the Ravens with a ground attack. Run-blocking allows pulling guards and thrusting tackles to tee off against the defensive line. The only thing their passing game gave the Giants, was a short field to their own defense after four interceptions, and a free touchdown to the Ravens defense on a fifth.

The third mistake, is that Fassel continued to play Collins after the Ravens defense scored. Collins had no confidence left. After that, passes were drilled into the turf. It became obvious, down 17 points midway through the third, that the passing game that hadn't worked until then, was their only hope to winning. If that is true, bring in the back-up, whose confidence has not been shredded.

One reason a coach keeps a dysfunctioning player in the game, particularly at quarterback, is the conviction that the back-up won't have made any reads and will be liable to error. Good grief, can anyone have performed more errors than Collins? What is worse than throwing into disguised coverage and having the interception returned for a touchdown? This is especially true in the Super Bowl, where the magnitue of the game makes it even more mental for a quarterback who is not putting it together. It is better to have a 5% chance that the back-up will pull it off, than have a 0% chance with the starter.

The second reason a coach keeps in a quarterback, is to give him experience. Experience for what? The next Super Bowl? The Super Bowl IS the goal. You do not play in the Super Bowl as though you are rebuilding. Of all games, the Super Bowl is the one to play for victory, start to finish. These five interceptions are going to haunt Collins. This may have been his only shot, just like Neil O'Donnell, Dan Marino (he ain't) and Bubby Brister. If he is lucky, he will be like John Elway and not appear in the Super Bowl for another 10 or more years, with a different coach. Otherwise, he will be subjected to all the mental games that spooked Jim Kelly (and spooked Elway too in his second Super Bowl as a young quarterback).

Because of the three consecutive touchdowns and the chimpanzee on a horse, I give this Super Bowl 2 stars, which means it was worth watching as background noise at a party. The ending to last year's Super Bowl gives it three stars, which means it was worth watching in its own right, but the party made it better. The best Super Bowl ever played was Super Bowl XXXII, when the
Broncos defeated the Packers 28-24. That one is 5 stars, best watched while glued to the t.v. set without the distracting sounds of crunching potato chips.

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