I’m celebrating my 200th post! To everyone who visits regularly, I so thank you for doing so. And to you first-timers, my humble thanks and a special welcome too!
So, friends, here we are on the Friday preceding the biggest Sunday of every football season.
Photos courtesy of my older son and his I-phone–thanx! Love the Giants’ colors, too. Oh, and before I go further I’m adding a disclaimer: I don’t pretend to fully understand that whole (somewhat complex) wildcard and Rounds 1 and 2 progression parts of the Road to the Super Bowl. Please forgive any errors as I’m still learning a lot of how it all comes together on that first Sunday in February.
Anyone out there been following NFL post-season play? Excuse me, but did somebody bother telling the NY Giants that they weren’t going to make it to Super Bowl XLVI?
Maybe it’s just me, but seems like Eli Manning and the boys missed a few memos, and those may have gone something like this:
You may not beat the Dallas Cowboys to win a wildcard spot.
Let’s see you get past the Atlanta Falcons to win the wildcard game.
Forget winning against the Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XLV winners and super-season record holders of 15-1.
You’ve got your work cut out to get past the San Francisco 49ers, those mega-aggressive guys who literally snatched the win from the Saints the week prior—now there was a nail-biter of a game—to become the NFC champions AGAIN.
Oh, and you could get past the New England Patriots, seeing as you upset the H-E-goal-posts-minus-the- crossbar last time y’all met? (I mean, has anyone been watching footage of the last 90 seconds of that match-up? Eli was Houdini getting out of the pocket—he had NO business not being sacked. Then David Tyree had even less business making that too-amazing-for-words catch to set off that final, victory-claiming, drive.)
I mean, all I’ve been asking myself since the Sunday night they manufactured the 2011 season’s miracle is: How did they get here? Pull off what may be their most memorable run yet? And how do they continue to do it?
I wrote this as I watched Rafael Nadal walk off the quarterfinal court victorious at the Australian Open Tennis Championships. At end of the second set, Rafa was one set-point down.
As is true of most tennis champions, set and match points are simply something to get past. It’s a mindset. Rafa is frequently described as relentless, as he bats away ball after ball until he forces an error or hits a winner. (His forehand has this lasso-like action that’s so cool to watch, and I’m noticing current Number One Novak Djokovic using a very similar motion with his forehand. Hmm!) Oh, and Rafa is also known for this quote: “Every point is match point.” (BTW, Rafa wound up rallying from 2-5 in the fourth set to tie things up in the final match against Djokovic, and take it to their first five-setter–wound up being one of those matches one wishes both players could win.)
Years ago, when I first got into tennis, my first all-time favorite player was Stefan Edberg. Like Rafa, he was a pretty humble champion and one who never gave up. During the 1992 US Open he was down three match points to hard-hitter Ivan Lendl.
Want to guess how that one turned out? I’m sure the little bit of rain that suspended play until the next day didn’t hurt, but Stefan fought off those match points and went on to win not just that match, but the whole darned thing as well. (Was I happy then. I had tickets to the final and got to watch my first mega-favorite win his last grand slam title.)
Brings to mind the Giants and their past five games. As I said, they don’t seem to have gotten the memo—or, like any great champion(s), they blew it off.
As a writer—and an occupational therapist, I’m a watcher. Observation skills were usually my forte on most of my evaluators’ write-ups. So, I watch Eli Manning’s game.
Now mind you, I’ve gotten highly annoyed with him at times. Not that I could coach or head up a team but I’ve learned a whole lot about the mental part of football this season. (Think I need one more season under my belt before I totally get the ‘running game.’) I am, however, starting to get Eli’s game—and his brilliance. And having watched the Giants these last five weeks—and even some old footage from Super Bowl XVII—the word relentless comes up over and over.
So do the notions of “progress not perfection” and “easy does it.”
Watch how, little by little, Eli inches his team down the field toward the red zone. He obviously keeps his eye on the prize (i.e., touchdown or field goal) but tends to use smaller efforts to get them there, as in one first down at a time, and of late, a third-down conversion (kind of that “never say never” attitude over and over until payoff).
Not only did the Giants not get the memo, but I don’t think they realized they weren’t going to be Super Bowl contenders this year, especially going in to play the Packers. (I hated seeing Aaron Rodgers roughed up, but his team kind of fell through a little on that one too. Almost a smaller-scale version of what the Patriots did to Tim Tebow and the Broncos—and there’s more fodder for that never-say-die attitude: what rookie Tebow accomplished with his flailing team this year.)
Yes, I’m done now. For now. Who are you rooting for and/or which teams would have made up your dream Super Bowl?
TTYS and go Giants!