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Score or fall down?


Ryan from New Brunswick, Fredericton

The Super Bowl featured two teams I am not fond of but was excellent entertainment. I saw a game battled in the trenches and with thumping hits. What are your thoughts on the game?

I thought it was a good game with a dramatic and memorable finish and with a couple of signature plays. I think it was everything for which the league could've hoped the game would be. I also think the Giants matched up well against the Patriots for the same reason they matched up well against the Packers: They were able to rush four and drop seven into pass-coverage, which accomplished a pass-rush with the minimum that allowed coverage with a maximum, and that's the defensive formula for beating pass-happy teams. If you have to send the house to get pressure, you're vulnerable to the big play. What kept hitting me over and over in that game is that the Giants had very little vulnerability to the big play because they were able to  drop their safeties deep and still crowd the passing lanes with defenders. They were able to do that because they were able to get pressure with four. It caused Tom Brady to have to throw short the whole game. Ernie Accorsi established a draft template that has led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins. We were all asking, "What's Ernie gonna do with all of those defensive ends?" The answer is: win two Super Bowls.

Robert from Harvel, IL

Vic, the NFC has now won four out of the last five Super Bowls. They have to be considered the stronger conference in the NFL now. What are your thoughts?

I agree.

Seth from Decorah, IA

Who is the better Manning brother? Eli may have two rings now, but we saw this season what happens to the Colts without Peyton. If Peyton were in a better organization, I think he could have multiple rings. If Eli were playing in Indianapolis, I don't think he could have won even one. Your thoughts?

I don't follow that logic. Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai were all first-round picks. No player in NFL history has ever had the table tilted in his favor more than Peyton Manning has. In 2005, the Colts had home field advantage and choked big-time against a Steelers team they had walloped just a few weeks earlier. It's been a recurring theme. The one brother has just never been real good in the postseason. Even in his Super Bowl year, he didn't play all that well; he should've been intercepted five times in the Baltimore game and, frankly, I thought Dominic Rhodes should've been the MVP of the Super Bowl. Eli Manning gets it done at crunch time. Until his final drive yesterday, I thought he was having a very ordinary game; In crunch time, however, he turned it on and that's what wins. All of the other stuff is for stats. Crunch time is for winners.

Marcone from Natal, Brazil

How does last night alter your perception on the careers of this year's Super Bowl quarterbacks and head coaches?

It doesn't alter my perception of them at all. They're great coaches and great quarterbacks. If you're talking about the impact of the game on how history will record each man, then it goes something like this: Bill Belichick failed to tie Chuck Noll for the most Super Bowl wins by a coach. As I had written previously, had Tom Brady won, I would've put him at the top of my all-time quarterback rankings; I think a lot of other people would've done that, too. The big impact is on Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin. Two Super Bowl wins will usually get a quarterback and a coach into the Hall of Fame, provided they also have had long and distinguished careers. Coughlin is already there and Manning is on the verge.

Hans from Front Royal, VA

I thought the Patriots decision to allow Bradshaw to score was a good call, but I disagree with the notion he should've knelt at the 1-yard line. There's no such thing as a guaranteed field goal. Your thoughts?

We had a lively discussion on this a few years ago, after Maurice Jones-Drew dropped at the one-yard line against the Jets. Younger fans love that kind of intrigue. It matches their view of football and their attraction to the hyper-strategy part of the game that drives their fascination for Madden. I represent the opposite view. I think you're assuming that the snap, hold and kick will all be successful, and that there won't be a penalty. You're also introducing the freeze-the-kicker thing. Ask the Ravens if they'll take the touchdown. In my opinion, what you're asking your offense to do is to also play defense. I believe in the age-old philosophy of everybody do their job. The offense's job is to score and the defense's job is to stop the other team from scoring.

Ethan from Wampum, PA

"When the defense starts pushing the offense toward the goal line, that's when I will stand up in the press box, close my laptop, go to my car and drive to the mountains, where I will collect berries and drink beer and never watch football again." I thought about this as soon as the Patriots more or less let Bradshaw in with :57 to go. Granted, they weren't pushing him in, but still.

It bothered me. I won't deny it. I have a fundamental problem with allowing the other team to score. There's an inherent weakness about it that saddens me.

Bob from Bedford, OH

In this new NFL, will we ever see another non-QB Super Bowl MVP?

We just saw one a few years ago, a wide receiver, Santonio Holmes. I think Mario Manningham might've only been another big catch away from winning MVP in this Super Bowl. I think the better question is: Will we ever see another running back or defensive player win MVP? Terrell Davis is the last running back to win the award, in Super Bowl XXXII. Dexter Jackson is the last defensive player to win, in XXXVII. Since then, five quarterbacks and three wide receivers have won. It's no coincidence that the run of quarterbacks and wide receivers coincides with the major emphasis on the chuck rule and new rules to protect quarterbacks and receivers. It's a passing league.

D.J. Bristol, WI

The Packers have to play the Giants on the road next season. The Super Bowl champs always open on Thursday night. I'm thinking we see the last two champs go at it to open the season, just like the Packers and Saints did to open this season. Your thoughts?

It makes sense.

Patrick from Edgewater, FL

Why didn't they put time back on the clock after the illegal 12-man on the field play at the end of the game?

It doesn't work that way. The Giants should've put 13 on the field. What a great way to use a glitch in the rules to legally cheat. There's one for the Madden boys.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

Vic, I think it's time to get rid of the two-week break before the Super Bowl and the 30-minute halftime. To me, it takes away from the game and the momentum from the championship games/first half. Your thoughts?

I don't agree. First of all, the teams need two weeks to manage the logistics of playing in the Super Bowl. It's not like playing another road game. As for the halftime show, you don't march a local high school band up and down the field for 12 minutes and call that a halftime show at the Super Bowl. The game is a world-wide event. At one point in its history, the event overshadowed the game. In recent years, the game has fit itself to the event. I won't tell you that everything about pro football today is better than it was, but I will tell you that the Super Bowl is. It truly is a game and spectacle worthy of its billing.

Tom from Billings, MT

I am a firm believer that defense wins championships. Our offense was certainly good enough this year, but our defense, although basically the same core group, was not.

I understand why Packers fans want to say defense wins championships: because it would allow them to affix blame on something, and that might help achieve closure. If you need closure, go ahead and blame the defense. I won't mention that the Packers were able to win 15 times with that defense, and that the offense really didn't play very well in that playoff loss to the Giants. If you're trying to convince me that today's game is about defense, sorry, that ain't gonna happen. We are in an era of offensive explosion. We are in an era of pro football when defense allows offense to score so there's enough time left on the clock to retaliate. The two defenses in yesterday's Super Bowl were ranked 27th and 31st in the league. Defense wins championships? With three minutes to play and trailing by two points, the Giants offense went the length of the field to score the game-winning touchdown. That's the contemporary game. You will not win championships in this league without an offense that gets it done at crunch time.

Herb from Palm Desert, CA

Well done, Vic. Way back on Dec. 5, you warned the world that the Giants were the one team to keep an eye on. Thanks for being the voice of reason in the cacophony of screaming experts.

They had the look.

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