Insider: What We Learned From Championship Weekend
As everyone knows, the New York Giants and New England Patriots won to advance to Super Bowl XLVI in what is sure to be a thrilling matchup. Find out what else we learned from Sunday’s games.
1. Eli Manning is a tough SOB.
The Giants quarterback took a vicious beating from the 49ers defense on Sunday but kept standing in the pocket and delivering passes. Eli is on the short list of quarterbacks you’d want in a tough situation- ever.
2. Vince Wilfork is the most dominant defensive tackle in the NFL.
Although the Pats defense has been much maligned, Wilfork has been a wall in the center of their defense. The big man has stepped his game up in the postseason which is part of the reason New England is still alive.
3. You can win with Joe Flacco.
The Baltimore Ravens quarterback was under fire for much of the postseason and is widely considered to be an average quarterback that is holding the Ravens back. Flacco proved on Sunday that he can lead his team and did everything in his power to win the game. He will likely be rewarded with an extension.
4. The 49ers need to upgrade offensively at a few positions
The San Francisco defense was stellar on Sunday as they’ve been all season long. Unfortunately, the offense and special teams let them down and that’s why they’ll be watching the Super Bowl from their respective couches. Alex Smith simply wasn’t good enough and his outside targets don’t get quick separation. Their offense is limited with the current personnel and even though the defense is fantastic, without upgrades they’ve reached their peak.
5. Regular season statistics mean virtually nothing.
The New York Giants were last in the NFL in rushing the football and the New England Patriots were 31st in total defense in the regular season. New York has found a balanced rushing attack with the return of Ahmad Bradshaw and New England has been downright stingy on defense, allowing just 15 ppg in the playoffs. The Patriots had to deal with injuries all season long and it appears as if they’ve found the right fits to replace their injured starters.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com 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