|The Next NFL Dynasty|
|Written by Mark Grey|
by MARK GREY
The dynasty that the New England Patriots have put together over the last eight years is nothing short of greatness. Since the turn of the century, the Pats have been to four super bowls, won three of them, and even put together an undefeated season while breaking just about every offensive record known to man. While most people weren’t sold on the greatness of the Patriots after their first super bowl upset, Tom Brady made believers out of everyone after their second super bowl win. Even though they had already won two and Brady had arrived, I still wasn’t buying the Pats as the best team in football. I didn’t buy the Patriots hype until last year when, apparently, it was too late. I may have been in denial for an entire dynasty, but I learned my lesson and I won’t let this next one pass me by too. With that being said, ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you the next NFL dynasty: the New York Giants.
When the Giants beat the Patriots in the SuperBowl this past February, they didn't just beat them, they became them. That's right: one look at this 2007 Giants team and you can see it's one in the same as that 2001 Patriots team. I know, I know, that sounds like blasphemy to many of you out there, but lets go to the tail of the tape.
The first thing I can hear football fans across the country saying is, “There is no way you can compare Eli Manning to Tom Brady,” but actually you can. Let me remind everyone that I'm not talking about the Tom Brady we saw throw an NFL record 50 touchdowns and 4,800 yards last year. I'm talking about the Tom Brady who threw for 18 touchdowns and 2,800 yards in 2001. Forget for a second what Tom Brady has become, I am talking about what he was. In 2001, all the Patriots asked Brady to do was play smart football and not lose the game and that's exactly what he did. His numbers for the three playoff games that season: one touchdown and one interception. That's hardly anything to write home about. Eli's numbers in his four playoff games last season: six touchdowns and 1 interception. That's not too bad. Manning, just like Brady in 2001, was asked to just manage the game and make the plays when necessary, and he did just that on his way to a Super Bowl victory.
Let's take a deeper look at these two teams and see just how close they really are. It may be hard for you to remember, but that 2001 Pats team was supposed to just be happy to be there. Many felt like they should have lost in what is now know as “The Tuck Game” to the Oakland Raiders, and surely would have lost to the Steelers if it weren't for two timely Kordell Stewart interceptions to end the game. Of course their luck would run out against the Rams, right? After all, we are talking about "the greatest show on turf". The Rams had the league MVP at quarterback, two Pro Bowl wideouts, and a third wideout who wasn't too shabby either. The Rams offense led the league in passing, scoring, and yards, and seemed to have pro bowlers at every position. If it seems like you have seen a team with those credentials recently, it's because you have: the 2007 Patriots. That's right, both last year's Giants and the 2001 Patriots took on the greatest offenses anyone had seen in years. Both teams had already been beaten by their Super Bowl opponents in the regular season, and both teams were deemed double digit underdogs going into the Super Bowl.
After both teams flew under the radar in their respective playoffs, they both shocked the world with great defense and mistake-free offense. Everyone wondered if these two teams' quarterbacks who had been labeled “Game Mangers” were good enough to win a Super Bowl with. We knew that both teams had great defenses, but we are talking about slowing down league MVPs Tom Brady and Kurt Warner, and finding a way to stop Randy Moss and Tory Holt. Surely no one could figure out Mike Martz's offense or out coach Bill Billichek, the genius. But all these things actually happened. Last year's Giants, just like the Patriots seven years before them, showed that a good football team is more than just having the best offensive weapon.
Despite pulling off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, many still did not take that Patriots team seriously. Critics called the win a fluke and refused to see what it really was: the beginning of an NFL dynasty. The football world was forced to take notice two years later when the Patriots won their second Super Bowl in three years, and another one the following year. It turns out that upset of the Rams in 2001 wasn't just a fluke after all. I must admit that I was one of the last people to wake up and realize that the Patriots team was not just a team that got hot at the right times. Now it's 2008 and I am determined not to make the same mistake again. When the Giants pulled off the biggest upset in Super Bowl history I immediately thought “fluke,” but now after the team has gotten off to a 4-0 start despite losing its two best defensive players, I'm ready to call them the real deal. This Giants team is starting to become the mirror image of that Pats team. Players who are suppose to be irreplaceable are being replaced, a quarterback who was asked not to lose games is now being trusted to win them, and prima dona superstars are being forced to check their egos at the door. I may have overlooked this recipe for success when I first saw it seven years ago, but I tell you what: I won't overlook it again. Put me down as one of the Giants' believers.