Did we see a Super Bowl preview last night in Foxboro?
What we saw last night is why we watch football, why we anticipate each game, why we need blood pressure medication.
If you didn’t like last night’s epic match up between the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers, then you don’t like football.
What we saw last night was the proverbial roller coaster of momentum, of emotion – two excellent teams punching each other in the teeth, taking turns dictating to each other, the ebbs and flows and the big plays that always seem to drive a game of this magnitude.
What we saw last night was the two best teams in football, and the two teams that I hope we get to see playing in New Orleans in February.
What we would get in a San Francisco vs. New England Super Bowl is what we should have gotten last year, what the football world was denied because of a muffed punt, only better – and not predicated on revenge because these are teams that, after last night’s 41-34 thrill-a-minute slugfest, have too much respect for one another for stupid things like that.
But in the end, last night left us with the feeling that this isn’t done, that it was left incomplete. It was an Apollo Creed moment for the ‘Niners, like when Creed wanted to fight Rocky Balboa again because “I won the fight, but I didn’t beat him”.
For the New England Patriots, their incompetence for the first 35 minutes of the game was staggering. The ensuing 14 minutes was a display of offense that no other team in the league can duplicate and then San Francisco ripped the game away from New England with a special teams dagger.
For the 49ers, who pride themselves on defense more than anything else, they gave up a good chunk of New England’s 500+ yards of offense and 28 points in a 14 minute blitzkrieg that saw a 31-3 domination turn into a 31-all barn burner…how did that happen? Yes, the 49ers answered the bell and won the game, but they didn’t beat the Patriots. They survived.
No? on the Patriots’ game tying drive, the San Francisco defense was exhausted, and I think everyone watching – certainly Collinsworth – probably had some sort of inclination that the Patriots were going to pull this game out….
…but anyone who watched the Patriots two Super Bowl losses to the Giants looked at the final six minutes last night and knew better – they thought to themselves, “Hmm, this looks familiar.”
They needed to drive down for the game winning points. Last night they had the time, but they couldn’t get it done. We can talk all we want about the atrocious play calling on 3rd and 4th & 1, or about how the 49ers squandered many opportunities for more points – but what it came down to is which team had the biggest hearts, and the way the game played out, that went undecided.
The Patriots need to finish a heavyweight fight. The 49ers need not just to survive, but to physically beat New England. Neither of those things happened last night.
That’s why we need to see these two teams again in February.
And who wouldn’t want to see that again?