Nobody's Perfect

Washington Redskins' head coaching job. His ability to mix blitzes, with zone blitzes, with man coverage, with zone coverage, with man-underneath coverages did to the Patriots what no one had done all season: Held them to a pedestrian 14 points, something that had not occurred since Miami shut out the Patriots last year, 21-0, 25 games ago. 

Yet, he remained humble to the end, preferring to say, "This league is a players' league. No matter what we called today, (the players) were going to will their way to a win. No matter what, it comes down to guys, somebody beating a block." 

Funny, but the 10-6 Giants, who would win four consecutive playoff games to grab the franchise's third Super Bowl title and become just the fifth of nine wild-card playoff teams to win it all, did to the mighty Patriots exactly what they did to the Cowboys in their 21-17 victory at Texas Stadium. 

In fact, they shut down the NFL's top three offenses all in a row, first holding the No. 3 Cowboys to 17 points, then the No. 2 Packers to 20 points and now the Patriots, who set an NFL record by scoring 589 points this season, to just a meager 14. 

Giants center Shaun O'Hara might have said it best: "To hold them to 14 points is really unbelievable." 

In fact, incomprehensible. 

Even for Spagnuolo, who said the first time around, when the Patriots spanked the Giants, 38-35, in the final game of the regular season, he was hoping they could merely hold them to just under 30 points. And this time, Spags, realistically, what did you have in mind? 

"Knew we'd have to be in the 20s," Spagnuolo said. "But I'm going to tell you, I know it was only 14, but I still think of that last drive." 

He means the Patriots driving 80 yards in 12 plays to take a 14-10 lead with just 2:42 to play thanks to Brady's 6-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss, only to have Manning wipe it out by completing 5 of 9 passes during the winning touchdown drive, including two critical completions on third down and a fourth-and-1 pickup by Brandon Jacobs. 

But you know what, you guys saw all this already, didn't you? You saw tight end Kevin Boss catching keys passes, including when getting singled up against the opposing team's strong safety. You saw the Giants pick on the opposing team's third corner in nickel situations. You saw penalties and poor special teams play create poor field position, at one point three of four Patriots drives starting no better than the 11-yard line. 

And most of all, you saw what pressure can do to the best quarterbacks in the NFL, the Giants bringing the same hammer to Brady that they did to Tony Romo when everyone was so quick to lay the Cowboys' loss at Romo's feet. Wonder now what Gisele's implication is going to be? 

"No quarterback likes to be on his back every time he throws the ball," said Giants veteran defensive end Michael Strahan, who almost didn't come back for his 15th season. 

Why, the Giants sacked Brady five times. By halftime they had hit Brady another 10 times and hurried him four more. With the exception of what appeared to have been the game-winning touchdown drive, I'm guessing the Giants hit Brady another dozen times and hurried him a half-dozen more that second half. 

"They have some great pressure schemes, obviously some great pass rushers," said Brady, who completed just 29 of 48 passes for 266 yards and a mediocre 82.5 QB rating. "Once we kind of got the idea of what they were doing, I thought we handled it much better but we just didn't get the ball in the end zone enough. 

"You score 14 points . . . and that got us beat." 

Most of all, you saw up close and personally the Giants win a playoff game three weeks ago just like this, trailing the majority of the game but always keeping the score close enough to prevent having to take low-percentage chances with Manning in the passing game. And you saw the Giants take a lead late in a game to win. 

That left everyone muttering, if only this and if only that, or belaboring this lame call or this bad penalty - just as the Patriots surely are doing now that their bid for perfection was spoiled the last time out. 

Yep, the Patriots, like the Cowboys, will be haunted by the one-more-play

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