Mario secures the Peach with both feet in-bounds

Nom, nom, nom, nom. That would be the sound of me eating my words.

Just before Mario Manningham’s insane catch down the sideline, I proclaimed that he wasn’t talented enough to make a similar catch on a previous drive. The catch would have been impressive itself, considering a receiver who is looking directly over his head for the ball can’t actually see the ball hit his hands.

What made it even more impressive was his ability to secure the ball from the moment the ball hit his hands and maintain possession throughout the process – a necessity considering his feet dragged inbounds for only a split second.

Manningham caught 5 balls for 73 yards all in the second half, and Hakeem Nicks contributed 10 catches for 109 yards. Victor Cruz had a relatively quiet game, targeted just four times but catching all of those attempts, netting 25 yards and the game’s first touchdown.

I couldn’t stop laughing at Jerod Mayo’s pirouette past the ball on Cruz’s touchdown.

The Giants’ game plan on offense was a product of what the Patriots offered them on defense. The Patriots keyed on Victor Cruz and the deep pass, opening opportunities for Nicks and Manningham against isolated coverage.

Eli Manning is too good at deciphering defenses’ pre-snap and understanding where the single coverage lies for a defense to play that vanilla style as often as the Patriots did.

In committing those assets to the pass, they allowed the Giants’ offense to remain on the field with short passes and a running game. Time of possession was hugely in New York’s favor with 37 minutes to the Patriots’ 23.

I’ve heard rumblings of Tom Brady being overhyped, overrated and perhaps lucky to have won three Super Bowls. To that I respond that for a player to win three Super Bowls in a span of six years, you’re going to need a little help, no matter how good you are.

Brady played an excellent game and his only “mistake” was a deep pass intended for Gronkowski, which was intercepted by linebacker Chase Blackburn. This is the same guy who looked like a less athletic version of Elton John when Aaron Hernandez broke out a simple stutter step earlier in the game.

In that situation, Brady had one-on-one coverage with his best receiver against a Giants’ linebacker better suited to stop the run than chase down Gronkowski.

Another aspect to consider is that the Patriots were on their own 43 yard line and an interception in that situation pins the Giants inside their own 10, and essentially becomes a very good punt.

You never want to lose possession of the ball, but sometimes you just have to throw it up there and hope your receiver makes a play. Nine times out of 10 that ball falls incomplete or is caught by Gronkowki. Ninety-nine times out of 100 that ball is incomplete or caught by a healthier Gronkowski.

In light of Tom Brady’s great play, it’s easy to blame his receivers for the later dropped balls.

While this is valid with regard to the deep pass that hit Wes Welker in the hands, it was the only drop that really affected the game. Aaron Hernandez’s drop on the second play of the final drive would have gone 10 yards and he couldn’t have gotten out of bounds.

With one timeout and 50 seconds left, the Patriots would’ve had to sacrificed their only timeout or 10 seconds to spike the ball if he made the catch. Neither would be worth a 10 yard gain bringing the team 70 yards away from the end zone as compared to 80.

The ball that hit Deion Branch’s hands on the first play of the final drive was tipped at the last second and therefore not a play he should be expected to make.

The game itself was one of the best Super Bowls I’ve seen and offered a great finish to what has been my favorite NFL season.

To think the game could have ended with the Giants falling at the one yard line and kicking a field goal, or perhaps with the Giants taking a knee after it looked like the Patriots were dead in the water at 4th and 16. The game truly could have gone to either team and I hope everyone enjoyed the game as much as I did.

To mourning Pats’ fans, I offer you the wise words a friend: at least you’re not a Cowboys’ fan.