Giants Pull Off 'Closest Blowout' in History The New England Patriots lost only one game this year, and it was the one that counted. A close look at the anatomy of the New York Giants' victory in Super Bowl XLII.
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Giants Pull Off 'Closest Blowout' in History

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Giants Pull Off 'Closest Blowout' in History

Giants Pull Off 'Closest Blowout' in History

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Thank you, Korva. We're going to take a little tour of the newspaper headlines in the Northeast. We'll start off in New York here. The Post's headline this morning: "Supermen Giants Kick Pat's in Bleep." The New York Times: "A Perfect Ending for the Giants." The Daily News: "Champs, Giants Shock the World."

Okay, a little farther north, the headlines not so cheery. Boston Globe: "History Derailed." In the Providence Journal: "One Big Loss." There's so many things to ask Bill Wolff, sometimes guest host of the BPP, all the time Monday Morning Quarterback. Hey, Bill.

BILL WOLFF: Hey, Alison.

STEWART: Hey, so before we talk sports, I have to ask you a question.

WOLFF: Yeah?

STEWART: How's our bathroom ceiling?

WOLFF: It's got a giant hole in it.


Oh, no.

STEWART: It's really bad. We have a leak above us, and when I got up this morning to go to work at 3:00 a.m., I said, something's dripping on me. It could be the - it's pretty - it's okay, though. It's like the ceiling has not come in yet.

WOLFF: Not yet.

STEWART: All right. I've got 20 minutes to…

WOLFF: I mean, I wouldn't put a lot of money on the fact that it's not going to. But it hasn't yet.


STEWART: All right. We've got 15 minutes of show, 10 minutes to get home and call the plumber. All right.

WOLFF: Yeah.

STEWART: All right. Enough about our personal life. Last night…

WOLFF: Yeah.

STEWART: …we were sitting on the couch. We decided not to go to a Super Bowl party because you just really wanted to watch the game.

WOLFF: We had a Super Bowl - a Super Bowl Party of two.

STEWART: Exactly. And you said within the first eight or nine minutes, you said, oh, the Giants are doing really well.


STEWART: Eli Manning is doing really well.


STEWART: Look how fast this first quarter went. For people like me and Rachel - Pashman already knows this - tell us why that was a good thing that the first quarter went so quickly.

WOLFF: In football, when you throw the ball on offense, when you try to throw it down the field, if the ball is not caught, then the clock stops. When you run it, if, you know, you hand it to a guy and he runs and he gets tackled, the clock continues to run. So the game will go much more quickly - that is, more time will run off the clock, the game clock, relative to real time than if you throw it when the clock is constantly being stopped.

The reason that was good for the Giants is that the Patriots have this legendary offense where they score tons and tons of points. And one way to defeat a team whose offense is amazing and incredible and explosive and prolific is to make the clock run more quickly relative to real time and hold the ball for as long as you can and prevent the other team's offense - in this case, Tom Brady and the Patriots - prevent them from ever even getting on the field because your offense, Eli Manning and the Giants, is staying on the field for so much of the game time. So it was very good, very early for the Giants. Even though the score wasn't really in their favor, the pace of the game and the time of possession of the ball was all in the Giants' favor.

STEWART: And the other thing you told me was if they can fluster or frustrate Tom Brady, if the Giants can do that, if they can crowd him, they could win. This was, oh, Saturday afternoon or something.

WOLFF: Yeah, that - that was really the, that was every - that was the common logic. That was sort of what everybody thought. That's what everybody's thought all year long. If you could get to Tom Brady and hit him, hurry him, alter his rhythms, make him throw under duress, then you would have your best chance to win the game.

Everybody sort of said that. The Giants, as we discussed on this very segment, the Giants do that very well. They have these excellent big, strong, fast guys whose job it is to harry the opponent - opposing quarterback. And yesterday, I - no one has ever seen Tom Brady under the kind of duress he was under from start to finish. So the Giants achieved that one facet of the game everybody thought they had to achieve to win. They hit him over and over and over again. They sacked him five times, which was more than they had sacked - anyone had sacked him all year long. So the Giants succeeded both in controlling the ball. And then when the Patriots had the ball they succeeded in harassing and battering Tom Brady, which everybody thought was the key to the game.

STEWART: All right. You didn't have a dog in this fight, particularly?


STEWART: Unlike Dan Pashman…

WOLFF: Yeah.

STEWART: …who is wearing a blue jersey right now.

DAN PASHMAN: Hey guys, how are you? Hey, Bill.


PASHMAN: That's me, how are ya?

WOLFF: Great day for ya, pal.

PASHMAN: It is a great day. It was a great night and a great day. I only got a couple hours of sleep…

STEWART: In-between the two.

PASHMAN: …and I'm still riding the high of the Giants' victory.

WOLFF: Breathe it in. There's not quite like it.

