Lest anyone have any doubts or be at all unclear about exactly what the problem is in Philadelphia with Eagles coach Andy Reid, one has only to look at this past weekend's superbowl to have it all clearly laid out. Unlike Giants' coach Tom Coughlin -- make that two-time Superbowl winning Giants' coach Tom Coughlin -- Andy Reid could never be a part of what the Giants just did, not only once, but twice within the span of five years. Andy Reid sleeps well at night knowing that he has won what, five NFC Easts in 12 years as Eagles head man, but he is simply unable to lead his team on a post-season run like we have been treated to watching Tom Coughlin do twice in very recent memory. And I dare say that Reid has had more talent come through the halls of the Linc over the past half a decade than Coughlin has had in New Jerseyork.
You want to know what we Philadelphians want, if "all" of Andy Reid's success here in Philly just isn't enough? I wish I had Tom Coughlin as my coach. Period. Sure, we would have to deal with the late-season collapses, and the disciplinary issues, and the too-tough mentality, etc. But Andy Reid gets all the complaints anyways, thanks to his consistently embarrassing defense, his highly questionable assistant coaching decisions, his ineptitude on game-day and countless other very noticeable weaknesses, all of which seem to be magnified with the bigger the game is, again the total opposite of Tom Coughlin and the Giants.
But enough about the Eagles. Let's talk about them Cheatriots. Another good showing, huh? It really is amazing how mediocre this team looks in big games when they don't know every single play the opposition is going to run, one after the next after the next. It really is amazing. And despite what many New Englanders out there will be screaming from the rooftops all this week ever since about 10pm local time on Sunday night, make no mistake about it: the Cheatriots needed this win. They needed it. They still need it. This team absolutely, positively needs to win another superbowl, to show the world that they actually have it in them to win one when they play by the rules. Right now, the legacy of the Cheatriots is more than merely questionable. That legacy is in downright mutiny right now. These guys won three superbowls in four years, each one by merely a field goal, and it turns out after the fact that they knew every single play their opponents were running all game long. And they were only winning by field goals? Now, since getting caught cheating and being forced to play by the same rules as everyone else does in their big games, the Cheatriots have found their way to two more superbowls -- both of which they were favored in, as they were playing each year a Giants squad that had had by all rights not nearly as good of a regular season as the Cheatriots had. For crying out loud, this year's Giants team became the first team in NFL history to win a superbowl after going just 9-7 in the regular season. Said another way, this Giants squad was the worst team ever to win a superbowl in the NFL. And what did the Cheatriots do against them when it all mattered most, after Gisele had sent her email and gotten everyone close to her to pray for her man to win his fourth championship?
Absolutely nothing. Yes, Tom Brady led his Cheatriots on an awesome, long drive to end the first half with a touchdown, and another similar drive to start the second half with another score and build his team an 8-point lead early in the third quarter. But take those just two drives away, and the vaunted Cheatiots offense didn't do shiat in this game. I mean, look at the facts -- the Cheats scored just 17 points total in the entire game, after scoring just 20 points when the two teams matched up earlier this season in Week 9 (and only 14 points in the 2007-2008 superbowl). The Cheats just did not click well on offense in the Superbowl, and in general they simply cannot do and have not done much in general against the Giants, one of the few good teams the Cheatriots played all this year.
Unlike the Eli Manning of old, Eli stepped up big time in this superbowl as he looked every bit the part of grizzled, consistent veteran. If you watched the game then you know that Eli didn't get rattled once, not even a little bit, and it was in fact Tom Brady and not Eli who threw the one dumb, off-balance, back-foot pass of the night, leading to an interception on a crucial drive where the Cheats needed to score to get the game back in control. But make no mistake about it -- and I don't care about dropped passes, liberal intentional grounding calls, as none of that changes this conclusion -- but Eli Manning outplayed Tom Brady in this superbowl, plain and simple. In fact, he did so twice this year. And if you watch this game, then you know that the game simply wasn't nearly as close as the score would indicate. The Giants utterly dominated in the first half, somehow going into the locker room with a 1-point deficit despite having held the ball nearly twice as long as the Cheatriots did during the first half of play. And then in the second half, Brady started off with that beautiful long scoring drive to put his team up 17-9 in the game, but after that point, Brady didn't have one highlight in the rest of the game, and the New England defense simply could not stop Eli Manning and the Giants backs and receivers from more or less moving up and down the field at will.
So there it is in a nutshell. The Cheatriots cheated for years and even then were only barely able to squeak out wins in their biggest games some years ago. Nowadays with their ability to steal their opponents' every play taken away from them, the Cheats are still obviously a good team, full of players with much talent on the offense. But the loss of guys like Teddy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel, Ty Law, Rodney Harrison, Asante Samuel, Richard Seymour and others have left this team with what can barely even be called a defense, and while knowing every play ahead of time might have been enough to make them look passable on Sunday, having to face every play without foreknowledge showed the Cheatriots for what they really are:
A second-rate team, in a second-rate conference, with a hideous excuse for a defense, and an offense with a number of strong pieces but one that simply did not -- and does not any longer -- get it done in the biggest of spots. It's pretty obvious at this point that the teams the Cheatriots beat in the superbowl in the early 2000s deserve restitution. February 3, 2002: New England 20, St. Louis 17. That Rams team was obviously far better than the Cheatriots, when you consider that the Cheats were observed filming the Rams' signs during the pregame walkthrough, tapes which NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell immediately destroyed rather than admit specifically what the Cheatriots had stolen from the Rams. As far as I'm concerned, that 3-point win for the Cheats is more like a two-touchdown loss to a clearly better team, and the Rams should be recognized as having won two superbowls in three years with The Greatest Show on Turf. February 1, 2004 New England 32, Carolina 29. Here is another 3-point victory against a team with a superior defense and a thought-to-be inferior offense, but who surely would beaten the Cheatriots in a fair fight. And then of course there was February 6, 2005 New England 24, Philadelphia 21. Still another mere field goal margin of victory against a team that was obviously better than them, with the Cheats once again using foreknowledge of every single play run to build up a lead that the Eagles just ran out of time trying to come back from. Take the cheating out of that game, and one can only assume that the superior Eagles squad from that year would have overcome their coach's inability to prepare for game day to put in a double-digit victory and Philadelphia's only superbowl.
At 59 years old, Bill Belicheat still has the opportunity to coach a great many more years, even going to another team or starting over with a whole new nucleus of players, if he sees fit. But I got news for you, Cheatriots fans -- the window on the career of Tom Brady is almost all the way shut after this past weekend's debacle. Although the AFC is as weak as it's been in years, and there may not be any team in the Cheats' conference that is as good as the Packers, the Saints or the Giants over the next several years, the odds of this Cheatriots squad finding their way back to the superbowl are seeming slim to none in my eyes. And, like mostly everyone else out there living west of Route 91 in Connecticut, the thought of that good riddance of unscrupulous, conniving cheaters from the upper ranks of the NFL is enough to make almost all of us smile.
I'll always hate the Giants with nearly every fiber of my being, but it is clear as day that the right team won on Sunday. Congratulations to the 2011-2012 New York Giants, the only true champions to play in the superbowl this year.