The much anticipated rematch between Tom Brady and Eli Manning lived up to all the hype that was laid upon it. Throughout the week leading up to the big game the sports media seemed split in who would win the game, but one thing they were not split on was the historical significance of the game should Tom Brady win.
Had the Patriots won, Brady would have joined only Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only three quarterbacks with 4 Super Bowl victories. Alas, that didn’t happen and what I witnessed was a rivalry that to me mirrors the Steelers/Cowboys rivalry of the 1970’s.
Roger Staubach and Tom Landry went to 5 Super Bowls together. They won 2 and lost 3, but two of the three they lost were to Terry Bradshaw and the Pittsburgh Steelers. For years, those two games have been considered two of the best Super Bowls ever played and in both cases came down to just a few plays that decided the outcome of the game. Super Bowl X was 21-17 at the finish but the Cowboys led 10-7 going into the fourth quarter. The Patriots this year lead 10-9 at halftime and 17-15 going into the fourth quarter. In Super Bowl X, the Steelers rallied for 10 points in the fourth lead by two field goals, a safety and the 64 yard touchdown pass to the Lynn Swann.
By way of comparison, the safety on Brady took place in the first half, but still is comparable, and in the fourth quarter Swann makes the game clinching 64 yard touchdown catch (which Bradshaw threw about 64 yards on a rope), much like the big pass to David Tyree and the ensuing touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress four years ago, and just like the big play to Mario Manningham this year.
Another comparison is the drop in this years Super Bowl by Wes Welker and Dallas Tight End Jackie Smith’s dropped touchdown in Super Bowl XIII. Smith’s drop would have tied the game at 21 going into the fourth quarter, Welker’s drop may have been the one that cost them the game. For a final comparison, Super Bowl X ended with the Steelers intercepting a pass in the end zone on the last play of the game that would have won the game for the Cowboys.
The point made here is that the Cowboys and Steelers of the 70’s were very close in talent and in both games Bradshaw outplayed Staubach making big plays to his receivers and limiting turnovers. In both Giant/Patriot Super Bowls, Eli Manning has outplayed Tom Brady and in both games the Patriot secondary failed to make the big stops-just like the Cowboys against the Steelers.
Sometimes in sports certain teams match up extremely well and when they play it comes down to just a few plays or sequences that make the difference in the outcome. We saw this in both Giant victories and we saw it in both Steeler victories. Just look at the scores:
Steelers 21 Cowboys 17
Steelers 35 Cowboys 31
Giants 17 Patriots 14
Giants 21 Patriots 17
The Patriots have found the team they cannot beat. Now Tom Brady is in Roger Staubach’s company.