NFL Insider: Post-Super Bowl Musings

Everyone saw the game and everyone knows the outcome. Here are a few musings about one of the greatest Super Bowls ever.

1. You really can’t spell elite without Eli

Eli Manning isn’t just clutch, he’s legendary clutch. After Sunday’s performance in which he went 30 for 40 for 296 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions including the game-winning drive, Manning once again played his best football in the biggest spot. If there are a handful of quarterbacks you’d feel comfortable with the ball at the end of the game with a chance to win, Eli Manning is one of them.

2. Tom Brady’s legacy shouldn’t be diminished by this loss

As great as Eli Manning was, Tom Brady was his equal. Brady was the victim of key drops at the end of the game and that’s the only thing that stood between him and a fourth ring. Brady is still one of the all-time greats and many Super Bowl winning quarterbacks have played much worse games.

3. Playmakers win big games.

This was one of the most evenly matched Super Bowls ever and the difference between winning and losing was two plays. Wes Welker dropped a pass that likely would have sealed the game for the Patriots and Mario Manningham made an outstanding catch with two defenders draped on him on the Giants final drive. In a game which each quarterback was outstanding, a drop and a great catch decided the outcome.

4. The Pats might not be back.

As tremendous as Tom Brady was and as close as they were to winning this game, the harsh reality is that Brady is going to be 35 years old and this team is brutally mediocre at most positions.

5. New England was a product of their schedule.

The Patriots were a deserving Super Bowl representative, but during their 10-game winning streak they beat the following quarterbacks: Mark Sanchez, Tyler Palko, Vince Young, Curtis Painter, Rex Grossman, Tim Tebow (twice), Matt Moore, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Joe Flacco. This is a good Patriots team but the AFC was down with the injuries to Indianapolis, Houston and Pittsburgh and New England simply wasn’t an elite unit.

6. Madonna is still hot.

I’m not sure if I even liked the halftime show, but I couldn’t look away. I don’t care if Madonna was lip-syncing, she looked good not only for her age but for any age. The halftime show took me back to when I was a kid and Madonna was the main star of many of my childhood fantasies.

7. Spygate remains.

Sorry Pats fans, but the harsh truth is that your team hasn’t won a title since Spygate and there will always be an “asterisk” on those three titles. We will never know how much the taping of the Rams walk-through and recording of several opponents actually helped, but we know it happened and history will look down upon them.

8. Tom Coughlin needs to retire.

There’s no better way to go out and he doesn’t need to deal with the everyday pressures of being the head coach of the New York Giants. This win makes him the best coach in the history of the franchise and he simply has nothing left to prove. How do we just know that in three years the New York newspapers and fans will once again be calling for Coughlin’s head?

9. These Giants will be forgotten in history,but are still a tremendous team.

A 9-7 regular season record will diminish New York’s accomplishments as they should to a certain extent, but on their way to their second Super Bowl title in four seasons, the Giants won six straight win or go home games. New York beat 10-win Atlanta, 15-win Green Bay, 14-win San Francisco and then a 15-victory New England team. That’s as great of a playoff run as any team in history and you really get the feeling that if this team had a game next week against anyone that they’d find a way to win.

10. Mario Manningham is about to get paid.

Mario Manningham made one of the bigger catches in the history of the Super Bowl and it happened right before he enters free agency. Manningham is a nice receiver but he will get paid like an elite one. Eli Manning makes him a lot better than he is, and this catch will segue him into a lot of guaranteed money and some future mediocre numbers with some other team.

Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie