The Good, Bad and Ugly of Super Bowl XLVI

Eli Manning and Mario Manningham take the top honors.

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014  |  Updated 2:24 PM PDT
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Super Bowl: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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It would probably drive fans of the other 30 NFL teams insane, but it might not be a bad idea to have the Giants and Patriots play for the Super Bowl every year.

We've gotten the game twice in the last five years and both of them have been classic games that rank alongside the best in the history of the Super Bowl. On top of that, they closed the 2007 regular season with a 38-35 thriller won by the Patriots and played another taut one during the regular season this year that Eli Manning pulled out with a fourth quarter touchdown.

These teams play good games, and we all benefit from watching them. So why not just make it an annual affair? 

Okay, we get why that won't work, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate what went down on Sunday night in Indianapolis. So celebrate it we shall, with a few raspberries tossed in for those who deserve them.

GOOD: Manning has been doing the fourth quarter thing for quite a while now (see Super Bowl XLII), but watching a quarterback step up his game when everything is on the line never gets old. Manning has drawn some criticism for his laconic manner over the years, but there's not much question that his coolness serves him well in the biggest moments of games. And, just for good measure, he hit his first nine passes to give the Giants a 9-0 lead.

GOOD: Manning's best throw of the game was on first down on the winning drive when he put the ball deep down the left sideline for Mario Manningham. It was a great throw, but it took a great catch to make it count, and Manningham made one by getting both feet in while cradling the ball as he fell to the ground. It wasn't David Tyree on the drama scale, but it might have been even better because it was all talent and zero luck.

BAD: We can't talk about the greatest catch of the day without mentioning the biggest flub. Wes Welker's drop on second down of the Patriots' second-to-last drive could have ended the game because it would have put the Pats in easy field goal range while allowing them to milk a lot of time off the clock. It wasn't a perfect pass, but it was a catch you have to make.

UGLY: Quibble if you want about the fact that those televising the game want an interview with the losing coach minutes after the Super Bowl, but they do and it is part of the program. Bill Belichick blew off the interview when all that was needed was for him to grumble a few times and then throw things back to Bob Costas. 

GOOD: Tom Brady reeling off 16 straight completions between the second and third quarters was so impressive that we're still a little shocked that he was the second best quarterback on the field Sunday night. His receivers had some killer drops on the final two drives, or else there's a pretty fair chance that we might be having a conversation right now about whether or not Brady is the best quarterback in history.

BAD: The reason the Giants would have been in serious trouble if Welker catches that ball is because they blew two timeouts in the second half. Making matters worse, they got a false start after the second timeout, which means they should have just taken the delay of game.

UGLY: It gets lost because of how exciting things got at the end, but the Patriots' start was a big reason they lost the game. Brady botched the first play of the game badly, resulting in a safety, and the Giants capitalized with a touchdown against a befuddled defense on the ensuing drive.

GOOD: Kelly Clarkson nailed the National Anthem. Maybe we should have seen the Giants win coming, because the only other good anthem in memory was Whitney Houston's before the Giants beat the Bills in Super Bowl XXV.

BAD: Criticism of Ahmad Bradshaw not taking a knee before scoring with 57 seconds left has statistical justification, but it still feels like an awfully cold reaction to a pretty understandable football play. What's more, the risk of losing the Super Bowl because of a missed field goal or botched snap is much worse than the chance your defense can't hold up after allowing only 17 points all game.

GOOD: The Giants played very well, but they also got a couple of fortunate bounces that helped them wind up on top. They recovered two of their own fumbles and had another one wiped out because the Patriots had 12 men on the field. Throughout the playoffs, the Giants got those kinds of breaks while their opponents had less luck. Taking advantage of those opportunities is crucial, but getting them is awfully nice.

BAD: It was clear that Rob Gronkowski's ankle wasn't allowing him to play at optimal effectiveness. That was bad for the Patriots, but it was bad for the rest of us as well because it meant we were robbed of the best of one of the game's best players.

GOOD: We haven't had an awful Super Bowl in a decade. Those too young to remember the 90's should keep in mind how lucky they are to be living in this era.

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