PASHMAN: That's right.

STEWART: So, as a Giants' fan, how do you think they did it? We heard from somebody who doesn't have a stake in this at all.

PASHMAN: I think Bill put it very well. I - the Giants - I think the Giants were the better team yesterday, in yesterday's game. Does that say that they're necessarily the better team everyday than the New England Patriots? Not necessarily. But I think that yesterday, they were. And they did - their defense was the key.

The Patriots have a very high powered offense, and their defense played tremendously. And my big fear coming down to the end of the game was Tom Brady's got the ball. He figured something out about the Giants' defense. He's starting to make some progress, starting to make some inroads moving the ball. They're going to score. I could tell they were going to score. They did score to take the lead in the fourth quarter, and I was just hoping that when they scored, there'd be enough time left on the clock for us to get the ball back one more time.

STEWART: Us being the Giants.

PASHMAN: Us being the Giants.

WOLFF: Us - yes, it's always us.

PASHMAN: Right. And I just felt that - frankly, I felt going in that the Patriots defense was not that great, and that we could move the ball. And I was feeling pretty good, cautiously optimistic, when we got the ball back with two and a half minutes to go.

STEWART: Well, let's listen to that last 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter. This 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress by Eli Manning.

Mr. ELI MANNING (Quarterback, New York Giants): We believed in ourselves all year, and that's the position you want to be in.

STEWART: Oh, this is Eli talking about - yeah, I didn't think he stopped in the middle of the field.

WOLFF: Yeah, that was an amazing play. I mean, if he could have the interview while winning…

PASHMAN: That's how awesome he is.

WOLFF: Man, you talk about marketing potential.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Let's look at the other side of this. Do you think we have the Belichick tape in there? All right. So Bill Belichick -it was the end to the season of the Patriots, which is a little sad. I know, Dan, I know you're the fan. But it's…


STEWART: …a little sad to see a team get so close to having such a perfect record. Bill Belichick just walked off the field, a second left on the clock. Let's listen to him.

Mr. BILL BELICHICK (Head Coach, New England Patriots): It was a tough game. Not the way we expected it and not the way it was the last time. And I congratulate Giants, you know, they - they made some plays there at the end. We had our chances, but they just -they just made a couple more than we did.

STEWART: Oh, is it down to that? Chances? Or is that being a sore loser there, Bill? What do you think?

WOLFF: No, I don't think he's being a sore loser. I think that the Giants outplayed the Patriots by a margin much greater than the final score. It was 17 to 14. But I said - I was in the midst of text messaging several interested parties who are friends of mine - this was the closest blowout of all time. The Giants dominated the game - dominated the game.

And I think Belichick was devastated. I'm sure he was devastated. He's an ultra competitive guy. And he credited the Giants and he - that wasn't really sore loser. He is a taciturn guy at best. He doesn't like talking to the press. He doesn't reveal himself to people ever, including his own team. And that was about that was Belichick…

MARTIN: That was Belichick being effusive?

WOLFF: Well, you know, Belichick wins and it's not too different from that. Belichick wins, and it's we made a couple more plays than they did.


WOLFF: We have to credit them. They're good. We got to go. Bye-bye. Don't want to talk to you. So that was just typical Belichick. I should also add, the story in the media, the big story is that quarterback Eli Manning - and Alison, you're familiar with Eli.


WOLFF: You've - we've commented on him as we've watched him through the years and…

STEWART: He always looked like he can't find the other mitten.

WOLFF: Correct.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WOLFF: But he made at least one play in that last two minutes and 10 seconds which will go down in the history of football as one of the most amazing and dramatic plays.


WOLFF: Which was, he was at about his own 40 yard line with about a minute to go, third down, five yards to go, big play. And he fades back to pass and not only is he almost sacked, he's almost sacked twice. Two guys for the Patriots, big, strong guys, who are paid lots of money to tear his head off, grab him and have him and he is essentially taken down, except he's not. He keeps his balance, he spins away. It's a miracle he hasn't gone down twice. He rolls out to get away from the bad guys and heaves it as far as he can - the throw went about 45 yards in the air. The receiver at the other end of it was called - is called David Tyree…

PASHMAN: Oh, yeah.

WOLFF: …who is not a prominent player, not expected to be a star. And he made a catch with the defender, Rodney Harrison, hanging all over him, which will go down as one of the greatest clutch catches in football history. So not only did they dominate, but when they needed a miracle, when they needed the unlikely play, when they needed a play that they could never repeat if they tried to repeat it 100 times, they got it from Eli Manning. And so Eli Manning redeemed himself and I think - and Pashman would be able to comment on this much better than I. But in that instant when he made that play, he enshrined himself in the New York Giants' all time pantheon of greats. It was that kind of play.

MARTIN: What do you think, Dan?

