'Who Cares' Super Bowl Has Great Finish
February 6, 2012

Going into the game, I figured a New York-Boston Super Bowl would be like a regular season Yankees-Red Sox game. Sure there would be drama, but in the end, who cares? Not much of us cared during the first three quarters, but there was definitely drama at the end, and one of the best-ever Super Bowl conclusions.

I attended the same party that I went to last year. Our group was down a couple of people, though, due to a sick child. Instead of eight adults and one kid, there were six of us this time with no kids and two dogs. The dogs were probably more interested in the outcome of the game than we were, prior to kickoff. There was some mild support for both the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. I frankly didn't want either team to win (a Patriots victory would make Tom Brady one of the best quarterbacks ever, and I don't like him that much, and I'm still not over Giants QB Eli Manning refusing to be drafted by San Diego), but I know that can't happen.

The scoring opened with a safety when Brady was called for intentional grounding by throwing a 45-yard pass to no one. 2-0 Giants but just mild interest from the group. Late in the first quarter, New York went up 9-0 on a three-yard pass from Manning to Victor Cruz. Ho hum. In fact, at the end of the first quarter, two people went outside to throw a football around in the yard for awhile, not concerned that all they missed was a New England field goal and a slew of commercials. They were back in time to see the Pats take the lead just before halftime on a four-yard Brady pass to Danny Woodhead.

The third quarter seemed to fly by, with most of still eating, discussing Madonna (more on that coming up), and waiting for commercials (more on that too) than focusing on the game. However, New England built a 17-9 lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Aaron Hernandez, followed by two Giants field goals to make it 17-15.

Fourth quarter, 3:45 to go, still 17-15 and it gets interesting. I have decided for some reason (I really don't know why) that I am rooting for the Giants. Manning, from his own 12 yard line, finds Mario Manningham who makes a spectacular catch at midfield, keeps both feet in bounds, and maintains control of the ball. New England challenges, but the ruling of a catch is upheld. That cost the Pats a time out, and it turned out they would have needed it later. Our group discusses the challenge, with my position that New England coach Bill Belichick really has no choice but to throw the red (challenge) flag.

Later in the drive, after the two-minute warning, comes the play that will be the highlight of Super Bowl XLVI, and a situation we were already discussing at our party. Our host is a former high school football coach, and we have had this discussion numerous times. His position is that if you are New England, you let the Giants score, even though they would take the lead. That way, the Patriots are assured they will get the ball back with Brady at the helm. My argument is there is no way I would ever let the other team take the lead on purpose, even if it's likely they could let time run all the way down and kick a field goal to win it as time expired.

As it turned out, both teams sided with my host. On a handoff to Ahmad Bradshaw with 57 seconds left, Belichick told the Patriots to let Bradshaw score. Manning yelled at Bradshaw to fall at the one yard line, but Bradshaw's momentum took him butt-first into the end zone for a Giants touchdown and a 21-17 lead. Brady and the Patriots, with no timeouts remaining, would have a chance to win it, and almost did.

After two incompletions and a sack, the Pats convert on fourth-and-16. Then another first down, a spike of the ball, a Giants penalty, and another incomplete pass put the ball at New England's own 49 yard-line with five seconds to go. Brady's hail-mary pass is knocked down in the end zone and time expires. Game over. Giants win. At our gathering, there was a lot of screaming, yelling, and high-fiving, after a game that many of us cared little about.

Pre/Postgame: Considering the hours of pregame coverage, NBC's post-game show lasted only 25 minutes, including the presentation of the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the Giants and the MVP award to Manning. The network was quick to get to their programming of The Voice before east coast viewers went to bed...I didn't watch much pregame coverage but our group thinks that singing America The Beautiful and The Star Spangled Banner is overkill. I didn't mind. Husband-and-wife country stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert did a nice job with the first song, and Kelly Clarkson (hair extensions?) didn't mess up a line of the National Anthem like poor Christina Aguilera did last year.

Halftime: Just like Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction in 2004, I missed the big controversy this year, even while I was watching the show. I watched it again when I got home and still almost missed it. I'm sure you know by now, but while Madonna was doing her thing late in her performance, singer M.I.A. (I didn't know that's who that was at the time, and I didn't know M.I.A. was female until yesterday) looked at the camera and gave the middle finger salute. NBC censors apparently tried to block it and missed, because the screen briefly went blank a second later. No one in our group caught it, no one mentioned it on air during NBC's post-game show, and it wasn't discussed at all during the special live episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I didn't even know about it until I got home, but it was the banner headline on the internet.

As for Madonna, I have to admit I liked the show better the second time I watched it. At our gathering, one of the dogs threw up her dinner just as the Material Girl was taking the stage. I'm not sure if that was a statement about Madonna's hauled-in-by-Roman-gladiator entrance, the song Vogue, or that Margene ate too many potato chips earlier, but we were mostly in cleanup mode during the intermission. After Vogue, Madonna did Music, while going through some dance moves and watching some dude dance and do tricks while balancing on a wire. She got more modern after that, dancing to LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem, and then sang a new song. Joining her on stage for that was Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., and it was during that song where we got flipped off. After that number, a drum corps marched on stage led by Cee Lo (I guess he's not Cee Lo Green anymore?), and the two concluded the show with Madonna's Like A Prayer before she disappeared in a cloud of smoke, with lights in front of the stage spelling World Peace. As an old fogy (but still younger than Madonna), I would have rather seen Madonna just play her songs, but it was probably a good idea to “young it up” a little bit. Unfortunately for the NFL and NBC, that backfired a little with the M.I.A. incident. Both the network and the league have issued an apology.

Commercials: It was a common thought amongst ourselves that the commercials weren't as good as they were last year. But I think that was the feeling last year as well about the year before. I guess the group favorite (and mine) was the Volkswagen ad featuring the dog working out after it realized it could no longer fit through the pet door. That in and of itself was a good spot, but VW also tacked on a Star Wars ending that made sense if you remember the ad from last year... My other favorites were the M&Ms ad where the red guy strips off his shell and starts dancing, and the Pepsi spot with Elton John as a king who gets overthrown, and ends up in a dungeon with Flavor Flav. There was also a good Pepsi Max spot where a Coke Zero delivery guy tried to quietly buy the competitor product but wins a contest and is greeted by Regis Philbin. Coke responded with three commercials featuring their animated polar bears.

The one that was good but you had to pay attention to was the post-apocalyptic Chevy Truck commercial. In the ad, it turns out the Mayan calendar was right, and only those driving a Chevy made it. You had to love the guys eating twinkies as everything in the background was burning, and the one guy listening to Barry Manilow as he drove up to join the others...The Budweiser ads were underwhelming, even the one where prohibition ends and everyone celebrates, and the spot with the kid peeing in the pool was a little unexpected. The hook was that it was good to “be free”.

There were no Snickers ads this year featuring Betty White getting tackled or Rosanne Barr getting knocked over by a swinging log. I was hoping for one of those, although White appeared in a promo for The Voice...I hate to say it, but I'm kind of immune to the Danica Patrick Go commercials... Right as I had noticed there hadn't been a Doritos ad, there it was, and much better than last year. In it, a dog is seen burying their cat, and bribes the guy with the bag of chips and a note that says “You didn't see nuthin.”... Late in the game was a good one for us old fogies—a Honda ad with Matthew Broderick pulling a Ferris Bueller stunt to ditch a day of work. Classic.

Gettin' up there: Thanks to all of you for the Happy Birthday cards, texts, calls, and posts. Which seems older, being four-dozen years old or celebrtating the 30th anniversary of my 18th birthday? Anyway, thanks again.

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