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A Letdown Super Bowl Becomes Life Affirming

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For the most part this Super Bowl was a bit of a letdown for me.

I was at a friend’s house. She is moments away from popping out an offspring from her loins, much like MIA was when she performed at the Grammys several years ago. Well MIA certainly did make a splash during halftime with her bird, but that’s beside the point.

Being a person who enjoys relating stories, I was imagining how I would handle things if my friend’s water broke. She threatened me bodily harm if I wrote about it, but that never deters me. So I guess the fact that it didn’t happen was a bit of a letdown, one less story line to cover. And believe me she’s more than happy to be rid of the loinfruit from inside her body, so she wouldn't have minded if she went into labor.

Next was my lack of intense eating. I woke up earlier in the morning, even missing most of watching my Chelsea play to a 3-3 draw with Manchester United, and ran six miles in the hopes of giving me that extra space to fill the bowels of my body with the unhealthiest foods imaginable. I was going to mangia mangia mangia my way through more than three hours of football. But as I started eating, my shrunken stomach dictated otherwise.

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After chips and dip, I made myself a plate of greasy Chinese food. And just one plate in, I was full. Because I was on a quest to fill my gullet to the brim, I made another plate. Summoning the fortitude of Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi I got through the second plate by the time the Giants scored their touchdown in the first quarter to make it 9-0. But just barely. Even as I’m typing this up, my stomach is rebelling against my actions. Occupy this.

Now about the game. If you take away the final 3:46, boy this game was a stinker. No one likes eight-yard slant passes, field goals and 12-men-on-the-field penalties. The New England Patriots were methodical and dull. New York Giants couldn’t get into the end zone. The only exciting play was a safety Tom Brady took on the Patriot’s first play from scrimmage, an intentional grounding penalty that made it the fifth safety ever recorded in the Super Bowl.

But as humans, we have an almost pathological desire to have events conform to a narrative. That’s why cheesy stupid Hollywood narratives do so well. When things don’t fall neatly into place, people get upset. All the dropped passes by the Patriots, all the Manning face. This rematch of Super Bowl XLII (42 for the non-Roman inclined) had an expectation of being great, containing great plays. But the seven punts were really disappointing.

With the game being close, however, there was still hope. With Tom Brady’s history of heroics in the final minutes of Super Bowls and Eli Manning’s epic game-winning touchdown drives in the fourth quarter this season, it had to come down to the final minutes. And our patience was rewarded.

3:46 left in the game, the Patriots leading the Giants 17-15. Eli Manning. Mario Manningham. 38-yard pass from the Giants’ 12-yard line to midfield. The longest play of the game. Much like the Manning's pass to David Tyree four years ago, that was the play that sparked the win. With that Tyree play in the back of my mind, watching Manningham delicately touch his toes inbounds before contortedly falling out of bounds came a realization the Giants were going to score.

After the two minute warning and several plays, the Giants had a second-and-six at the New England six-yard line with 64 seconds left in the game. It’s clear they don’t want to give Tom Brady too much time to pull any of his heroic nonsense, but they still want to score. This ambivalence was apparent as Ahmad Bradshaw was given free rein to score a touchdown untouched.

The two-point conversion failed, and the Giants led 21-17. Tom Brady had 57 seconds to play with, and the Patriots needed a touchdown. After a great fourth-and-16 play that went to Deion Branch for 19 yards, it eventually came down to Hail Mary attempt a yard shy of midfield. The ball seemed to stay in the air for quite some time, and as Rob Gronkowski, whose two catches for 26 yards performance, dove on the turf to desperately grab the ball heartbeats quickened. It seemed like an eternity, but the ball laid there on the turf with the clock expired.

The Giants had won another Super Bowl, and in so doing salvaged the other nondescript 56 minutes into something to cherish. Tom Coughlin, the head coach who seems to be perpetually on the hot seat, got his second Super Bowl matching Bill Parcells. Eli Manning won his second Super Bowl MVP in the palace his brother built in Indianapolis. And thanks to Joe Posnanski:

• The Giants became the first team to be outscored during the season and win the Super Bowl.
• The Giants became the first 9-7 team to win the Super Bowl. The only teams with nine or fewer victories to win the Super Bowl are the 1967 Packers (9-4-1), who played only 14 games, and the 1982 Redskins (8-1), who played only nine games because of the strike.
• The Giants became the first team to give up 400 points (25 points a game) and win the Super Bowl.
• The Giants became the first team to lose four games in a row and win the Super Bowl.

Remember the Giants were 7-7 with two games left in the season and having just lost to the awful Washington Redskins 23-10 at home, two games they had to win against the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys in order to win the NFC East. They easily dispatched the two onto their newest magical Super Bowl run.

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Perhaps the biggest affirmation of the evening came during halftime. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not one of those homos who clings on to everything Madonna, Lady Gaga or Cher does. In fact I really don’t like pop music and really try to avoid it at all costs. But watching Madonna perform halftime made me squeal with joy, especially when she opened her performance with “Vogue”. It was so wonderful I have been writing this piece with the stench of Crisco and poppers wafting throughout my room.

Yes I read the tweets making fun of Madonna and all which is fine. Hell I laughed at it. But with Madonna’s performance at halftime, it was the best of both worlds for me - the sports I love and the gay gay gay gay gay. Hell, the Super Bowl hasn’t been this gay since In Living Color’s “Men on Football” sketch in 1992.

Okay, this wasn’t a complete letdown. While my prediction of the Giants winning 24-20 wasn’t exactly correct, I was in the neighborhood and got the differential correctly. So thankfully I don’t look like a complete asshole.