PASHMAN: It was the play of the game. No question. It was the most important, most spectacular play of the game. I thought what Eli did in the play that was so great was escaping the rush and just through sheer force of will, ripping himself out of the clutches of these predators.

MARTIN: Okay. This is my question. How much of this is about heart? How much of this could not have happened were it not a huge Super Bowl game?

PASHMAN: A huge percentage of it is. I mean, I would add though that the pass itself was not the most beautiful pass. It was really more a tremendous catch by David Tyree - the pride of Montclair, New Jersey, who for years, has been my favorite Giant.

WOLFF: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

PASHMAN: I would tell - anyone who sits in section 330 with me knows all about David Tyree.

WOLFF: I thought you were a big Jeff Feagles guy?

PASHMAN: I do love me some Feagles, but David Tyree has been my favorite Giant for years, since he was nothing but a special teamer. And he's barely more than that now.

WOLFF: Well, I would say that I'm celebrating your celebration. But this is that moment, your team has won, you are literally drunk with the happiness. And it's the, I love that guy. Tyree's my guy. He's the one I love.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PASHMAN: I'm going to bring in some witnesses here.

WOLFF: I love him.

PASHMAN: To back up my long and prior history with David Tyree. But in response to your question, Rachel, yes, it is largely about will and momentum and emotion in situations like this. When you have two teams that are this good, a lot of it is about that it's not so much about who runs faster. It's about who wants it more.

STEWART: Well, that's what I was asking Bill yesterday. I said, you know, are these guys going to put themselves in physical jeopardy for this game.


WOLFF: Yeah.

STEWART: You know, because here it's the last game of the season, and will we see people being hurt? You throw it all down. That's it, right?

WOLFF: Of course. Of course. By the way, professional football players put themselves in harm's way every time they play. And for the Super Bowl, it has such a mythic status that guys play hurt every time and they'll do anything to play because this is the goal of all of that weight lifting and all of that physical suffering and all of that separation from their family, everything about it. It - they - all they've been doing, the reason they've been doing it is to play in the Super Bowl, and nothing can keep them from playing. They all play hurt for the big game.

MARTIN: So if Eli Manning was the big winner…

WOLFF: Yeah.

STEWART: …as an individual last night, along with his team, who's the big loser? Was it Brady? Was it somebody on the end?

WOLFF: Yeah, I - well, it's hard to call Tom Brady a big loser when he's absolutely incredible. But I have never - partly because of the Giants' ability to harass him and partly for reasons that only he knows, he was not very good last night. He had a very good drive at the very end of the game to try to lead the Patriots, the one Pashman was talking about, where it was inevitable that they would score and they scored. But he was not sharp. And the reasons for that, again, I think, are one, he kept getting hit in the face which just makes it more difficult to be…

PASHMAN: That'll do it.

WOLFF: Yeah, that helps. He may have been injured. He said he was not. He had a sprained ankle coming into the game, but after the game, he said he - that had nothing to do with it.

WOLFF: It's hard to know if that's true or not. Athletes never want to show vulnerability and never admit to injury. And he simply wasn't sharp and he's sort of a victim of expectations. He's been so supernaturally accurate with his passes that when he's only human, it's disappointing. I think, I guess - you know, is he the big loser? I hate to - I don't really want to use the word loser with Tom Brady.


WOLFF: But the man who, I think, whose image suffers a bit and who is probably most disappointed is Tom Brady.

MARTIN: Well, we were going to try to get to some other sports, but…

WOLFF: No. No. No.

STEWART: No, not today.

PASHMAN: There are no other sports.

WOLFF: No, there's nothing to it, this is it. This is it.

STEWART: (unintelligible)

WOLFF: How did you lead your news cast?


I think we talked about - I think we talked about the Super Bowl.

WOLFF: Yeah, so…

MARTIN: But if I have, can I butt in here for a second, Bill? If people had already to decided that the way to unseat the Patriots was to, you know, use up time on the clock and hit Brady in the face…


MARTIN: …are these really so esoteric that it took this long in the season to figure that out? Like, why didn't anyone else do that earlier?

WOLFF: Because the Patriots are outstanding. And the - in order to hit Brady, you have to overcome both the athletic prowess of the guys who protect him, which is outstanding, and you have to deal with the strategizing of their excellent coach. So it's very difficult to achieve the things, hitting Brady and running the ball, it's very difficult to achieve those. It's easy to say them.


WOLFF: But, you want to be an Olympic athlete? Well, all you have to do is, you know, stop eating bad food and go the gym every day for three hours. Why didn't you do it? Well, it's hard, because donuts are good.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: That is our takeaway from this segment, donuts are good.

PASHMAN: Donuts are good.

STEWART: Bill Wolff, thanks a lot.

WOLFF: You got it.

STEWART: I'll let you know about the ceiling later.

WOLFF: Okay.

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