After the New York Football Giants’ improbable victory over the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round, pretty much everything else this season is just icing on the cake. (I’m half-tempted to say that the only thing that could have been sweeter would have been an improbably victory over a hated rival like Dallas or Philly, as opposed to a team I have absolutely no beef with, but the win-and-in Week 17 game against Dallas did satisfy that scenario in a big way already so I’m not going to get crazy greedy here.)
I was, therefore, somewhat ambivalent about the NFC championship game this past Sunday. I mean obviously I wanted the Giants to win, and thought they had a good shot, but I didn’t need them to win. They were already NFC East champs and had won two playoff games to convincingly prove their post-season appearance was no fluke. A historic Super Bowl win for the G-Men is also within recent memory. I could hold my head high as a fan no matter what the outcome against San Francisco, and as I’ve mentioned before, if the Giants weren’t going to Indy in February then at least I could enjoy an anxiety-free Super Bowl party with my friends.
Plus the NFC championship was scheduled to be televised at 6:30 Sunday evening, which in my household is right about when the concerted nightly effort begins to transition from post-dinner playtime to pre-bed bathtime with a minimum of screaming all around. I wasn’t about to alter the routine, and I was perfectly content to simply have the game on (both tv’s, in the den downstairs and the master bedroom upstairs, plus the satellite radio feed on the stereo in the dining room) as part of the background. My wife, superlative-sweetly, tried to excuse me early and take over story-reading between baths and bed, but the little guy put his little foot down and demanded that I stay, and I declined a protracted battle over that. (The little guy has been slowly but surely ramping up his sibling jealousy, still not acting out with anything overtly negative towards his sister but definitely pushing for more and more attention commensurate with the amount we give the baby, which is of course is more than a three-year-old technically requires, but try telling him that when he wants to be picked up immediately because you just set the little girl down for a moment.) When the little guy was finally tucked in for the night and my wife turned her attention to getting the baby to sleep, I finally joined the game in progress, watched the back and forth for about five minutes (real time, not game clock time) and then ran back upstairs and offered to sub in on the rocking chair detail. I explained to my wife that the game was tense and tough to watch, which was absolutely true.
But eventually both kids were down and I braced myself for the game which – all expectations and wants and needs aside – was a roller coaster. I tore myself away to walk the dogs when regulation ended, at which point my wife advised me not to dawdle because (as Denver had shown her Steelers a couple of weeks earlier) even with the new overtime rules the game could be decided in just one play. I missed a bit of the first OT possession but was back in plenty of time to see NY’s special teams come up huge and the offense set up a field goal attempt without disaster and Tynes do his job and one of the two teams with a booster in my immediate family advance to the Super Bowl for the fifth time in seven years.
Of course earlier in the day the Patriots had edged the Ravens, which was a bit disappointing. In my wildest dreams as Sunday dawned I had been envisioning a New York/Baltimore Super Bowl. Either way, if the Giants made it, there would be a Super Bowl rematch, but it’s been over a decade since Giants/Ravens and the line-ups are almost completely different now (except for the disturbingly ageless Ray Lewis), so that just struck me as more interesting. Not to mention the fact that the Ravens crushed in XXXV, the only times the Giants made it to the Super Bowl and lost, and the possibility of payback was tantalizing. And, fine, I admit it, I’d rather see my guys go up against Joe Flacco than Tom Brady. But it was not meant to be, and Belichickzilla Vs. Megacoughlin 2 is gearing up, and it could be a really classic showdown or it could be a blow-out in either the exhiliarating or demoralizing direction, but I am looking forward to it. Not necessarily looking forward as much to the obligatory trash-talking face-off with New England-aligned guests at the Super Bowl shindig, but I’ll just have to roll with that one. (Oddly enough in this particular social circle there is one woman who is a Patriots superfan but there’s also another woman who is a Ravens superfan, so I was bound to get caught up in that one way or the other.)
In the mean time I probably won’t have much else to say about football for the next couple of weeks (barring off-the-field scandals erupting) so enjoy the reprieve!