(Philadelphia, Pa) — History was made on Saturday December 29th as the New England Patriots became the NFL’s first 16-0 team as they came back from a 12-point deficit to win 38-35 (joined the 1972 Dolphins 14-0, 1942 Bears, and 1934 Bears as the only teams to be undefeated in the regular season). The evil empire’s fans traveled down I-95 to fill Giants stadium with Patriots pride with an additional 34.5 million viewers watching the event on the NFL Network and simulcasts on NBC and CBS — ranking it as the second most watched show of the current television season behind the Academy Awards on February 25th.I guess I will have to learn the taste of “crow” as my prediction that the Giants would “mail it in” against the Patriots and rest their veterans, went right out the window. To my chagrin, beleaguered Giants head coach Tom Coughlin decided that his team was going to stop history as he put his full compliment of players on the field in the Patriots historic 38-35 victory. I definitely take my hat off to Coughlin and his staff as they could have easily prepared for their upcoming match-up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on wild-card weekend, but they chose to show all three-network audiences that they came to win. The G-Men would not back down to the mighty Patriots and they were led by the fiery play of workhorse running back Brandon Jacobs (15 rushes for 67 yards, 44 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD), who got in the face of several of the vaunted Patriots. The Giants mettle was shown in their game totals of 316 Total Net Yards, 5 penalties for 53 yards, only turnovers, and only one sack allowed. Unfortunately the “moral victory” for Coughlin and the G-Men may have been costly as Center Shaun O’Hara, backup safety Craig Dahl and linebacker Kawika Mitchell all left the game with knee injuries, and cornerback Sam Madison had an abdominal strain. Hopefully for the Giants they can all make it back for next week’s game, but I doubt it.
No matter what happens in the playoffs the play of often maligned Giants quarterback Eli Manning against the Patriots will be remembered — too bad for Eli his ending was very similar to Eagles backup signal caller AJ Feely’s effort against the Pats in week 12 loss. The former Ole Miss quarterback finally looked like the player he was expected to be back in 2004 when he was the first overall pick, throwing for numbers of 22-32, 251 yards, and four touchdowns with one interception. The interception to Patriots defensive back Ellis Hobbs proved to be costly as the Patriots immediately converted the pick into seven points on a Laurence Maloney 5-yard touchdown run. The Giants kept fighting throughout the loss contributing everywhere even on special teams where little used player Domenik Hixon in his first game as New York’s primary kick returner went 74 yards for a score.
But it was the Patriots night as NFL “Golden Boy” Pats quarterback Tom Brady was pinpoint throwing for 32-42, 356 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. Brady found his favorite target Randy Moss twice with the last one being a historic 65-yard touchdown play for both players. The throw was Brady’s 50th touchdown pass of the year breaking Peyton Manning’s 2004 record of 49 and for Moss it was his 23rd touchdown catch breaking Jerry Rice’s record of 22 set in 1987. The record touchdown also had huge consequences on the game as the 65-yard bomb after Moss had drop a pass on the earlier play busted open the game for the Patriots and sapped the will out of the “game” Giants. The Patriots also smashed the 1998 Vikings scoring record of 556 by posting an amazing 589 points for the season and passed the 1984 Dolphins’ regular season touchdown record (70) by putting up 75 touchdowns.
The Patriots finished with numbers of Total Net Yards 390 (only 44 rushing yards), 5 penalties for 42 yards, Time of Possession of 36:18, and no turnovers. America’s “new” Team can now savor the victory this week as they have a bye while the Giants must now find a way to heal up in time to face the Jon Gruden led Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. However I caution the Patriots that 16-0 is good, but a Super Bowl win and a 19-0 record is truly colossal (Both the 1934 and 1942 Bears teams finished undefeated only to lose in the post season). Now the real “work” for Patriots is at hand as have to navigate the tough playoff waters against the Jaguars, Chargers, and Colts then get ready for the NFC’s cupcake in the Super Bowl. If they can finish the job of going unblemished (19-0) only then they can finally mark their place in history next to my buddy Marlin Briscoe (receiver on Shula’s undefeated team) and the rest of the 1972 Dolphins by getting the ring to go along with their undefeated season.