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Fact or Fiction: Super Bowl debate

Posted Feb 2, 2018

The Giants.com staff debates Suoer Bowl topics head of Sunday's big game:


There has not been a more significant play in sports since David Tyree’s helmet catch 10 years ago.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -  I love the helmet catch as much as the next guy, but let’s slow down a little bit here. It isn’t even the most significant play in the Super Bowl in the last 10 years. That award goes to Malcolm Butler’s interception of Russell Wilson, which won the game for the Patriots back in 2015. The Giants still had a lot of work to do to score a touchdown and win the game after Tyree made that play. This is an easy fiction, and I don’t think I need to go beyond that.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -  As significant? Yes. More significant? No. Malcolm Butler’s interception had as much of the what-did-I-just-see element, but not more. Kyrie Irving’s 3-pointer over Steph Curry with 53 seconds left in the 2016 NBA Finals was just as clutch, but not more. Michael Phelps’ final lunge to keep his perfect gold medal streak alive in Beijing made my heart race just as fast, but I think I’m part of a dwindling number of people obsessed with the Olympics. So I won’t say it was more significant. Given the entire play – from the escape through the catch – and the team the Giants did it against, there has not been a “more” significant play that sports fans remember exactly where they were when they saw it.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - This is an easy fiction.  There have been a ton of significant plays across the sports landscape since David Tyree’s catch, especially in other Super Bowls. Consider Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes’ game-winning touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone in 2009 with just under 40 seconds to go against the Cardinals, Mario Manningham’s catch against New England in 2012, and Patriots corner Malcolm Butler’s game-saving interception off Russell Wilson in 2015.  In the NBA, you can throw in the game-tying three by Miami’s Ray Allen at the end of regulation of Game 6 of the 2013 Finals that forced overtime and a Game 7, which the Heat ultimately won. Don’t overlook MLB as well.  Cardinals third baseman David Freese hit a game-tying two-run triple in the bottom of the ninth of Game 6 of the 2011 World Series against the Rangers and then followed that up with a game-winning home run in the 11th to force a Game 7, which the Redbirds ultimately won.  Then in 2016, the Cubs ended their 108-year World championship drought with an epic 8-7 victory in Game 7 thanks to so many critical plays, especially two in the 10th.  Tyree’s catch was great but a lot has happened since.

Justin Tuck is the greatest Super Bowl performer in Giants history.


JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -  This might be controversial because he only played in one Super Bowl, but I’m going to go with Phil Simms. His performance in Super Bowl XXI might still be the best by a quarterback in the game’s history. He completed 22 of 25 passes (two passes were dropped) for 268 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He completed 10 straight passes at one point in the second half. Justin Tuck, Carl Banks and Eli Manning were all great in both their Super Bowl appearances, and I wouldn’t argue with anyone choosing them. But I’m going with Simms.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -  While being the only player with multiple sacks in multiple Super Bowls is a pretty cool title to hold, there is only one person in Giants history with multiple Super Bowl MVP awards – Eli Manning. He rises to the occasion better than anybody in the 93-year history of the franchise.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Justin Tuck sacked Tom Brady four times in two Super Bowls and made a number of game-changing plays, including forcing a safety on the Patriots’ first possession of Super Bowl XLVI.  He’s the only player in NFL history to record multiple sacks in multiple Super Bowls.  That says it all. 

The Eagles winning the Super Bowl with backup Nick Foles would be more improbable than when the Giants did it with Jeff Hostetler.


JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -  The Giants were much bigger underdogs against the Bills in Super Bowl XXV than the Eagles are this season. I think it’s probably because Foles played so spectacularly against the Vikings last week. The two teams are eerily similar, though. Both the Eagles and Giants had to alter their scheme to accommodate their new quarterbacks. A great pass rush that gets after the quarterback and an offense featured the run throughout the season are also common threads. Let’s all hope this year’s game is just as close.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -  When you have Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks, Pepper Johnson and Leonard Marshall on the field with the two Bills coaching them from the sideline, nothing is improbable. Look, the Eagles defense is great for 2017, but it’s not an all-time great defense. If Philadelphia takes down the five-time Super Bowl champion duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick with Nick Foles under center after the Eagles lost MVP candidate Carson Wentz, it will be one of the more improbable championship runs ever.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Much like Jeff Hostetler in 1990, Nick Foles assumed his team’s starting quarterback job in the final month of the regular season. The biggest difference between both of the quarterbacks, however, is that Hostetler was drafted by the Giants in 1984 and had filled in for Phil Simms in previous seasons. Foles, on the other hand, re-joined the Eagles in 2017 under a new coach and didn’t have as much time as Hostetler working with the personnel on the roster. Foles also replaced a MVP candidate in Carson Wentz.  On top of that, if Foles and the Eagles win the Super Bowl, it will come at the expense of one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the NFL.  Yes, the Bills were an extremely impressive team, but when they played the Giants they had yet to appear in four straight Super Bowls and weren’t nearly as dominant as Belichick, Brady and the Patriots have been entering Super Bowl LII.

Eagles vs. Patriots is the hardest possible Super Bowl matchup for Giants fans to watch.  

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -  Slam! It’s close but not quite there. I think the Eagles are the worst possible team to see in the game from the NFC perspective. The Cowboys would be bad, too, but the proximity of the Eagles makes it worse. It is hard to root for New England because they have won so much, but there are Giants connections there with Bill Belichick, and the Giants have already beaten the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl. I imagine Giants fans would have it tougher if the Eagles were playing the Jets in some odd “all green” Super Bowl matchup. The fans of both Philly and the Jets are as close geographically as you can get (though the Pats aren’t exactly across the country) and Giants fans wouldn’t hear the end of it if either team won. Then again, New Yorkers hate Boston winning anything. It’s tough, but I think the Jets would be worse.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -  The Super Bowl LII matchup is making most Giants fans root for the commercials, but it could always be worse. Think about Jets vs. Eagles. There would be no escape for Giants fans. At least Philadelphia is a couple hours away. Between the “J-E-T-S” and “Fly Eagles Fly” chants at the supermarket or gas station, you might have to go on a two-week vacation starting with the conference championships through the Super Bowl parade. But even if you did make it to a remote tropical island, you would probably see an Eagles and/or Jets jersey at the hotel bar.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - I’ll say fact, but you can also argue that Cowboys vs. Patriots or Redskins vs. Patriots would be just as challenging to view for Giants fans.  Every fan will admit it’s always difficult to watch a divisional foe compete for a Super Bowl title, but the Eagles take the cake because, unlike Dallas and Washington, Philadelphia has never won a Lombardi Trophy.  I’m sure every Giants fan doesn’t want that trend to end but, more important, they want to continue to say their team is the only club to solve the Patriots’ riddle in the Super Bowl during New England’s dominance.  If the Eagles win, that narrative changes.