(Kyle Williams picture courtesy of http://www.newsday.com)
The New York Giants and the New England Patriots are in the Super Bowl again against each other. The last time they were facing off in the Super Bowl, the Giants knocked off the Patriots in 2007. But instead of the attention being on these teams and their Super Bowl rematch, the attention has been focused on three select plays that supposedly won their conference championship games.
In the AFC Championship game, the Baltimore Ravens were playing their hearts out. They even went as far as to hold Patriots quarterback Tom Brady without a touchdown pass(22/36, 239 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs), which was a shocking feat. Sure, Flacco threw an interception, but for the most part, he didn’t play too bad(22/36, 306 yards, 2 TDs). But the burning image in everyone’s minds from this game was the kick heard round the Northeast. Snap, set and kick. All-Pro kicker Billy Cundiff sails a potential game-tying kick to the left and the Ravens come up short. Now many will say he was the goat, but we need to look at a few things here. The Ravens are a physical football team and their best and most important weapon on their offense is running back Ray Rice. Rice had a great season(291 attempts, 1364 yards, 12 TDs), but when it counted most, he wasn’t able to provide that consistent running threat that the Ravens usually have(21 carries, 67 yards). This means one thing: the offensive line was not getting it done up front. When the Ravens are getting it done up front, they are getting to the next level of the defense(linebackers), providing Ray Rice running lanes. Another thing that you will want to look at is that wide receiver Lee Evans missed a touchdown catch as well. He got stripped by Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore on what most thought was a for-sure TD catch. Moore simply had the drive to make the play more than Evans.
In the NFC Championship game, the Giants made their big field goals when they needed them. But the fielding of a couple kicks seems to have caught the public’s eye. San Francisco wide receiver/return man Kyle Williams was subbing for the injured Ted Ginn, Jr. as the punt returner. He let one kick brush off his leg and the Giants got that fumble and turned it into a 17-14 lead on the strength of a Manning to Manningham touchdown throw. Then he was returning a punt in overtime and he was stripped and the Giants recovered that one as well. The Giants took that fumble and turned it into a game-winning field goal. People began to bombard Kyle Williams’ Twitter account with death threats. But what I want these people to take a look at is the amount of third downs the 49ers converted: 1. Yes that’s right. They only converted 1 third down into a first down. The struggles of the San Fran offense and the inability of their defense to contain Cruz in the first half are all reasons that the team lost.
My point in displaying all this information is simple: one play doesn’t cost a team a game. A missed block here, a missed read on a coverage, and a missed tackle contribute just as much to a loss as a missed field goal and a muffed punt do. So before people blame the loss on one play, look at the whole picture, not just the fragments of a loss.