GLENDALE, Ariz. – We in this country love perfection. We love to see a team remove itself from the pack and aim for history. Not since 1972 had an NFL team won every game it played. We loved to see the New England Patriots try, the drama building with every victory, 18 in a row. And on Sunday, in Super Bowl XLII, we loved to see them fail.

When a team wins all the time – and the Patriots had won three championships during the 2000s and were heavy favorites to win a fourth – we ascribe to it qualities that might or might not be true. They’re arrogant. They think they’ve better than everybody else. They treat championships as an entitlement.

But none of those traits apply. It was the New York Giants that had done all the talking all week. The Patriots aren’t arrogant. They’re odious. They cheat. And as badly as they feel after their 17-14 loss to New York at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday, they could soon feel worse.

Arlen Specter is an elderly republican senator from Pennsylvania who wields considerable clout. If he is serious about summoning NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to Washington D.C., to explain why he destroyed the Spygate tapes he confiscated from New England, the credibility of the league will suffer.

Government’s recent infatuation with sports has revolved primarily around the steroid scandal that torched the reputations of some of baseball’s biggest stars. Not sure why tape of defensive signals that New England stole from the New York Jets five months ago would be of interest to our leaders. But the attention will be heavy and the publicity will be good for government and terrible for the league and the Patriots.

We’ll have months to return to the dark side of sport and what New England did or did not do under coach Bill Belichick with cameras.

Today is a day to celebrate all that is right about sports. That’s what we were treated to Sunday.There have been so many drab Super Bowls that when we get a good game we want to anoint it as the best of all time. New England’s victory against Carolina four years ago was a candidate.

But this one was better, a team going for perfection, a 12-point favorite. And that favorite held a four-point lead with 2 minutes, 42 seconds remaining.

Trailing by four points, only a touchdown would do, and the Giants were 83 yards away from one.

On the drive quarterback Eli Manning faced a third-and-10, a fourth-and-1, a third-and-5 as time tick, tick, ticked away and all three timeouts were required.

On third down, with 75 seconds remaining, Eli was engulfed. All evening it was New England quarterback Tom Brady who had been tangled up in the New York pass rush, tangled up in Giant blue.

But Manning escaped, rolled and found David Tyree 32 yards from the line of scrimmage. Tyree wrested the ball from fierce Rodney Harrison.

Four plays later, the Giants scored. Thirty-five seconds later, they were champions of the world.



(c) 2008, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.).

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AP-NY-02-03-08 2301EST


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